23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIIin) took the chair at 3 p.m., -and read prayers.
– Honorable senators: During the parliamentary recess it was my honour to represent the Commonwealth branch at a meeting at Barbados, West Indies, of the ‘General Council of the Com.monwealth Parliamentary Association. In addition, I attended a meeting of the Conference Arrangements Committee of the association. 1 also took the opportunity to -visit certain South American countries. I -think I should report those matters to the Senate and, in doing so, make reference to certain items which will, I think, be of interest to honorable senators.
I refer first to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The General Council meeting was notable for its vitality and the progressive ideas put forward by delegates. 1 am confident that many of the suggestions put forward at that meeting will do much to strengthen our parliamentary association and further add to the interest taken in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association by members of British legislatures.
The Conference Arrangements Committee of the association considered the Australian proposals for the next biennial conference and tours of the Australian States to take place during September, October and November of this year. I am pleased to be able to say that the committee was enthusiastic about the Australian proposals and complimented the Australian branches on the way in which planning had developed at this early stage. I was assured by all the delegates that the members to be invited to Australia would look forward with the utmost pleasure to their visit to our country.
I never miss an opportunity - and I am not going to miss this one - of stressing the great value of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It promotes understanding and goodwill, and the biennial conferences provide unique opportunities for parliamentarians of Commonwealth coun tries to further the cause of good parliamentary government and democratic principles. Later this year, it will be our privilege, as the host country, to provide those opportunities.
Before the meeting of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association commenced, I made an official visit to Brazil in my capacity as President of the Senate. At Rio de Janeiro I was received by the President of the United States of Brazil, Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira, and the Foreign Minister, Dr. Negrao de Lima. I also had the pleasure of meeting heads of sections of the Department of Agriculture.
Through the kindness of the President, the Australian Minister to Brazil, Mr. Donald MacKinnon, and myself were flown to Brazilia, where we were shown the impressive developments taking place there. There are already 45,000 people working at the site of the new capital which, as well as being the nation’s capital, is intended to act as a focal centre for the development of the sparsely populated western half of Brazil. .Being situated virtually at the geographical centre of South America, it will undoubtedly play an important role in South American politics in the future. A number of permanent buildings are already completed, including the Alvadora Palace and a magnificent hotel.
After leaving Brazilia, we went to southern Brazil, where we called on the Governor of the State of Sao Paulo, Dr. Janio Quadros, and where I was received by the President of the Legislative Assembly.
Through the kindness of Sir John Ward, the United Kingdom Ambassador to the Argentine, I was able to pay a short visit to the Republic of Argentina. While in Buenos Aires, I was received by the President of Argentina, Dr. Arturo Frondizi and by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Carlos Alberto Florit. On the return journey, I paid a short visit to Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. Press conferences in these countries were well attended, and considerable interest was taken in development in Australia. On my return to Australia, I referred in a public statement to the possibility of more trade between the South American countries and Australia.
On the two matters to which I have referred, namely, the forthcoming Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in Australia and my visit to the South American countries, I shall be happy to have talks with honorable senators whenever possible.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior aware that the Queensland Government appointed a committee of three gentlemen to investigate the timber industry in Queensland? Have any officers of the Department of the Interior been invited by the committee to give evidence about the general condition of the timber industry in the Commonwealth? Have any officers of his department attended any of the sittings of the committee as observers? Because the timber industry is important from an employment aspect, will the Minister examine the authority of the committee and co-operate with it, should he find that he is able to do so?
– I understand there is an inquiry going on in Queensland into the timber industry. If the honorable senator will put his question on notice, I shall be very pleased to get the particulars for which he has asked.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the facts that South Australia is to have an election on 7th March and that Western Australia and New South Wales are to have elections on 21st March, does the Leader of the Government consider that any conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held shortly before those elections would become a political forum? If so, will he approach the Prime Minister with a view to having the Premiers’ conference postponed to a more appropriate date?
– All I can say in reply to the honorable senator is that I shall see that the Prime Minister is acquainted with the proposal he advances, and I shall let him know the Prime Minister’s decision.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen press reports of a suggestion that United Kingdom civil airliners be painted a rocket red colour on the outside as one means of helping to avoid mid-air collisions? Has any consideration been given to this suggestion as far as Australian civil airlines are concerned?
– I noticed in this morning’s press that one British airline, the Hunting Clan airline, is adopting this procedure as a means of providing more safety from collisions in mid-air. My department has had under notice developments of this sort, which are occurring in overseas countries, and has already painted one of its smaller aircraft with fluorescent colours. The view of the technical officers of my department is that it may be of advantage for use in very small aircraft, but in respect of the larger aircraft used by airlines operators the Australian practice has always been to develop methods under which aircraft are kept under positive ground control. This practice, as the honorable senator will be aware, has been eminently successful - so successful indeed that other countries, including the United States of America, are extending their systems of ground control to something after the pattern of the Australian ground control system.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade by saying that there has been considerable concern in Australia among the exporters of the products of heavy industries as well as those engaged in the general export trade, due to the fact that, whilst the Australian producers’ costs of production compare favorably with the costs of production of overseas producers, the very high cost of freight, insurance, and invisible charges makes it very difficult for them to market their goods in places that should, logically, be markets for Australian goods. I therefore ask the Minister: Is he aware that the cost of shipping freights, insurance, and other invisible charges is placing a very heavy burden on Australia’s export industries? Will the Minister supply the following information: - What countries outside Australia subsidize exports and/or rebate freights and insurance to exporters, or in any way assist the exporter in meeting world parity prices? What is the nature of the assistance given by those countries? What assistance does the Australian Government give to Australian exporters in this regard? What action, if any, has the Government taken to reduce the cost of freight, insurance and invisible charges on Australian exports?
– The honorable senator has asked, in effect, for almost a dissertation on the policy relating to subsidies or otherwise on exports, based upon a statement concerning freight charges. As I understand the present situation, I think we should start on the basis that charter freight rates for overseas ships are at present obtainable on very favorable terms. I remind the honorable senator that shipping freight rates around the Australian coast are notoriously very high indeed by contrast with world parity for freights. I can only say, Mr. President, that I will do my best to get such information as is available in reply to the honorable senator’s question, if he will place it on the notice-paper.
– By way of preface to my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I indicate that I welcome wholeheartedly the important statement that was made in the Prime Minister’s policy speech to the effect that the Government will set up a competent and independent public investigation of the Commonwealth’s taxation laws. Can the Leader of the Government indicate when such investigation will be undertaken, and the nature of the body appointed for this purpose? Can he make any forecast as to when the report of such committee wilt be available for the Parliament?
– I should think that the matter would rest primarily in the hands of the Treasurer, who is responsible for the administration of taxation laws. I do not know whether he has yet had an opportunity of defining the terms of reference or selecting the personnel of the committee. However, I am sure that he will be moving ahead” with the matter - because of its importance - as fast as he can. I will speak to him about it and see whether I can obtain any information which will help the honorable senator.
– Is the Leader of the Government aware that a civil defence bulletin has been issued by the British Home Office giving advice to the general pub/.c concerning the complete and utter horror of the consequences of hydrogen bomb attack and the precautions which could be taken to minimize the devastation that would ensue from the explosion of a hydrogen warhead on any city? In order to make people aware of the grave threat that overhangs mankind unless the hydrogen bomb is universally banned, will he consider having a similar pamphlet printed and widely distributed in this country also?
– The Federal Government already has a civil defence school of training in operation. 1 think that it is open for officers of the various State Governments to attend it and learn at first hand what is in contemplation if this thing should descend upon us. The State Governments themselves have been asked to undertake, and in the majority of cases have commenced, a civil defence programme against such a contingency. Moreover, a good deal of literature on the whole subject is already in circulation.
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation whether a decision has been made to install 150 parking meters at the Adelaide airport. If so, was this action taken in order to raise revenue, or afford greater convenience to airport users? Does the Minister know that ample parking space exists at the airport for ali reasonable requirements - without the necessity for parking meters - and that competent observers suggest that any congestion occurring may be due to the fact that airport employees use a portion of the area set aside for the travelling public, instead o their own parking space? Is it intended that parking meters should be installed at all capital city airports?
– The charging of fees for parking at airports, and the installation of parking meters, are motivated by two things, both of which the honorable senator has mentioned - first, the convenience of people calling at airports to meet aircraft and passengers and, secondly, ar 1 no less important, the provision of revenue.
I do not think that any one would argue with the need for the latter. From time to time, attention is drawn in debate in this chamber to the tremendous amount of public money spent on civil aviation. I am not aware of any intention to install 150 meters at the Adelaide airport, but I shall inquire whether that is so; nor am I aware of the other matter of which the honorable senator complains, namely, the use by employees of public parking space.
– I am not complaining personally. I am merely passing on complaints which have been made to mel
– Those complaints will be investigated.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. As the Government has promised a complete review of the Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation when the present agreement expires on 30th June next, will it consider the appointment of an independent tribunal to examine the anomalies in the existing agreement, so that entirely independent recommendations for a new formula may be available when the Premiers meet to draw up a new agreement?
– The honorable senator refers to a subject which, as he is well aware, is currently engaging the attention of the Government. I do not think that it would be necessary to appoint an independent tribunal to have a look at the matter to which he has referred nor would any good purpose be served. The method which has been followed through the years is that these matters are discussed at Premiers conferences and a decision subsequently reached. It is the intention that that procedure will be followed again on this occasion, and in order that a decision might be made against a background of greater knowledge, a conference recently was called, of which the honorable senator is no doubt aware, at which all bodies interested in roads, road construction, and so on, were asked to submit ideas - and they in fact did so - as to what should be done about the provision of finance for roads. It is against that sort of background information that the Government’s decision will be taken on this occasion.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National Development, relates to the current situation in Australia in regard to the export of base metals and particularly to the export of copper, lead and zinc. Can the Ministerinform the Senate of the current situation of the industry in Australia, following the curtailment of Australian exports by the United States of America late last year?1 Can the Minister also inform the Senate as. to the prospects that are in store for the industry in the near future?
– Courageous as I am, I do not feel that I have sufficient courage to attempt to forecast the trend of” events in the lead and copper mining industries. Up to this present stage, we have not in Australia made any alteration of existing arrangements. As from 1st October, I think it was, the United States placed quotas upon the amount of lead and zinc which could be imported into that country. We have up to this stage allowed commercial practices to operate as they have donein the past. There is no restriction on theexportation of copper. It is only, of course, of comparatively recent times that we have become self-sufficient in copper supplies. We are now exporters of copper. We havealways been exporters of lead and zinc. Weare the world’s largest lead producer and? we are the third largest producer of zinc. The Government is watching the positionvery closely indeed. Representations aremade to my department and to the Department of Trade by the mining industry and’ by those who are in the exporting business, in particular. We are in almost daily conference or consultation with the mining; companies and the exporting companies, but, as I have said, up to this stage, in our wisdom, in our good judgment or otherwise, we .have made no decisions which would* impose any restrictions or embargoes, or alter in any way the normal commercial! trading arrangements.
– I direct a question’, to the Leader of the Government in theSenate in his capacity as Minister administering the War Service Homes Division. 1 am informed that, although there is strictsupervision of the building operations off the Western Australian Housing Commission, that is, as to its adherence to the specifications provided for war service homes, there is no such supervision of the activities of the building societies. I am also informed that the houses that are now being built by some of the building societies will not be standing in a few years’ time. 1 ask the Minister whether any regulation administered by the division compels an inspection of the operations of the building societies.
– The honorable senator addressed his question to me as Minister administering the War Service Homes Division. 1 take it that his question relates more to housing generally. As the honorable senator will recall from his own ministerial experience, the position is that in Western Australia the Housing Commission is the administrative agent for the War Service Homes Division; all war service homes activities are conducted through the commission. I take it that Senator Fraser is contrasting the activities of the Housing Commission with those of the building societies.
I should think that there could not possibly be any ground for apprehension on the point raised by the honorable senator, because surely each of the housing authorities and all builders and contractors in Western Australia are subject to the law of that State. They must deposit their plans and specifications with their local municipal councils, and those plans and specifications must comply with the law of the State. If that is admitted, what the question leads to is the view that the Housing Commission is building better houses than are being built for the building societies. Whether that is so I do not know; it is entirely a matter of opinion. I should think that the building societies could well be trusted to ensure that they get good security for the money they lend and that good security could be only in the form of wellconstructed buildings.
– My information is that the societies are not complying with the specifications.
– I cannot answer that. I shall make some inquiries and let the honorable senator know the result of them. The rules of all these building societies provide for a process of inspection as and when they lend money. One of the forms of protection that is afforded to persons who finance their building through building societies is that the societies, by and large, have that organization foi inspection.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. I understand that last week the Minister for the Army said that there had been some misunderstanding about the wool content of materials that were being tried for working dress and uniforms for the Australian Army. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that the Army is conducting trials to determine the suitability of materials for better and smarter styles of clothing? If such trials are being conducted, is any consideration being given to the .greater use of wool in army apparel?
– This question was raised with me recently by the representatives of the woollen mills at Geelong when I visited that city. The Army has sent for samples of materials containing 100 per cent, wool and various materials consisting of wool and a proportion of man-made fibres for new army uniforms. I understand that no firm decision has yet been made as to the class of material to be used. I believe that the summer uniforms at present being used by the Army are 100 per cent, cotton material. If, in the development of material containing wool and man-made fibres some other material is produced which will replace the cotton now used in summer uniforms, then the Army will in fact be using a great deal more wool in its uniforms than it is at the present time.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 28a, il lay on the (table my ‘warrant nominating Senator K. M. /Anderson, Senator ‘A. Hendrickson, Senator T. M. Nicholls, Senator J . ©’Byrne, Senator R. W. Pearson and Senator 1. A. C. Wood to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications - Senator K. M. Anderson, Senator D. C. Hannaford, Senator A. Hendrickson, Senator P. J. Kennelly, Senator T. M. Nicholls, Senator A. R. Robertson, and Senator R. H. Wordsworth.
– by leave - I have asked for leave to make a statement on the recent visit to Australia of the Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Dr. Subandrio, because I believe that the Senate will wish to have an account of this visit and its significance to Australian-Indonesian relations. The statement will be in the same terms as the statement made by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in another place to-day, only necessary verbal alterations being made.
I believe that the Senate should have the text of the joint announcement made by Dr. Subandrio and Mr. Casey on behalf of the Australian Government. Honorable senators will no doubt have seen the text of this joint announcement on which Dr. Subandrio and Mr. Casey agreed and which was issued at the termination of Dr. Subandrio’s visit. Before making some comments on this document, I should like briefly to remind honorable senators of the way in which this visit came about, what its purposes were, and what results have been achieved from it.
It is more than seven years since a Foreign Minister of Indonesia has visited Australia. Since then Mr. Casey has visited Indonesia several times, the latest being in 19S5, and a number of prominent Indonesians, including Ministers and other individuals prominent in the political life of Indonesia, have visited Australia over the last three years. But the Australian Government had in mind that further direct contact at the governmental level in Australia would be a means of showing to the Indonesian Government and people the real and sympathetic interest which Australia has in Indonesia’s progress and welfare and would, at the same time, allow opportunity for discussions of foreign policy matters, including those upon which our two countries differ. It was in this spirit and with this intention that Mr. Casey informed Dr. Subandrio towards the end of last year that a visit would1 be most welcome. It was in this spirit also, 1 believe, that the invitation was accepted on the Indonesian side. Dr. Subandrio did not come to Australia for the purpose of any formal negotiations on any particular matter. He came as the representative of a neighbouring friendly country for the purpose of exchanging views and creating a better understanding. It is believed that his visit served to do both these things.
