22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, ls the Minister aware that Western Australian industry and business are suffering a severe disability under the Government’s policy of import restrictions, and that citizens of Western Australia are forced to pay higher prices for divers imported goods because many goods subject to import control have to be bought through Eastern States’ importers at a cost of 124 per cent, higher than would be the case were Western Australian importers permitted to obtain goods direct from supplier countries? Will the Minister take action to eliminate this disability by making available to Western Australia import quotas commensurable with reasonable demand? Will he also appoint a senior officer of the Department of Trade to the State of Western Australia to fully investigate the position and to approve or recommend correction where found warranted?
– What the honorable senator is saying, in effect, is that he would like to see import licences increased in Western Australia. The Government has already anticipated him in that direction in that import licences have already been increased by £75,000,000.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware of the fact that the State steamship “ Kabbarli “ is held up at Darwin owing to the action of the waterside workers in refusing to unload cement needed urgently for the new airstrip and for housing purposes in Darwin? Will the Minister institute immediate inquiries as to this delay so that a satisfactory settlement can be made which will enable “ Kabbarli “ to keep its sailing commitments and so serve the people of the north-west of Western Australia?
– I am aware that “ Kabbarli “. is held up at Darwin as the result of some industrial trouble. The matter comes under the administration of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who, I know, has the matter in hand. 1 shall obtain what information is available and let the honorable senator have it.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior aware that the grades of meat supplied to the parliamentary refreshment rooms and the hostels and boarding houses, such as the Hotel Kurrajong, conducted by his department in Canberra under a contract approved by the Commonwealth stores board, are not in accordance with the terms of the tender? Will he take action to ensure that the grades of meat which the contractor is required to supply, and which are transferred from the Goulburn abbatoir, are checked daily so that the meat supplied to the hostels and boarding houses is of the same quality as that supplied to the parliamentary refreshment rooms?
– I will refer that question to my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, and give the honorable senator an answer.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to a report of a statement by B. M. Nolan, an executive officer of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, that he could see no immediate end to the boycott of the freighter “ Kumalla “? As this ship has been tied up in Melbourne since January, and the Industrial Court has ordered the Seamen’s Union to end its ban. will the Minister obtain for the Senate a full report on this matter?
– I shall have very great pleasure in obtaining from my colleague, Mr. Holt, the relevant information, and placing it before the Senate.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration inform me whether the Department of
Immigration has contracted to grant to a firm of customs agents the sole right to arrange for the passage of the belongings
Df assisted immigrants through the customs? Does the contract provide for fixed charges? If it does not do so, is the department satisfied that the charges of the firm concerned are generally reasonable?
– I understand that Tradex Transport Agency Proprietary Limited has the contract - which is called for annually - to carry out this work. I shall refer the remaining parts of the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Immigration, and obtain a detailed reply for him.
– In view of a reported statement that surplus eggs may be dumped in the sea next spring, will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry inform the Senate what plans are being made for the export of eggs in the coming flush season? If there is any non-exportable surplus, how is it proposed to dispose of it?
– I understand that my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, answered a similar question in the House of Representatives this afternoon. I do not think that I could do better than to obtain a copy of that answer and give it to the honorable senator, if she will be good enough to place her question on the noticepaper.
– I do not think that Senator Spooner completely understood the question I asked him a few minutes ago. Is he aware that Western Australia is suffering a severe disability as a result of import restrictions, and that those engaged in industry in that State are forced to pay higher prices on divers imported goods by virtue of the fact that many goods subject to import control have to be bought through importers in the eastern States at prices I2i per cent, higher than if Western Australian importers were permitted to obtain the goods direct from the supplier countries? Will the Minister take action to eliminate this disability by making available to Western Australia import quotas commensurate with the reasonable demand in that State? Will the Government consider making available to Western Australia a senior officer of the Department of Trade to investigate the position fully, and invest him with power to correct the position, or recommend its correction, in cases where the import restrictions are operating unfairly against Western Australian traders and importers?
– I do not think that I misunderstood the honorable senator’s question, and 1 believe that 1 gave him the correct answer because, in the final analysis, all requests about imports lead back to a request for an increased quota of import licences. However, the honorable senator expressed himself, what he said, in effect, was, “ Give us more import licences “. Therefore, as I said before, the Government anticipated that request when it approved of a liberalization of import restrictions by £75,000,000. I think that that was a fair answer to a fair question. The honorable senator introduced another aspect of the matter when he said that some Western Australian merchants obtained imported goods through importers in. the eastern States. If that is so, all I can say is that that was the pattern of their trade at that time. If they can do better by importing direct now they could have done better by importing direct then, but they chose to cast the pattern of their trade in the way they did. If they can get licences to import direct in their own name, I think everybody would say, “ Good luck “ to them. I am sorry I cannot say whether arrangements were made to appoint a senior officer to be resident in Western Australia. I know requests were made. I also know the matter was under consideration by the Minister for Trade. 1 do not know what the decision was. I shall let the honorable senator know.
– I direct a question U> the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Press reports state that he was greatly impressed with what he saw when he recently visited Portland and inspected the deep-sea port project. Is he ‘ aware that it is expected that by 1959 there will be completed two berths that will accommodate the largest ships afloat, and that this deep-sea decentralized port will be completed at an early date? Will he confer with other appropriate Commonwealth Ministers in an effort to have primary products from the vast hinterland comprising the south-east of South Australia, Wimmera and the Mallee, shipped at this port, and will he have this port made the discharge point for the many goods and merchandise required by this area?
– Yes, I was made aware, when I visited Portland late last year, that two berths would be available in 1959. I am naturally interested in the development of the port, as is the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, one member of which visited the port with me, and another member of which has since been there, having in mind, of course, the use of the commission’s ships when the port is ready. As to encouraging the use of the port by primary producers and others, while I appreciate just what a fine port it will be. that particular matter is one over which neither I, nor, as far as I know, any Commonwealth Minister has jurisdiction. M is more a matter for the State authorities.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Following his rather vague answer to Senator Sheehan a few days ago with relation to television, can the Minister state definitely whether any action has been taken for the building of a television station in Brisbane by the Australian Broadcasting Commission or private enterprise?
– No, I cannot state definitely whether any provision has been made.
– Nothing is being done?
– I cannot say definitely, but I will bring the question to t”‘e notice of the Postmaster-General, who will give me a reply, which I shall pass on to the honorable senator.
Senator- WRIGHT. - 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade a question supplementary to the one addressed to him by Senator Wedgwood referring to the boycott by the Seamen’s Union of Australasia of the Union Steamship Company’s ships. Is the Minister in a position to give the Senate some information as to the cost that has been involved in this boycott to date? Can he say whether any responsibility rests upon the Department of Shipping and Transport or the Department of Labour and National Service or the law department for the purpose of ending this boycott in interstate trade? If there is any responsibility, is he in a position to disclose what action is proposed?
– I regret to say thai I am entirely without knowledge of this particular matter. The question is addressed to me as representing the Minister for Trade. I shall see that the question is placed before not only the Minister for Trade, but also my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, to make certain that all the facts that are available are placed before the Senate.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether there is available any information which suggests that the housing shortage in New South Wales is contributed to largely by people being unable to purchase homes in that State because building costs are too high.
– I do not know whether the housing shortage is caused by building costs being too high, but it is true that building costs are substantially higher in New South Wales than they are, for instance, in Victoria. Figures given to me by the War Service Homes Division show that, for a small house of about 9 squares, the cost in New South Wales is not less than from £300 to £400 higher than in Victoria.
– It is better built in New South Wales.
– It is a very grave situation. A house of this size costs from £2,500 to £3.000. The fact that the cost is from £300 to £400 more in New South Wales than in Victoria must cause every one in New South Wales to think very seriously. The information I have is that the difference is duc to wages costs and timber costs, including the freight on timber, being substantially higher in New South Wales.
– And the price of coal.
– I do not know what coal has to do with timber, but that is true, if the honorable senator wants it included. The third cause - which I think is worth looking at, as are the other two - is that council regulations in New South Wales require, on the average, considerably more brickwork below the floor level than is required in Victoria and other States.
– I ask the Minister for National Development: ls it not a fact that houses are being built by the New South Wales Housing Commission for considerably less than houses are being built by contractors for the War Service Homes Division?
– I think it is true to say that the New South Wales Housing Commission contract prices are lower than contract prices for war service homes. We have had a look into that matter on the war service homes side. The answer given to me is that war service homes are better constructed, provide more amenities and contain more fittings, because every war service home is, of course, designed for some one who is building his own home, who wants more fittings and fittings of a higher standard in the home, whereas housing commission homes are built, generally speaking, not for any particular person, but to let.
– I direct to the Attorney-General a question which is supplementary to the questions already asked by Senator Wedgwood and Senator Wright. I refer to reports in this morning’s Melbourne “Age” dealing with the nine*reek boycott by seamen of the freighter Kumalla “, which has been prevented during that time from serving the Australian community. Part II. of the Australian Industries Preservation Act provides, inter alia, that any persons or organizations that conspire together for the purpose of restraining interstate trade shall be guilty of an offence, and a penalty of £300 is pro vided. Will the Minister confer with the proper authorities to ascertain the full facts of the dispute? If the facts support the view that any trade union monopoly has been guilty of an offence in the matter, will he take action to protect the Australian community and. in common justice, the ship-owners, from any repetition of this abuse of monopolistic labour power?
– I have no doubt that the subject-matter of the question asked by the honorable senator is already receiving consideration by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who has the practical administration of the relevant laws. I have no doubt that, if action is called for and is justified by the circumstances, it will be taken.
– Will the Minister foi Shipping and Transport inform the Senate whether it is a fact that under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement Act, the States may make finance available to local authorities for the purchase of plant? If so, when was the act amended to contain that provision? How many States are making finance available now to local authorities for the purchase of plant, and what amounts were made available to each State for that purpose in the last financial year?
– My recollection is that the act was amended in 1949 so that funds could be made available to local government authorities for the purchase of plant. 1 have no knowledge at present of the exact amounts expended by the States for that purpose, but 1 shall get the details and supply them to the honorable senator.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by reminding him that over a long period, questions have been raised in this Senate by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber in connexion with Eyre Highway. On the last occasion, the Minister held out some hope that something would be done to put the road into good condition and have it treated as a strategic highway. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether anything has been done in that direction. and whether the people of Western Australia can expect some improvement in the highway?
– The Eyre Highway is now treated as a strategic highway, and i believe that grants have been made each year to the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia for the maintenance of the road. They have been made on condition that the States spend a stipulated amount. 1 do not know what the position is at present or what grants are in prospect, but 1 shall look into the matter and supply the information to the honorable senator.
– Has the Minister for National Development noted that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, by the use of cetyl alcohol, has successfully proved that the loss of water through evaporation in the arid areas of Australia can be considerably minimized? ls he aware that in South Australia these experiments are being held up through difficulty in obtaining supplies of cetyl alcohol? Will he, as a matter of urgent national development, consider an increase of the production of this important chemical?
– I know no more about this matter than is contained in the newspaper reports which I have read and which, I suppose, all honorable senators have read with very great interest. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is under the control of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs. I shall speak to him to ascertain whether production of the chemical can be accelerated. However, I should think that my effort will be love’s labour lost, because, if I know the Minister, he will already have been on the job without any prompting.
– I direct to the Minister for National Development a question which is supplementary to the one asked by Senator Laught. In view of the tremendous importance of these experiments, particularly to areas of central Queensland which so far this year have missed the tropical rains, could the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization give the widest publicity to the details of its experiments so that individual graziers and farmers may experiment on their own account and immediately save water which will be valuable, to them if the tropical rains do not come this year as expected?
– As I said to Senator Laught, I shall have a talk with the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization about the matter to see what can be done. As I understand the position, the missing link is the supply of the chemical. It was not expected that the experiment would be such a great success, and it will’ be necessary to produce the chemical in greater quantity. I shall ascertain the position and let the honorable senate* know.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s, questions are as1 follows: -
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Stevedoring Industry Act - Report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on the operations of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, for year 1955-56.
I ask for leave to make a short statement concerning the report.
– This report is tabled in pursuance of section 58 (1) (a) of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1956, which requires the Authority to furnish a report on the operations of the board which formerly functioned in this field, for the year ended 30th June, 1956. It will be seen that the report is quite factual. This was to be expected since the Authority is reporting on a year of activity for which it did not exercise responsibility.
Honorable senators will find much to interest them in the report, but I would direct their attention to two particular aspects. The first is the unhappy record during the year 1955-56 of time lost in the stevedoring industry through disputes. The total manhours thus lost amounted to 8.6 per cent. of the total man-hours worked. Indeed, more time was lost as a result of wharf disputes in that year than in any other year since the end of the second world war. The time lost for the balance of the year 1956, i.e., from 1st July, was also very high, amounting to 5.7 per cent. of the hours worked. Some improvement ocurred in the last quarter of 1956, and that continued into the first quarter of 1957.
The second matter is the decline in the carriage of general interstate cargoes by sea transport. The report now presented gives some interesting figures, for Sydney and Melbourne. These appear on page 10 and, at the request of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), the Authority has projected them to the end of 1956. The later figures show a continuing decline in the tonnage of interstate cargo loaded and discharged at Sydney and Melbourne. Copies of the report can be obtained by honorable senators from the Clerk of the Papers.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) proposed -
That the following paper be printed: -
Australian Defence - Statement by the Prime Minister in the House of Representatives, 4th April, 1957.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Department of the Interior, Acquisitions Programme - Treasury Minutes on Reports and Minutes of Evidence.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Twenty-seventh Report - Department of the Interior: Acquisitions Programme, together with Treasury Minutes on the seventeenth and twentieth reports.
Minutes of Evidence in connexion with the Twenty-seventh Report. ‘
Ordered that, the report only be printed.
Debate resumed from 4th April (vide page 335), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
[3.36]. - The bill now before the Senate authorizes the borrowing of two amounts in American dollars, primarily 9.230,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and 17,770,000 dollars from private sources in the United States of America. The proceeds of both loans are intended for use by Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which, however, is not a party to the agreement. Although the Commonwealth Government is primarily responsible for both repaying the loan and providing the interest commitments on it, it should finally have no financial burden, because it is intended to impose upon Qantas Empire Airways Limited the responsibility to find the moneys. So, in effect, the Commonwealth Government, in this matter, merely acts as agent for the company in question and its particular purpose is to figure as guarantor of the loan.
That does not detract from the fact that the Government has primary and initial responsibility for both loans. There is no complaint about that, because the Commonwealth Government owns the whole of the shares in the company and its action in guaranteeing and making itself responsible for the loan is an appropriate and natural one in those circumstances. 1 think it proper, in addressing myself to the purposes of the bill, to say something about the history of this company, lt is rather a fascinating history. From small beginnings it has gone on to the most romantic and magnificent success, and 1 think I might be justified in addressing a few remarks to the Senate upon that history.
The company was commenced in a very small way, back in the 1920’s, by some World War I. flyers and a few squatters. The name of the company was the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services. The first letters of the name form the word “ Qantas “ which has been associated with this company from the beginning. The company first operated in the western areas of Queensland and in the Northern Territory in an exceedingly modest way. In 1934, the company first saw great development when the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services and Imperial Airways joined in forming what is the present company - Qantas Empire Airways Limited.
That new company was formed and made its initial venture for Australia into the international aerial services by operating the first leg of the aerial run to the United Kingdom. It took over and operated the section from Australia to Singapore. Then, in 1946, the Labour government of the day authorized the purchase from British Overseas Airways Corporation of all the shares held by that company in Qantas Empire Airways Limited. Not very long afterwards - in 1948 - the same government passed an act authorizing retrospectively the purchase of the remaining shares in Qantas Empire Airways Limited held by the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited, the original company. The sale had. in fact, taken place on 3rd July, 1947. but statutory authority confirming the sale was not given until the following year.
– A sale to whom?
– A sale to the Commonwealth Government. Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited held all the remaining shares in the company and they were sold to the Commonwealth Government. There were 261,500 shares sold for £455,000.
– The honorable ‘ senator said “ the remaining shares “?
– Yes. Early in 1946 the Commonwealth Government had bought all the shares held by the British Overseas Airways Corporation. The remaining shares were held by the original company and were purchased in 1947 for the figure I have given, the transaction being confirmed by statute in 1948.
– Was that sale in 1947 a purely voluntary sale?
– I understand both sales were negotiated and there was no compulsory acquisition about either of them. The act of 1948 also authorized the Treasurer to expend £2,000,000 to take up a new issue of shares in Qantas Empire Airways Limited. That, of course, showed that the Commonwealth Government, having acquired all the shares, intended to provide the necessary capital for the company’s expansion.
So we reach the position that since 1948 the Commonwealth Government has owned all the shares in the company and has. in the meantime, been active in contributing capital to the company for its purposes. I notice that provision has been made for £1.000 000 in 1954-55, and £1.21.0.000 in 1955-56, and the appropriation for the current year seeks to make available a total of £1.500,000 to the company for capital purposes.
– For what purposes .s the money to be used?