Indonesia is a country in whose independence Australia has a deep concern - not only now but throughout the future of Australia. At its nearest point, Indonesian territory is but 200 miles from Australian shores. We are necessarily concerned with the success of the efforts of Indonesia to establish stable and democratic institutions. In many ways Indonesia’s foreign policy differs from Australia’s. Its declared policy is to avoid alinements and military pacts, seeking rather to consolidate its independence and security by other means. These differences in policy are a reason for more rather than less discussion between us.
We thought it right that Dr. Subandrio should meet representatives of the Opposition in Australia as well as the members of the Australian Cabinet. These meetings were arranged and took place.
In his discussions with Australian Ministers, Dr. Subandrio explained and discussed Indonesia’s national objectives and described current problems in the ideological, economic, constitutional, and political development of Indonesia and in her international relations. There was a review of questions deriving directly from Indonesian-Australian relations, of present co-operation between the two countries, and of the ways and means in which this co-operation could be extended.
The question of Dutch New Guinea was discussed. Australia and Indonesia take differing views as to where sovereignty lies.
Perhaps I might remind honorable senators of the content of the relevant paragraphs of the joint announcement in respect of Dutch New Guinea, which reads as follows: -
The Ministers reviewed in detail IndonesianAustralian relations. There was a full explanation of the considerations which have led each country to a different view over West New Guinea (West Irian), with Australia recognizing Netherlands sovereignty and recognizing the principle of self-determination. This difference remains, but the position was clarified by an explanation from Australian Ministers that it followed from their position of respect for agreements on the rights of sovereignty that if any agreement were reached between the Netherlands and Indonesia as parties principal, arrived at by peaceful processes and in accordance with internationally accepted principles, Australia would not oppose such an agreement.
The Ministers indicated that they believed that the issue between the Netherlands and Indonesia over western New Guinea (West Irian) was one to be resolved by peaceful means, and that they were in accord with the view that force should not be used by the parties concerned in the settlement of territorial differences.
Members of the Australian Government heard from Dr. Subandrio a statement of the Indonesian attitude upon the matter, and the considerations which have led to the Indonesian claim to the territory. Australian Ministers, for their part, stated the reasons why Australia recognized and will continue to recognize Netherlands sovereignty. Australia’s conception of the legal rights enjoyed by the Netherlands as a sovereign power was explained, and the importance we attach to the principle of self-determination. The Government made it clear that Australia retains a strong interest in the developments in Western New Guinea. The nature and purpose of our administrative co-operation with the Netherlands administration were explained. This co-operation will, of course, continue.
It will be seen that in the joint announcement, the Australian Government has also stated its attitude towards a situation which is hypothetical, in which an agreement might be made between the Netherlands and Indonesia by peaceful processes and in accordance with internationally accepted principles - which means, among other things, absence of duress. We say that, in these circumstances, Australia would not oppose such an agreement.
Believing as we do in the fundamental rights to make agreements possessed by the
Netherlands Government and derived from the sovereignty which we are convinced the. Netherlands possesses, and believing in the rule of law, this position is the only right and proper one for Australia. It represents no new departure in our policy, but I believe it does clarify to Indonesians a position upon which they have held doubts. I make it clear to the Senate, as was conveyed to Dr. Subandrio, that this definition of the Australian position can in no sense be represented as advice to the Netherlands or toIndonesia on the question of negotiation upon this matter.
There are, I may say, many matters at issue between Indonesia and the Netherlands. In the course of the discussions, Australian Ministers drew to Dr. Subandrio’s attention the bad effect upon Australian opinion of the seizure without compensation of Netherlands assets and the treatment accorded to Netherlands nationals; and our hope that measures for compensation would be speedily and effectively applied.
It appears from some public comments upon the terms of this particular part of thejoint announcement that some unwarranted assumptions are being made. One of them is that, if there were an agreement between, the Netherlands and Indonesia, only oneresult in terms of the future of the western half of New Guinea is possible. I suggest that, on the contrary, there is a variety of” possibilities - depending largely upon thedecision of the Netherlands and Indonesia to accept any one of them. In this connexion I remind honorable senators that the Netherlands Government has more than, once emphasized the importance which it attached to the international principle that the interests of the indigenous inhabitantsof western New Guinea are to be assured.
Again I would remind honorable senators that the Netherlands Government has suggested in the past that the question of the sovereignty over western New Guinea, should be submitted to the International Court - which is clearly one of the peaceful processes that might be employed. If the matter were to go to the Court, I donot believe that any one in Australia would fail to respect the decision of the Court, whichever way it might go.
The joint announcement expresses the: conviction of both countries that there: should be no resort to force in the settlement of territorial disputes. This cleat declaration is welcomed- by the Australian Government. It could be a- real’ contribution by improving relations generally in the region of South-East Asia and, the Pacific.
I commend the- terms of the joint announcement to honorable senators as marking a- further step in the development of better understanding in AustralianIndonesian relations and as evidence of the determination of both Indonesia and Australia to live together in increasing amity. The joint announcement is necessarily a short one. The discussions with Dr. Subandrio and his officers occupied a greatmany hours.
I draw, the attention of the Senate to the fact that Dr. Subandrio is. still travelling in New Zealand and has not yet had the opportunity of reporting in person to his own Government.
A closer relation- with 80,000,000 Indonesians who are Australia’s nearest neighbours is something to. work for with energy and patience. It- would be idle to pretend that differences in history, culture, languageand institutions do not create obstacles. Indeed, it is because, we recognize these tobe obstacles which exist, but which can be progressively reduced, that Dr. Subandrio and Mr. Casey have recommended to our Governments that further practical steps be taken in the cultural field.
Of course Australia- will necessarily look to ensure that our own interests and. responsibility are understood and respected by Indonesia. We have many such, interests both within and outside the SouthEast Asian region, including our associations and understandings with other powers, both Asians and non-Asians. Our membership of Seato is one such interest. These matters were explained to Dr. Subandrio and were discussed, and we believe that his visit will lead to a better understanding of them in Indonesia. There were valuable exploratory discussions upon other subjects - such as trade and communication routes - upon which I do not propose to enter in detail.
I am sure that I reflect the view of the Opposition as well as the Government when I say that friendship with a democratic and truly independent Indonesia is our aim and that the- few important conflicts of national policy that divide us- should not distract either country from building on the- great many interests- we have in common.
With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the text of the joint announcement by the Foreign Minister of Indonesia and the Australian Minister for External Affairs. It is as follows: -
During his visit to Australia from 10th to 15th February, 1959, the Foreign Minister of Indonesia (Dr. Subandrio) had discussions with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and with other Ministers. 2.. It was the object of Ministers to expand the present area of agreement between the two neighbouring countries and, where differences exist, to seek, to reconcile them and to create better understanding of each country’s interests and national policies.
With this objective, a meeting was arranged between Dr. Subandrio and all members of the Australian Cabinet. The discussions served to reaffirm the determination of both Governments that Australia and Indonesia will live together and co-operate as good neighbours sympathetically concerned in each other’s material progress and respecting each other’s independence, and fostering closer relations, between their peoples.
There was a valuable exchange of views on the international situation and upon its effect on the security of the two countries. Much common ground was found. Ministers reaffirmed the support of the two governments for the Charter of the United Nations, peaceful settlement of disputes, and for the principles of mutual tolerance, among nations and non-interference in each other’s domestic affairs. It was recognized thatthose differences that exist in foreign policies on questions of international peace and security were compatible with mutual respect for each other’s interests and a common concern in Indonesia and Australia to preserve national independence from external interference.
The Ministers reviewed in detail IndonesianAustralian relations. There was a full explanation of the considerations which have led each country to a different view over west New Guinea (West Irian), with Australia recognizing Netherlands sovereignty and recognizing the principle of self-determination. This difference remains, but the position was clarified by an explanation from Australian Ministers that it followed from their position of: respect for agreements on the rights- of sovereignty that if any agreement were reached between the Netherlands and Indonesia as parties principal, arrived at by peaceful processes and in accordance with internationally accepted principles, Australia would not oppose such an agreement.
The Ministers indicated that they believed that, the issue between the Netherlands and Indonesia over western New Guinea (West Irian) was one to be resolved by peaceful means, and that they were in accord with the view that force should not be used by the parties, concerned in the settlement of territorial differences.
The Ministers decided to put to study the possibility of a formal agreement between the two countries to encourage and widen mutual understanding through exchanges of persons competent: in the fields of artistic, literary or other cultural achievement, science and scholarship. Such un agreement would be designed to extend existing co-operative arrangements under the Colombo Plan and under other forms of international cultural co-operation.
The Ministers noted that, since Indonesia joined the Colombo Plan, Australia has received more than 500 Indonesians for training and study. It is agreed that the educational authorities in each country will be asked to examine the possibilities of study opportunities in Indonesia being used to a greater extent by Australian universities and learned bodies.
Australian Ministers and Dr. Subandrio expressed the belief that the visit with its frank and extensive exchanges of views had contributed to the fostering of relations of amity and better understanding between Australia and Indonesia.
– by leave - A copy of the statement that has been read by the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner) was made available to me only some minutes before I entered the Senate chamber. I thought I might be disadvantaged by the short notice that I should have to consider it, but I find that not to be so. The Leader of the Government is accurate in saying that he can speak for the Opposition when he says there is a common desire by all members of the Senate for friendship with a truly independent and democratic Indonesia. We of the Opposition support that sentiment. We also welcome the visit of Dr. Subandrio to Australia. In addition, we welcome the assurance he has given on behalf of his country that Indonesia will not resort to force against the Dutch over the West Irian question, as it is known in Indonesia.
But apart from those three matters, I see very little for the Opposition to support in the statement that has been made. With regard to friendship with Indonesia, the Australian Labour party has proved already, in a most emphatic way, its desire for that friendship and its desire to nurture a democratic Indonesia. At the instance of Senator Gorton, I think, in November, 1957, this matter was discussed on the adjournment one evening. I then told the story of Australia’s part, under the Chifley Government, in referring the hostilities between the Dutch and the Indonesians to the United Nations, with the happy results, first, that a cease-fire was enforced, and secondly, that a treaty was negotiated between Holland and the Indonesians, yielding to the Indonesians their independence and reserving the question of Dutch New Guinea for a period of a year.
I can safely say that the Indonesians are entitled to be grateful to the Australian Labour movement for the initial part it played in steering Indonesia rapidly and safely on the road to independence. The warmth of feeling we had towards the Indonesians then has not abated in the slightest degree. The Minister, in the early part of the statement, referred to the long period that has elapsed since we had a visit from a high Indonesian ministerial officer, particularly the Indonesian Minister for External Affairs, lt is seven years. It is four years since our own Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) visited Indonesia. I would say that there has been a failure on the part of this Government to cultivate the good relations that existed at the time of the foundation of the Republic of Indonesia and to promote those good relations with real zeal and energy. On the contrary, we had the spectacle of our own Minister for External Affairs, in the United Nations in 1954, refusing to permit the dispute between the Dutch and the Indonesians over this particular New Guinea issue to be debated or discussed at all. He did not permit a hearing to the parties in a dispute that might well have been elevated to a situation that could have led to international hostilities. We feel that this Government could have done much more to preserve and foster good relations between our own country and Indonesia.
We recognize the vital need for friendship between the two countries and the great virtue to be derived from trading and cultural relations with the Indonesians. But the thing that appals the Opposition, and has dismayed the nation, is the joint statement which indicates that if Indonesia were to negotiate by friendly means the taking over of Dutch New Guinea from Holland, this Government would not oppose such an arrangement. It would base its concurrence upon an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Holland over Dutch New Guinea. I say that the Government has taken a coldly legalistic and a completely perverse view of the position of Holland in New Guinea.
The Minister spoke of the rule of law. If proper regard had been had to the rule of law, the Government would have adverted to the fact that Holland is a signatory to the Charter of the United Nations, which, in the most solemn way, binds that country to direct its administration for the benefit of the inhabitants of New Guinea. Let me remind the Senate, in case it needs reminding, that in chapter 1 1 of the Charter of the United Nations there is a heading, “Declaration regarding non-self-governing territories “. Holland, being a signatory to the Charter, is bound by this vitally-important Statement -
Members of the United Nations which have or assume responsibilities for the administration of territories whose peoples have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount-
The paramount consideration is the interests of the people of the territories - . . and accept as a sacred trust the obligations to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the Present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories . . .
Then follow several specific undertakings that are entered into by the signatory members of the United Nations. I say that to look coldly legalistically at the concept of Dutch sovereignty in west New Guinea is to completely ignore that solemn obligation under the Charter of the United Nations.
– Will the transfer of sovereignty to the Indonesians make it any better?
– I put to the honorable senator, who is a lawyer, this line of thought: In truth, the Dutch in New Guinea, pursuant to this contractual obligation, are in the position of a trustee. To emphasize that, let me point to Australia’s position in New Guinea. We have similar sovereignty over Papua. From the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, we have a mandate over a portion of New Guinea. We have combined our administration of these territories and we are dealing with the United Nations on the one basis of reporting fully our activities in both places, whether we have sovereignty or whether we have merely a mandate. I have no doubt that Holland carries out its obligation and reports fully, as it is bound to do under this heading, from time to time on the economic, social and educational conditions obtaining in Dutch New Guinea. Let me complete this thought that you have provoked. Under this document, the Dutch are in the position of a trustee. The honorable senator knows that if a trustee is appointed, he cannot just throw the trust overboard and appoint of his own volition a new trustee to take over for him, particularly where the people are under disabilities as in the case of infants, as in the case of a person not sui generis; and the honorable senator will not deny that the native peoples of Dutch New Guinea are under a disability. They are under-developed. They are in the position covered by our law on infants.
What happens under the rule of law? If a trustee wishes to vacate, and here is what is described as the most solemn trust, the interests of the beneficiaries are paramount. What does happen under the rule of law? The law is well settled. Unless the settlor has provided for an alternative trustee, a trustee, where the beneficiaries are under disability, must go to a court. The persons under disability must be represented there. And that is the fact in relation to this concept of Dutch sovereignty. The trust aspect is completely ignored. Dr. Subandrio and Mr. Casey, in the joint statement, have concentrated on the theme of sovereignty, and the Minister, in the statement that is made to-day, has kept entirely to that as the basis of their action. Why, if they can hand the country and1 the people of New Guinea over to Indonesia, what would there be to prevent them handing over to the Eskimos if they wished, or to Russia if they wished? Clearly, there is an authority, a United Nations authority, which must be consulted in respect of any change in the administration of that particular territory. The viewpoint of the Australian Labour party in this matter has been completely clear. We, in Australia, already administer in the interests of the local inhabitants two-thirds of New Guinea. We are experienced in that administration. The natives are used to us, and if there were to be a change of trustee, it is the view of the Australian Labour party, in the interests of the inhabitants themselves, that they should one day form a united people of the whole island. The trusteeship should be given to this country. That is the point at which the policy of Australia ought to be directed. We have not conceived this matter just now. It was made completely clear in Labour’s policy speech at the recent elections. It was printed and circulated. I ask for leave, Mr. President, to include the paragraph dealing with this in “ Hansard “.
– Read it.