– I should think, in particular, the expansion of hangars, the purchase of aircraft, and that type of thing. The three amounts total £3.700,000. I put it to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) that as at 31st December. 1955, at which the latest figures for the company are published, there was an amount of £1,958,823 awaiting issue of new shares. That shows, apparency, that portion of the amount appropriated for that financial year had not been made available. It is an odd amount. The total issued capital was £6,500,000. The authorized capital is £10,000,000. 1 note that the amount contributed with a view to acquiring more capital exceeds the balance of the authorized capital, the nominal capital being £10,000,000 and £6.500.000 being already issued. The Commonwealth Government, during the last three years, has advanced £3,700,000 for the purchase of shares. That would carry the paid-up capital at least £200,000 over the total authorized capital. I ask the Minister, when he is replying, to indicate whether it is proposed to increase the total authorized capital of the company to enable shares to be issued in respect of these advances.
– Are those advances loaned to the company?
– No. They are expressed in the budget-papers as being for the acquisition of shares. If they are applied to that purpose they will, in fact, carry the paid-up capital ahead of the authorized or nominal capital.
– Unless there wa3 a further issue of shares?
– Unless the authorized capital was increased in accordance with the Companies Act. The latest figures I have as at 31st December, 1955, indicate that the position is as I have stated. It may be that later information is available and that the company has, in fact, expanded its capital in the interim. I am just seeking information on that point.
– According to a copy of the balance-sheet that I have before me, the authorized share capital is £10.000,000. Issued share capital is shown at £6,500,000, and capital advance - whatever that may mean - £1,900,000, making a total of £8,400,000. I thought you said it was in excess of the nominal capital?
– Let me put the argument again. I agree with the first two items he mentioned: Authorized share capital at .3 1 st December, 1955, £10,000,000, and issued share capital, £6,500,000. But at that point of time there was an early advance, described as “ pending allotment of shares “, the intention being to issue 1,958.823 shares. If the Minister will disregard that for a minute, and refer to .page 51 of the budget papers for this year - he need not be embarrassed if he has not got them before him, because I shall explain the position clearly - he will see, under the heading “ Department of Civil Aviation “ an entry reading -
Qantas Empire Airways Limited, provision of additional share capital.
I emphasize the words “ share capital li was £1.000.000 in 1954-55; £1,200,000 in 1955-56; and £1,500,000 in 1956-57. Together, those provisions total £3,700,000 and, if added to the issued capital of £6,500,000. would carry the total beyond the amount of authorized capita). There is not a major point involved where the Government owns all of the shares, but by the time the three advances are completed, the total share capital contemplated will exceed £10,000,000. 1 merely ask the Minister whether thought has been given, to that matter, and whether an alteration of the authorized capital is contemplated. It may be that something has happened in the meantime, but if shares are to be issued as contemplated by the Parliament, a change must be made in the authorized capital ot the company.
I shall go on with the history of the matter. Some two or three years ago. Qantas Empire Airways Limited again expanded by taking over from British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines the run across the Pacific to Vancouver, via San Francisco, and that, of course, added the Pacific services to the activities hitherto conducted by the company. When one surveys this exceedingly well prepared report, and studies the information contained in it. one cannot but be struck by the extraordinary record of growth and success that it tells. It should be stated that the normal operations of this company were interrupted by the war, and tribute should be paid to the fact that its aircraft played quite a major part in the war effort of this country.
Turning now to the figures that are set out in the report, 1 shall summarize them by referring to the share capital position - which I have already dealt wilh - and to the reserves, which are extraordinary. Including the amount shown in the profit and loss appropriation account, the reserves at December, 1955, amounted to £1.347,434. I have taken the three figures comprising general reserve, development reserve and profit and loss appropriation account in Arriving at that figure. But there is another reserve, mailing £b,232,lb8. Obviously, the company is very far-sighted, and writes down very heavily its operating assets^- aircraft - against profits.
– Does it pay tax?
– Yes. For obsolescence of the aircraft fleet, stores and spares, there is a surprising reserve of £5,720,273; there is an insurance reserve of approximately £41 1,000; and a pension reserve of £100,000. Then, on the matter that the honorable senator mentioned, one can probably find a further reserve in the item “ Provision for taxation “, which stands at £1,297,925. The actual amount of tax paid for the year, speaking from memory, was £245,000. I am sure that that is about right. It was an amount far less than the provision, so that it would seem that, in addition to the total reserves of £7,579,602 that I have mentioned, there could possibly be other reserves in the provision for taxation and the provision for dividends. The amount paid in dividends was less than the amount reserved from profits for the purpose. Therefore, the position in relation to reserves is extraordinarily strong. They have been built up, of course, out of profits. Indeed, the major portion of them has no doubt been built up by heavily depreciating the value of the operating units and stores and spare parts held by the company.
– What amount accrues to the Commonwealth by way of dividends?
– The amount was £317,000 last year, as well as about £245,000 in taxes.
– What was the percentage rate of the dividend?
– If the honorable senator cares to work it out, the dividend distribution was about £317,000 on share capital of about £8,500,000. But I do not think that that reveals the whole picture, for this reason: The gross revenue for the whole year was £15,975,302, and the net operating profit was £401,329. Then there was a profit from aircraft sales. This bears out what I said a moment ago in relation to depreciation, £736,085 being written off under this heading in one year. Of course, that profit had to come into taxation, and tax amounting to £398,029 was paid. That left a net profit under the heading, “ Sales of aircraft “, of £338,056, making the total net profit for the year £739,384. Therefore, the profit rate was about £750,000 on approximately £8,500,000. The. dividend was less, of course, and in addition to the £390,000 profit on sale of aircraft, there was an amount of about £245,000 paid in income tax, and a dividend of £3’1 7.000. For sure, the Commonwealth is doing- particularly well out of the company. The total assets of the company run to £22.000,000, and it has a staff of 5,535 persons, scattered all over the world,, who are doing an extraordinarily good job. The company operates services to Europe and the United Kingdom - or takes part in them - to the United States of America and Canada, to Hong Kong and Japan, to South Africa, to the South Pacific islands, Norfolk Island and Nauru, and to Papua and New Guinea. The company also operates an internal service in Papua and New Guinea. Last year, its aircraft flew 12,226,580 miles in all services.
I conclude that phase of what I have to say to the Senate with the comment that Qantas is well and favorably known throughout the world as one of the world’s best airlines. It is a great advertising medium for Australia and its standards, and I think all that 1 have indicated reflects very great credit upon the directorate, the management and the staff of Qantas.
I come now to the bill itself, and my first comment to the Minister is that there is a surprising lack of information in his secondreading speech regarding the broad purposes of the loan. I should like to refer the Minister to the preamble to the Loan Agreement in the schedule. It recites in part -
Whereas Qantas Empire Airways Limited . is engaged in a program for the modernization and expansion of the fleet of aircraft , installations and equipment owned and operated by it, which program is estimated to involve expenditures amounting to the equivalent of approximately $65,000,000 of which the equivalent of approximately $51,000,000 will he for imports.
The next recital is -
The borrower being the Commonwealth - intends to make available or to cause to be made available to Qantas (or the purposes of such program funds amounting to the equivalent of approximately $33,000,000 and intends to raise a part of such funds by selling its notes in the aggregate principal amount of $17,770,000 in the United States of America.
The third recital is -
The Bank has agreed to supply an additional amount of the funds required.
That represents an amount of 9,230,000 dollars, which is contracted for in the Loan Agreement.
J next refer the Minister to the description of the project in schedule 2 of the bill, lt reads -
The Project consists of a program for the medernization and expansion of the fleet of aircraft and other equipment owned and operated by Qantas, which program will involve expenditures, during the period from July 1, 1956, to December 31, 1959, estimated to amount to the equivalent of approximately $65,000,000. Qantas will acquire aircraft, spare parts and other flight equipment and will improve hangars and repair shops and other ground facilities for use in the ordinary course of its business. Imported items to be financed out of the proceeds of the loan include seven four-engine Boeing long-range jet aircraft, four four-engine long-range propellerdriven aircraft and normally ancillary equipment and spare parts for these aircraft.
Several questions now arise. Take the total programme spread over the period indicated in the description of the project of 65,000.000 dollars. The project is described in very broad terms. What are the details? What particular buildings, what particular hangars, what particular ground services does Qantas propose to embark upon? I think the broad description in the schedule to the Loan Agreement is not adequate for this Parliament, particularly when I refer the Minister to one clause in the Loan Agreement which, in my view, throws responsibility for the whole programme, for the whole 65,000,000 dollars worth, upon the Commonwealth Government.
– lt is appropriate to define the details of a project in terms like this between the parties to the Loan Agreement.
– I am not complaining about the agreement; my complaint is directed to the absence of information in the Minister’s second-reading speech.
I should like to refer the Senate now to what is described as section 5.02 on page * of the bill, lt reads -
That term meaning the Commonwealth - shall cause to be provided to Qantas the fund-arising from the Loan and from the sale of the notes referred to in Recital (B) of this Agree ment .
What I have read so far indicates that the borrower has to make 27,000,000 dollar!,, borrowed pursuant to this bill, available to Qantas. Here are the important words - and any further funds that Qantas may require for carrying out the Project.
Although the Parliament, in this bill, if accepting responsibility only for 27,000,000 dollars, it is, pursuant to that agreement, binding the Commonwealth to find all of the moneys, to the tune of 65,000.000 dollars. That, I think, puts in issue immediately the points that I have raised. What are the details of this exceedingly comprehensive programme? It surprises me that there was not some fuller and further reference to the nature of it in the Minister’s secondreading speech.
Questions affecting amounts also arise. In the preambles that I have indicated, whilst the total programme is for 65,000,000 dollars, it is contemplated that 51,000,000 dollars is to represent imports. Two questions arise there. First, what about the local amount? The d:Kerence, I presume, will be 14,000.000 dollars for local purposes. Who is to find that - the company or the Commonwealth? If the Commonwealth” is to find it. will » further appropriation measure be brought to this Parliament, and, if so. for what specific purposes? This means looking at the imports, if they are to be a total of 51,000,000 dollars. At the moment, we are dealing only with imports to the tune of 27.000.000 dollars. What items are to be included in the 24,000,000 dollars contemplated for further imports?
– It is not customary to state the imports in detail in an agreement. What is the significance of reciting the imports in the agreement between the Commonwealth and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development?
– That is a question the’ honorable senator should direct not to me, but to his Minister, in due course, lt does look to me rather extraordinary. Those concerned break the total project up into 51,000,000 dollars worth of imports and leave 14,000,000 dollars to be accounted for in some other way. The point I am making is that the Minister, in his speech, has not conveyed to the Senate :my information about the 14,000,000 dollars for local purchases, nor does he tell us where, if there are to be 51,000,000 dollars worth of imports - and we are now dealing only with 27,000,000 dollars worth of imports - the remaining 24,000,000 dollars worth are to come from. Where are they to come from, and from whose resources - the company’s or the Government’s? Again, what type of imports are in contemplation?
I am suggesting to the Minister that these are matters which might have been adequately dealt with in his second-reading speech. As they are not, I now raise them for his consideration. . In the second recital to which I referred, right at the beginning of the loan agreement, there is a reference to 35,000,000 dollars which the Commonwealth has to supply. It is making itself responsible for only 27,000,000 dollars under this bill. What is the explanation of the difference of 8,000,000 dollars? Those three or four questions are matters in which the Opposition is very properly interested.
I shall summarize what I have said. There is a project of 65,000,000 dollars. The Commonwealth is assuming immediate responsibility, under the loan agreement, for 9,000,000 dollars, but the sum of 65,000,000 dollars is to be found. All I can say is that this Senate is entitled to know just what are the full details of the project.
– What is the reference in the second recital to intention to raise part of such funds by selling its notes in the aggregate amount of 17,770,000 dollars?
– The intention, as the honorable senator will see, is that the borrower will make available 35,000,000 dollars. It will borrow 17,700.000 dollars from private lenders in the United States of America. The next recital picks up 9.230,000 dollars. There is no explanation of .the difference between 27.000,000 dollars, which is the total of those two figures, and the 35,000,000 dollars that it is contemplated the Commonwealth will find. The
Minister will appreciate that that type of thing might well have been set out at the outset, instead of leaving it to be raised at this stage. The second schedule of the loan agreement indicates that Qantas wants to buy seven four-engine Boeing longrange jet aircraft and four four-engine propeller-driven long-range’ aircraft arid spare parts. There is much difference of expert opinion on the best type of aircraft for Qantas to operate. I offer no opinion on that, but I am prepared to back the decision of people whose judgment in promoting their enterprise has been so magnificently vindicated up to date. I would not - nor does the Opposition - proffer any thought upon that matter. We feel justified in having complete confidence in the decision that the directors and management of Qantas have made. After all is said and done, they have proved their judgment in the past to be sound, and they are the persons who are immediately responsible for preserving the traditions of the company and for its future operations. I would be happy to rest content on what they have had to say in respect to that matter.
I have seen suggestions that the importation and use in’ Australia of these jet aircraft will involve, in particular, extensions of runways. I do not know whether or not that is so. I have not yet seen the suggestions answered, and I ask the Minister whether the use of these aircraft will involve any alteration of substance to Australian runways. If any such alteration is required, what would be the approximate cost? To how many airfields ‘would it be necessary? Will the Minister give any further information on that subject that he may have in his possession?
– We have nearly finished those alterations at Brisbane airport.
– To accommodate this particular type? I have read the allegation that airfields will have to be altered to accommodate them, and I just want to know whether some extra burden will be imposed on the Parliament, through the Department of Civil Aviation, in extending existing runways and facilities. The loan conditions are. more or less in accordance with those which the Parliament has had before it on earlier occasions. Interest will be 41 per cent. In the case of the bank loan, there will be a t per cent, commitment charge, .but -this charge will be only i per cent, in the case of the private institutional lenders. Repayments of principal to the institutional lenders will commence in 1960. The company and the Government, accordingly, will have .a run of about four years free of .principal repayments; then they will repay an a period of three and a half years. Before that period elapses, the Commonwealth end the company will have to begin repayments of principal to the bank. The two ^repayment periods overlap to some minor extent. The company, therefore, will be given a very good opportunity. It will be ^obliged to find interest only for the first .four years and will then repay the principal amount in from three and a half to four years.
I understand that Qantas, particularly through ‘its operations in Vancouver and San Francisco, is a dollar-earner. I have read a statement that it earns about 11.000,000 dollars per annum. If that is so - and i should like the Minister to confirm it - it would seem to me that, particularly with that four-year breather before the principal has to be repaid, the matter of servicing the loan, both by principal and interest repayments, should not present any very great difficulty to the company. I should like the Minister to indicate, if he would, just what is the company’s earning capacity in dollars, and what are its prospects in that direction in the future.
One other matter concerns me somewhat particularly. I am interested to know how this total loan of 27,000.000 dollars came to be broken up into two amounts, 17,770.000 dollars from private lenders and 9,230.000 dollars from the bank. Can the Minister say what happened? Did the bank decline to advance more than 9,230.000 dollars, and was the Commonwealth then obliged to seek the balance on private markets? Or did the Commonwealth exhaust the private markets first and merely ,go to the bank for the balance? lt seems .an odd amount for the bank to find. I am interested in the way in which the Government proceeded. Who ran out of funds first, the private lenders or the bank, and .to whom was the first approach made? The amounts are exceedingly odd, when one Hooks at international borrowing, and the Minister might be able to tell us how the two borrowings fall into those categories of odd amounts.
– They are odd in dollars, but would they be even in our currency?
– I am somewhat doubtful about that. After all is said and done, I suggest to Senator Kendall that the lenders would be thinking in terms of dollars only, not of our currency.. The amounts would not be balanced up in nice round figures in our currency. The lenders would be thinking of themselves. It seems to be a queer division between the two bodies and I am interested to know how it came about. There is no information in the secondreading speech about who the institutional lenders are. I wonder whether there is any objection to the Senate being told that. I think that we might know to whom we are undertaking commitments as a Parliament.
– J. P. Morgan and Company is the broking firm.
– The brokers are Morgan Stanley and Company. They are entitled to a brokerage fee, out of which they have to pay legal expenses here and abroad in certifying compliance with certain requirements of the loan agreement. The Minister might indicate also to what those costs will run.
The attitude of the Opposition to this matter is something which I have not yet stated. Whilst I indicate that, broadly, we are opposed to foreign borrowing, we consider that this particular borrowing is in an entirely different category. First, here is a successful institution. It is, in effect, a government institution. It has, within ils own power and scope, ability to earn dollars that, on the face of it, ought to be adequate to service this loan without any undue strain on the dollar field, and certainly without imposing any financial obligation on the Commonwealth itself. Thai is, in my view, peculiarly the type of loan that ought to be made, not for broad general purposes, which may or may not have the effect of earning more dollars, but for a project like this that has a dollar-earning capacity, that is successful and that may expand that capacity. We do not oppose the loan in these circumstances and for those reasons. All Opposition senators join with me in expressing admiration of the management and conduct of this company and in wishing it well in the big project which will be opening up before it in the next few years.
, - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has reviewed the history of Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and 1 should like to add my praise of the wonderful service that the company has given to its customers. I had personal experience of it not long ago. The company has made a deep impression on civil aviation throughout the world.
The Leader of the Opposition has given an excellent analysis of the finances of the proposal that is before the Senate, and has put some pertinent questions to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). Under the terms of the bill, Qantas is to buy a number of Boeing jet aircraft. That is the only jet aircraft that is produced in the United States of America, and I should have liked the company to buy aircraft of that type from Great Britain, where the Comet, a better aircraft than the Boeing, is being produced. 1 believe, also, that turbo-prop aircraft, such as the Britannia, which is produced in Great Britain, is more economical than the Boeing aircraft.
A huge sum is to be expended in the United States by Qantas for the purposes set out in the bill, and I wonder whether this transaction is a sop to the United States. I notice that Qantas is seeking a route to England across the United States, and this might be a good business deal in that connexion, but I should like to have seen British aircraft used on this new route.
I believe a warning should be given against the growing burden that is being placed upon Australia by the investment of foreign capital. The Commonwealth Statistical Papers show that, since 1948-49, interest and dividends paid on foreign capital invested in Australia have risen from 7 per cent, of the total export credits earned to 10+ per cent, per annum. That is equal to £50,000.000 a year. That means that we have to export more primary products to pay for the interest and dividends on foreign capital, most of which has been invested in manufacturing industries and in civil aviation. Some of the money has been spent on national development, but we must realize that the payments to which I have referred absorb much of our earnings from primary production. The new loan will add to that burden. If our secondary industries were exporting overseas, it would be a different matter, but the burden is on our earnings from primary products, and they could fall quickly.
The bill shows that Qantas is expanding, and the Anti-Communist Labour party will not raise any objection to the loan. We merely wish to direct attention to the two aspects of the matter to which I have referred. I have pleasure in supporting the bill in recognition of the progress that Qantas has made in civil aviation throughout the world.
– in reply - I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) on his interesting resume of the history of Qantas Empire Airways Limited. 1 was particularly interested to note that Qantas introduced its first overseas air service in 1934. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the budgetary provisions under the bill for three years seem to create a situation in which the money provided for taking up shares and for the issue of new shares in in the company is a couple of hundred thousand pounds in excess of the authorized capital of the company. I cannot give any adequate explanation, but I suggest that possibly some of it is provision for additional shares in Wentworth Holdings Limited, the hotel company that has been acquired by Qantas. 1 do not put that suggestion forward seriously because I do not know the facts.
I admit that, on the information before us, the money provided is in excess oi the company’s capacity to issue additional shares. With respect, I suggest that the point is interesting, but not of great importance, because 1 could not imagine an important policy decision of a company with £10.000,000 nominal capital being decided on the turn of a couple of hundred thousand pounds. Bigger issues would have to be at stake.
In reply to the Leader of the Opposition,
I think that perhaps I should start at the beginning and go forward. The proposition that is inherent in the bill and in the secondreading speech in explanation of it, provides tor the raising and expenditure of 65,000,000 dollars spread over a period of years. Of that amount, 27,000,000 dollars is being borrowed, and the balance is to be found by the company from its own resources. Of the 65,000,000 dollars, 51,000,000 . dollars will be in foreign currency.
That is an outline of the proposal. The money is to be used for the purchase of seven Boeing aircraft, two Super Constellations, engines and spare parts, and to complete the purchase of two Super Constellations already partly paid for. Of the 27,000,000 dollars that is to be borrowed, 9,230,000 is to be obtained from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and 17,770,000 dollars from
The seven Boeing 707/138 aircraft will cost 4.384.000 dollars each. To that initial cost must be added provision for initial spares and a flight simulator. The two additional Super Constellation aircraft which are being purchased to meet interim requirements to 1959 and additional equipment in the form of nose radar and wing tip fuel tanks will cost 5,200,000 dollars. So, in round figures, the seven Boeings and the two Super Constellations will cost a total of 48,400,000 dollars, which is a substantial part of the total borrowing when we remember that the cost of spares, hangars and other items must be added to that figure. Additional information is probably available. It is by no means a simple story. To try to reconcile the two sets of figures is a rather complicated task.
A question was asked about the names of the lenders. The New York underwriting firm of Morgan Stanley and Company acted as agent for the Commonwealth at the New York end of the negotiations. Morgan Stanley and Company approached possible lenders in much the same way as it would for a public loan, but as this was. a private operation it was necessary for the Commonwealth to sign separate agreements with each lender. It has never been the practice for the Commonwealth to reveal the names of subscribers to such Australian or overseas loans unless they have specifically asked for such publicity to be given. In the present operation, one of the institutions concerned engages in a considerable amount of aircraft finance, and it has specifically asked that its name be not mentioned in any publicity, presumably because it did not wish to reveal its participation in this operation in which the interest rate has been made public. Normally, no public announcement is made of the interest rate involved in similar private financing arrangements.
Regarding the amounts of 9,230,000 and 17,700,000 dollars, as so frequently happens, a little touch of the accidental enters into the picture. At an early stage of the negotiations, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development agreed to lend an amount approximately equal to onehalf of what could be raised elsewhere. The bank participated finally to the extent of 9.230.000 dollars, which was a slight increase on its earlier offer, in order to round off the total to an even 1,000.000 dollars.
– So the bank took up the tail end of the loan?
– Yes. I have not any details regarding earning capacity. I have only the general statement that was made by the Minister at the time he announced the transaction to the effect that dollar commitments would be more than adequately covered by Qantas’s annual earning in the dollar area and the resale of some of the existing fleet for dollars, arrangements for which have been concluded on a very satisfactory basis.
I am indebted to my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) for a note on the length of runways. He points out that an extension of runways will not be required for Qantas aircraft flying from Sydney to Darwin and from Sydney to Fiji. It should not be necessary to make any extension for Qantas’s normal operations from Sydney to Singapore, but it might be necessary for the use of jet aircraft by K.L.M., Pan American Airline and the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation. A further note points out that a decision will depend not only on the frequency of the service, but also upon the loading on particular services, which will be determined by experience.
Senator Cole raised two points, the first of which was the question of foreign borrowings. I think we can only agree to differ on that point, because the Government believes that the development of a young country like Australia fully justifies overseas borrowings. He referred, also, to the desirability of purchasing British aircraft. I have before me a note which gives various technical reasons for the purchase of American aircraft, which the honorable senator may understand better than I. To my mind, however, the query is answered sufficiently by a glance at the names of the directors of Qantas. They include Sir Hudson Fysh, W. C. Taylor, G. P. N. Watt, Sir Daniel McVey, Sir Roland Wilson and Robert R. Law-Smith. When I note, too, that the general manager is C. O. Turner, and that “ Scotty “ Allan is one of the chief technical officers of the company, I think that if that group of people did not buy British aircraft, the rest of us would not be likely to do so. I should think that their instinct would lead them to buy British aircraft in preference to other aircraft if at all possible. The technical reasons that have been submitted to me are of less importance than the broad general practice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
– I wish to direct the attention of the committee to clause 4 (1.) which provides that-
A copy of the International Bank Agreement is set out in the First Schedule to this Act
Sub-clause (2.) provides that -
A copy of the Loan Regulations No. 3 of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development referred to in Section 1.01 of the International Bank Agreement is set out in the Second Schedule to the Loan (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Act 1957.
The measure referred to in sub-clause (2.) is not before this chamber. We are dealing with important regulations affecting a bank loan and we are told, as this bill comes before us, that many of the relevant regulations may be found in, a bill which has not yet, officially, reached the Senate. Even if it had, I think it isinconvenient, for the sakeof saving a small amount of expense, not to have attached to this bill those documents dealing with Qantas Empire Airways Limited, that is, the whole of the regulations relating to the loan.
If one refers to the agreement with the bank itself which is contained in the First Schedule to the bill, one finds frequent references to loan regulations. I refer the committee to section 2.05 and also section 6.02. We are in the extraordinary position that, although Schedule 3 deals with modifications of Loan Regulation No. 3,those regulations are not before us. I can appreciate that they run to some ten or twelve printed pages, and that they would have been set up for inclusion in one of two bills. One of those bills is now before us and one is not. It would have involved printing only a few more copies of the loan regulations to enable them to be attached to this bill. I direct attention, by way of formal complaint, to the fact that the document to which reference is made is not officially before the committee. I know that at this stage the Minister cannot cure this defect, but I suggest that if any more of these loans have to be dealt with, he might remember that the Opposition would like to have the whole story placed before them in one document. The little that has been saved by not adding the loan regulations to this document isnot worth while. It means that the Qantas people will have to chase through another piece of legislation that has nothing to do with them in order to find out their commitments. It is a little bit clumsy.
I wish to comment on section 5.04 of the First Schedule.I am not seeking to make a point out of this, butI direct attention to the severity of the terms that the International Bank can import into what is, after all, a relatively small loan of this type - only 9,230,000 dollars. The purpose of the section in the schedule is to provide that the borrower, the Commonwealth, shall not give any lien over its public assets hereafter that would have the effect of giving to the new lender a priority over the International Bank. That condition is laid down to govern the borrowing of an amount of 9,230,000 dollars. But as one reads the section further one finds these words - and, within the limits of its constitutional powers, the Borrower will make the foregoing undertaking
That is, as to the lien- effective with respect to liens on assets of the States and Territories of the Borrower and their agencies (including local governing authorities).
– Local governing authorities?
– That is so. In short, what the Commonwealth is contracting to do, within the limits of its constitutional powers, is not, itself, to grant any lien that would give a preference to another lender over the International Bank, so that no State or territory or municipal government may do so.
– That does not matter; that would be outside the Government’s constitutional powers.
– I have said that I merely point out that municipalities, every day, are granting liens over their rates and charges, and this seems to be a terrific sledge-hammer condition to introduce into an agreement relating to 9,230,000 dollars to prevent the Commonwealth from granting liens, and obliging it, as far as it can, to prevent States or municipalities from doing so.
– It could not do that, at all.
– I should not think it could. In those circumstances, why should such a condition be in the agreement or why is it not modified?
– The governing phrase of this condition is “ within the limits of its constitutional powers “.
– I recognize that, and I emphasized that point at the outset of my remarks. That probably makes the condition meaningless. If I reduced my argument to the lowest level, I should ask why insert conditions in an agreement that do not mean anything? This is a form of agreement, but there is no need to have conditions in it that are really absurd. If there are schedules of regulations for the purpose of laying down the conditions of this loan, surely they could be reduced to actuality and not have, on a small loan of this nature, other conditions relating to liens that may be granted by municipalities. I say again that it is an extraordinary sledgehammer provision to incorporate and it might, with advantage, have been omitted from the agreement.
. -I feel, in the atmosphere of the last few remarks of Senator McKenna, an element of unreality.I am provoked by what the honorable senator has said to read section 5.04 of the First Schedule a little further. From where the honorable senator left off reading, the section goes on to provide -
However, this section shall not apply to: . . .
any lien created by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia-
That is our Central Reserve Bank - orthe Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia on any of their assets inthe ordinary course of their banking businesses to secure any indebtedness maturing not more than one year after its date.
The implications clearly apparent in the restrictive terms of that proviso are that the Commonwealth undertakes not to verge on the assets of the Central Reserve Bank and the Commonwealth Trading Bank, except insofar as those assets are applied for short-term indebtedness of one year in the ordinary course of business. That proposition is stated only if you read in the language of this agreement any sense of reality to indicate to the Committee the enormity of the obligation that is being imposed upon the Commonwealth Central Reserve Bank and the Commonwealth Trading Bank assets. It does not dismay me, in one sense, that if one should commit the credit of this country to the repayment of 9.230,000 dollars and should fail to pay it, one would surrender everything, including Commonwealth Bank assets. The practical effect of it is that after this lien has been created to secure this midget amount of money, subsequent lenders will look to the degree of hypothecation of your assets under these obligations and be deterred to think that a small lender has been able to secure such wide security - a security such as has been universal on Australian assets and, in effect, begin to take the position of second mortgagee. I point that out only as a matter of language, but I feel that the Senate has not treated the bill as having any actuality. I say that with no disrespect to the Senate. This bill is being passed without any indication being given by the Senate of its responsibility in this matter. 1 share that sense of irresponsibility. I do not claim to have studied the matter at all, but I desire to make my point and excuse myself from a position not different from that of any other honorable senator. I make the point that the Commonwealth Government is assuming liability for this loan, lt has been said that the Government is acting only as an intermediary, but, in effect, it is accepting liability. The Government is entering into obligations for projects such as the St. Mary’s filling factory. What degree of scrutiny has been given by any parliamentary agency or committee to such projects before we authorize the country to commit itself in respect of them? I direct attention to section 5.02 of the agreement, to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has already referred. I feet that that section should be pointedly drawn to the notice of the Minister. Honorable senators will note that one of the obligations of this agreement is that -
The Borrower shall cause to be provided to Qantas the funds arising from the Loan-
That is from the bank - and from the sale of the notes-
That is from the private lenders. But not only that, the agreement obligates the borrower, the Commonwealth Government, to cause to be provided to Qantas - any further funds that Qantas may require tot carrying out the Project.
So that as a term of this loan the borrower is assuming contractual liability to see that Qantas is provided, not merely with 27,000,000 dollars, but with the whole of the 65,000,000 dollars which are said to be required for the full programme. Honorable senators will notice, in the terms of the loan that the obligation is not limited to 65,000,000 dollars. If the programme is carried out completely during the inflationary conditions that we are experiencing, and if any element of irresponsibility may have arisen in estimating this project, it may be that 85,000.000 dollars will be required for the project. My reading of the agreement is that the Commonwealth Government is obligating itself unconditionally to cause to be provided to Qantas, not merely such funds as are raised under this loan, but such additional funds as shall be required to enable Qantas to carry out the project, unlimited by any specified amount of money, and with unlimited liability.
I pose the question: What parliamentary agency has scrutinized this project of Qantas? None! The directors have been appointed, and so far as I know, they have no responsibility to the Parliament other than the ordinary responsibility of directors of airways. If we, as a Parliament, are to assume the appearance of responsibility in sanctioning responsibilities of this sort by the Commonwealth, we must establish a committee to- which such projects as this and St. Mary’s filling factory, are referred. The committee should have the obligation, in a business-like way, of getting the directors to lay their proposition before it. and we, as a Parliament, would then be justified in relying upon a report of a committee of our own constitution. Unless we do that, parliamentary responsibility should not pretend to exist because it does not exist.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the following resolution in connexion with the Foreign Affairs Committee: -
That Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Joske, Sir Wilfred Kent Hughes, Mr. Lucock, Mr. Mackinnon, Mr. Timson and Mr. Wentworth be members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
That, until such time as the five remaining vacancies for members of the House of Representatives on this committee are filled by members of the Opposition, .Mr. Chaney, Mr. Failes, Mr. Turner, Mr. Wheeler and- Mr.. Wight be members of the committee.
Debate resumed from 4th April (vide page 363) on motion by Senator O’sullivan -
That the following paper be printed: -
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, dated 2nd April, 1957.
– As this debute proceeds, it is evident that confusion exists in the minds of some members of this Senate in respect of the functions of the United Nations. It is clear to me that many members of the community are also greatly confused about the operations of that organization. I can very well understand that situation, because people have no opportunity of learning about the functions of the United Nations except through the press, which constantly gives garbled reports of its decisions and actions.
A belief is shared by many people that the influence of the United Nations is waning and that, in its short life, it has not fulfilled its obligations. It is felt that confidence in the organization is waning throughout the world. I feel there is only one way to judge the work of the United Nations and that is by examining its brief record, and then assessing the value of its operations. Let me take the minds of honorable senators back to 1946 or 1947 when conflict existed between Pakistan and India in respect of the form of control and government of Kashmir. It was the United Nations, and no other authority, which settled the dispute between the two countries.
I proceed further along the road in order to prove that the United Nations has fulfilled the whole of its obligations, particularly that in respect of the prevention of wars. I refer to the trouble in Palestine. From the first, there was hostility on the part of the Arab States towards the establishment of Israel in Palestine. Again, the United Nations, by its influence, quelled the disturbance and has allowed Israel to live on, in the manner which it has, ever since. Then, of course, there was trouble between the Netherlands and Indonesia. How was that conflict settled? lt was the United Nations which settled that trouble.
I recollect sitting , in this Senate when the Parliament approved of Australia participating in a war in Korea against northern Korea. The forces which were arrayed against the northern Korean forces were those of the United Nations. We know the history of that war, and what transpired after it. The member nations of the United Nations fought the North Koreans. We also have full knowledge of how the forces of North Korea were augmented from China and Russia. But the fact is that Russia, a member of the United Nations, was called upon to pay its proportion of the expense incurred by that organization.
I could proceed further, perhaps, along those lines and deal with the recent Suez conflict. However, I do not propose to do so, for this reason: Before long, the Suez disturbance, or the Suez war, as some may wish to call it, will pass into history. The conflict between Israel and Egypt, also, will be a past incident, and whether or not it was the intervention of the United States of America or the hand of the United Nations that restored peace to that zone will matter not. It is the establishment of peace now that counts. Let us ask ourselves why it is that so many member nations of the United Nations stand for peace and are afraid of war to-day. There is. only one answer to that question, to which I was leading up when my speech was interrupted last Thursday. The answer is that they fear that the hydrogen bomb might be used. No longer can any nation think of war without giving some consideration to the possible use of the hydrogen bomb, because one hydrogen bomb could kill millions of people and destroy 10,000 square miles of territory. If a foreign power decided to wage all-out war against Australia it could, by drooping a hydrogen bomb on Brisbane, another on Sydney, and a third on Melbourne, kill millions of our people and paralyse those cities for at least half a century. As individuals, we must keep those things in our mind when dealing with foreign affairs, because both the first world war and the second world war would pale into insignificance, almost nothingness, compared with a third world war involving the use of hydrogen and atomic bombs. I do not think that any honorable senator, in directing himself to events in the world to-day, should ask why the United Nations did not settle this or that conflict. I am one of those who contend that, if we stand for the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, we should not match war with war. The stockpiling of hydrogen and atomic bombs, and of guided missiles, is not the way to cultivate peace.