– 1 have not the slightest objection to reading it, and I withdraw my application for leave to incorporate it unread in “ Hansard “. The paragraph of Labour’s policy speech delivered: on 15th October, 1958, relating to New Guinea, reads -
In relation to the problem of New Guinea, Labour believes that a solution in the interest of the peoples of the island and in the security interests of Indonesia and Australia could be evolved and agreed upon by discussion and negotiation. As we see it at present, we must contemplate the possibility of eventual administration of the whole island of New Guinea as one unit under the supervision provided for by the Trusteeship Council together with some administering authority. Hie actual administration could be committed to one nation and it seems only right that in New Guinea two-thirds of which is administered by Australia, the administration of the whole island could be best entrusted to Australia in the event of the Netherlands giving up their administration of West New Guinea.
That is completely clear and unequivocal -
Under the Charter the final objective must be self-determination for the New Guinea people themselves. In this final solution for New Guinea, Australia’s administration of its Trust Territory and of Papua will have played the most important part. We bear heavy responsibility to assist the people of the Territory to stand on their own feet - to enjoy a measure of prosperity, to control and ultimately to take their place in the world as the equals of the citizens of more advanced countries. Recent events in New Guinea, however, have tragically high-lighted the inadequacy of some aspects of the present Government’s administration.
In what way does the policy of the Labour party differ from that of the present Government? Fundamentally, it differs because we in the Labour party have always accepted the equal rights, the equal humanity under God of all human beings. We believe that it is our duty to assist the peoples of New Guinea to achieve prosperity and selfdetermination through their own energies and their own talents.
The peoples of New Guinea are at many different stages in their gradual adaptation to the conditions of the modern world. There is a vast difference between those in the towns, who live and work beside Europeans, and those in many of the highland and mountain villages whose lives have so far been much less affected by modern conditions. Progress cannot reasonably be held up - as it is at present - till the least advanced are ready to move forward. Opportunities might be given to these different groups according to their capacities. And under n Labour Government they would be given. There is no time for delay.
I repeat that Australia should oppose any attempt by Indonesia to supplant the Netherlands Government in west New Guinea. If Indonesia attempted that by force or threat of force that would be a violent breach of the Charter. For the chapter of the United Nations Charter-
– But in this joint statement Indonesia says that she will not use force.
– That is quite right. We are not discussing that now. I have already applauded the statement that Indonesia will not use force. But the honorable senator should realize that at the moment I am reading, at the instance of one of his colleagues, the policy of the Australian Labour party at the recent election.
– That is what “ supplant “ means. We deny their right to supplant by agreement or by force.
– If you want a discussion on that, let me say two things: The paramount consideration should be the welfare of the natives. Does the honorable senator think that Indonesia should be the administering authority, with all the problems it has of setting up its own administration and a thousand and one other problems - not yet stable in its control, civil war current in its area, lacking political experience and skill in this highly specialized field of looking after dependent people who were unable to set up their own administration? Could Indonesia do the best in the interests of the inhabitants. Secondly, will the honorable senator consider the vast importance to Australia itself of having that umbrella of protection to our own country? We have two great interests - in the people, and for ourselves. I shall come to that point. Let me complete the quotation, and I will then embark on a discussion with the honorable senator -
For the chapter of the United Nations Charter dealing with non-self-governing territories provides that the objective of each such territory is selfgovernment and self-determination for the native peoples.
Similarly if the Netherlands abandoned Dutch New Guinea the case for Australian administration of the whole island would be just as strong if not stronger. We seek friendship with the Indonesian people and the Labour party policy favours the establishment of a regional pact between Australia, Indonesia and Holland for the security and development of the future of New Guinea.
But we could not possibly accept a situation created by aggressive action on the part of Indonesia to seize west New Guinea contrary to the United Nations Charter provision. New Guinea is pivotal for the defence of Australia as was proved in the war against Japan.
That is a factor that is not mentioned in the statement, and one that this Government appears to have completely overlooked. The policy continues -
And the defence security of the Australian people was gained by the heroism and selfsacrifice of both Australian and United States troops in the whole area of New Guinea; and it remains for all times a hallowed place in which the gallant and devoted services of the New Guinea natives themselves should never be forgotten.
– Yet you refused Red Cross supplies to the Dutch in 1945.
– The honorable senator is now getting away from the point and seeking to divert me from this colossal blunder of this Government, lt has been guilty of, first, focusing upon a completely legalistic concept of Dutch sovereignty and, secondly, ignoring the trust that the Dutch themselves have undertaken in respect of the native people - ignoring the fact that it is not for Holland lo change the trustee. If there is to be a change of any kind, this Government, both for the sake of the natives and for the sake of our own security, should press for a trusteeship on the part of Australia. I argued that in this place in November, 1957, and it is to that end that the whole of Australian diplomacy should have been directed in recent years. That should have been done instead of merely taking sides in this matter.
I recall the words that I used on the former occasion -
It would pay Australia to stay on the sidelines and eventually to seek the trusteeship of the whole island, both in the interests of the natives and in the interests of the defence of this country.
I think that the Government realizes the dismay that has been caused in the community by the joint statement issued by Mr. Casey and Dr. Subandrio. The Government’s great concern is shown by the mere fact that the statement before us has been made at such an early stage, when the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech has not been disposed of. The Government realizes that it has blundered and grievously offended the sensitivities of the Australian people in this matter. The statement read to us to-day will do nothing whatever to clarify the posi tion, or to re-assure the Australian people, and there should be a complete opportunity for a full debate on the whole matter. It would not be fair of me to spend too much time discussing it to-day. I merely indicate that in my view Indonesia is neither legally, morally nor contractually entitled to Dutch New Guinea - it is simply not entitled to it. I claim further that Holland is not free, in the terms of its obligations under the United Nations Charter, to substitute for itself any other trustee without first obtaining the concurrence of the United Nations. That is the outlook which this Government should have adopted. We feel that the people of New Guinea have been let down and that our chances of obtaining a trusteeship of New Guinea have been jeopardized.
I ask honorable senators to imagine what would happen if Indonesia took over the under-developed people of Dutch New Guinea. What would such a change-over mean? It would mean for them a new language, a new people, a new culture, new customs and a new religion. What confusion it would throw them into! There would inevitably be heavy colonization by Indonesia. After all is said and done, the inhabitants are greatly retarded. They do not wish their way of life to be disturbed further. One can imagine the effect of a violent change in the administration of their affairs. If there is to be any change it should be in the charge of Australians, who are already in the field and have had vast experience in the development and in the wooing of these people on the road to education, culture and better standards. Australia should be the outstanding choice of the United Nations for such a role. By and large, this country has done a good job in administering the trust territory of New Guinea and Papua and has complied with all its obligations to the United Nations.
On behalf of the Opposition, I say that it ill-behoves any country to consider disposing of an area like Dutch New Guinea. It is not merely a sale, or trading in land. It is a deal in human beings - in people, with bodies and souls. That is not lightly to be embarked upon. If it were merely a matter of selling land, minerals or something of that type, it would be quite another matter. Any transfer of the administering authority would mean, in the ultimate, a trafficking in bodies - and that should not be-, undertaken by any two nations. Unquestionably, it is a matter to be determined at the high level of the United Nations itself.
I undertook not to speak for long. I would conclude on that, note and with a very urgent request to- the- Government that, a full debate on the subject-matter of this statement be permitted at the earliest possible moment.
– by leave - I should like to begin my remarks on the note on which Senator McKenna finished - that on such a vital question, dealing as it does with the security and welfare of Australia, there should be a full scale debate both here and in another place. I. believe: that in another place the statement was made by one person only, and answered by one person only. Here a similar course is being followed. Parliament should discuss very fully this grave matter which, in the not far distant future, could have an overwhelming influence on our security. It is rather peculiar that, for once, we should be in full agreement with the Australian Labour party on an aspect of foreign policy.
We believe that the arguments put forward’ by Senator McKenna have great substance because, right through this century, New Guinea has been considered1 a buffer state so far as the security of Australia was concerned. That was shown fully in the last war, and we consider that that position still obtains. I am sure that that view is shared by members on the Government benches, and I am equally sure that a great many of them were surprised at what appeared in the press concerning Dr Subandrio’s visit to Australia.
I should like to know whether the Dutch were consulted before the negotiations with Dr. Subandrio took place. They are the people who certainly should have been consulted, because it is their sovereignty that is at stake. I agree with Senator McKenna that sovereignty over land and sovereignty over people are different things. The Dutch may at present have sovereignty over the land, but that does not give them sovereignty over the welfare of the people - the right to hand them over for colonization by some other race. That is what the present proposals amount to.
I should like to state my party’s policy on West Irian, adopted at our conference in August, 1958. It was that any use of force to settle the west New Guinea problem must be resisted. We recommended that, with the concurrence of the Dutch Government, west New Guinea be placed under United Nations trusteeship and that the United Nations be asked to join that trusteeship to the existing trusteeship of New Guinea. We went further and said that it was Australia’s problem to see that New Guinea and the neighbouring islands to the north of Australia were brought into a Melanesian confederation. That, of course, is looking into the far distant future. It may be half a century or more- before that objective can be realized, but nevertheless that should be our objective. If Indonesia were to take over West Irian, that objective could never be achieved. West. Irian would become a colony of Indonesia. In its colonization methods, Indonesia has merely reached the stage that we reached 150 years ago, when we treated the original inhabitants of this land in such disastrous ways.
– We are still treating them in those ways.
– We still do, to a certain extent. Similar things would happen to the original inhabitants of West Irian if that country were taken over by Indonesia.
What has this statement done? I believe that it has given the all-clear to the Netherlands to get rid of West Irian. There is a softening of the attitude of Holland towards West Irian. There is a difference of opinion within the Dutch Parliament as to what should be done in this area, and this statement will give added encouragement to those who believe that the Dutch should leave West Irian. The area is costing the Dutch Government many millions of pounds each year, money which has to be found by the Dutch taxpayers, in order to continue the experiment, if we like to put it that way, in West Irian. From memory, Dutch New Guinea is costing Holland £10,000,000 per annum from the finances of the Dutch people. Of course, the Dutch also have a bargaining point, enabling them to say, “ All right. We give you West Irian and you pay us compensation for what you are doing so fax as our property in Indonesia is concerned.” There is a bargaining point there.
I believe that this statement that has been made by the Australian Government will cause a further softening of the Dutch attitude. Australia should be interested in this area. Holland is not greatly interested in it, although she would have been, I presume, if oil had been found there in great quantities, but it has not been found so far. It is not a matter of what Holland wants to do with West Irian but of what Australia wants to do with it. We have far more interest in what happens there than the Dutch have. The policy of the Democratic Labour party, as stated earlier, is firm on thesubject.Webelievethatthatpolicy could be carried out and thus provide a safeguard not only for us, but, more important still, for the natural inhabitants of West New Guinea.
Without delaying the Senate unduly, Mr. Deputy President, let me say that I believe that this matter that is so vital to the security of Australia should not be set aside lightly, as has been done in this instance. There should be a full-scale debate and the Parliament given the ideas and views of as many people as possible. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I know that this subject has been studied very closely by many of the members of that committee. Their views and opinions would be of great help to the Senate and also to another place. So I say, Sir, that we disagree very strongly with what has been done, as a result of the discussions between the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and Dr. Subandrio, to soften the attitude that the Dutch would have taken had we backed them up. I believe that it will end in Indonesia taking over West Irian. Let nobody reply that the Indonesians have said that they will not use force. Similar statements have been made on innumerable occasions throughout history. When the right time comes for the use of force and the opportunity presents itself, force is used. We of the Democratic Labour party deplore the statement that has been made and are of the opinion that it is against the welfare and the security of Australia.
– I have received the second annual report by the President of the Com monwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In his report, the President has made several suggestions for amendments of the legislation to deal with problems which have arisen during the year under review. These suggestions are being examined and are expected to lead to the introduction of a short amending bill later in the session. Pursuant to section 70 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Second Annual Report of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the year ended 13th August, 1958.
– Can the Minister say when the report will be available?
– The report is laid on the table now.
– But last year it was circulated.
– No, I cannot say, but I shall find out for the honorable senator.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 p.m. in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday, and 11 a.m. in the forenoon of Thursday.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays, after 8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, general orders of the day take precedence of general notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a committee of the whole Senate, be suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Spooner) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 10.30 p.m. on days upon which proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast, and at 11 p.m. on days when such proceedings are being broadcast, the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which question shall be open to debate; Provided that if the Senate or the committee be in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the notice-paper for the next sitting day.
Debate resumed from 17th February (vide page 24), on motion by Senator Branson -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyally to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
.- Mr. Deputy President, at the outset I indicate that Opposition senators desire to associate themselves with the Address-in-Reply. I congratulate Senator Branson and Senator McKellar. the mover and seconder respectively of the motion now before the Chair. I wish them a pleasant term in the Senate. I do not wish them a long term; I know they would not expect me to. But that is not altogether in my hands.
It is true, as has been said, that the Government has just freshly been returned to office, and it should be very pleased with the result of the recent election. I regret that a certain section of the community which still professes to adhere to a great number of Labour principles saw fit to help the Government to achieve its victory, but I believe that before the term of this Parliament is completed those people will regret their action. I cannot understand people supporting a government when they do not believe in the legislation that is likely to be submitted to the Parliament when that government is returned to office. I am alluding, of course, to the banking legislation that will soon be before us. It is rather amazing to me that small, petty differences should be so magnified by certain people that they determine which party shall govern the nation and some of the States. If those people so act as a matter of principle and because they believe more in the policy of this Government than in the policy they have espoused over many years, they have a right to help the Government back into office. But to me, it does not altogether add up. Rather do I feel that those people have so acted for another reason. The result is that great suffering is being caused to a number of people.
I believe that this Government will make no alteration of the benefits that are being received by the children of this nation. When the next Budget is being presented there may be some additional benefit for the great deserving mass of elderly people. At least, let us hope that will be so. The welfare of the people in general should be given much greater consideration by those who, because of present circumstances, can rightly be said to hold the balance of power. But I feel that those people will not be too happy as time passes. I hope they will amend their ways.
I suppose that the most important question confronting Australia is its economic position, both externally and internally. I am concerned about some of the opinions that have been expressed by certain leaders in industry. I do not think we need to place too much reliance on what is said by the present Government and the press about the buoyancy of our economy. At times I am amazed by statements that are published by journals which support the Government. I refer in particular to the journal “ Harbour “, which only at the beginning of this year published the following statement: -
Optimists who have no fear about the coming year are 20 to the dozen in Australia. Yet the fact remains that there is little room on the surface for optimism, and a constructive pessimism would be very much to the point.
In the “ Financial Review “ of this month the following passage appears: -
It is premature to feel either that the serious underlying trade problem of Australia has been wiped away by the happy but possibly transient rise in the capital inflow.
Let me say to the Leader of the Government in this chamber that we need to be careful that within a few years we do not find ourselves in the position of having to use a portion of the money received from our exports to pay for the capital coming into Australia. We are not opposed to it coming into Australia provided we have some control over, first, the profits made by the industries set up by this capital, and secondly, the method in which such profit is then used. 1 do not want to take the time of the Senate in discussing that large industrial concern in Melbourne, General MotorsHolden’s Limited, which is a case in point. Approximately £1,750,000 was originally brought to Australia to finance its activities, and over a period of years, if my figures are correct, many more millions of pounds have been sent out of the country to its overseas shareholders. Assets valued at about £66,000,000 have been built up in Australia by this firm. If it desired to sell its assets to local business concerns that amount of money would leave us. I am afraid that in our great haste to encourage a capital inflow into Australia we are building up difficulties in the years to come. Therefore, the two quotations I have read from a journal connected with industry, on the one hand, and from the “ Financial Review “ on the other hand., must give us great food for thought.