We, in Australia, must adjust our thinking to the facts of life throughout the world to-day. We are but a young nation in a world containing many nations. I cannot imagine anything more futile than a body such as. the United Nations, which was established to prevent wars from occurring, not having full power to deal with the causes of war. War stems from economic causes. Let us not delude ourselves about the causes of war. As we know, the Suez Canal provides access to Arabia, Iran and Iraq, countries that are rich in oil. Therein lies the reason for the conflicts between the United Kingdom and France on the one hand and Egypt on the other, as also between Egypt and Israel. History reveals that all wars have been attributable to economic causes. f said a moment ago that nothing could be more futile than an organization designed to prevent war not being clothed with full power to deal with economic circumstances that lead to war. I believe that the United Nations has that power. During this debate last week, a supporter of the Government said that there was no such organization as the United Nations; that the correct term was “ disunited nations “. I do not quarrel with that statement, because most nations are disunited in their own spheres. For instance, Australia does not agree with Russia; our ideologies are dissimilar. But it is quite possible for disunited nations to become united when they band together to maintain peace in the world. It will be recalled that the United Nations Organiza tion was formed in 1942, at the height ot the last war. Russia was an ally of the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America, despite the fact that those nations did not support its ideology. They were the principal nations represented at the conference- that decided to form the United Nations organization, and it was President Roosevelt who gave the organization its title. The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations commences with the words, “ We. the peoples of the United Nations . . .”. The charter pledged the member nations of the organization to prevent the scourge of war from again afflicting humanity, lt also made provision for dealing with wars, so that the peoples of the world could exist on a friendly basis. A third object of the Charter - one that conforms to my philosophy - was to establish throughout the world economic and social conditions appropriate to civilized communities. Those are the things which the United Nations set out to do. A little while ago, I gave an illustration of how it has functioned in dealing with wars and threats of war. Before dealing briefly with some of the things it has done to extirpate the causes of war, I remind honorable senators that when we are considering an organization such as the United Nations, it is just as well to think for a minute or two about an alternative to it. If it were dissolved to-morrow, what could we set up to take its place and do the work it is doing? Prior to its establishment we had the League of Nations, but there is a great difference between the functions of the League of Nations and those now being exercised by the United Nations. The League of Nations was’ principally a political organization. The United Nations, in addition to being a political organization, has many functions closely associated with the economic and social life of the people.
When I read the United Nations Charter, I always read also the Declaration of Human Rights because I think they are meant to go together. It is appropriate that they be read together because, in dealing with the settlement of wars and the causes of war, the United Nations is dealing with the economic problems of the world.
I propose now to mention the organs of the United Nations, because many people are confused as to how it operates. I do not blame them for a moment, because the only news they get of the United Nations is the garbled reports of its discussions published in the daily press. First of all, there is the General Assembly. The General Assembly building itself would be,I suppose, 20 or 30 times bigger than this Senate chamber. One of the things that impressed me most when I attended the Eleventh Session of that Assembly was the fact that every delegate who addressed the gathering had to stand in front of the other delegates when he was speaking.
While listening to the deliberations of the General Assembly, I realized that it was dealing with many problems which were as old as the world itself. This almost new organization, which has existed for only eleven years, deals with problems that go right back to the beginning of civilization. In that assembly, any matter of national or international importance may be discussed. It is an assembly in which any matter concerning the people of the world may be discussed after it has been introduced in the proper manner.
Then there is the Security Council. That chamber is not quite so large as the General Assembly chamber. Then there are the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat. The Security Council deal with matters referred to it by nations who are contesting or disputing such things as boundaries and economic problems. It is there that these matters are discussed with the object of preventing war. The Economic and Social Council deals with economic and important social matters.
Perhaps I can best illustrate the function of the Trusteeship Council by showing to the Senate a copy of a report furnished to this Parliament by the Administration of Papua and New Guinea. It is a report that must be furnished by that Administration to this Parliament on the work that it has done throughout the year. In it we find printed in parenthesis the following: -
Submitted in conformity with Article 88 of the Charier of the United Nations and on the basis of the Questionnaire approved by the Trusteeship Council on the Sixth June, 1952.
The Commonwealth spends between £7,000.000 and £9,000.000 a year on maintaining services in Papua and New Guinea, but everything is done subject to the wishes of the Trusteeship Council. All operations of Australia in Papua and New
Guinea are considered at least once a year bythatTrusteeship Council,Imention these points merely as a matter of interest tohonorable senators.
The International Court of Justice deals withthemany disputes which arise throughout the world.Ithasfif teenjudges, all of whom are men qualified to be judges in their own country or who have been judges in their own country at some time or other. Then there is the Secretariat. As a matter of interest,Imention that at the present time there is a staff of approximately3,000 employed by theUnited Nations organization.
The United Nations has a membership of 80 nations.I was present when Japan joined. It may be thought by some honorable senators that some nations do not value their membership ot this organization. Let me correctthem immediately. Every nation which was represented at the Eleventh Session of the General Assembly recently valued most highly its membership of the United Nations.I can remember very well the dispute about whether Formosan China or Mao Tse-tung China should be represented at the United Nations. On some occasions, unfortunately, I have heard honorable senators on the Government side suggest that we should discontinue our membership of the United Nations. What would happen if the Australian Government did discontinue its membership? 1 can assure honorable senators that the United Nations, as an organization, would not collapse but would continue in the same way as it has been operating over the years, and would go on from success to success.
Let us now examine the facts in connexion with membership of the United Nations. The population of the world is 2,692,000,000. The population of the nations represented at the United Nations is 2,000,000,000. This means that the number of people outside the influence of the United Nations organization is only 692,000,000.
– Did the honorable senator say 692,000?
– I said that the number entirely outside the influence of the United Nations is only 692,000,000.I remind the honorable senator that Mao Tse-tung China is not a member of the United
Nations, and the population of that country is approximately 600,000,000. It is, therefore, quite easy for one who may be present at the proceedings of the United Nations to group its members. I spent a good deal of my time grouping them when I was there. This is easy if one observes how they vote, and one gains some knowledge of the way of life of these people in their own countries. For instance, one could see the representatives of such places as Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. I would call them all Arabian countries. There are conditions in those countries which we would not dream of having here. As a matter of fact, they would be absolutely repugnant to us. In Saudi Arabia slavery still exists. Men and women are still sold. They have no more worth than have sheep or oxen. Some of those other countries are not much better. In one oil-producing country, which I think is Iraq, instead of concentrating on the growing of food, the people grow and sell opium and other drugs.
Then I used to look at the Communist bloc. The leader, of course, was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This bloc included the Ukraine and Byelo-Russia. I used to wonder how Russia had managed to retain them as separate members, because they are a part of Russia itself. This bloc included also Bulgaria, Rumania. Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Then there was the United Kingdom bloc, which I would say included, as well as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. One could also group these countries according to colour. I saw three fullblooded black persons representing the Sudan, Ethiopia and Liberia. The United Nations was one place where colour counted for nothing. I would say that those three representatives were highly educated gentlemen. I also grouped some of the countries according to their economies. I found that at least eleven countries had economies which were similar to the Australian economy, in that they were exporters of primary produce. They were Argentina, Brazil. Canada, the United States of America, New Zealand, Denmark. Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
Then there was the South-East Asian group, in which I put Cambodia. Ceylon, China. Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and
Thailand. The Indian group included India. Ceylon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Burma. There were sixteen Latin American countries, and it seemed to me that their economies were much the same. They are frequently referred to as “ the banana States “. The countries could also be classified according to their religions, if one wished to so classify them, but I feel that it is not incumbent on me to discuss religions.
What is the chief problem in the world to-day? That is a question to which the Australian Labour party has always given consideration. The main problem to-day is economic. We must think of development which is going on, or which is needed in under-developed countries. I could say, if I wished to do so, that Australia is an underdeveloped country, but I shall point out now what the United Nations is doing to deal with the world’s problems. Ten specialized agencies are functioning. Briefly, they are the International Labour Organization, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Universal Postal Union, the International Telecommunication Union, the World Meteorological Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
Before I proceed to outline briefly the functions of those agencies, I wish to mention that at the 1 1 th session of the Assembly six committees were operating. One was the Political and Security Committee, which dealt with political matters of an international nature. Another was the Economic and Financial Committee, of which I was fortunate enough to be a member. On my return. I brought with me an agenda paper for one day. This shows that the matters for consideration on that day were, first, the establishment of a special United Nations fund for economic development: secondly, international tax problems; and thirdly, industrialization of underdeveloped countries. Many honorable senators would have been very interested lo participate in those discussions. A third committee was the Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, of which Senator Marriott was a member. I feel sure that if he has any spare time he will icl! the Senate of the very interesting debates i hat transpired in that committee upon humanitarian and social questions. The Trusteeship Committee reviewed reports furnished to it. L mentioned a little while -igo one of those reports. Other reports were furnished by other countries having a mandate to care for certain territories. The Administrative and Budgetary Committee dealt with the budget and expenditure of the United Nations organization. The Legal Committee handled the legal problems which arose during the year. We, as a nation, must at some time or other raise legal problems to be discussed by that committee. I recall that at one stage we had to deal with Japanese fishing fleets within Australian waters. The Japanese objected to our procedure. That would be a matter for the Japanese to take to the Legal Committee for full discussion.
I propose to mention some of the functions of the specialized agencies of the United Nations. I deal first with education, because we regard that as a most important matter. The Australian educational system, with compulsory education, secondary schools and universities, is regarded by us as commonplace, but it is a fact that more than one-half of the world’s population can neither read nor write. That is shocking information to anyone, and it is a problem that has been cast upon the United Nations, which has set about tackling it in a very methodical manner. It has been found that in South Asia, in the Pacific region, where there are 95,000,000 children of school age, 55,000,000 have had no schooling at all and are not attending any school. If we are to eliminate entirely the causes of war and to improve the world, we must have citizens of knowledge and understanding, which can be acquired only by education. In some countries the adult population has to be taught to boil drinking water, which is drawn from ditches and water holes. This is a simple matter in our life, but to those people it is something new. They cook in dustladen atmosphere where animals are moving. The disease-carrying habits of the natives have to be combated.
We can appreciate the great difficulties that face an organization which sets out to educate those people, but, by degrees, a system is established which allows the organization to educate the people by visual means. Those processes lead to something further advanced and eventually the people of these backward countries, who may be termed totally illiterate at present, will be educated. Some of us have a hatred of Nasser and his people, but do not let us blame the people, because from 80 per cent, to 90 per cent, of them are illiterate. It is far easier to sow seeds of hatred and prejudice in the mind of an illiterate than it is to influence an educated person. The United Nations is doing its best through that important agency.
Another organization which is financed and controlled by the United Nations is known as the World Health Organization. To show how important its work is, I shall cite some figures relating to disease in Papua and New Guinea which - I emphasize this - has been mandated territory of Australia for a number of years. Quite recently, an exhaustive check was made of diseases in New Guinea, and the result was appalling. In case some >one questions my figures, 1 inform the Senate that I am quoting from a booklet entitled “ Environmental Problems in Tropical Australia “, by R. K. Macpherson, National Institute for Medical Research, London. The author gives a table relating to diseases treated by 136 medical patrols in New Guinea in one year - 1953-54. The following table is taken from this booklet, and it relates to 235,253 people from 1,974 villages who were examined -
That is a broad outline of the sicknesses from which people are suffering in our mandated territories. In passing, I remind the Senate that in India, with a population of approximately 400,000,000, one person dies every minute of the day from tuberculosis. That is a total of 500,000 persons a year. I read to-day a statement that India is now setting out to deal with some of the diseases that are crippling that country. The following report appeared in the press to-day: -
Indian doctors have started a drive against filariasis, the dread disease which leaves victims with grotesquely swollen limbs.
Filariasis is second only to malaria as a menace to public health in India. Like malaria, it is carried by mosquitoes.
It does noi kill, but the limbs and some organs of its victims swell until eventually they become «o heavy that movement is virtually impossible.
In India, 50,000,000 people are threatened with filariasis.
So many on the Malabar coast in SW India have the hideously thickened limbs caused by filariasis that the disease has been given the name “ Malabar legs “.
India intends to spend £10,000,000 on the first stage of Ihe campaign. U.S.A. has given nearly ti. 000,000 for the work.
That gives an idea of the diseases that confront the World Health Organization. In some countries where the organization has started its work, the attitude of some of the people and their customs have made it difficult for the organization to operate at all. In some places near swamps and deserted irrigation projects, the interior walls of buildings had to be sprayed with DDT to kill malaria mosquitoes. The natives objected strongly at first. At one period of the year, the walls had to be plastered again, and that meant a new spraying of the interior. Prejudice is being broken down, and the World Health Organization will go on trying to improve the health of these people.
One of the greatest obstacles to the improvement of health is the lack of nutritional foods. It is a fact that more than half the population pf the world subsists on diets that are not conducive to health. The people who consume the food are faced with the prospect of poor health.
Another organization to which I wish to refer is Unesco. It is seeking to improve ihe conditions in certain countries by scientific methods. One-quarter of the world’s surface is arid land which is not producing foodstuffs. Scientists are trying to overcome that difficulty, and we have an illustration of what they can do in South Australia, where land which was not conducive to production is now able to produce. Fortunately, there is an exchange of scientific information between the nations under the control and supervision of Unesco. Reference has been made to-day to a pro cess that has been developed in Australia by which water storage can be preserved in huge tanks and wells by coating the surface with a liquid. We all recall that only a year or two ago scientists were responsible for increasing the proceeds of Australia’s wool clip by at least £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 by the introduction of myxomatosis. I recall, too, that some years ago, when more than one-quarter of Queensland was under prickly-pear, entomologists introduced certain insects into that State. Today, I do not think prickly-pear can be found anywhere in the State.
– It is suggested that it is coming back.
– If that is so, the insect - cactoblastis - is there to deal with it immediately.
– Which nation does the honorable senator suggest is playing the leading part in all these things?
– 1 heard that matter discussed at the United Nations organization, but I do not want to shock my friend by furnishing him with the information. Each nation claimed that it was doing its share. There should not be any jealousy over this matter. This is one point on which the nations of the world can come together, because, as I have already stressed, the main problem in the world is not the problem of preventing war but of giving to the people a measure of economic security and social enjoyment. The question I want to answer is this: Are we doing our share?
– Which nation is taking the leading part in providing these things?
– The question has been repeated! lt is very difficult for me to answer it. 1 should like to get a copy of the debates at the United Nations and pass it to the honorable senator so that he may make his own assessment. I know what Britain claims it is doing and I know what we are doing under the Colombo plan and the auspices of the United Nations; but I heard the delegates from Russia claim that that country had 600 universities and that they were open to. the nationals of every country.
Certain honorable senators have just entered the chamber, so they did not hear me say that we regard our primary educational institutions, our secondary schools and our universities in Australia as being commonplace. 1 pointed out at the same time that more than one-half of the world’s population has had no schooling whatever. The honorable senators who were not in the chamber missed some very valuable information. [Extension of time granted.]
– We will give the honorable senator five minutes.
– I want to finish this speech. Recently, a professor of the Queensland University returned to Australia from Venezuela, a country in the north of South America. He had been there, under a special arrangement with the United Nations, helping to improve the cattle and sheep of that country. He has stated quite assuredly that in the near future Venezuela will be able to produce cattle and sheep to satisfy its requirements. If any honorable senator doubts that statement. 1 have in my hand the press report of it. The professor in question is Professor T. K. Ewer.
The improvement of agriculture is the function of the Food and Agriculture Organization, one of the special agencies of the United Nations. It is capable of assisting countries technically. Technical assistance means everything to a backward country, as was illustrated by the visit of the Queensland professor to Venezuela to help them to produce better stock. That kind of thing is happening in all backward countries; many , trained men are showing them correct methods of production. Because we In Australia can grow wheat and meat. we imagine that all other countries have problems associated with the production of those two foods. Let me tell honorable senators that in most countries the problem is one of breeding fish and growing rice. More than one-half of the world’s population are rice-eaters; and I am prepared to be challenged on that statement. The countries that grow rice have learned to produce fish. I think every honorable senator knows that when rice is being grown it is surrounded by water. The rice-growing, countries breed fish in that water, and when the time arrives for the water to be run off it is run into channels and the fish are caught and later- consumed.
We in Australia have never been compelled to exploit the surrounding sea foi our food supply, because we have been able to produce cattle at a fairly low cost. The result is that we are a meat-eating people. Rice, on the other hand, is the staple food of all the highly populated countries. Two kinds of rice are grown - the kind grown in Japan and the kind grown in India. The rice that is grown in Japan produces heavily; the yield is far greater than that of the rice which is cultivated in India. America, with all its industrialization and its great wealth of know-how, cannot produce a rice the yield of which compares with that which is grown in Japan. I do not know the proper name for an expert on fish, but people who know how to breed fish are visiting these countries and are starting them off on the right track. We know that, in order to have experts, we must have universities.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– This afternoon, T made a brief reference to the functions of the United Nations, and I now wish to discuss the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In my opinion that is one of the important and special agencies of the United Nations. Last week, an honorable senator on the Government side devoted most of his speech to this bank, and I shall not deal with it at length because I should be only restating the facts brought before the Senate by the honorable senator. Any organization that engages in lending funds to nations must become closely enmeshed in the economic structure of the world, and that is the situation as far as the
United Nations is concerned. From 1947 until last year, Australia borrowed 258,500,000 dollars from the United Nations for certain purposes.
– The money was borrowed from the International Bank, not from the United Nations, surely.
– The International Bank is one of the special agencies of the United Nations, and that is the point I am making. When the honorable senator says that Australia did not borrow the money from the United Nations, he might as well say that when he flew from Perth to Canberra this week his aircraft was not under the control of, or associated in any way with, the Commonwealth Government because it was a Trans-Australia Airlines aeroplane. That is a parallel case, because that airline is a special agency of the Commonwealth Government, just as the International Bank is a special agency of the United Nations. Some might ask what has been done with the 258,000,000 dollars? The answer is that some of it was allocated to the States, and they have invested it in various public works, and so it has been spent to help develop Australia in various ways. Not one penny of that money has been wasted.
I always look upon loan funds as a good investment, because for every £1 of loan money expended in Australia an asset to the value of £3 or £4 is created. Without the assistance of loan money it is impossible to have any development or advancement in accordance with our general desire to have a worthwhile civilization. When 1 was overseas, I often felt pity for the backward, undeveloped countries. There are only two ways in which funds can be obtained for developmental work. One is to borrow the money and spend it on such work, and the other is to impose taxation and spend the revenue thus obtained. At the present time, the Commonwealth Government is using both means of raising money. It is financing an important project in the Snowy Mountains from revenue, and at the same time it is borrowing money and lending it to the States so that they may go on with their developmental projects.
What is the situation in a backward country with a population of millions of people, many of whom are undernourished, and cannot obtain food of sufficient nutritional value to main taa a health? When they want to develop their country they cannot go outside to borrow funds, and they cannot increase their own revenues because they are so poor. It is almost impossible for them to get the initial finance to start any developmental work. In the world to-day there are the highly-developed and highlyindustrialized countries with a satisfactory standard of living, and in contrast there are the backward countries where living conditions of the people are below a reasonable standard. The gulf between the two must be bridged, and that is where the United Nations organization is so valuable, lt can arrange for technical assistance to bc sent to these undeveloped countries so that they might be able to improve their standard of living. This afternoon, 1 was asked what country led in granting technical assistance to the backward countries. Upon reflection, I came to the conclusion that the United Kingdom is not second to any other country in granting technical assistance to backward countries. At the same time, I firmly believe in the Colombo plan, and 1 hope that it can be expanded so that assistance will be given to undeveloped countries in their efforts to feed their peoples and raise their living standards. Finance is an important factor in all these undertakings, and the International Bank for Reconstruction nad Development provides much of the funds to fill the financial vacuum in many countries.
I wish to refer briefly to the International Monetary Fund, which was established for the convenience of nations that desire to trade internationally. It is well known that every country which seeks to advance must trade internationally, but some countries find that they have no reserves of cash or credit to enable them to obtain the goods, such as machinery, &c, necessary to undertake developmental works. The International Monetary Fund is one of the agencies of the United Nations set up to give this assistance. I could spend a good deal of time telling honorable senators what has been done through this fund but I shall confine my remarks on this to one example of assistance .given to Great Britain after its withdrawal from the recent Suez trouble. When Great Britain came out of that conflict, .it was well nigh ‘On the verge of bankruptcy. I wish to read briefly from a report .appearing in a New York newspaper relating to the assistance given to Great Britain from the International Monetary Fund, lt says that the directors of this fund -
Eleven days ago authorized an immediate drawing of 361,000,000 dollars by Britain and gave stand-by authorization for an Addition of 739,000,000 dollars in the next twelve months.
That means that 1,300,000,000 dollars were made available to Great Britain immediately after the Suez conflict. That is the sort of action that the average senator here is not aware of. That advance was made to Great Britain at a time when it was sorely needed. 1 mention, in passing, that another member nation of the United Nations is the United States of America. It is probably one of the leading members, and it went to the financial rescue of the United Kingdom almost immediately after the Suez crisis by lending 500,000,000 dollars to Great Britain. We must keep these facts in mind when we are considering the relations between nations. Only last week, I heard a government senator condemn the United States because of an action it had taken or an attitude it had adopted towards other nations, but I prefer to be guided by facts. 1 judge a country on what has actually happened, and the example I have just given shows how the United States helped the United Kingdom in its hour of need. lt is to the credit of the United Nations, and it is to the credit of the people who commenced such an organization and who have maintained it over the years.
One of the problems that faces the modern world is the convertibility of currency. We have the technical knowledge to create almost anything imaginable. We have guided missiles which can almost circle the world; we have aeroplanes which can fly around it; we have ships which can carry huge cargoes of all kinds; but one problem which the nations of the world have not yet solved is the convertibility of currencies. We cannot take an Australian £1 into some countries and purchase goods to its value. We know also that people of some other countries cannot bring their currency here and buy with it the goods which we have to sell. That is a problem which 1 think is solvable just as other problems have been solved, and I look forward to the time when the best brains in the United Nations will solve it by establishing a world central bank so that the currency of one country can be matched wilh and exchanged for that of another country.
I pass to another agency of the United-. Nations known as the International Telecommunication Union. Perhaps we in Australia do not call upon the services of that agency very often because we live in an island continent and our radio stations cover the whole of Australia without any trouble. However, in Latin America and Europe, trouble over radio frequency arises because one State or one nation may have a radio station whose broadcasts cover a portion or almost the whole of another country. That raises a problem that has to be solved by the International Telecommunication Union. The union is one of the agencies which meets at the United Nations head-quarters, confers and deals with all the problems which have arisen during the previous twelve months, or since it last met. This agency deals also with engineering problems, and the members interchange information and solve their problems hy working together smoothly. There could even be a war over these things in some countries, because wars have been known to commence because of far less important things.
Another important committee deals with telephone line corrosion. Lines corrode very quickly when they pass through the sea. This committee provides an opportunity to interchange technical information. I am sure that every one supports such a body. There is also the Universal Postal Union, which is a very important agency. With the growth of production and of means of producing things and also with the expansion of the commercial activities of the community we have international trade - international communication - and so there must be some union or agency of this nature. One may post an airmail letter from Australia to the United States or Great Britain and wonder which country receives the revenue. That is a matter which has to be settled and which has been settled over the years. I think the whole of the revenue roes to the country in which the latter is posted. and that country pays a portion to some other authority. All kinds of problems of this sort have to be settled internation-‘!!”. This agency deals also with international money orders, insured mail and various things of that nature. It is concerned with the transport of mail across various countries. These are things that have to be dealt with and the United Nations has set up this special agency. An agency of this nature has certainly been in operation for many years, but to-day it is in the hands of the United Nations and members of that organization can solve their problems without any dispute.
Then there is the International Civil Aviation Organization. I have only to mention its name for honorable senators to appreciate fully the problems which arise with international aviation. At the present time, any one who flies by Qantas to America may go to San Francisco and proceed to Vancouver. Vancouver is in Canada, but that does not make -any difference. On the other hand, there is no Qantas airline from San Francisco or Vancouver to New York. No arrangement has yet been made for that airline to transport passengers over that route. I mention that only by way of illustration. All these flights in which each international airline engages have been agreed upon by the International Civil Aviation Organization. It has fourteen sets of standards; and I know that commends it to every honorable senator. The organization has dealt with customs, immigration and other matters affecting an airport. Those are things that one finds out when one travels in various countries. These problems have been dealt with and settled, and one can travel without any great inconvenience. This organization deals with codes, the licensing of pilots, aircraft passing each other in the proper way in the air and such things. There is an international code opera ing and one feels it is in safe hands when the hands are those of an organization controlled by the United Nations.
Another agency under the control of the United Nations is the World Meteorological Organization which has a network of weather stations throughout the world. Information is exchanged between stations internationally, and so it is possible for aircraft and ships to travel without any great risk from the weather because they know what is ahead of them. A saying that has been attributed to Napoleon is fiat an army marches on its stomach. It can now be said that the world travels on the weather.
Weather information is of great importance. All these things are important, and go to make our way of life.
Perhaps I would be failing in my duty if I sat down without saying something for the benefit of Senator Hannaford. He is interested in wheat production and his interests do not extend beyond the production of wheat. There is in existence an international wheat agreement which deals with the sale of wheat to various countries. That was brought about through the agency of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the wheat agreement is a product of the United Nations. Then Queenslanders must be reminded that there is a sugar-
– Where did the honorable senator obtain that information?
– I know it is news to the honorable senator. I must educate him.
– The agreement ha>. nothing to do with the United Nations.
– There is also the International Sugar Agreement which relates to the export of sugar. My time has nearly expired, and I propose to be brief. I believe in the United Nations and in the things for which it stands. There are nations in the world that we can assist and 1 believe we should unhesitatingly assist them in every way we can. I am sure I speak for all honorable senators on this side when I say that we believe that all human beings are born equal in dignity and have equal rights. We are all endowed with reason and a conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. Wc believe in these things and we have alway> done what we could to bring them about. When I was at the United Nations headquarters, now and again I used to go for a walk, and I read the following lines that were cut in a stone wall. Senator Scott who is interjecting might tell Senator Wright what he thinks of it as a good Christian.
– I shall tell the honorable senator what 1 think of him in a minute.
– If the honorable senator were to call me what he called Senator Wright-
The DEPUTY” PRESIDENT (Senator the Mon. A. D. Reid). - Order!
– I am not threatening.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! Thai 10 which the honorable senator is alluding has nothing to do wilh the debate.
– 1 am reminded of these words of Isaiah -
And they shall bear their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
We on this side of the chamber look forward to the day when that objective is achieved.
– I should like first to thank Senator Benn for his report on the United Nations. He gave us a great deal of very valuable information, to some of which I may refer later. My main purpose in rising is to commend the report, and to say that I support fully, unhesitatingly and without equivocation, the foreign policy of this Government. I shall review certain things that have happened in the past, not merely for the sake of justifying a particular line of action, but in order that we may derive lessons for future guidance. I want to get down to the fundamental purpose of our foreign policy. That policy is not merely the translation into action of some far-off ideal. Every practical person knows that any ideal is hard to realize, particularly the ideal that Senator Benn had in mind when he referred to beating our swords into plowshares. That has been sought for 2,000 years, but it has not yet been achieved. It cannot be brought about merely by our saying that we believe in the United Nations, and that we are loyal to that organization. In fact, such statements might have the opposite effect. I believe they do.
Most of the successes of the United Nations to which Senator Benn referred were successes of its agencies. I agree with his statement that some of those agencies have been very successful; all have been useful. One of them, the International Labour Organization, was an organization of the old League of Nations, and it was a success then. It produced, published, and disseminated’ a great deal of valuable information, and it persuaded backward countries to adopt certain laws. That was a great success. It. sprang from the work of a great Frenchman named Thomas, who was one of the leaders of the Socialist party in France.
I contend that our purpose is to preserve this continent for the future. There is only one way to do that. We must have sufficient strength to repel an enemy, and sufficient friends to win a conflict, if we cannot prevent it from happening. What supporters of the Government protest about is the constant lauding of the United Nations and the pretence that that is a substitute for an energetic and vigorous attitude. It tends to lull us into a sense of. false security.
I intend to show that the United Nations has only limited power, akin to the power that was possessed by a certain mediaeval king whose laws were pious aspirations. He made a law, and hardly any one obeyed it. He strengthened the law, and fewer people obeyed it. Finally, he made another law, and nobody obeyed it; so he gave up. That is almost the story of the United Nations. Senator Benn said that that organization had solved the Kashmir dispute. I was not aware that it had been solved. If the existing situation represents a solution, then 1 say that it is not a just solution; it is a solution that has been reached because an unjust claim by a stronger power has been upheld. I know a great deal about Kashmir. It was undoubtedly a place to which Pakistan had a very strong claim, and the only just, or even reasonable, compromise would have been some kind of partition. But it has not yet taken place, and India claims the whole country. I say that it is not a just solution, and that the United Nations has possibly sown the seeds of a future war, or has, at least, perpetrated an injustice forever.
The only way in which the United Nations has really succeeded has been through its agencies. It has failed to make settlements to obviate war. I have given one instance of that. I shall now give another. For two years, a special military committee of the United Nations considered the setting up of some kind of an international force. At the end of that time, it reported complete failure, because it could not obtain agreement of one great power, Russia. The plain fact is that the two organizations of the United Nations are not in any way suitable for world government, or for the setting up of any kind of authority that we can accept. The General Assembly can only- -make recommendations. Its discussions may be useful, and they might provide us with excellent counsel, but that is about all it can do. Perhaps, it is well that it can do no more, because it consists of all kinds of nations of varying degrees of civilization. There is an Afro-Asian group. Many Asian nations have a civilization older than that of Europe. Then, there are African nations, so-called, which have recently come into existence. I point out that powerful nations are not likely to obey decisions that are made by log-rolling groups, on the basis of self interest.
Every member nation of the United Nations is supposed to obey decisions of the Security Council, but I doubt whether any nation would obey every order given by the Security Council. I think it is true to say that, if a nation considers that an order of the Security Council might affect its vital interests adversely, the order would not be obeyed. Of course, the Great Powers can protect themselves. Any one of the five Great Powers can apply the veto, although that power is seldom exercised except by Russia, which uses it continuously in its fight to achieve world supremacy. The attempt of the United Nations to settle the dispute between Israel and Egypt failed, and all the later developments are the result of that failure.
Israel became a sovereign slate at the end of the mandate in, I think, 1948. Its establishment had the approval of the United Nations; but immediately Israel was attacked by the Arab nations, at the head of which was Egypt. Israel was saved not by the United Nations nor any help, except perhaps of individuals; it was saved by its own right arm. Egypt suffered a most ignominious defeat, and the armistice which came was at that time more to the benefit of Egypt than of Israel.
But Egypt did not cease war. Egypt continued the war from then until only the other day. It continued the war in many ways. It proclaimed a blockade of the Suez Canal. It stationed a battery at the end of the Gulf of Aqaba. It could and did prevent any ship belonging to Israel, or any other ship it wished, from entering or leaving the canal, and it seized two islands to which it had no claim whatever.
The United Nations considered this matter again and again. It passed resolutions emphatically, condemning what Egypt was doing, but it did nothing to prevent the aggression, lt went on and on, and during all this time Egypt spoke with two voices. It said that it was acting in a perfectly legitimate way under the armistice and it claimed belligerent rights because there was still a war on. Well, you cannot have it both ways. As a matter of fact, a definitive peace had not been proclaimed, but the armistice was for an indefinite period. It was signed in the presence of United Nations delegates, and it was stated by Dr. Bunche, one of those delegates, that it was the clear intention of the armistice that there should be no use of force of any kind, yet Egypt went on using force and force and force.
Of course, the Israelites did, too! They retaliated. We hear talk of raids by them, but the difference was very clear. The raids from Israel were protective. All along the southern frontier, there was a string of gunposts. Marauding bands were organized. Egypt sent little bands back against them. But the difference was that Israel was simply contending for its life, for it was the declared purpose of Egypt to destroy Israel. That has been said again and again. I have read hundreds and hundreds of statements in the press, some of them by official people, and I have read of statements from a broadcasting station which I do not think have ever been equalled except by the station that Goebbels had in Berlin during World War II. lt is advised and assisted by agents - former Nazis - who have gone to Egypt. Again and again these people have declared that they will destroy Israel, that it has no right to exist, that they will sweep it off the face of the earth. They are claiming and have got the protection of the United Nations, although they have defied it during all this period. That is a reality of life, and when Britain and France decided to take their own action in Suez, they did so after and because the United Nations had clearly failed to take the appropriate action.
Nasser had not only nationalized the canal but was ordering arbitrary acts against Israel and many other nations. He was preventing goods from going to and from Israel and he had no scintilla of right to do that, not only because of the United
Nations, not only because of the convention signed at Constantinople, which was supposed to settle the Suez business for ever, but because of ordinary international law which had been in existence for many years back to the eighteenth century. There can be no right of blockade of any country unless there is an admitted war, a war between two sovereign States, and there can be no right of blockading the canal at all, because, under the Constantinople Convention signed by Egypt, under various treaties and, indeed, under this very armistice agreement to which I have referred, neither Egypt nor any other power has the right to stop any ship in the Suez Canal. Great Britain did not at any time intercept any ship within the canal.
– They stopped them in the Mediterranean.
– Of course, they prevented ships from going in, and they were perfectly within their rights in doing so. There was nothing in the convention to say they could not stop a ship in the Mediterranean or the Red Sea. The provision applied to the canal, and the canal alone. In the canal, which is supposed to be exempt from that sort of thing, Egypt has continued to practise this piracy.
We know the story of the attack on Suez. We know that it took place after the United Nations had pretended to solve the problem, after it had made pious resolutions, lt took place then, and only then. But what have been the consequences? I shall try and follow them with impartiality, disagreeable though impartiality is to one honorable senator opposite.