We cannot be over-pleased with the economic position of our friends overseas. Although we may think that the United States is rising from the trough in which she found herself last year, the latest figure of unemployed there remains in the vicinity of 5,000,000 to 6,000,000. It is true that this year automation has resulted in a greater volume of production than was achieved last year, but the fact remains that large numbers of people are still unemployed. As I have said, the unemployment position in the United States and in Great Britain where, I suppose, our greatest markets lie, must give us great food for thought.
Another matter that must concern us is the huge surplus of primary products held by the United States under its system of guaranteeing prices for practically all commodities without placing any restriction on the amount produced. Although in recent years there has been a voluntary reduction in the production of some primary commodities, the “ Financial Review “ mentions that the United States Government spends just over 1,000,000,000 dollars a year to store surplus crops. In the past surplus crops were burned, but in this modern age such action by any western nation would be crassly stupid. The political propaganda that would be made by the eastern bloc of such action would be tremendous. However, America must dispose of her surplus foodstuffs even though this will be at some cost to us. Only recently we felt some concern that the United States intended placing some of her surplus butter on the world market. Our friends, the Danes, would also have been affected. What is to become of us? Will the United States give away her surplus stock of food or will the United States place it on world markets to the detriment of Australia and other countries within the Western sphere, thereby causing further economic worry, not only to ourselves, but also to some of our Western allies?
I have spoken of the position in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, according to latest reports, matters there are becoming worse. I understand that only last month the number of unemployed increased by 90,000 to bring the figure to-day to well over 500,000 and rapidly approaching 750,000, the greatest number of unemployed since the end of the second world war. Such a state of affairs in Great Britain must concern us because not only our butter market but also our meat and dried fruits markets are affected. When all is said and done, when workers are unemployed, they lose their purchasing power; if people do not have the purchasing power they cannot buy foodstuffs, and when they cannot buy foodstuffs the British merchants do not buy our produce. From what one can gather, the position in other Western countries is similar to that in Great Britain.
I view the future with a certain amount of pessimism. The trend of Russian policy to-day is directed, not so much towards force as towards an attempt to defeat the Western nations on the world markets. We read only recently that Russia is dumping cotton on the world markets which must have an effect on our allies. What has happened to the flax industry in this country? Flax fibre was sold overseas at a much lower price than the price at which we can grow it. Those two items alone substantiate my statement that the . fight between the Western nations and those countries under the control of the Communists is not a matter of force but of trade.
I read recently that China this year will produce as much steel as Great Britain produces. There is tremendous scope for development in China. 1 suppose this is the first time in the history of that country when it has been a united nation, and when we realize that it has a population of between 650,000,000 and 700,000,000, we must appreciate that it can be a tremendous force in world affairs. 1 believe that the outlook for Australia is not so rosy as has been suggested, because it is my opinion that we shall have extreme difficulty in balancing our overseas trade position. To support that belief, and without taking up the time of the Senate unnecessarily, 1 point out that already for the seven months of the financial year 1958-59 we are £82,200,000 worse off than we were in the first seven months of the year 1957-58. I do not suggest that this is all the fault of the Government. I am convinced that any government will have many headaches during the next twelve months,, but I suggest that we should not adopt an ostrich-like attitude, and should not, as it were, bury our heads in the sand and say that everything is all right. We must face up to the position, however black it may appear to be; and I believe that we should all make a collective attempt to right the position, if it can be remedied at all. Our sole thought should be to act in unity in building this country into a great nation. We should all get together in an effort to build up Australia because no one can foretell with certainty what the future holds for us.
I have no desire to make accusations at this stage, because I do not believe any government, especially any Australian government, can be blamed for the fact that overseas prices for our commodities are low. I do- believe, however, that the Australian Government deserves of the severest censure for allowing the cost structure of the nation to deteriorate in such a way that present low overseas prices are proving unprofitable for us. We have to depend upon wool, meat, dried fruits and other primary products. In all secondary industries, with the possible exception of steel manufacturing, our cost structure is in such a state that we shall find it extremely difficult, even with the operation of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation, to achieve a balance of trade. Certainly I shall be most interested to see what the corporation has sold for us. I hope it has sold a great deal.
– lt is only an insurance corporation.
– I know it is. If I remember correctly, by the operation of that corporation, we are insuring against a 25 per cent. loss. In effect, if an overseas buyer is 25 per cent, short in his payments the corporation, through its insurance scheme will make good the loss to the manufacturer concerned. When the Minister for National Development was explaining the legislation which established the corporation, 1 thought that it sounded all right and I hoped that the scheme would work out as well as he thought it would.
– That legislation did not purport to assist in keeping up overseas prices, surely?
– No, but it did give our exporters an opportunity to sell in markets-
– Where payment was a bit doubtful.
– Where payment was a bit doubtful.
– Other countries were adopting the same procedure.
– I can remember the debate on that occasion. I can remember that it was stated that the system worked well in Canada and other places. I am hoping that it works well for us and I am awaiting with interest the report of this corporation, just to see what has happened.
Like others, I: am greatly concerned at the drop in the price of wool. I understand that some years ago the wool-growers of Australia conducted a ballot to decide whether they should adopt a different method of selling our wool. I believe that we have now reached a stage where something must be done, when we must have something in the way of a guaranteed floor price. I do not think any of us really believes that the buyers are not putting their heads together now. I certainly believe they are, and I understand that a very substantial number of them are involved. But I am concerned, first, about the present cost structure in the industry. I reiterate that my greatest quarrel with the Government in past years has been the unsatisfactory cost structure. We must do something to ensure that we get a fair price for a commodity of which we are the main suppliers in the world. It is my belief that the wool-growers ought to conduct a ballot now with a view to adopting some method of ensuring that they get a fair floor or minimum price for their commodity.
As to the internal or home market, I think the greatest trouble lies in the retailing of manufactured woollen materials. It amazes me to think that to-day, when the price of wool is down to something between 50d. and 60d. per lb., the prices of manufactured woollen materials are almost as high as they were when wool was bringing in the vicinity of 150d. per lb. I doubt whether the Minister and I, if we went into certain retail establishments with a view to buying garments to protect ourselves against the cold of June, would get those garments any cheaper than the prices at which they were sold when wool was bringing 150d. per lb. We must face up to these questions.
In my opinion, the average retailer is concerned mainly about his turnover; if it is better for him to sell synthetics, he does not take the national viewpoint; he sells the synthetics in preference to selling woollen materials. We must do our utmost to promote the sales of wool. We must do more than we have been doing, and I am delighted that the people engaged in the woollen industry are looking into that matter now. I think, too, that they will have to investigate the question of margins if this industry is to prosper. They will have to see to it that prices for woollen materials come down to a fair figure, having regard to the ruling price for wool. Sooner or later, the wool-growers themselves must see the wisdom of setting a fair price for their Commodity. If they do not get a fair price, they must go to the wall, just as happens to others, for there can be do doubt that woollen garments, even in this country, are very expensive because costs have been allowed to run riot. I believe that the Go vernment has not submitted a worthwhile solution of this vexed problem. It seems to be relying on permanent import controls, but at times that makes me wonder. I do not mind the Government controlling the importation of commodities that can be made here. I believe that, with proper safeguards, the importation of such commodities ought to be controlled, but I do not believe that the Government should use that method all the time in its attempt to right the economic position in which we find ourselves. May I quote from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech in regard to something which I said a few moments ago? His Excellency said -
Overseas investors have shown in this tangible way their confidence in the basic soundness of the Australian economy and its ability to weather temporary difficulties .
I regret that the Government should have written such words for the GovernorGeneral to read. That statement is just hooey and rubbish. Overseas investors will not invest money here unless they think they will obtain profits - and big profits - from their investments. When I listened to those words being read I thought to myself, “What else will the Government give the representative of the Queen to read? “
– You were having a nice snooze when His Excellency was speaking.
– I do not know whether I was. If I was having a nice snooze, I must have awakened in time to hear those remarkable words. I believe that when overseas investors bring their money here it is because of their ability to make larger profits here than they could make elsewhere. They can produce here a certain commodity cheaper than elsewhere and sell it for more, thereby making a greater profit. The balance-sheets of the overseas companies that have come here show what amounts of money they are putting into the country, what amounts they are taking out each year and what amounts they are putting to reserve. One wonders sometimes whether we are building something about which all of us will be very worried in the future.
Let us have a look at our internal position. Unfortunately, we see each month a growing number of unemployed. In December last the number of persons registered as unemployed rose by 8,000 to 64,000. In January the number increased again by 17.400 to 82,000. In December last, in round figures, the number of those receiving unemployment benefit increased by 5,000 to 27,000, and in January there was a further increase by 4,000 to 31,000. I know it will be said that that is only 1 per cent, or H per cent, of unemployment, but the fact is that the number of unemployed is growing. Let me remind honorable senators of what the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) told the Australian Council of Trade Unions conference. He gave an assurance that the Treasurer would be asked to take action to relieve unemployment, if it became necessary. That was on 4th February this year. I should think that, from the point of view of those who are unfortunate enough to be out of work, the time has been reached when it is more than necessary to take such action.
I am not going to say that any one falsifies the unemployment figures we are given, but I have tried to work them out from another angle and I cannot see that the figures dovetail at all. From June, 1950, to June, 1956, the total number of persons employed increased by 281,000, an annual average of 47,000. For the two years from June, 1956, to June, 1958, the increase was 22,000, or an annual increase of 11,000. In the four months from June, 1958 to October, 1958 - these are the latest figures that are available - the increase in the total number employed was only 2,000, yet in the same period the population increased by a little over 20,000. If you read the figures that are supplied in regard to unemployment, and then consider those showing the increase in the work force resulting from migration and the number of boys and girls leaving school, you will see that the figures cannot be reconciled. It may be that a number of people do not register as unemployed. It may be that many are getting old* and going out of industry. T have spent some time trying, without success, to find some measure of agreement between the figures - I think they should agree if they are correct.
I believe that something has to be done. The only way in which we can remedy the internal position is to get these unemployed people back to work. The only way in which to keep our factories running is to give the people enough purchasing power to buy the goods that are made. It has been said that three people employed create a demand sufficient to employ another half a person. If six people are placed in employment, then an extra person will be employed. The principle acts in reverse, too. When there are people unemployed in any industry or in any town, the reverse process occurs. The ratio is the same, but the movement operates in the wrong direction. We ask ourselves: Why have not the consumers enough purchasing power? Because of the large profits made by industry. I suppose the financial pages of the daily newspapers are the only ones on which any reliance can be placed because the reports of the various companies must be given credit for being somewhere near the mark. It is apparent from recently published reports that many companies are still making large profits. I believe that one of the worst things that happened in this country occurred when the present Government cut off the consuming power of the great mass of the workers. I have been astounded by certain statements of the arbitration court concerning the purchasing power of the great mass of the workers. I shall endeavour to show how the wage policy has been applied by the court.
In 1953, when rural incomes were sky high, the court suspended automatic cost of living adjustments for the purpose - in the words of the court - of securing economic stability and the cost structure. But in 1958, when rural incomes were the lowest since 1948 the court refused to grant significant increases of wages and to restore the cost of living adjustments, so as to give - as the court said - rural industries a respite from rises in costs. When conditions are good the workers are refused rises because such may cause inflation, and when conditions are bad they cannot get rises because the court considers that increases of wages would impose an additional burden on depressed industries!
Is it any wonder that to-day the great mass of the workers want to get away from the tribunals? They are coming to realize that their strength on the job is the only thing that matters, and we may see a reversion to the system of collective bargaining, under which the workers play off one employer against another. After all, a worker is as much entitled to sell his labour in the best market as manufacturers are entitled to sell their products in the best market. Time and time again the representatives of the workers have applied to the court for wage increases, but their optimism has soon been dampened by judicial statements. It would seem that a great deal of discouragement is suffered by the great mass of the workers of this nation when they seek to improve their standard of living. Increases are refused to the workers who have nothing to sell but their labour, but no restriction is placed on prices.
I wish now to refer to the unhealthy demand for money that now exists in Australia. Advertisements appeared in the “Age” of 10th February last inviting investments at varying rates of interest. The normal rate of interest was offered in respect of Commonwealth loans; there were two advertisements inviting investment at 7 per cent, interest, one at 74- per cent., one at 8 per cent., one at 8i per cent., one at 9 per cent., one at 10 per cent., one at 20 per cent., and one at an unspecified rate. If that is not evidence of a condition of money madness, I should like to know what lt is! I realize that at present the Government has not power to control interest rates, but I assure honorable senators opposite that if the Government sought such power it would receive a lot of support.
Obviously, unless the various government instrumentalities can get sufficient loan money they will be unable to continue to perform their functions. For instance, if in Victoria we experience an unusually hot day, water restrictions are applied. The reason for this is that the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works cannot get sufficient loan money to enable it to extend its services. How can the government instrumentalities hope to get sufficient loan money for their purposes while investors can obtain such high interest rates on money invested, in the main, in hire-purchase undertakings? The Government can exercise control over bank interest, but it has made no move to obtain power to control the interest payable on money invested in hire-purchase concerns. I think the time has arrived when the Government should take steps to stop this sort of usury; the practice cannot be called by any other term. I think the Good Book says, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that the usurers were whipped out of the temple.
We are sitting idly by. It is only reasonable to assume that the concerns that are paying high rates of interest on money invested in them are themselves making a considerable profit out of that money. The more one considers this matter the more he marvels-
– How many suckers there are.
– I was about to say, the more one marvels at the number of people that are unfortunately driven to hire purchase. To the honorable senator who has interjected - not too nicely - I should like to say in a friendly way that he supports the pegging of wages while allowing costs to go sky high. One has only to look at the tremendous amount of money that is going into hire purchase. I do not wish to burden honorable senators with a long account of it, but its extent is simply amazing. In September, 1956, the outstanding hire-purchase balance was £218,000,000, an increase of £21,000,000 on the previous year. In 1957 the .figure was £244,000,000, an increase of £26,000,000. In 195* it rose to £311,000,000, an increase of £67,000,000 on the previous year. In December, 1958, it rose to £337,000,000, an increase of £26,000,000 in three months. How long can that sort of thing continue? How can we develop this nation while that position obtains? Every State is crying out for money for schools, hospitals and roads. The Government gives them a certain amount of money. To some, of course, it does not give enough.
– Victoria, for example.
– I heard the honorable senator speak on the subject of roads. He should have a closer look at the position in Victoria, where an important question remains unanswered. The position is not as clear cut as our friend would have us believe. He wants the Commonwealth to hand to Victoria all the petrol tax so that it can then spend it outside the metropolitan area. I remind him that 60 per cent, of the revenue derived from motor registration and the like in Victoria is gathered in the metropolitan area, but only 2 per cent, is spent there. In view of the correspondence that 1 have had on this subject I would advise the honorable senator to have another look at the position and advocate returning at least a portion to those who provide the revenue. They do not want it all. They should be given at least some of it.