The results at first seemed quite disastrous. Because of the stand of the United States - 1 say because of the stand of the United States, because I hope it was that and not the threat of Russia, which came at the same time - Britain and France withdrew. The withdrawal was a serious loss of prestige. Some one was mean enough to say that Sir Anthony Eden deserved to go, and made the mean political point that our own Prime Minister should go. Sir Anthony Eden went because he was too ill to do anything else. Everybody knows that was no diplomatic illness. If he had stayed there any longer, he would almost certainly be dead by now; and our Prime Minister has not gone, and will not go, because he is well enough to do his duty. I should not like to be in the shoes of the man who sneers at another man who is suddenly stricken with illness, because none of us knows the moment when that will happen to any of us. That is exactly what happened to Sir Anthony Eden, and I think history will look, not merely with a kindly eye, but with a perfectly just eye, and there will be perfect approval of what he did - not of what everybody else did about that time, but of what he did.
The effect was as I have said. There was some loss of face on the part of Great Britain, but I believe that in the long run that energetic action will improve the morale of Great Britain. I believe that even now some people in the British Opposition are very ashamed of the attitude they took. When a successor to Sir Anthony Eden was chosen, it was not a man who had opposed him or who had wobbled; it was a man who had firmly supported him, and I know that the great body of people in Great Britain itself approved the action. The effect on the British Commonwealth, which still exists, has been. I think, on the whole, favorable.
Two dominions, Australia and New Zealand, strongly supported Great Britain. Canada took a different attitude, but Canada’s attitude was loyal, and one that I wholly commend. One man who will come out of this affair with the greatest of credit is Mr. Pearson, the Canadian Minister for External Affairs. He acted with consummate skill and introduced what was. in effect, a compromise.
– You know that he was not even consulted when Mr. Menzies acted.
– I am not talking about Mr. Menzies; I am talking about Mr. Pearson. The Canadian Minister for External Affairs introduced a resolution which led to the formation of a hastily assembled military expeditionary force. I wish to make this point: If the United Nations had acted promptly when the matter was put before its committee, and had created a military police force, it could have used the force immediately. The force had to be hastily improvised, and even now it is far from effective. But it is a beginning. lt is an improvement in the condition of the United Nations, lt is a step forward. The occupation of the canal by Great Britain and France was a lot better than war though a small war had broken out between Egypt and Israel. That intervention prevented a greater war. It is true that thrusting this force suddenly in between the two belligerents stopped the fighting, and forced the United Nations, until then futile and impotent, to act and to continue the work which had been undertaken by Britain and France.
The position is simple. There is a law by which each of us, under certain conditions, has the right to act as though he were an agent of the law, but not always, and one has to be very careful. If a burglar comes into my house, I am not required to wait until a policeman comes to throw him out. I am entitled to throw him out. 1 do not know how far this law goes, but I know that one famous English judge, when asked what he would do if he saw a man in his house with the intent to rob, replied instantly, “ I would take my gun and I would shoot him dead “. Whether the right to act against a burglar goes to that extent - I am not giving legal advice to anybody - is a matter for a judge and a jury to decide. I think that the lawyers, in their nice way, express it in terms something like this: one has the right to use such measure of force as is necessary to protect one’s property and oneself. That is rather difficult to adjudge. The point I am making is that we do have the right to use force. We use it against aggressors and we then hand them over to the policeman. That is exactly what happened to Britain and France in regard to the canal. They used the necessary force. They started the laggard law-maker into action, and now it is doing what it should have done from the beginning, though very slowly and still very ineffectively.
At the same time, other powers were not condemned by the United Nations. Egypt had been piratical and lawless for years but was not restrained in any way. Russia had been brutal and criminal at the same time, and because of the Russian veto in the Security Council nothing at all could be done. I am making a simple proposition which Senator Grant might try to answer, instead of muttering insults all the time. Is it right that the Security Council should treat any one power differently from another? It should either give an order, which must be obeyed, to every Power, or to none, and at this moment I think it would be better if it gave it to none. Until the time has come when it has sufficient strength to enforce its commands, it should not give commands.
There is another part of the United Nations organization which has not been discussed. I do not think that Senator Benn mentioned it. It is seldom thought of, but I think it is the part that we ought to be developing and thinking of rather than merely the council and the assembly. That part, of course, is the court. International arbitration began long before the United Nations or the League of Nations. Back in the nineteenth century there was a dispute which might have blazed into war between the United States of America and Great Britain. It arose out of American claims for compensation for damage done by the privateer “ Alabama “ during the American Civil War. Britain was clearly in the wrong; I do not think there is any dispute about that. 1 think that “ Alabama “ was built as a merchant ship by Laird’s shipyards on the Clyde or the Mersey. The American Minister repeatedly warned the British Foreign Office that the ship was intended for the confederacy and that once it got out it would destroy American shipping, and it did so. The British Government refused to act until the very last moment, and when it acted the bird had flown. The damage that that ship did was enormous. I am not condemning the Americans on this particular struggle; I believe that the American Government was completely right and that the British Government was completely wrong. But America, like many nations when I hey have a good claim, spoilt it and made a claim for a preposterous indemnity that no British government could pay. After all, even meeting that claim would have been cheaper, perhaps, than a war, but Mr. Gladstone, to his immortal honour, referred it to an arbitration committee, a tribunal consisting of judges from neutral nations. The committee awarded, I think. £3,030,000 to the Americans. That was an example of successful arbitration. There have been others, and I think that if we put our trust in that kind of arbitration, admitting that nations still exist and depend in part on their armed forces, we would get further than if we constantly talked as though the Security Council and the General Assembly - which is what most people mean by the-
United Nations - were omnipotent and would do things that they have never done and clearly cannot do.
– They would find out that Nasser had the right to nationalize the canal if they referred it to the court.
– If the court found that Nasser had the right to nationalize the canal, I would be in favour of accepting its decision. The whole point is that the matter was never submitted to any such tribunal, lt was submitted to a group of nations, all of which, 1 think, were partial to some degree, and one of which, namely Russia, was egging Nasser on all the time in his lawless acts. I am appealing only to the common sense of anybody. 1 have not said one word against the United Nations as an institution; I have not said that it is a failure. I have not said that we should not support it, but I have said that we are false to our stewardship if we believe that that organization can be sufficient security for the future of this country. 1 say that those persons who put the whole of their faith in it, who counsel us to disarm and to obey even an unjust decision of the Security Council, or unjust advice from the General Assembly, are gambling with the future of this country.
– No hope but war
– They are surely as incapable of learning as is the honorable senator who has just interjected. It is the utmost nonsense to say that because one method looked upon as a panacea will not prevent war, there is no hope of escape from war. There is no panacea. We have to use every device we can, but any person who says that the whole of our foreign policy should consist in saying that we will send delegates to the United Nations and join in talks there, and let the United Nations decide every question for us, is either so simple and devout that he should have a halo above his head, or he is a criminal, or a fool.
– Who says that?
– I am not referring to anybody. It is not what a person says that counts; it is the type of general idea that he is trying to put over. Whatever honorable senators opposite may say,
I believe that the continual emphasizing oi the United Nations, and the constant assertion that we must never think of force even in our own defence, simply creates a nerveless, weak feeling in a country that will lead to ils destruction.
– Who is saying that?
– 1 am not. 1 am simply trying to direct atention 10 people who live in a “ desert of drifting words “. and have no idea beyond that. The plain fact is that what are called power politics and the balance of power still exist. We shall not get rid of them by muttering incantations such as, “ United Nations! United Nations! “. If nobody on the Opposition side ever made the sort of statement 1 am talking about or ever suggested it, why the. resentment and the anger when I put it forward?
– Who is angry? We are only joking.
– Senator Grant has never joked in his life. He is incapable of joking. Throughout the whole of this country, there is an attempt to instil fear which is utterly to the detriment of our future. It is directed against a reasonable defence policy. It is directed against reasonable associations with other people, and against those regional agreements which are of some value, and can be made under the United Nations.
I shall resume my theme about the effects of the action by two powers in the Suez Canal. 1 said that although superficially their action appeared to be a failure, it led to some results that will be good. It has galvanized the United Nations into action. It has led to the creation of a reasonable military police force which is in use now and which, I believe, will be kept in existence so that it can be used in the future. It has a good effect, too, on the British Commonwealth of Nations, and on Europe. The effect in France was the exact opposite of the effect in Great Britain. The only party that opposed it in France was the Communist party. M. Mollet was given a vote of confidence. The only man in France who is likely to occupy a high place in the future, and who opposed the policy, was M. Mendes France to whom Cairo Radio, with the excellent sense of justice mat the friends of Nasser would expect, referred to as “ that: Jewish criminal There must be some ‘people of his race who have Very forgiving natures. He is, I believe, a perfectly just man, and would not be led, even by abuse, -to do a ‘wrong action;
Furthermore, in Italy there was a welling up of sympathy for Great Britain. The spokesman for the Italian ‘Government publicly supported the policy that had been carried out. As a result, the feeling between Great Britain and France has become much firmer. :As honorable senators know, they were enemies for centuries. I can remember when .1 was a very small boy, -that, except for my own household where my father had a much sounder and saner view than most people, the French were spoken of contemptuously and the Germans were regarded , as very good people. That has changed.
The Entente Cordiale has never died out. It has been tested, but there has been a core, of people in’ both countries who under. stand one another and who ‘really wish .for the ‘continuance of -the : closest alliance. Now, while Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second is in Paris, the French are showing the feeling towards her as a foreign visitor that is not seen in a totalitarian country where the people are ordered to march out and welcome the visitor. In France now, there is a spirit of spontaneous enthusiasm towards Her Majesty from virtually the whole of the French people.
It is no accident -that the project of a tunnel under the English Channel, which originated in France and was rejected in Britain for many years, has been revived. I think it is quite likely that it will be put into effect. At the -same time, the customs union of the Western Powers is an accomplished fact. Customs unions have been the precursor to a sounder union throughout history, and I am sure that that will be so in this case.
Possibly the worst aftermath of the Suez Canal affair - I will not say it was a consequence - was the worsening of relations between the United States of America and Great Britain, France and Western Europe generally. - I believe that , that will not last, but I think it is a. good thing, that the Western union, which is the real hope for peace, should, not even seem to be Ja. group df ‘ satellites revolving around one great -power, the United -States of America. That is the great danger. It is terrible that Americans generous aid should not be appreciated. But after all, every nation has its -memories. .It is hard for people to forget other instances, when they were left to carry a very : great :burden from which another country benefited, lt is fortunate that our respect for the United States has not declined by the slightest degree. Some of us, individually, have been a little disturbed at times. I have been called pro-American all my life. I have been pro-American, and have never regarded America as being a foreign country. I have the greatest admiration for it, and I have not used the cheap argument that it has been determined only “by material considerations. Of course, that may have weighed a little; it does weigh in the policies of all countries.
American policy is either so far sighted that we cannot see what it has for its immediate object or it is not quite as sound and as well co-ordinated as it should be. I do not believe that the foreign policy of any country operates well unless there are one or two men of supreme ability directing it. The great problem is that in large foreign offices such as the United States has to-day, too many people write too many reports, too many others collate them, and finally the man at the top gets a mass of ill-digested information, and unless he is a man of supreme intelligence, great imagination and daring, he finds it difficult to work out a definite and coherent .policy. I read just recently that Mr. Washington and his Secretary of State for foreign affairs - Mr. Jefferson, I think - had five clerks; that President Lincoln and his Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, had. 200 or 300 clerks; and that Mr. Foster Dulles has 7,000. “Of course, some of them would be doing fairly routine work. Nevertheless, probably there is too much departmental thinking, and probably people have some reason for their doubt when they ask who makes up the mind of the administration. But I believe that the great Western, -alliance in which I put my trust will survive and that we will adhere loyally, to it. . - . - .
I want to say one or two other things about - Egypt. We. know that Egypt has had man.y !bad “regimes :in the’ :past, that no serious ^economic reform, .has been undertaken; and that the lot of. the average peasant is very hard. If there were a great, good, strong government, determined by honest means to right these wrongs, we would all applaud it. Some people have compared Nasser with Kemal Attaturk, the man who re-made Turkey. There are enormous differences between them. They are not of the same stature, and there is in Nasser none of the enormous capacity of Attaturk who was one of the really great men of history.
– Any one would think that the honorable senator had lived in Egypt.
– Nasser possibly is a reasonably good officer and a man who began his regime with the intention of carrying out some sound and necessary reforms; but he is only the head of a junta of military officers. If those military officers happened to be German, or even British, I think a great many people who are standing up for Nasser would attack them. This junta is determined to create an empire about itself. They know the strategic point they hold. They know that, if they could get the support of all the Arab peoples, they might be able to establish that empire. The realists might say that, judging by the way the Egyptian army ran in the war with Israel, they have no hope; but in the past there have been countries which have controlled vast territories through mercenaries, through foreign troops. In the lands on which Nasser casts his eyes there are men of first-rate fighting quality. He wants the Sudan, but the Sudan prefers to remain independent. In . the Sudan there are vigorous fighting people. He wants the whole of North Africa and black Africa; that has been a dream for many years. He also wants the Levant - the whole of the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean.
– How long has this fellow Nasser, who wants all this, been in power?
– I forget the exact date when he supplanted his predecessor, but the rebellion took place in 1952. However, I am not talking about his achievements; I am getting to the point of what his policy is. His policy is known, because it is declared continually over Cairo radio, in his statements to his own and many other people, and in his writings. It is true that, when talking to American or British pressmen, he can talk as gently as any sucking dove; but that is not the common language which is stirring up the masses of Egypt. The whole atmosphere is one not of sane, but of mad nationalism. I do not think any act waa more contemptible than pulling down the statue of Oe Lesseps, the man who constructed the canal. But for his imagination, drive, and great capacity, but for the capital and friends he got from Europe, the canal would never have been constructed; yet this ignorant, deluded group pulled down the statue of that man, to whom they should be eternally grateful.
– And damaged the memorial to the Australian troops.
– I had not intended to refer to the memorial to the Australian troops. I heard an honorable senator opposite sneeringly say that one would think I was at Gallipoli. I was not at Gallipoli; but I was in Egypt, and I was there for six months. When all is said and done, I think I did a little to protect Egypt. I was down in the canal area, in the heat. There was no fighting at that time, but we were there to resist the enemy if he came.
Egypt’s action is not the sort of thing that an intelligent, well-directed United Nations would be willing to support. I hope that American policy is a long-range policy, that slowly we will come back to full confidence in one another that in the minds of Mr. Foster Dulles and the President was the firm idea that this problem must bc solved completely without violence. I hope that in the long run it will be so solved. But there was no reason to believe that it was about to take place when the British and French intervened. There was every reason to believe that it was a policy of scuttle, of surrender.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the Americans were provoked?
– There was every reason to believe that it was the policy that Senator Grant has supported all his life.
– What policy is that?
– There was every reason to believe that it was the policy that he supported in the Domain during the first world war. I say emphatically that I will never support such a policy.
– What policy is that?
– It is a policy of surrender, a policy of scuttle, a policy of denying one’s own country, a policy of saying that the nation means nothing and that to-day all we have to do is to put our faith in the United Nations.
– When did I say that the nation meant nothing?
– Let the honorable senator read his speech in “ Hansard “ and he will know what he said. As I said before, it was a desert of drifting words.
– Is that original?
– No, it is not original. It is a quotation from Kipling.
– Why does not the honorable senator say something original?
– There is every reason to believe that this military junta led by Nasser is prepared to use the Muslim religion for its own political purposes. I think that, even at the risk of being misunderstood, we should examine all possible dangers. Let me say, particularly as I have some Muslim friends in this city, that I am one of those persons who have the greatest and highest regard for the Muslim religion. I believe it has been a stabilizing force and that it makes for more ethical behaviour than most of the religions that it has supplanted. It is so easy to take a statement out of its context, and for a malevolent person to twist what you are saying and allege that it means somethting else.
In my opinion, Egypt is not the natural leader of the Moslems. I think there are many other Moslem countries that would agree with that. However, Egypt has many advantages. It is at the hub of the wheel. Cairo is one of the greatest Moslem cities in the world. The great Al-Azhar university is there, to which the Moslem religious teachers go from Moslem countries all over the world. The military junta in Egypt has tried to use these advantages for political purposes. It has set up an organization which intends to keep in touch with other Moslems for the purpose of creating what is, in effect, a Moslem empire. Anything that builds up Nasser’s prestige or that makes the Egyptian junta appear to be standing up for the Moslems against the West and Israel is certain to be bad. If the whole Moslem world were united and well led, we would have a force against us to be reckoned with. But 1 do not think that that will happen. 1 have the greatest confidence in Pakistan, the development of which I have watched closely. I was in India before the beginning of it, and I was one of those who did not sneer at Mr. Jinnah, as so many did in this country when they were misled by an ill-informed press into regarding him as a mere trouble maker. He was the greatest man in India at that time, and I believe that he has created a nation that will endure.
Egyptian ascendancy in the Moslem world is the sort of thing that the United Nations will produce by acting feebly or by acting in support of an unjust claim. That Nasser’s claims are unjust from beginning to end is proved by the disillusionment among members of the United Nations itself. Nasser’s claim to the ownership of the land through which the Suez Canal passes is undisputed, but his claim to acquire other people’s property and interfere with the workings of the canal is not just.
To sum up, I want to make quite plain what I have been attempting to prove. I have cited as many cases as I can. I have examined thousands of others, for I believe that one does not get far in a speech by making a string of assertions and repeating the slogans and catch words of pamphlets. I believe that the United Nations is a beneficial institution, as Senator Benn said. I believe its long range results will be good. I can see in it some hope for those who want to abolish war, but to say that at the present moment it is such a force is to say deliberately what is untrue - or at any rate, what is certainly untrue. If we fail to give attention to the real forces at work in the world to-day, which are organized groups known as states and nations, we fail to appreciate the fact that those nations vary in power, in character and in aims. If. Australia is concerned with the welfare of other countries it must maintain and strengthen, and not in any way relax or weaken its ties with Great Britain, New Zealand and the other British dominions, so that .th’e British Commonwealth will be made a great reality. Secondly, Australia must remain in constant friendship with the United. States of America, ‘t hat does not mean that we must be servile to the United States or say always that its policy is right. There is no worse friend than a flatterer. A true friend will say, quite honestly, “ I admire you in this matter, but 1 think you have made a mistake “. But although I have said that, I have not said that, in the long run, the policy of the United States is a. complete mistake. I do say, however, that in the short range view the effects of the policy of the United States have not been good. Australia must make the Commonwealth work in alliance with a new group of nations. It may be a federation or a confederation of Western Europe - the countries from which Australia is drawing most of the immigrants - immigrants who, in the future will have an important influence on the policy of this country. This is a sound policy that must be pursued.
– The honorable -senator who has just spoken is an old tory telling the same old story. His was a nebulous contribution.
– It was better than we have heard from the Opposition side.
– It was equalled only by the nebulous and specious statement delivered in this chamber on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey).
– But honorable senators on this side do not hate Great Britain as do honorable senators opposite.
– It was sickening in the extreme to listen to the recital - a kind of pot pourri or the hit parade - of what this Government has done in conjunction with other countries over the. last twelve months and to be asked to accept that as an apology for a policy. What do we see all around us? We see a world- situation deteriorating month by month. It could hardly get worse than it is at the. present time, but we have the apologists here for one of the main instruments in this downward trend of world affairs in conjunction, with the Prime. Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for External Affairs, who have been in collusion to bring about the new low in , world relations-, that, .has - been achieved recently. People like Senator. McCallum stand in their places in. this chamber and condemn the only -instrument, existing to-day that provides any . hope- for world peace.
– The honorable senator knows that, i “did not condemn it. That is completely untrue.
-The honorable senator and his colleagues are. all: subtly undermining and trying, to break: the only instrument for peace that exists to-day. They say that the United’ Nations, instead of bringing about peace, is having the opposite effect. The United Nations is a relatively new conception. Even if we take into consideration the League of . Nations which- preceded it we find that that was ruined and undermined by selfish people who wanted to use it for their own advantage/ Again, to-day, because some people cannot get their own way they are standing oh roof, tops to condemn the United Nations. They ‘profess to espouse the cause of democracy, but when they are beaten in a vote they go. out and try to destroy the organization which can bring about peace: There are people of that sort in this chamber and outside it who will not accept the decisions of a democratic organization if they cannot run it the way they want it tb.be run.
– Whom’ is the..1 honorable senator talking about?
– I am talking about the group of nations’ that is undermining the United Nations. Quarrels are not eternal, and as time goes on the attitudes of the parties change. A brief ten years ago, Japan was bur enemy but now it is one of our gallant allies. In World War II., Germany persecuted the Jews, spitting at them, putting them into ghettoes and depriving them of their rights and lands. Now the Germans- are our gallant allies, and the Italians who were yapping at the heels of Hitler, according to Sir Winston Churchill, are also our gallant allies.
– What about the Japanese?
– I have already, men.tioned the Japanese. The Germans, Italians and. Japanese were our enemies just over tenyearsago,so quarrels between nations arenot eternal. Nations change their face as thesituation warrants. Then again, just over ten years ago during the siege of Stalingrad, people were praying that the Russian armies would succeed in defeating the worst tyranny known to us- the fascist, nazi tyranny - which was able to inflict on innocent Jewish people and other innocent people its rotten will. The time came when itsmarch was checked. Who checked it? The people who,it is nowsaid, should be destroyed. Weshould not reach a compromise with the Russian people, we should kill them all, according to the line that has been taken by our so-called great statesmen in the world. Instead of their being described as great men, they will be judged at the bar of history as criminals.
– About whom is the honorable senator speaking?
– Our great statesmen, Krushchev, Eisenhower, Macmillan and Menzies. For mankind to-day there isnoalternative to peace. That is the point I wish to make about the speech of Senator McCallum, and also the speech that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has. presented to us. Indeed, the Minister’s effort was not a speech; it was a conglomeration of apologies for a negative policy.
Senator McCallum referred to the great danger of satellites revolving around one great power. What is happening but that very thing? Satellites, are revolving round one great power. A determined effort has been made by that one great power to achieve that objective. Many nations, through the United Nations, are trying to get a world government, but opponents, through their stooges, are attempting to undermine the world’s confidence in this greatbody, whichis-
– To whom is the honorable senator referring?
– Senator Mattner can use his imagination.
– The honorable senator is making the statement..
- Senator Mattner’s interjections are highly disorderly. Senator McCallum also said that we are pretending that the United Nations is a substitute for defence.I should like to ask some of our great defenders, our great generals and other great men in whose hands we have placedour trust, to state what is the defence against modern warfare. Can Senator Mattner tell us what is the defence, if there is any defence, . against thermo-nuclear attack? There is no defence! I hope that the United Nations will continue to act in the way it acted in Korea when it brought about a peaceful settlement, and in the way it acted in the Suez area where it has brought about peace by stopping the fighting. If we had done our part other countrieswould have thought sufficiently well ofus to invite us to provide part of the force which is helping to sustain the peace in the Middle East. Unfortunately, our forces were not acceptable . That is a great disgrace to this country, because in the past we have had entry everywhere. Our great soldiers have been respected by their enemies as. well as their allies. To me it seems a great pity that an Australian peace force or police force is not in the Middle East sharing with the forces of other nations the great job that the United Nations is doing to maintain peace in that unsettled area.
Senator McCallum posed this question to us: Is it right that the Security Council shouldtreat one country differently from another? I suppose that a similar question could be addressed to the father of a family. Should he treat one child differently from another? The same applies to a family as to a. family of nations. A father cangive one child a favour to-day and it will spur another child to better conduct, and he can give the other child a favour the following week. The question whether the Security Council should treat one country differently from another is not so. important as is the fact that the Security Council should be doing all it can to carry out its main purpose of achieving some measure of peace by whatevermeans and whatever methods it can. I repeat that there is no alternative to that.
The honorable senator also said that some people are trying to create fear throughout the world. I do not know whether people are blind or purblind, or whether they have a vested interest in war, butunless we can recognize the threat that overhangs mankind, and realize its implications, all we believe in, all we know, all that generations have built up will be destroyed. 1 am certain that honorable senators on the Government side are aware of that. If they are not, it is time they went to the right sort of school and learnt it. They need to learn something about the problems of civil defence against this threat that overhangs the world.
Senator McCallum hoped that we could solve our problems by new groupings. He is supporting the very thing that is undermining the United Nations. The Seato pact, the Anzus pact and the Baghdad pact are undermining the United Nations. Each of them is building up an equal reaction on the other side of the ideological fence. Do honorable senators tell me that the people in China and Russia are bursting to commence a war? If that is true, I have no idea of human nature. Honorable senators can bet their bottom dollar that the Russian people are to-night going about their business thinking how they can obtain enough food, clothing and shelter for their families for next week, and the millions of people on this side of the ideological fence are thinking precisely the same thing. Those in whom they have placed their trust are the ones who are letting them down.
I have a little to say on the matter of Egypt. I have already mentioned the Jewish people. My only experience of them on the political level was where I saw them as the victims of the worst persecution to which any human being could be subjected. The necessity for them to have a national home was evident after the way they had been kicked around and had wandered on the face of the earth. As things have turned out, perhaps militarily, strategically and even geographically, it is a pity that they have had to go back to Israel. I think it would probably have been far better, and would have been a better lesson to the agressors, if we had picked out the most fertile part of the Rhine valley in Germany and given the Jewish people a national home there. They have been given a desert, but they have made it bloom. They are a most industrious people and I wish them well. But 1 think it would have been far better had they been given an area in the most fertile part of Europe. It would have been a constant reminder to those people that the big fellow cannot always get away with using a big stick - that might is not always right. We should not forget the lessons of war, particularly those of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The story of Egypt, of course, goes back, like most of the stories of the impact of the West upon the Eastern countries, to the beginning of the nineteenth century, and it is the most prominent factor of modern history. The conflicts that have occurred on all levels - social, economic, religious and political - are part of the evolution from old societies to new ones. The interesting aspect is that Western ideas brought with them the things that the British people had built up in their own civilization - thenlaws and their conduct. Possibly the most dynamic of these was a sense of nationalism and political democracy. The British people themselves sowed the seeds of these great ideas in the minds of the Eastern people. The espousing of nationalism by Eastern peoples leads inevitably to a struggle for independence and a definite break with the past which, in some instances, had been characterized by exploitation, poverty, hoplessness and all the things associated with the rule of one country by another.
Let us turn now to the background of Egypt. For the time being, we are hostile towards a certain militarist who has sprung up and asserted his authority. Only the future will decide the degree of permanence of his authority. It is only two or three years since the British Army retired from Egypt, and it is only a matter of five years since Colonel Nasser came on the scene in that country. In order to gain popular support, he played on the people’s feelings about nationalism - their desire to obtain independence and selfdetermination. Because he obtained their support, he believes that he is achieving their ideals. This forward march of the Eastern people must be faced by the West. Whether we like it or not, it was inevitable. We might build up temporary walls against it, but we cannot stop it, because the desire of the Eastern peoples now is to free themselves from domination. Now that they have started along this line, no power on earth can stop them.
We had an opportunity some time ago to assist the Arabs who were displaced by the institution of the State of Israel. The Minister -stated -
United Nations efforts led to the negotiation of a truce between Israel and her hostile neighbours, but not before Israeli forces had occupied more territory than had been allotted to them under ihe United Nations partition plan.
There was bound to be a certain amount of conflict, because the partition plan was not adhered to. The Minister has admitted that. These displaced persons, these Arab refugees, were wandering around in the desert looking for food, clothing and shelter. The new militarist dictator, Nasser, said to them, in effect, “ In order to help you, we will endeavour to bring more land into production. We will apply to the International Bank to see whether we can obtain a loan to finance the building of a high dam at Aswan. In turn, that will give relief to you starving people, by providing employment “. But what happened? Did the United Nations say: “ Let us try to solve this problem. As one generation dies and another comes along, we must see whether we can help them to forget the hostility that was directed against their forebears. Let us see what we can do to help Egypt to build the Aswan dam, to provide employment for the displaced persons and refugees, so that they can get food to fill their empty stomachs “? No! The money was refused. That refusal provided Nasser with a perfect excuse to implement his plans and, in doing so, he obtained a lot of sympathy from the Afro-Asian peoples.
Senator McCallum referred to pressure groups. I suppose that, as the result of our stupid policy in relation to the Afro-Asian nations since the war, they have become one of the strongest pressure groups in the world. Colonel Nasser has been encouraged by the support that he received from certain countries over the Suez dispute. Egypt has said, in effect, “This is our chance to collect the canal dues “. They argued that, in its 88 years of existence, the Suez Canal Company had exacted in dues about 150 dmes as much money as it should have done. The Egyptian people took the view that, as Egypt is a sovereign country, whatever was inside its borders should be theirs. Whether or not that stand was ethical by western standards is immaterial. That is the language that Nasser speaks. It is admitted in most quarters to-day that Nasser was quite entitled to nationalize the canal, but most people contend that he was not entitled to break the agreement. One of the points that the United Nations must insist on is that the terms of the 1888 convention are observed. What has been the result of the West’s attitude in this matter? Force was tried, and it failed miserably. Not only that, but it cannot be used, or threatened, again because of the very ominous threats that were made by Russia during the course of the short war in Egypt. Some may advocate that we deal with it now, that we get it over and done with, but that is merely a policy built upon wishful thinking because honorable senators can be assured that we shall get just as big a hiding as we give them. We could become piqued. We could boycott the canal and so deprive Nasser of his dues. We could build large tankers and pipelines. But that pique would be very costly to us, for we would have the extra 1,000-mile journey.
– It would be cheaper eventually.
– It could not possibly be cheaper eventually. ‘
– It would be witta 100,000-ton tankers.
– I feel confident that when this bit of a flurry dies down, the nations will contribute to a fund to wide* and deepen the canal to take 100,000- tonners or even 200,000-tonners. That is not beyond the realm of possibility; as a matter of fact, it might put a bit of food into the stomachs of those who are now making raids across the border, and se bring about the end of these raids.
I hold the view that the wrong attitude has been taken all along. It seems to me that the people dealing in international affairs to-day may be likened to a crowd of schoolgirls bickering amongst themselves, one saying to the other, “ You take my marble, I will take yours.” They are not trying to consult; they are trying to bluff one another, and once people start bluffing something eventually bursts. There is not the slightest doubt that Britain and France have lost a tremendous amount of their hard-earned international prestige and status as the result of what I may call this adventure into Suez. The arguments in favour of their actions are no stronger than those that may be advanced against them. I shall not go into the pros and cons of that matter, except to say that if Britain and France boycott the canal they will have t» bear the extra costs of building tankers and travelling over the longer route while their ^competitors such as Germany and. Italy in the Mediterranean and the Asian countries .w 111 benefit from the plum that will be dropped into their laps in the form of extra trade because it is inevitable that as a result of increased costs Britain and France will lose many markets.
It should be possible to solve this problem
Ha a sensible manner. Last . October, Krishna Menon and Jawaharlal Nehru of India put forward a proposition which, to all intents and purposes, is exactly the same as the terms upon which the -settlement df [the Suez dispute is based, but instead of accepting the advice put forward then, we had to have this “ box-on “. I do not know why. I do not know what problems have been settled .by it beyond the fact that the United Nations now has some teeth in it and is doing something to stop the forays, the commando and brigand raids that were going on along the Israeli frontier.. The United Nations has a line which, I hope, will be .maintained as long as this hostility exists between the Arabs- and the Israelis. I believe that the -great ^negotiator, Doctor Ralph Bunche, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr, - Hammarskjoeld* - should continue negotiations with -Nasser ‘in an effort to persuade him to abandon his stupid claim that he ns’ at’ war with Israel and that he can deprive international shipping of the right to go through the Suez Canal. The Suez is a world waterway, and I feel that even the matter of the acceptance of canal dues can bq resolved in time. In my opinion^ the whole matter is sp small that it does* not warrant setting a spark to the tinder that could set the whole world afire.
The Minister spoke at length about Israel arid Egypt and the action of the United Nations. Here, I should .like to congratulate Senator Benn upon the extremely informative report he gave us on the United Nations. It is refreshing to hear some one objectively,; review this great organization arid re-state -its splendid objectives. . When concluding. Ms remarks, Senator Benn restated, the. great ideals on which the United Nations was founded. . Senator McCallum, On. the other hand, sneeringly said that ideals were not enough.- I remind him that .if ideals, .are:. not re-stated and restated, they are apt -to.be forgotten. I .assure, him. that every honorable’ senator on this side- of the chamber will always be pleased to hear them re-stated and will always do his utmost to ‘help :this great organization move step by step -towards the achievement of those magnificent ideals. Again, I compliment Senator Benn upon ihe excellent report he has ‘given. The Australian people have -been well repaid for having sent to the United Nations a man who is able to see the situation so objectively and so intelligently.
I should like to deal now with Thailand. During the course of his speech, the Minister for External Affairs said -
Thailand continues to make steady economic progress - its standard of living is one of the highest in Asia. A very high percentage of ‘its farmers own their own land. Elections were held in February. I notice that the Australian Labour party ‘in a manifesto issued at its conference, in Brisbane has singled out Thailand for attack as a “reactionary “ government. Apart from a defence df Communist China, there was no other reference by .the Australian Labour party to ‘any -specific .country in. Asia. .1 think it is deplorable -that the highest executive body in the Opposition parties should ‘ attack a government with which Australia- has- the friendliest relations and which is bound to <us in the Seato partnership.’
That statement illustrates the mentality of the Minister. It would have been very much better if he had not said anything about Thailand. His utterance shows the type of friends he is cultivating. Thailand has a reactionary government, but what is more, a police state of the worst order exists there. One report I read states that it is sinking rapidly in a welter of corruption.
I should like to refer now to a book called “ Representative Government in South-East Asia “. It is written by Rupert Emerson, Professor of Government, Harvard University, and is published by the Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has this to say about Thailand -
Experimentation with representative institutions has been under way in Thailand for more than .two decades, but it cannot be said that the results are very encouraging. Although there have from time to time been swings in a more liberal direction, the general trend has been toward an authoritarian regime, dominated by a relatively small group of insiders and with an increasingly large role for the military.
The. turn - away ‘from monarchical absolutism came in- Thailand with the revolution of 1932. ‘This revolution,- which was in fact more of the order of & speedy and bloodless, coup d’etat,, was distinguished by three features which gave it its special character and largely determined the future course of events.