I want to conclude my remarks by referring to something that at present worries me more than anything else. I refer to the monopolies that are growing up in this country and, in particular, the press monopoly. Let us look at my own State of Victoria. Melbourne, a city of 1,750,000 people, has three newspapers. Two of them are owned by the “ Herald-Sun “ group and one by the “ Age “. I made a mistake in calling them newspapers. I should have called them “ viewspapers “. Unless one is prepared to be subservient to the people who are in charge of them those people will not report what one says, or anything of interest with which one may be connected. The classic example of that was provided by the visit to this country of Mr. Kingsley Martin, the editor of the “ New Statesman “, who was invited here to deliver the Dyason lectures. On his arrival the Melbourne “ Herald “ spoke of him in glowing terms and said that his talks would be well worth hearing, that he had had vast experience and could not fail to improve the minds of those who heard him. Unfortunately, Herald and Weekly Times Limited invited this gentleman to a cocktail party. According to a report on 20th December in “ Nation “, a publication sponsored by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, Mr. Kingsley Martin was courteous enough to inform Herald and Weekly Times Limited that he was too busy to attend. “ Nation “ indicated that “ his hosts were appalled at this insult. The fact that a mere writer should turn down an invitation from Herald and Weekly Times Limited was inconceivable and unforgivable.” Apparently a senior executive issued a mandatory instruction to lesser executives that in future Mr. Kingsley Martin’s name should not be mentioned in their newspapers. There was, of course, to be no report of the lectures that he gave.
I would also like to have something to say concerning the action of the Government in regard to this monopoly. I understood that the law governing the issue of television licences was that one organization could have only two such licences. What is the position so far as Herald and Weekly Times Limited is concerned? It has station HSV in Melbourne, station BTV in Brisbane and station TBV in Adelaide. Here is the story of the way in which television licences were obtained by this company. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board held an inquiry - as under the act it should - to ascertain how many television licences should be granted in Brisbane and Adelaide, and to whom they should be granted. It recommended that only one commercial television licence should be granted in each place and said that, because of association with interested newspapers, none of the applicants was suitable; further, that fresh applications should be sought. However, the Government rejected the board’s recommendation. I can quite understand that. It was on the eve of an election. Does any honorable senator suppose that the Government would want to hurt the little, cracked Caesars who have their offices in Flinders-street, Melbourne? Naturally, the Government wanted their support in the election. So, of course, the Government rejected the board’s recommendation and instructed it to grant two licences in each city and to choose the licensees from the existing applicants. A majority of the board members then recommended that in Brisbane one of the licences should go to Brisbane T.V. Limited, which is a subsidiary of the Melbourne “ Herald “, and that in Adelaide, one of them should go to Television Broadcasters, which is controlled by the Melbourne “ Herald “ through the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. I want to find out why it is possible to get round the act, which provides that no firm should have more than two licences. On the eve of an election, the Government connives, may I say, at breaking its own law. One is entitled to have some explanation of that action. The reason for it, Mr. President, can readily be understood. As 1 said before, it was because an election was in the offing. Why the Government should have been frightened that it might not get the support of the Melbourne “ Herald “ and “ Sun News-Pictorial “ I do not know, but apparently it thought that if it allotted the television licences as I have indicated it would have the support of these people not only in Victoria but within the whole ambit of their influence.
I believe that it is bad for the development of this country to have so much power in so few hand’s. When so few people control, as they do, not only the newspapers and the broadcasting stations, but also the latest avenue through which views are disseminated amongst the people, the whole of the thought of the average person is influenced by those few people. I. should like to know - and I hope at some future time to find out - how it comes about that the tin-pot Caesars of this octopus, which will not stand for any direction at all and whose officers have even become insulting over the telephone, get the ear of the National Parliament to such an extent that the law can be broken. I am sorry that my friend Senator Wright is not in the chamber at the moment because he seems to be a great upholder of the law, at any rate so far as the unions are concerned. I would ask him to have a look at the upholding of the law so far as these newspaper monopolists are concerned, because unless that is done this Government will find out in the years to come, as others have found out, that these people will do as they want to do. The Government bows to them much more than 1 would like it to do. If it continues without an independent thought for the well-being of this nation, it will learn that these people, in the main, are guided only by the profit motive. I am not worried about those who are in the press gallery of this Parliament, because in recent years I have not found a man connected with the press who was sufficiently independent to see that what he had written was printed, if it was against the policy of the newspaper. I do not want to hurt the journalists. They have only their labour to sell, but at least I expect them to stand up for some principles.
That is all I have to say at the moment, Mr. President. I hope that in the years that lie immediately ahead, the welfare of the great majority of the people of this country will be given as much thought as seems to be given to that of the few who have the opportunity to make the greatest profits for themselves.
[5.311. - I wish to make what I hope will be a comparatively short contribution to the debate on the Address-in-Reply. I commence, as I am sure every other honorable senator will commence in this debate, by associating myself with the message of loyalty which is contained in the AddressinReply. It is not inappropriate to say that we start this Twenty-third Parliament after having come through an election campaign which, like all other election campaigns, was pretty bitterly contested. Yet, the thing that unites us on each side of the chamber is that all of us, of all political parties, subscribe to this message of loyalty. 1 should like, Sir, to congratulate the new senators, Senators Branson and McKellar, for the way in which they proposed and seconded the Address-in-Reply. Naturally, all new senators who have that task to perform treat it as one of great importance. Having now seen that happen a few times, I often think that the event is of as much importance to the Senate as a whole as it is to the two senators concerned. At times, we as a Senate receive more criticism than I think really is our due, and the way in which we can reduce that criticism and do better as a Senate will turn primarily, of course, on the work that we who are in the Senate do, but it will depend very substantially, in addition, on the calibre of the new senators who come into the chamber. Therefore, it is very interesting to us to hear the maiden speeches of new senators. It is pleasing indeed that on this occasion we are able to congratulate the two newcomers upon what they had to say.
As I said previously, the recent general election campaign was a hard-fought one. You cannot have a battle and a campaign without having casualties. One cannot, in politics, express any sympathy for casualties on the opposite side, but, without referring to personalities, I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that those who have been casualties in the recent campaign will go out of the Senate with the respect of honorable senators on both sides.
My next personal note, and one which I think is of great importance, is to express congratulations, not only for myself but also, I hope, for honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, to two of our number who have been so highly honoured. I express to Sir Neil O’sullivan and Sir Walter Cooper the good wishes of the Senate. Each has made a contribution in this chamber and has a record of which he indeed may be proud. 1 find the position to be that Sir Neil has led the Government in the Senate for a period of nine years, that being the longest continuous period for which any honorable senator has been a leader of a government in this chamber.
– That is because of the system of proportional representation.
– That may be so, and some thought may well be given to the matter, but I am not now talking in those terms. I am merely recording the facts as they are. The records seem to indicate that Sir George Pearce led the government of which he was a member for a total period of thirteen years, but that was spread over three separate terms. I say, I think on behalf of us all, that Sir Neil, at the end of his term of leadership, has our respect and, indeed, our affection.
Similar comments can be made about Senator Sir Walter Cooper. The record, which I expect to be correct, indicates that Sir Walter has been a member of the Senate for a longer period than has any other senator since federation. Senator Gordon Brown, who sits on the opposite side of the chamber, has the record for the longest continuous period as a member of the Senate. Although Sir Walter was elected first in 1928, he fell from grace at one election, whereas Senator Brown has been here continuously since 1932. Sir Walter has another record of which I think he would be even prouder than that of having the longest service in this chamber; he has been
Minister for Repatriation for a longer period than has any other Minister in the history of the Commonwealth.
These two gentlemen, on the occasion of their elevation, have the best wishes that can be offered by their friends and colleagues in the Parliament. Another note of congratulation is to be sounded. I refer to the elevation of Senator Gorton to the Ministry. We, his colleagues on the front bench, will try to work him as hard as we can and pass to him as much responsibility as is possible! A final word of congratulation is offered to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and his deputy (Senator Kennelly). I am sure every honorable senator on this side of the chamber will agree with me when I say that we are able to work with these two gentlemen very satisfactorily. We hope they will emulate the records of Sir Neil O’sullivan and Sir Walter Cooper and establish a record period of occupancy of their present positions.
I do not wish to speak so much in political terms at this juncture, but I mention that the Government has been returned to office following an election campaign during which it offered no great string of promises. The theme of the Government’s campaign was the great progress and development that had occurred in Australia during its term of office and the belief that that progress and development would continue. I agree with Senator Kennelly, who I am sorry is not in the chamber at the moment, when he says that the degree to which the present rate of progress and development will continue depends largely upon the extent to which we can expand our export trade in order to pay for the volume of imports that we need to service our manufacturing industries in particular, to which we look for employment opportunities for the volume of migrants upon whom our development so largely rests.
I am fortunate to be administering a portfolio which offers an opportunity to make some contribution to the great national objective that lies before us. I think it can be fairly said that in our present circumstances the greatest possible contribution to ensuring a sound foundation for Australian development would be the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in this country. I have spoken about this matter on and off for quite some time for a variety of reasons, the most important of which is that I believe that within Australia there is still insufficient realization of the fact that the geological structure of Australia favours the discovery of oil. The work that is being done, not only by the Commonwealth’s own officers and the Bureau of Mineral Resources, but also by people who are coming from overseas is continually strengthening the view that there is oil in commercial quantises in this country. It is of very great importance that we should try to make known and emphasize that fact, so that encouragement will be given for the search to continue. What we are continually trying to do is not only to attract interest within Australia but also to attract greater interest overseas so that more overseas capital will be invested in the search for oil.
Estimates show that to the end of 1958 approximately £55,000,000 had been spent on the search for oil on the mainland and in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Most of that sum has been spent since the end of World War II., and as our knowledge of geological conditions has increased. We s::of l’J not fail to pay a tribute to our own Australian geologists for the fact that our knowledge rests upon their original work. Two outstanding events of world-wide interest have occurred - the oil strike at Puri in New Guinea and the strike in Western Australia. The result has been a tremendous impetus in comparatively recent months in the search for oil, and there is little doubt indeed that, on present indications, in the not distant future money will be spent on the search for oil at a much faster rate than previously.
One of the most interesting developments and one, to my mind, which we should encourage in every way possible, is the linking of Australian companies, which have done preliminary work and invested capital to the limit of the resources available to them, with overseas investment companies which have placed their capital alongside that of the Australian organizations. That is a good thing from my point of view because we must acknowledge that vast sums of money are required to continue the search for oil at the speed at which we would like to see it conducted. I know that my point of view will be criticized by honorable senators opposite, at least to some extent, but we are breaking new ground and must think in new terms because of the tremendous size of the problem confronting us. There must be a realistic approach to the fact that the amount needed to be spent on the search for oil in Australia, at the speed at which we would like to see the search proceed, is so large as to be almost beyond our national resources.
From the information available to the Bureau of Mineral Resources as a result of the work it has carried out, there are hundreds of geological formations in Australia which, were they in any other country where oil had been already discovered and where large financial resources were available, undoubtedly would be drilled and explored without delay. We are not faced with the position of having only a few places to which to turn; there are hundreds of locations which should be drilled and which, no doubt, will be drilled eventually. The oil companies, the geologists and the scientists at the present time are trying to select the more likely places at which oil is to be found before commencing drilling.
We should remember that oil is found in sedimentary basins which are areas once covered by water, whether salt water or inland seas, and sedimentary basins comprise more than half the area of Australia. In other words, there is more than half the area of Australia which possibly - 1 am not saying any more than that; I am not saying probably - is worthy of search.
Of course, everybody would like to see oil discovered in Australia as a result of the investment of Australian capital so that all benefits would flow to Australia but, for the purpose of pressing on with the work, the next best avenue available to us is to use Australian capital in association with overseas investments.
– Will the Minister, through his department, issue a report on the result of the stratigraphic surveys recently carried out?
– Yes. In fact, a report was recently issued surveying what has been done in Australia over a long period of time. Everything that the department does in that regard is public property. Every investigation that is carried out, every area that is looked at, is the subject of a report which is a public document, published by the department, available to every one.
One of the interesting developments is the way in which overseas capital is coming into Australia to assist in this search for oil. In South Australia we have the development of Innamincka where the Delhi and Taylor Corporation of the United States of America, is linking up with the Australian organization of Santos in the project of drilling a hole 14,000 feet deep to test the geological formation at the southern end of the Great Artesian Basin. Those organizations have entered into an arrangement whereby substantial sums of money will be spent over the next three years in carrying out tests in the area. A similar arrangement exists in Western Australia whereby Australian capital, in association with investments by the Caltex and Shell oil companies is being used in the search for oil. A similar development is taking place in New Guinea. We are very hopeful indeed that as a result of the Puri strike an increase will be forthcoming in the Australian contribution to the total cost of the New Guinea programme.
In addition, we should not overlook the fact that side by side with the search for oil is the fascinatingly interesting search in the Sydney basin for natural gas. Some six or seven wells have now been drilled. That the search is based on a sound foundation is illustrated by the fact that the Commonwealth, acting on the advice of its professional advisers, is subsidizing the cost of drilling at least one of the holes. T ask honorable senators to think in imaginative terms of the result of finding natural gas in the Sydney basin within such a short distance of that great industrial manufacturing area.
The importance of these searches is well illustrated by the fact that we are importing some 10.500.000 tons of crude oil each year. When one adds to that the cost of the refined products, one reaches the situation that oil is the largest single item in our purchases overseas, the largest single debit item in our balance of payments problem. That is why we, as a government, are spending at the rate of £1,000.000 a year in subsidizing stratigraphic drilling to the extent of £500,000, and in carrying out, through the staff of the Bureau of Mineral Resources, scientific investigations and aerial surveys to the extent of £500,000. One of the few promises contained in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was that we would add to that amount a further £1,000,000 a year to assist in the search. The way in which that amount is to be appropriated has not yet been decided.
An additional very potent influence in this upsurge or increase of interest in oil search is the provision whereby amounts subscribed to this end are allowable deductions for income tax purposes. That will attract a good deal of additional money into the search. I hope I have pointed out with sufficient force the importance of the programme in the search for oil.
Senator Kennelly referred to the flow of capital from overseas into Australia. That subject, of course, is in the mind of every honorable senator. It is one of the problems about which we are constantly thinking, and I made some inquiry to ascertain the extent to which the search for oil in Australia had contributed to the flow of overseas capital into this country. I obtained the interesting information that for the two years 1956 and 1957 no less than £11,650,000 came into Australia from overseas and was spent in Australia on the search for oil. I give that figure with the authority of the department I administer which has ascertained it after collating all available information.
Mr. President, that is all I have to say. I hope that as a result of what I have said there will be agreement that the search for oil is one of the important aspects of development in Australia. I do not think I can be accused of ever having attempted to gild the lily, and I hope I have left behind me the impression that, putting the position at its worst, there are very good grounds indeed for believing that the search will prove successful.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
– Earlier to-day the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour party in the Senate (Senator Kennelly) associated the party with the Address-in-Reply. Therefore, it is not necessary for me to refer to the subjectmatter of the motion again. I should like for a minute or two to refer to the devastating cyclone which has visited Queensland during the past two days. It appears that a cyclone can, at any moment of the day, be whipped up out of the Coral
Sea and move in a direct line to the Queensland coast, as if drawn to it by a magnet. It would appear almost that there is a groove running from the various places in the Coral Sea where these cyclones originate towards the Queensland coast. It is with ease that they approach there. Some towns in Queensland have had the shocking experience of being devastated twice within a period of twelve months. I am sure that any of my listeners to-night who have experienced a cyclone - even one of lesser force and intensity than the one that has just spent itself in Queensland - will know just how frightful a cyclone is.