He points out that the ordinary people of Thailand had nothing to do with the revolution, which was a top-level job by privileged people and militarists, with a sprinkling of the old royalists of the Chulalongkorn regime. He continues -
As in other South-East Asian countries political parties, when they have been allowed to exist, have tended to center about the leading personalities and have played a lesser role than in the Philippines or Indonesia … An authoritarian regime resting on armed force, controlled by military leaders, and deeply scarred with corruption, is a far cry from the’ democratic and progressive regime which at least some of the civilian leaders had set as the goal for the revolution of 1932.
These are comments by Rupert Emerson in his “ Representative Government in SouthEast Asia “.
– When was that written?
– In 1955. I have a more recent publication, “The New Leader “, in which appears an article on the Thai strong man, Pibulsonggram, written by Ludwig Hamburger. The article reads -
Two years ago, I visited a Thai province . . . The workers were clothed in rags, fed on glutinous rice, quartered in hovels, employed ten hours a day, seven days a week, at a daily rate of about 20 cents. That evening I was guest at a dinner party in a beautiful villa. I saw Thai ladies in splendid hand-loomed silk and brocade; American martinis, Scotch whisky, Danish beer, Dutch liqueurs’, Swiss cheese, English cigarettes, and ten elaborate Chinese dishes served by a bevy of. butlers . ‘. . And yet, one is ill at ease in Thailand. T The smiles of the country are not convincing. * They cover up anxiety as much as they reveal r serenity. A ghost stalks this Garden of Eden, the dim realization of an unsolved social problem.. As in the rest of Asia, a handful of rich are very rich. The masses are very poor. And there - is practically no middle class, save possibly for the Chinese traders and the higher ranks of the civil service. The bulk of Thai are rural and own their own farms.
That is what the Minister said. He claimed that a very high percentage of farmers owned: their own land. This article continues -
Hence, they are assumed to be pillars of the present order. To a high degree this is wishful thinking. A large number of farmers, are sharecroppers, rather than owners. In many other cases, farm ownership is more apparent than real; an unknown but certainly high percentage of owners are deeply in debt, mostly to the middleman, who, is also the local banker, generally Chinese. . On the other side is the picturesque squalor of the’ slum’s of Bangkok, the delight of the fleeting visitor, which can be- seen, less picturesque and’ more -squalid, all over . Thailand. These are. thehomes of the workers, who operate in conditions which recall the early days of the Industrial; Revolution in the West. Child labour is widespread; match factories employ girls as young a* seven. Children of fourteen and fifteen, and) women, are used on operations far beyond their physical strength - the casual visitor can watch them on construction sites carry 120-pound cementbags and heavy loads of concrete mix and tiles often oyer steeply rising ramps. Elementary facili-ties to ensure workers’ safety and health are missy ing from most work sites. Accidents are frequent,, since it is unusual for flywheels, pulleys, transmissions, saws and catwalks to be’ properly* guarded. Ventilation is poor as a rule for the* men who sweat it out at the workbench in the, tropical heat, though I noted plenty of electric, fans in the offices of clerks and supervisors. Available drinking water is full of dirt in many cases, and sanitary conditions deplorable and conducive to disease. Hours of work are generally excessive;* for a seven-day week of 56 to 63, and even 84, hours prevails in all but a few private and public establishments. Wages are extremely low for ihe. bulk of unskilled and semi-skilled workers, barely* enough for rice and a modicum of- clothing and* housing, .;. .5
The article concludes by stating that the’ Communists are just around the corner, but there is an alternative. Western people should- n > . wake up the underdog and befriend hutt.Raise his working and living standards, give him a stake in his own land, -for the under dog. of Thais land .is not going . to sleep much longer. The”, question is not:. Will he wake, up? It is: When will’-‘ he wake’ up, and’ who will lead him? If his own government ‘does hot- assume leadership to-day,” the Communists. beyond . the Mekong River will do: sb_ to-morrow. ‘ . .
The Minister’s report on Thailand is, there* fore, sketchy and quite misleading; and our criticism that the Thai government is a* reactionary government has been quite well shown to . be .a, masterpiece- of understate^ ment. It is a reactionary government, possibly one of the worst in the whole of Asia. - and God knows- the governments in many places there- are bad enough. This1 man Emerson is an objective observer, anil” his. .” representative government in South-East’ Asia “ reminds us of the radio pro* gramme ‘” Journey into Space “. If fit horrible. Yet we are sustaining and trying’ tb- make allies of these rulers who are likely’ to crumble” at any moment. They are only a thin veneer. They have no ground for-* Being sustained by the- rank and file of the people of their country. We should get down to bedrock and make friends with the people who count, instead of driving them into the hands of the Communists, which is all that is being achieved by the Minister’s policy. He is “ playing handies “ with a very thin top veneer of people who have no real standing, but are sustained in their positions by the use of force.
The Thais allowed the Japanese to walk into their country. They opened their doors to the Japanese and let them down to the Malay peninsula and Singapore. Thailand was where the death railway was built, and where many of our boys were killed and maimed. When they went to the Thais for assistance, they were sent straight to the Japanese. The Minister condemns the Australian Labour party for its allegation that the Thai government is reactionary, but that is a masterpiece of understatement. I hope that the Thai government will take notice of what the Australian Labour party has said about it and that it will pull up its political socks and get on with the job of trying to cure the cancer that exists in the country and makes a cesspool in which communism can thrive.
I was a proxy delegate to the federal conference in Brisbane, and I join with that conference in saying to the countries of South-East Asia that it is time that they looked at the mote in their own eye. They should try to co-operate in building up the real defence against communism by giving their people a higher standard of living, the hope of some dignity, and life in family groups. They should give them self-respect and faith in some of the great ideals embodied in the Atlantic Charter and confirmed by the United Nations. They should allow their people to determine the way they will live in a world at peace.
– When 1 elected to make a contribution to this debate, I had intended to speak briefly on certain aspects of the Pacific problem, and to refer in particular to Singapore and Malaya, but having listened with some concern to the remarks of Senator O’Byrne, I feel constrained to make some reference to his speech. I shall not do so in the emotional setting that he chose, although I would be justified in doing so. I prefer to bring an element of reality into the debate in discussing some of the absurdities to which he gave utterance.
asked what defence we had against thermo-nuclear weapons. There is no defence against them, according to Senator O’Byrne. 1 suggest with great respect that the only real defence is to have those weapons in our own possession sp that we can meet an opponent armed with them.
– ls that a defence?
– That is the only defence. 1 ask Senator O’Byrne, through you, Mr. President, whether he wants Russia alone to have those weapons.
– Russia has them. It is a mad race.
– Surely the test for us, if we are going to preserve our freedom, is to ensure that we are not behind in the development of thermo-nuclear power. Senator O’Byrne referred to the United Nations, and said it was true that the organization had made certain judgments, and that it had not always been right. He blandly wiped out of the debate the decision on Israel in 1951. He said, in the grand manner, that that could be likened to the action of a father towards his children. Can there be international justice between nations on that basis? Is Senator O’Byrne so naive that he believes that in applying international law we can adopt the attitude of a father who permits a different standard of conduct for each of his children? If we are to have international justice, we must have a set of standards that will apply to all. That is elementary to any one who has applied his mind to the principles of international law.
Senator O’Byrne referred to the Suez Canal problem, and almost entered into a defence of Nasser himself. At least, the honorable senator stated a case for the Egyptian Premier. Then he threw in Nehru as an apostle of justice. In Nehru we have a man who wants to apply certain principles to the British Commonwealth of Nations, but who throws aside all his lofty ideals when they are put to the test regarding Kashmir. The honorable senator should not out up Nehru as the apostle of international law and justice.
Surely Senator O’Byrne must realize that the balance of power has been a principle of international law and international force during his life-time. Surely he realizes that the crisis in the Middle East has weakened the .United Kingdom and France intolerably. To that extent, it must have had some weakening effect on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and must have upset the balance of power in Europe. Because of that, the threat of war becomes greater and not less. In my opinion, and in the opinion of greater men than I, the risk of war has become considerably greater because of the unfortunate happening in the Middle East.
I did not intend to speak at any length on the European scene because it seemed to me that the foreign affairs debate was far too wide. It has taken on a global aspect. The speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) had almost a Marco Polo touch about it. A foreign affairs debate is not substantive or specific, ft is designed to enlighten our minds on foreign affairs and, to that extent, to enlighten the minds of the community and the electorate. For that reason, I suggest that a debate on foreign affairs might well be held more often but in more concentrated form. It should be related to more narrow fields.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), with almost unlimited time at his disposal, found it impossible to deal with every aspect of the foreign affairs in this debate. I believe, therefore, that we should have these debates more often, and that they should be conducted, if possible, in a non-party spirit. We should try to break them up into more localized discussions. The problem of Europe, including Nato and of relations within the United Nations, could be the subject-matter of a single debate.
– ls it not a question of judgment as to which topic an honorable senator addresses himself, having regard to the time at his disposal?
– Yes, but we feel that we must address ourselves to all of them. The Minister for External Affairs has done that, and we feel called upon to make some contribution on all these matters. This debate is very wide. We could have a debate on the Middle East including Suez, Israel, Egypt, Cyprus, Iraq, Iran and the Baghdad pact and all that goes with it. We could talk on SouthEast Asia and the nations involved there. We could discuss Kashmir and Indonesia. In another field, we could debate Seato, the Anzus pact and all the problems inherent in them. Finally, the Colombo plan should be debated separately.
I regret that sneering comments have been made about the Colombo plan in the Senate from time to time. If there are honorable senators who do not believe in the Colombo plan, they may use the forms of the House to initiate a debate on it and thus enable all of us to state just where we stand in relation to the Colombo plan. I do not think it is a good thing that the plan should be sniped at, as it were, from the back benches. Let those who oppose it rise and say so, and let them demonstrate their opposition by speaking to some substantive motion in relation to it!
The Colombo plan is a form of insurance which we who are living in an Asian world must retain. I understand that we have spent £20,000,000 on the plan and that the immediate prospect is the expenditure of a further £12,000,000. It is a form of insurance that we must retain in the economic field to try to preserve peace in the Pacific. When all is said and done, there is nothing new about the principles underlying the plan. We recall that, after World War I., the Hoover Commission spent large sums of American money in the main and that it played a great part in saving Europe from disaster. After World War II., the Marshall aid scheme played an important part in saving Europe from complete anarchy. If we examine the history of the British Commonwealth, we see a record of economic aid to weaker nations economically. At all times, such aid has been designed to preserve the existence of the recipients as free nations. So there is really nothing new in the principles of the Colombo plan.
I do not agree with the giving of narrow approval to the plan, as was done by Senator Vincent. I think the burden of his point is that we are bringing a lot of Asians here for training and that insofar as they will be ambassadors for Australia when they return to their own countries, the. Colombo plan is a good thing. What is the position? We bring Asians here, and train them. We have trained approximately 2,200 of them. They acquire from their training here a variety of technical skills. But if there are no projects on which they can use those skills when they return to their own countries, that goodwill will become sour. To my mind,the. narrow view that the only value of the Colombo plan is that it will establish goodwill through the people who are trained and educated here- -
– But it is successful.
– It is very successful, but I think that, in addition to providing that education, we must be prepared, within our financial resources, to help the countries concerned to obtain capital equipmentso that the technical skills that areacquired here can be put to some practicaluse when the students return to their countries.
I suggest that the Parliament should be told more about the detailed projects. It is notgood enough to say that we have expended a total of £20,000,000; that we have expended £6,800,000 in Pakistan, £6,760,600 in India, £2,500,000 in Ceylon, £500,000 in Burma, so much in Vietnam, and so on. Aparliament that approves the expenditure of £20,000,000 has a responsibilitytoensure that themoney is being prqperlyapplied.I say with great respect that that is not theresponsibility of the public servant,it is the responsibility of the Parliament. If we approve the expenditure of£20,000, 000 in Australia, we wish to make a close scrutiny of the manner in which themoneys are used. The Parliament might feel that under theColombo plan greater emphasisshould beplaced on onecountry than on another. Good as the. Colombo plan is, nobleas the idea is, the factremainsthat thetaxpayers’ money is involved, and the Parliament should have further particulars ofthe details of the plan.
The main reason formyparticipating in this debateisto say that in my view, despite the criticisms of SenatorByrne and others, the SeatopactandtheAnzuspact area very valuable contribution to the security of this great continentofours.But, having said that, I emphasize thatitwould bea dangerous folly to think that those pacts, in themselves, will provide complete cover and protection in future. I believe that we must bring other nations withinthe framework of Seato in particular. It is elementary that, if these other nations remain outside the influence of Seato, they must become susceptible to. the influences of the Communist bloc. I believe that we must examine the possible future behaviour of every nation. The nations in the Pacific theatre which are outside Seato fall into two natural divisions, there are those within the British Commonwealth but outside Seato, and the Asian nations which are completely independent of the British Commonwealth. The fact that countries like India and Ceylon, both members of the British Commonwealth, are outside the Seato pact must be of grave concern to us all. The value of the Colombo plannow becomes apparent, because by our goodwill and our acts of economic support through the plan, we must be creating an attitude of mind which leans towards a closer co-operation with us than already exists, particularly in regard to a treaty for mutual defence such as the Seato pact.
Let us now consider the problem of Malaya and Singapore. Malaya is to have a new constitution, and as from August the federated states will be completely independent. Malaya is of tremendous strategic importance in the Pacific region. We all remember the part that was played by Malaya and Singapore during World War II. I repeat that Malaya is to, attain independence in August, but with no provision or guarantee in regard to its external obligations. At thefoot of Malaya lies Singapore, an island of approximately. 224 square miles. It is about as big as King Island, and. is of tremendous significance strategically. It has a populationof 1,200,000. 80 per cent. of whom are Chinese. It is asking forindependence within the Commonwealth, but withthe proviso that the responsibility for its external security should remain with Great Britain. The obvious thing to do for the island of Singapore, whichcannot standalone,isto incorporate itwithinthe Federation of Malaya. The Singapore people have asked forthat to be done, but the Federation ofMalaya is opposed tothis. The reason is that the majority of the population of Malaya are of Malayan origin and they want to keep the control of Malaya in the. hands of Malays. The Constitution which will establish the independence of Malaya is to be drafted in such a way that after Merdeka - that is the celebration or act of achieving Malayan independence - the qualification for Malayan citizenship will be the ability to speak the Malayan language. That provision has been inserted deliberately. One of the terms of reference of the Reid Commission was to investigate the request of Malaya that Malayan influence should always predominate in the Federation. In these circumstances, it is hardly likely that Singapore, with its majority of Chinese, will be accepted into the Malayan Federation. If that should be done the hope of maintaining Malayan influence would be lost.
As a consequence, the unfortunate position exists that while the island of Singapore is seeking independence - and will, no doubt, attain it - it is standing on its own, except that the United Kingdom will be responsible for its external security. Malaya, on the other hand, will be responsible for its own defence. Obviously, Australia must do something to help Malaya. Surely it can be brought into Seato. Something must be done for Singapore, also. It is not sufficient to say that the United Kingdom should be responsible for its defence. History suggests that the problems, strains, stresses and weights of defence in the Pacific are too heavy for Great Britain to bear if, simultaneously, it has to deal with attack or trouble in Europe. Australia must make its contribution towards the security of this new, young sister, known as Singapore, which is soon to be admitted to the British Commonwealth. Australian troops have already made a substantial contribution to the suppression of Communist atrocities in Malaya, and it could be a good thing if Australia were to offer the United Kingdom a guarantee that it will play its part in ensuring the external security of Singapore when its independence is attained.
Australia must do something, also, in regard to the problem of Burma and India. The problems of the Pacific cannot be completely solved until some suitable working arrangement has been made by Australia. With all the countries outside the Seato defence pact. That brings me to my final point, which relates to Japan. Honorable senators will appreciate that I approach the consideration of Japan with great diffidence. However, Australia cannot go on much longer considering the matter of defence in the Pacific without in some way taking into account the future of Japan. That country is not making a contribution towards peace in the Pacific. On the contrary, Australia’s contributions through various treaty organizations are ensuring the security of Japan at the cost of our taxpayers. Japan is a very keen trade competitor with Australia, and it should be made to play its part in safeguarding the overall peace of the Pacific. An honorable senator has suggested that defence involves the taking of calculated risks, and that is as true an assessment of the situation as could be made. We can never afford to allow Japan to be influenced to join the Communist bloc, much as we may abhor the acts of barbarism perpetrated by the Japanese fighting forces in World War II. We must, if necessary, forget the past in order to make certain of the future. Whether we like it or not, we must provide all possible safeguards, and this includes making Japan play some part in the defence of the Pacific.
Perhaps my remarks may be considered to be very immature, and that may be correct, but Australia’s future is tied up, first, with its British heritage in the Commonwealth, then with the Anzus and Seato pacts, which have been devised for its security. But, in addition, we should do everything in our power to make the Asian nations outside Seato realize the sincerity of our goodwill towards them. The Colombo plan is an excellent medium for expressing this, and we should ask the nations that we are assisting under this plan to make their contribution also towards the continued peace of the Pacific.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - 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.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 April 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1957/19570409_senate_22_s10/>.