This cyclone appeared to do all the damage it possibly could. The power house was destroyed in Bowen, the roof was blown off the hospital there, and roofs were blown off many residences. Some industrial premises which had withstood the elements over the years were blown down and shattered to pieces. It was rather an unusual cyclone because it moved on a face of several hundred miles and took in rich farming lands. One can well imagine just what happened to the cane-fields up there. I understand that at the centre of the cyclone the wind reached a velocity of 100 miles an hour. That wind in itself would be damaging enough, but the rain which fell at the time of the cyclone combined with the wind to damage cane crops irreparably.
We have only to exercise our imaginations a little to understand the state of mind of the people of Queensland who had the misfortune to experience this cyclone. Young children, older children and people of middle age experienced this cyclone which visited Queensland in the last few days. At the moment I do not know just what relief is required for these areas. But we have governments functioning; we have the Commonwealth Government and the State Government. I feel sure it is the duty and obligation of those two governments to set about immediately ascertaining what damage has been done and what relief can be provided immediately for the people who have suffered as a result of the cyclone. I offer my sympathy to the people who have been affected by it.
As I am speaking in the Senate, I must say something about what can be done about the situation. It appears that these cyclones visit Queensland annually, damaging crops, industrial buildings and residences. I think the situation calls for a national insurance scheme to make provision for indemnity against cyclones, floods and, perhaps, droughts. We want a complete national insurance scheme. We recall that during the period of the war there was a war damage insurance fund to which people were required to contribute. I see no reason at all why such a fund should not be established on similar lines now, during a period of peace. As I said a while ago, we do not know when a cyclone will recur and cause further damage.
I should like to congratulate the two new senators, Senator Branson of Western Australia and Senator McKellar of New South Wales, who made their maiden speeches in this chamber yesterday. It was a relief to honorable senators on this side of the chamber to hear those two honorable senators make constructive remarks, quite unlike the majority of speakers on the Government side, whose speeches comprise strings of cliches, balderdash, rigmarole and shibboleths. It is very hard to decipher what they are talking about on various occasions, so I was relieved and pleased to hear the two new senators make their maiden speeches in the way they did.
This Senate is like the House of Representatives. It is subject to change, and all the facilities are provided under the Constitution and the election acts for the personnel of the Senate to be changed. I think that that is a good thing in a way, especially if it does not affect oneself. Change we must have here, because prior to the last election I felt that we were becoming what you might term “ inbred “. We knew what each other was thinking about and we could anticipate each other’s speeches on various matters. I am pleased that there will be new senators in this chamber from now on and after 30th June this year.
I have also observed that we have Senator Spooner as the Leader of the Government in this chamber. Perhaps it is fitting that a white-haired, decrepit old man should be Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– 1 rise to a point of order. I take exception to those words.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Order! The honorable senator will withdraw that remark.
– Which remark?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The reference to a decrepit old man. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw those words.
– I am sorry. I withdraw that remark. I do not think that he is an old and decrepit man. Perhaps I should put it this way: It is fitting that a man of his calibre should be here as the leader of the Liberal Government, a kind of government that was out of fashion even a century ago. I would say that Senator Spooner would be a fashion-plate, modern politician in the seventeenth century, but that is long past. He is quite out of place here as a leader of a government. I am sorry that he is not in the chamber at present, but I cannot delay my speech until he returns. I anticipate that at a very early date we will find four or five “ S’s “ branded on the outside of this chamber. Ever since Senator Spooner has been here - and, of course, he has been a Minister for all that period - he has shown that he is good at manipulating the guillotine, especially if there are any bills affecting his department. I expect we will soon see those four or five “S’s”. They will stand for “Senator Spooner’s Short Senate Sessions “. I have not the slightest doubt that he will abbreviate the discussion on the various bills that will be coming before the Senate.
Some reference has been made to the Government having been returned, and a boastful remark was made earlier in the day about a good government. I propose to put that to the test and to ask my listeners to follow me as I do so. Honorable senators opposite did not have anything to say, of course, about their overall majority having been reduced by 3 per cent. They hae! not a word to say about that, but they had gerrymandered the electorates to such an extent that Labour will have to obtain far more than 50 per cent, of the votes cast if it is ever again to be returned as a government.
His Excellency stated - . . production and demand in Australia continue to rise and . . . our economy has done better than most others in maintaining expansion.
In order to ascertain the true position we must examine the industries of Australia. I shall deal first with the primary industries because they are important to our export trade and also to our internal economy. We all know that farm income has depreciated during the past year or two. I would not be so foolish as to blame the Government for that, but nevertheless during the years of inflation it prided itself on the high prices that were being obtained for our primary products throughout the world. The members of the Australian Country party are sitting complacently in their restful chairs and saying that the wheatgrowers are quite all right. So they are. When we examine the position we find that they are receiving 14s. 4d. a bushel for wheat used for internal consumption, and almost a similar price for wheat exported overseas. How is it done? It is a very simple process, and a very good one too, for the wheatgrowers and, incidentally, for the members of the Country party, lt is a system that does not allow them to lose, because they can fix the price of wheat for which the people of Australia are now paying 14s. 4d. a bushel. If the growers want more than that, they have only to increase the price of wheat and, of course, the prices of all foodstuffs in Australia are increased proportionately. That is the situation that exists. Yet this Government speaks about free enterprise. Where is the free enterprise in that system? The Government puts the people of Australia in a pillory and says they have to pay so much for wheat which is milled and turned into flour and used in the production of certain foodstuffs. There is no gamble in that - no gamble whatever.
– Does that apply to sugar?
– Yes, the same thing applies to sugar, and I will deal with that later. However, I shall slip along to the subject of wool now, as time is getting on. We know that wool prices decreased1 up to January of this year, and then there were some increases. At present wool is bringing an average price of about 45d. per lb., compared with 60d. per lb. at this time last year. What is being done about the situation? The Government sits down; it is quite all right. That is the situation as I see it, but something has to be done to promote the sale of wool. We know there is a contest all the time between wool and man-made fibres. Dacron and nylon and other synthetics are being manufactured here and in other parts of the world. But I am oldfashioned and I say that there is no substitute for wool and that it will always hold its own. We cannot sit down idly and wait for another war to bring prices back to about £1 per lb. We must ascertain the economic price. When speaking in this chamber about twelve months ago I stated that 1 thought that the price of wool would settle at about 5s. per lb., and the probability is that it will do so from now on. I am not taking a pessimistic view of the situation. We depend very largely on wool for our export trade. I shall mention this matter again at a later stage.
I pass now to the dairying industry, which is a poor man’s industry. If we make a complete analysis of the industry, we find that the majority of those engaged in it are ex-labourers. In the event of a prolonged drought many of them would join the ranks of unemployed men looking for work in other industries. The dairying industry is subsidized to the extent of £13,500,000 a year. At the present time butter is bringing 4s. 8d. per lb. in Australia. The same quality butter is exported to the United Kingdom, where it is sold at approximately 2s. per lb. Last year it was sold for as low as ls. 8d. per lb. What is the future of the industry? Can the people of Australia go on paying taxation so that the dairy farmers can be subsidized to the extent of £13,500,000 a year? If they cannot do so, there is a very poor future for the dairying industry.
– What do you suggest?
– As something was suggested in the Governor-General’s Speech, I suggest that the Commonwealth Government should exercise common sense. The honorable senator who has just interjected knows very well that a special committee was appointed to investigate the economic production costs of butter. When it was found back in 1955 that the dairy farmers were entitled to an increase, the Government did not grant an increase to them. Senator Scott may examine the records to check the veracity of what I am saying.
I come now to meat. We are a meateating race; meat forms a substantial part of our diet. Quite recently there was an increase of 4s. per week in the Queensland basic wage due to an increase in the price of meat. I made a comprehensive investigation of the matter to ascertain how this was brought about, and I elicited some revealing information. In Queensland there is a pricefixing system in operation. One would think that that would operate in favour of the consumer but lo and behold when I looked into the matter I found that the whole thing was designed to benefit the cattle grower. This is how it works. Let us say that a retail butcher has to pay £50 for his carcass meat. He has only to look at a formula with which he is provided in order to fix his selling price. The wholesaler can pay any price that he wishes for stock which are slaughtered. The retailer adds something for his own profit. That is how the whole scheme operates in Queensland at the present time. The consumption of meat is diminishing because of the high cost. One of the contributing factors is the export of beef known as hamburger beef to the United States. The local price is more or less influenced by the export price. We now have a situation in which housewives go along to the retail butchers on Fridays or Saturdays asking, not for a specific quantity of meat, but for 10s. or lis. worth, because they can only afford to spend a certain amount of money on meat. Fancy that situation existing in a country that has a beef cattle population of about 10,000,000 beasts!
Supporters of the Government are wondering how the manufacturing industries will fare in the future - whether they will get on and progress. I should like to devote a minute or two to the tobacco industry, which provides a glaring example of what is happening in our secondary industries. We consume annually in Australia about 50,000,000 lb. of tobacco. We produce only about 10,000,000 lb., so that we consume about 40,000,000 lb. more than we produce. What is the Commonwealth Government doing to assist the States which are engaged in growing tobacco? Only last year an irrigation scheme was completed in the north of Queensland. It would, I have no doubt, irrigate another 10,000 farms, but if I go back there in a year or two I shall expect to find a condition of stagnation. Something has to be done about the matter. No one can convince me that Australian tobacco is inferior to that grown in any other country. Even if it is, people will smoke it just as they would a higher grade tobacco.
– What happened to north Queensland cigarettes?
– The honorable senator has raised a very interesting point. There was nothing wrong with those cigarettes, but a monopoly bought up all the machinery at a bargain price and took it elsewhere, The blend of tobacco was good. Every senator who sampled it agreed that that was so. The position in the tobacco industry is a challenge to this Government. I know that in the last twenty years tobacco production has increased by 100 per cent., but there is still scope for greater activity. We were told to-day just how much better off we should be if we had not to import so much oil. Why do we import so much tobacco? Why not produce our needs in our own country?
I want now to refer briefly to the timber industry. I mention it particularly because throughout the Commonwealth it employs 30,000 workers. The industry produces timber to an annual value of £100,000,000. It is, therefore, very important to this country. During the last eighteen months 120 sawmills have closed down from lack of orders, yet we continue to import both hardwoods and softwoods. What is the Government doing about that? Surely some adjustment can be made so that these sawmills can recommence operations. Unemployment is increasing and has now reached the figure of 86,000 for the Commonwealth. It could be alleviated if a policy of reafforestation were put into effect.
I turn now to some of the manufacturing industries, for that is where the bulk of our working population is engaged. We know that four or five broad components of expenditure affect the employment of the whole working population. The chief form of expenditure is that necessitated by private consumption. As recently as 1956 the Government levied higher sales tax, higher customs duty and other taxes affecting the purchase of goods. It said that there was too great a strain upon the consumption section of the economy, and that it must therefore increase taxation. I remind honorable senators that what was considered exceptional taxation back in 1956 - the time of the “ little Budget “ - has now become normal taxation because the Government has not seen fit to remedy the position. A diminution in private consumption expenditure affects the employment of the whole working force, for it affects the manufacture of food, clothing, footwear and the like. What is the employment situation now? Every worker is apprehensive about the future. Last year’s school leavers had to wait much longer for a job in industry than those who left at the end of 1957 and they, in turn, were proportionately worse off than their predecessors had been in 1956. The position will become tougher as time goes on, but the Government is taking very little action to correct the situation. I can see that at a very early date consideration will have to be given to increasing the school leaving age to sixteen years.
– As is the case in Tasmania.
– It will have to apply throughout the Commonwealth because there will be insufficient employment for school leavers. My colleagues and I seek a situation in which a satisfactory level of employment will be maintained throughout the Commonwealth at all times. Employment is, of course, closely related to the level of the purchasing power of the community. We know that production is not a problem in Australia, any more than it is in any other country. What we need is greater employment so that people will have the wages necessary to take regularly off the market the consumable goods that they need. This, in turn, will help to keep industry going.
Reference was made this afternoon to private capital expenditure, but we find that that, too, is diminishing. Any one with money to invest now puts it into the hirepurchase companies. That fact was underlined to-day by a previous speaker. Such a trend means that less and less capital becomes available for public expenditure. In a week or two the Commonwealth will be conferring with the States on financial problems generally. All of the States at present need large sums for capital expenditure. There are weirs to be constructed, roads to be built and many other things to be attended to.
In my own State of Queensland £100,000,000 is needed to help establish the aluminium industry. One portion of the State is very rich in bauxite and when the necessary capital is available mining will commence, and the ore will be transported to a suitable centre for conversion to aluminium. Every one knows that in a highly industrialized world such as ours we may expect a constant demand for aluminium, which cannot fail to be put to ever greater use.
The Government has boasted that it has made large grants to the universities for extensions and employment of technical staff. This money has come along too late. More and more of the universities are going overseas in search of technical staff, by-passing the youth of their own country. How much longer shall we, as a responsible people, tolerate that state of affairs? A remedy should have been sought years ago. Australia is quite capable of producing all the technical staff that she requires. Seven million pounds has been handed to the universities, but it has come too late.
At a very early date a committee similar to the Murray committee will have to be appointed to investigate the position in primary schools. Existing schools are overcrowded to a sad degree. I am informed that a class of 54 children in one State has been occupying a building measuring 20 feet by 20 feet. That is not good enough for the people of Australia, and something must be done about it. I am not opposed to the Commonwealth Government spending more and more money upon universities, indeed T support it in that, but attention must also be given to schools at a lower level of education. There must be a scientific committee to make a thorough investigation of school buildings; schools must be adequately staffed so that the teachers can do the work for which they were appointed. Those are some of the things on which I have found fault with the Commonwealth Government. What we have before us certainly does not offer any correction of them whatever.
– I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech on the occasion of the opening of the Twenty-third Parliament and to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty that are conveyed in the message. I offer congratulations to the mover and seconder of the motion, Senator Branson from Western Australia, and Senator McKellar from New South
Wales. It was a particular thrill for me to be here when the mover of the motion spoke, because he and I lived together under very difficult and very grim circumstances for three and one-half years. To see him again in the Parliament of the nation, playing his part very forcibly, made me feel that what we had gone through was worth while for him and for us all.
I congratulate the Government on the decision, which is expressed in the Speech read by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, to call the States together in an attempt to solve the difficulties involved in. the financial relations that have existed between the States and the Commonwealth.. I hope that the day is not far distant when we shall see the return of taxing powers to the States. I also congratulate the Government on its decision to bring into being an independent inquiry to examine our Commonwealth taxation laws and, indeed, for the decision to provide £1,000,000 a year to assist the dramatic search for oil that is taking place in Australia at the present time. If one thing more than anything else would set the wind fair for Australia’s future prosperity, it would be the finding of oil.
One other matter that I wish to mention in passing, in regard to the Speech of His Excellency, is the statement that in this financial year a record sum of money will be made available from Commonwealth sources for housing purposes. His Excellency’s Speech indicated that the Constitution Review Committee was to be reformed to carry on the work that it embarked upon during the last Parliament. I have no fault to find with that decision. Indeed, I give it my wholehearted support. I feel bound to say, however, that any recommendation which would tend to take away from the Senate its function as a custodian of the rights of the States will be resisted so far as I personally am concerned. I believe that the Senate, as a States’ house, is one of the foundation stones of our Constitution, and I am of the opinion that any proposed reform that envisages a weakening of that position would have great difficulty in receiving the concurrence of this place.
I note also, Sir, that the Government proposes to bring down a bill for uniform marriage laws. His Excellency’s Speech indicates that this proposal follows the introduction of a private member’s bill in another place, but does not make it clear whether the bill is to be in the nature of a non-party measure. I express the hope that when the bill comes before the Parliament it will be treated on such a basis. There are many problems associated with this subject, and it is possible that some people may, for a variety of reasons which I do not want to canvass here, find themselves in some difficulty. I believe that the best way to handle the matter, after all investigations had been made, would be on non-party lines.
His Excellency’s Speech referred to the impending Commonwealth-State conference associated with the termination of the present Commonwealth and State roads agreement, at which it is proposed to discuss the creation of a new agreement between the Commonwealth and the States in connexion with road construction and maintenance. In passing, it is worthy to recall that the Commonwealth provides for the States approximately £37,000,000 per annum for roads. I think that the last Budget provided for the sum of £34,000,000, with an additional £3,000,000 by way of special grant. The recently held national roads conference at Canberra might be regarded as the first scene, or the first act, of this impending discussion. The grand scheme of the New South Wales Government, which was submitted by its Minister for Local Government and which provided for a fifteen-year plan under which the Commonwealth was to come in as a huge road-construction authority and provide £350,000,000, very soon bit the dust at the conference. At best, Mr. President, the plan, to my ‘mind, was an attempt to divert attention from the sorry record of New South Wales in regard to road and highway construction. The Transport Ministers and Deputy Premiers of other States soon made it clear that they wanted nothing to do with such a grand scheme. They said, in effect, “We can do the job. What we need is additional finance from the Commonwealth.” In turn, all the representatives of the various States - I have here a press cutting on the subject in case I am challenged - made it clear that they were not anxious to see created just one more huge Commonwealth department to do a job which they themselves felt competent to do.
In this regard, Mr. President, it is my view that with the coming into being of a new agreement the Commonwealth will have the ball at its feet on this vexed subject of our road systems. The Commonwealth can and must give the States large sums of money; indeed, more than it has given in the past. I think it is fair to say that a more equitable distribution between the States may well be necessary, but let us be brutal about this. If we give the money to the States to do this job we should insist that they give real value for the money that the taxpayers provide. Section 96 of the Constitution gives power to the Commonwealth to call the tune. It says, in effect, that the Commonwealth may give moneys to the States for specific purposes. In connexion with this huge Commonwealth-State problem of roads, when we give these huge sums to the States we want to insist that the moneys that we give are spent prudently and in such a way as to get full value. For instance, 1 think we should say to the States that they will have to do something in regard to the tragedy of the toll of the road, which, after all, is largely a State problem. The Commonwealth is prepared to play a part, and I intend to indicate a little later the part that I think it should play. But, if we give these huge sums to the States, we should say to them, “ You must play your part in arresting this huge toll of the roads “.
I should like at this stage to examine the road toll. In every four hours of the day someone is killed on Australian roads, and every ten minutes some one is injured. In 1957, no fewer than 2,316 persons were killed as a result of road accidents. Over the Christmas holiday period 75 people were killed. In New South Wales in the week ended 12th January last, eleven people died as a result of road accidents. In the first eleven days of 1959, 21 people were killed in New South Wales. The National Roads and Motorists Association of New South Wales has just issued a booklet entitled “ Driving is an Art “. It reads, in part -
Road accidents have killed and maimed more people in Australia than in all the wars Australian troops have fought in.
This is a national tragedy. I venture to say, too, that honorable senators will agree that it is a national responsibility. The fact that it is a national responsibility does not mean, of course, that the Commonwealth Government should assume all responsibility for the problem and that the States should do nothing. We are a federation, and the construction of roads, safety precautions, and by-laws and regulations associated therewith, are State matters. If we provide the sinews of war for the States to deal with these matters, we should insist that the States do some of the fighting.
In this contract between the Commonwealth and the States that I have suggested, let us demand of the States a rigid enforcement of vehicle inspection at least once each year. I understand that in some States that is not done. May I quote, Sir, a statement made in April last by Mr. W. W. D. Harrison, the secretary of the New South Wales Road Safety Council? He said, in part -
Many motorists are driving potential death traps. . . . Last year through defects undetected or pasted over in cars 37 people died, and 1,457 were injured in the 3,262 reported accidents. . . These statistics do not give a complete picture of the part played by unsafe vehicles - far from it.
So, as one condition of Commonwealth assistance, let us say to the States, “ You must tighten your laws relating to the rigid enforcement of vehicle inspection “. Let us also say to them, “ You must pass laws providing for increased licence requirements “. I understand that in some States, or at least in South Australia, there are no licence requirements.
Let us also insist that the States tighten their laws in regard to drunken drivers. We have the situation . in New South Wales where apparently the judiciary is not competent to deal with this matter, so it has been handed over to public servants, who can arbitrarily suspend drivers’ licences. I do not approve of that system, but I do say that the States have an obligation so to frame their laws as to reduce the havoc caused by drunken drivers.
The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ recently published a series of suggestions by Mr. Richards, the secretary of the N.R.M.A. for the creation of safer highways. Time does not permit me to deal with them all, so with the concurrence of honorable senators. I incorporate them in “ Hansard “. They are as follows: -
It will be noted that Mr. Richards has suggested the by-passing of busy centres, adequate sian-posting and lighting, and the like.
While bringing the States to a realization of their responsibility, T do not think we can afford to overlook the obligations of the Commonwealth over and above the mere provision of funds. Although I do not think we should establish a huge construction authority as was suggested by the New South Wales Government - road construction is a matter that can best be handled by the States - we should have a more competent authority than we have already to handle the problems at an advisory level. I believe that we should have an advisory body to feed the States, as it were, with the answers to the problems of traffic research and road construction, research into the causes of accidents, overseas developments and matters of that kind.
Time permits me to deal with only one example of what is happening overseas. I refer to the problem of velocitization. The meaning of that term is this: If the driver of a car drives for a certain period of time at a speed of 50 or 60 miles an hour, he becomes velocitized to that speed. When he comes to a sign requiring him to travel at 30 or 20 miles an hour and he reduces his speed accordingly, he does not believe his speedometer but thinks he must be travelling at only 10 miles an hour. In Great Britain, experiments are being conducted on the problem of velocitization. Road authorities over there are examining the possibility of providing, in areas where it is necessary to reduce speed dramatically, a certain length of very rough road to shake the car and make the driver aware of the fact that he has to reduce speed. That is an instance of what is happening in other parts of the world.
A tremendous field of research is open to us in this drive to save the lives of some thousands of good Australian citizens who arc dying needlessly each year. The Commonwealth, as well as the States, has a responsibility in this matter. It should act in an advisory capacity, not as a constructing authority. Each year the Commonwealth votes £150.000 to the Australian Road Safety Council. Of that amount, something like £60,000 a year is used on nation-wide publicity and the balance, £90,000, is allocated to the State road safety councils. But the amount of the vote is only a pittance when compared to the magnitude of the problem. I do not believe that the Australian Road Safety Council, as at present constituted as a quasi-governmental body, has the power or the capacity to do the job confronting it. I hope the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) will submit a proposition aimed at strengthening that body, giving it greater power and bringing it more within the scope of the department he administers where he will be able to exercise greater control over it and tender advice when necessary. I sincerely hope also that he will be able to prevail upon the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to allocate much larger sums of money for the council that it is at present receiving. Millions of pounds are provided each year to bring immigrants to this country. Millions of pounds are provided each year for health purposes. This Government has a record in those two fields unsurpassed by any government since federation.
– Unsurpassed by any other government in the world.
– Indeed, unsurpassed by any other government in the world. But if we allow some 2,000 or 2,500 people to die needlessly each year, one position is laughing at the other. The tragedy of the road casualty is that very often a young person is involved.
– And the innocent.
– Certainly, the young and the innocent are the victims. Whilst the Commonwealth Government has a magnificent record for providing funds to the States for road construction purposes, a new Commonwealth-State agreement is necessary. We should insist upon the States performing their part of the contract and we should approach the matter of providing safer roads in a businesslike manner. We should insist that the States play a real part in overcoming this difficulty.
As a Commonwealth Government we, too, have responsibilities. The Commonwealth, by virtue of its functions, is best suited to carry out research and to examine the cause of accidents. When an accident occurs on the roads a policeman goes along, takes out his little book and makes some notes. Goodness me! He does it in good faith, of course, but he has many jobs to do. As I have said, research should be conducted with a view to finding and correcting the causes of accidents. In England, the authorities state that more accidents are caused by good roads than by bad roads. Other research has revealed that more accidents occur on straight roads than on curved roads. All these matters tend to show that a wide field of research is open in this matter of road safety. Special regard should be paid to Australian conditions when any such research is conducted.
I suggest that the Commonwealth provide the money and the know-how, and that the States construct the roads. If such an agreement eventuates I am sure a great saving in human life will result. In addition, transport costs, which represent one of the heaviest drains on the economy of the community to-day, will be reduced. If action is taken on the lines I have suggested and the whole matter is placed under the control of the Minister, I am sure that another problem which we, as senators and legislators are called upon to examine, will be solved.
.- After a very close and critical reading, the Governor-General’s Speech is revealed as a carefully worded document which, to my mind, gives the Government a free hand to continue to manage the affairs of the nation mainly in the interests of the wealthy, financially productive monopolies and their press. However, at the present time we have approximately 100,000 unemployed in this country. I read in the press yesterday that the figure of registered unemployed is 92,000, but we must take into account those who are not registered and those who are employed part-time. That state of affairs has continued since this Government took office in 1949. The Government has not taken any steps to eliminate the causes of poverty and unemployment.
According to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), as reported in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 26th September last, 500,000 people will soon be receiving pensions. Translated into simple English, what does that mean? It means that an army of men and women who have worked hard all their lives have been subordinated, exploited and impoverished to the lowest level, all in the name of political democracy. Fully 75 per cent, of those unfortunate men and women are living as animals in rooms for which they pay £2 or £3 a week out of their pension.
– Animals do not live in rooms.
– I can imagine how the honorable senator would squeal if he were in their position.
– Senator Hannan is not an animal.
– The honorable senator who has just interjected is an invert. In Australia which, from the point of view of settlement, is the youngest country in the world, we have a position similar to that existing in the older countries. If Australia were as thickly populated as Europe, the United States of America or Asia, the position here would be just as bad as it is in those countries. Honorable senators on the Government side laugh at the people who are living in conditions of semi-starvation. These sadists laugh at misery, yet if they were similarly affected they would be grovelling and crying at the feet of their masters. After at least 60 years’ experience in the Labour movement in this country I have a full understanding of the position. And what I have mentioned is happening at a time when the cost of production in terms of real money and in terms of labour time was never lower, but at the same time, in terms of faked or inflated currency - call it what you like - never higher. It is in these ways that the people are being misled and robbed
As an example, take the mining industry. Only this morning I received a telegram from Mr. Parkinson, the general president of the Miners Federation. It reads -
As from 20th instant approximately 800 mine workers will be registered for work CessnockKurri area. This 800 represents 17 to 18 Der cent, miner work force Cessnock-Kurri. Somewhere in vicinity of 3,500 employed in CessnockKurri to-day with 800 looking for work.
The men to whom Mr. Parkinson refers are men who have no opportunity of alternative employment. After having done the hardest and most dangerous work there is, they are faced with starvation.
– Practical experience is a hard school, and fools will learn in no other way. The honorable senator is a fool.
– Tell us about 1 929 for a change.
– I have not the time to tell the honorable senator about the tragedy of 1929 and how it was engineered by the very forces that are engineering a similar position to-day. The position is going from bad to worse and the Government is doing nothing to prevent it. I have already pointed out that the Government has virtually a free hand to give effect to what is in the best interests of the monopolies. The overall position is that the monopolies are becoming wealthier and fewer in number. That statement is certainly no exaggeration, as is proved by the fact that from day to day we read of the colossal profits they are making and how they are merging. But the miners and other workers irrevocably are becoming poorer and unemployment is increasing. In terms of real money, in terms of what the worker is able to buy, the real wage has never been lower while inflated costs have never been higher. Those who think that I am exaggerating need only make a simple arithmetical calculation to prove that I am right. Using figures published in October, 1957, I find that the £1 sterling is worth only 4s. to-day compared with the value of the £1 sterling in 1914. When we take into consideration the adverse exchange rate, we find that the £1 Australian is worth only 3s. based on the value of gold. Since gold has ceased to circulate, currency has been faked in every country, including Australia. It has been faked by the privately controlled banks, acting in close collaboration with governments of the political philosophy of honorable senators opposite. As I have said, because of this, the present wage, assessed in terms of real money or commodities it will buy, has never been lower.
To support my argument, I point out that the Australian Council of Trade Unions is about to apply to the Arbitration Court for a basic wage of £14 ls. a week. Taking the present real value of the £1 Australian as 3s., I calculate that the real basic wage applied for is 42s. This means that the £14 ls. to be sought by the Australian Council of Trade Unions is equal to a basic wage of 42s. in 1907, based on the value of gold. Further, in 1907, the workers worked a 48-hour week. To-day, they work a 40-hour week but the effect of the shorter working week is counterbalanced by the fact that, due to the mechanization of industry, productivity has increased enormously. The real effect of all this is that the people of the present generation are working longer hours and faster than the previous generation, and for those longer hours and the faster rate they receive a lower wage. That seems incredible, but it is a fact. For instance, a tradesman received £3 a week or 10s. a day in 1907. For the equivalent of the worth of 40 hours’ work, he could buy a full suit - coat, vest and trousers - plus an extra pair of trousers. To-day, however, the tradesman receiving £20 a week has to pay the equivalent of the worth of 60 hours’ work - £35 - for a suit of clothes. That cannot be denied.
– How many workmen do you know who pay £35 for a suit of clothes? Do not talk rubbish! The figure of £16 is more like it. I have not paid more than £20 for a long time.
– The honorable senator has been living in rags. He had not been decently clothed until he came here. Why, Senator Kendall got his clothes free from the Government until he came here.
– I did not get my clothes free.
– He was going around like a glorified Guy Fawkes in a uniform for which he did not pay.
– I paid for the uniform.
– You did not.
– Yes, I did.
– It is well known that uniforms are supplied free to members of the forces. Of course, if one wants something extra, such as gold braid, one pays for that oneself. The ordinary blue jacket of the ordinary officer is supplied free, just as is the case in the other forces. Senator Henty is interjecting. He is another political sergeant-major, a man who would stand behind the mob, as was done during the conscription referendum, SOO on the mob and keep out of harm’s way himself.
– He did not need to hide in the refrigerator of the World Club.
– You apparently believe in press lies. You accept your thinking second-hand, whereas I try to think for myself, which is quite a different proposition. If you were reasonably well educated, which you are not, you would understand the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning. You would not take all your reasoning for granted, any more than any intelligent person would. I was pointing out that the position to-day is that wages are lower in terms of real money and in terms of commodities. A tradesman to-day earning £20 a week pays at least a day’s wages for the rent of a room. In 1907 it would have cost him only a day’s pay for four rooms with conveniences. If the present-day tradesman wants a reasonably decent house, he has to pay in rent at least two or three days’ wages for it. That is not an exaggeration; it can be verified at any time. I spoke of the miners. They are In a similar position to thousands of others. They have to hawk their bodies from place to place, asking for somebody to buy their services. If nobody is prepared to buy their services, then they have to live under semistarvation conditions.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) this afternoon referred to the people of Dutch New Guinea. He said that if the Government’s policy were given effect to, it would result in a traffic in human bodies. That is what is happening to-day; it is all a traffic in human bodies. If I were looking for a job to-day, I would have to hawk my body around, and if nobody was prepared to buy my services, I would have to put up with the situation and get on in the best way I could. Man is the only animal in the animal kingdom who, in the midst of plenty, denies his fellows access to the means by which they can live. No other animal in the world treats his fellows in the same way as man. That is why millions of people are out of work in America. That is why, according to official figures, 600,000 people are out of work in England1. A similar position exists in France, and an even worse position in India. There is no difference in the position here in Australia except in the matter of degree.
I now pass to housing. According to the Governor-General’s Speech, something is to be done about housing. What is the position to-day? According to a brochure issued by the Labour Council of New South Wales, 200,000 people require houses at the present time. Why is that? There is no shortage of land, materials or man-power. Yet 200,000 young families have to live in a room or go without accommodation. What is the reason? It is to be found in the fact that the cost of housing goes into costs of production. The more the workers can be herded together like soldiers in a barracks or animals in a paddock, the lower is the cost of production and the higher the profits. That is the economic reason. There will always be a shortage of houses. Consider the slums in England, France, Italy and Europe generally. People are living in caves because of a shortage of houses. As long as the majority of the workers are prepared to be treated merely as animals, not as human beings in the real and full sense of the word, that position will not be improved. There is no member on the Government side who intends to make the position any better. From 1949 until 1959 the Government has had ample opportunity to provide adequate housing so that human beings can have reasonable, comfortable accommodation, but nothing has been done. On page 4 of the brochure I have mentioned, the following appears: -
On the basis of the Commonwealth Housing Commission assessment of 3.52 persons to a dwelling, the housing shortage would be 200,000 as at June, 1957.
The New South Wales Housing Commission estimates the shortage at 150,000 in New South Wales alone.
There is also the important problem of slums, the magnitude of which is indicated by Professor Winston, who stated that in the Sydney metropolitan area alone 4,000 homes are unfit for human habitation and another 40,000 are in a structurally bad condition.
What do we see in Sydney and Melbourne? We see the building of palatial offices, skyscrapers and palatial hotels while our own kith and kin are living like animals. The Government does not propose to do anything beyond giving its theoretical blessing, as it were, to the task of housing. It does nothing practical. On page seventeen of this brochure, the cost of housing is dealt with. The brochure states -
Cost of purchasing a home where the worker owns a block of land and borrows £3,100 at 5i per cent., repaid over 30 years. Total cost £6,398.
Every worker does not own a block of land. What about the workers who do not own land? Actually these men and women who do are mortgaged body and soul for the whole of their working lives, and in the event of a long period of unemployment or sickness they lose their equity. There is nothing new in ‘this procedure; it goes back before Anno Domini, to ancient Rome and Greece, where men mortgaged not only their land but their bodies. To-day we claim to be civilized and to act according to the ethics of Christianity, but our own kith and kin are living in the conditions I have described, and not one constructive proposal has been made for providing them with anything belter. There has not been one word of protest from the Government. That is the position with which we are faced.
I have referred to the currency. As I have said before, the currency in England, has been depreciated by 80 per cent. The £1 sterling is now worth only 4s. and the Australian £1 is worth only 3s., in terms of gold, which is the very foundation of currencies which has lasted for thousands of years. Gold was adopted as a medium of exchange in preference to other metals because it was considered to be the most difficult to manipulate. But now there is an inflated currency, a form of fiat money, and there is no legal promise of redemption. The workers of this and other countries receive their wages in paper money, and they are not told by the monopolistic press, to which Senator Kennelly referred, the real facts. More lies are told about money and its uses than about any other subject under the sun. The present generation has not been educated sufficiently in relation to the real value of money. Expressed briefly, their education has been cheap, competent within the narrowest limits, and contented. Any one who refuses to be cheap or contented ends up on the dole or in gaol. That is a positive fact. But to-day, a lot of young fellows are gaoled by judges who have received a university education. Years ago, an American scholar, writer and orator said that universities were institutions engaged in the dimming of diamonds and the polishing of pebbles. Therefore, the young men and women who are gaoled by these judges are the victims of a demoralizing and frustrating environment. For all practical purposes, they are prisoners behind an intangible wall of a frustrating and demoralizing economy. That is one of the reasons why the gaol population is increasing to-day.
Reference was made in His Excellency’s Speech to the subject of decimal coinage. I consider that the decimal system is superior to our system. About two years ago, I asked a question in this chamber designed lo ascertain whether any negotiations were being entered into for the purpose of establishing dollar currency in Australia. The then Attorney-General, Senator - now Sir Neil - O’sullivan, said that he had not heard of the suggestion. But now the Government is advocating the introduction of decimal coinage. I believe that the reason for the present advocacy is to make Australia the 50th state of America. That is admitted by the Americans themselves. Mr. Virgil Jordan, the president of the National Industrial Conference Board of the United States of America, stated in a speech that he delivered to the Investment Bankers Association on 10th December, 1940 -
Whatever the outcome of the war, America has embarked on a career of imperialism in world affairs and in every other aspect of her life . . . At best, England will become a junior partner in the new Anglo-Saxon imperialism-
One could add, Australia - in which the economic resources and the military and naval strength of the United States (rulers) will be the centre of gravity The sceptre passes to the United States.
On 29th August, 1951, the following statement appeared in an editorial of the “ London Times “ -
Over two-thirds of the globe, along the great arc stretching from Europe to Japan, no treaty can be signed, no alliance can be forged, no decision can be made without the approval and support of the United States Government. One only - -the great Communist bloc - is impervious.
As I have said, the real motive for the advocacy of the introduction of decimal coinage into Australia is to enable America to control Australia in the same way as it is endeavouring to control England to-day.
Senator Kennelly referred to the policy of the arbitration court. Its policy is not conciliation and judgment on merits. The policy of the court is legal coercion and the system is responsible for increasing unemployment and poverty in Australia to-day. I opposed this policy as long ago as 1911 when there was a strike and I appeared as a leading advocate. The only time that the unions have got 100 per cent, of what they have claimed has been when they withheld their labour force from jobs until the employers were compelled to sign the necessary agreements. A clause was inserted in the agreements to provide that, in order to give them the force of law, an award in similar terms would have to be made by the court. During the course of discussion on the matter in one case, the advocate for the employers said that the agreement was being enforced at the end of a gun barrel. The learned judge said that if that was what he thought, the agreements should never have been signed. If that approach had not been adopted, we would never have got anything worth while.
I emphasize, for the benefit of those who may be listening to the broadcast of these proceedings - particularly the workers - that all things yield to pressure, and if there is no pressure there is no result Nothing will be obtained from this Government until the organized working class brings the requisite pressure against the Government and against those who keep the workers where they are.
Senator BUTTFIELD (South Australia) the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General. In doing so I should like to add my expressions of loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen, and to say how delighted we, in South Australia, were to have Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in our State last year, and how much we appreciated her warmth and great feminine charm. I can think of no better way of uniting us all in this Commonwealth of nations than by having these wonderful royal family visits. South Australians are extremely disappointed that they are to be deprived of the opportunity of sharing in the Commonwealth welcome to Princess Alexandra. All too often we feel that our State is by-passed on occasions such as this, when important people visit Australia; that the larger States seem always to be chosen to welcome them. We think that they would probably be given an even warmer welcome in the smaller States, but those States are by-passed.
During the recess I had the honour to accept an invitation to attend the All-India Women’s Conference, in India. In the course of doing so, I extended my trip to take in as many Asian countries as possible and did, in fact, visit ten, spending several days in each. In attending the All-India Women’s Conference I was struck by, perhaps, two things. The first was the wonderful work being done by the Indian women in a voluntary capacity. It was comparable with what is done by Australian women. No country can compare with our two countries in the work done by volunteers to improve the status of the people generally. India competes with Australia for first place in the matter of volunteer work for the good of the community.
Secondly, I was struck by the work done at the conference by members of the various delegations from Communist countries. They worked desperately hard to win friends and influence people - far harder than I was able or, shall I say, briefed to do. I was not expected to work quite so hard in off-conference moments to win friends. It was quite fascinating to see the intensity with which the Communist delegates did this. They went to great pains to pay attention to other people. They had been trained to speak in the language of the country, and here I referparticularly to the members of the Russian delegation. The interpreter spoke perfect English and also perfect Hindi and the delegation was equipped with bundles of Communist propaganda printed in Hindi. I understand that that is the practice at any conference in African or Asian areas which is attended by large groups of people. Delegations are equipped to speak to the local people in their own language. I feel that we can learn from them in respect to that. We should be training people to meet others on their own level, and not always expect them to know our language and take pains to meet us.
On previous occasions I had left Australia by sea and had gradually become aware of what seemed to me to be our geographical isolation. I felt that we were a long way from other countries and might thereby enjoy a certain amount of security. On this occasion I travelled by air and was struck by the proximity of our near neighbours. It takes but a few hours to get to almost any of the Asian countries. That made me realize that I ought to change my thinking. Perhaps other Australians might well change theirs also, so that we can promote closer friendship and understanding with those who now live so very near.
I found in quite a number of countries a tendency for Asians and Africans to form into Afro-Asian blocs. In a sense that has been our fault. These people dislike our anti-aggression pacts, such as the South-EastAsia Treaty. They say that that amounts to adopting a negative policy; that we are basing our stand on antipathy. They prefer the communist line of promising to keep them out of wars by economic and other forms of aid. They prefer to ally themselves with that sort of behaviour. That also was a lesson to me - that perhaps we would have to adopt more positive policies in order to become friendly with these people. It occurred to me that perhaps we were tending to live in a kind of fools’ paradise, surrounded by bushfires burning with a varying degree of intensity and that if we did not help to put them out we, in the centre, might ourselves be consumed.
It became obvious that Australia had a tremendous responsibility to help these countries in their big job of making democracy work. Most Asian countries are, of course, practising some form of democracy. We who are in the southern part of the area must do more to help that democracy work. I admit that we are doing a great deal through the Colombo plan, especially in the way of technical assistance and other material aid. That is a wonderful thing, but it is not sufficient. I feel that we could do a great deal more through the Colombo plan to exchange personnel, to bring more people here so that we may get to know them, and to send more people away so that they can learn greater tolerance towards other civilizations.
Under the Colombo plan Australia has done wonderful work in bringing students to Australia. In the last few years some 4,000 have passed through our universities. The students with whom I have had personal contact are completely in sympathy with Asians generally, and are intolerant of our more conservative approach. They believe that we are moving too slowly. 1 feel that we should bring more of our old, and young, people into contact with what 1 can only call these charming people. They have great culture, great artistic ability, great warmth and offer great hospitality. We have everything to gain from fostering a closer relationship with them. That is why I should like to see a much gr eater interchange of personnel between Australia and other countries in this area. Many Asians say that we are making them feel inferior; that we are treating them as a kind of second-class civilization. In support of this they point to our antipathy towards intermarriage with Asians. I do not want to go into that at this stage, but they feel that our publicity and conversation indicates that we despise any form of intermarriage.
They feel that our immigration policy is offensive. As a member of the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council 1 hasten to say that I believe our immigration policy to be very good, but too few people either here or overseas understand just what it involves. There is a great deal of talk at present about setting up an immigration quota for Asian people. I do not support that because I do not think it will solve the problem. It would tend to create an undesirable strata of cheap labour. Al present we have no social distinctions such as that would promote, and we do not want them. Such quotas would create racial or minority groups, with disastrous results. 1 support our policy of saying that we will welcome distinguished Asians. In discussing this matter - and I was constantly meeting it in every country of the ten that I visited - people always said to me, “ Why will you not allow us to come into your country? “ When I replied, “ We do. We welcome anybody who can be assimilated into our economic plan in Australia. We have a wide open field for people who are distinguished in any sphere,” they would say, “ Oh, but we do not know about it. Why are we not told? “ I agree that they are not told. I think that we could publicize that fact much more, and perhaps if we did so that would have the effect of breaking down this ill feeling that exists between the two civilizations. I also think that perhaps we could extend that policy a little further and nominate certain groups into which we would accept various skilled personnel who could be assimilated into our scheme df things, just as we do from other nations. I do not think that we need draw a barrier of any kind of distinction between certain European and certain Asian races, but I say again that I support the idea that we do not want to introduce cheap labour into Australia in any form of quota. That is my objection to a quota. Let us say what categories we can absorb and let us welcome people to those categories, as we do. We should give the matter further publicity.
The second thing which struck me was the imminent danger of communism in practically every one of the ten countries that I visited. I do not feel that the danger is quite so imminent in the case of Japan. There, I was very pleased to find that, in the place where one naturally expects to find this tendency towards idealistic Communist thinking - the universities - and where, not so very long ago it was estimated that about 30 per cent, of university students were, or thought they were, communistic, to-day the proportion has been reduced to approximately 1 per cent. I feel that in Japan there is a most contented community which is working very hard and using the land space that they have at their disposal extremely well. There is in Japan still some land to be developed - not very much it is true. However, there is some which perhaps explains the absence of envious looks at comparatively large, empty countries such as our own. The
Japanese are most efficient in their agricultural and industrial methods, and I think that we are reasonably safe in assuming that communism is not so imminent there and that subversion is not so possible in a community of that type.
Coming across to Formosa, I found an extremely active group of people who are dedicated to the cause of anti-communism. For eight or nine years the women have been working to make uniforms and to provide for the fighting forces, because during all that time the country has been on a war-time footing, ever-prepared and ready to regain the mainland of China. When one says to them, “ Do you really feel that with a force such as yours, and with a community of 10,000,000 people, you can regain your mainland from 600,000,000 people? “, they are quite definite that they can do so, but are prepared to wait for their opportunity. When I asked, “What do you mean? How long are you prepared to wait? “, they replied, “ For fifty or one hundred years “. Of course, to Australians that is inconceivable, but the matter became clear to me when I visited their museum, where 1 found coins, pottery and artistic works dating back 5,000 years. It then became quite understandable that for them to wait a mere 100 years for what they wanted was nothing. That seemed to me to summarize the Chinese philosophy and their optimism towards this fight against communism. I do not think that the Formosans are expecting financial or technical assistance from us, but they do want us to understand their cause and to be assured that we, in our section of the world, are going to do all that we can to keep communism at bay. 1 then went across to Hong Kong, which is a small area on the edge of the enormous continent of China. It is amazing to see what is being done there anc! the tremendous amount of building and wonderful work that the British Government is doing to absorb the 2,000,000 or so refugees who have come in from Communist China. As fast as the Government builds enormous blocks of modern-type flats for the refugees, the Communists let more refugees over the the border to occupy the hovels into which the unfortunate people move as they come across. There, I found many people who suffered under the Communist regime, and talking to them brought home to me the dangers and the horrors of such a regime. One man to whom I spoke had been the manager of a large textile factory, a British factory, in Shanghai. For two years, under the Communist regime, he struggled to keep this factory, with its four thousand employees, going. Always, they had to apply to the Communist party for the raw materials for the factory. If the party decided that it wanted a cerain amount, of cloth it would allow the amount of raw material asked for. If it did not feel that that was what it wanted at the moment, it would not allow the raw material. Naturally, production had to fall off, but never was the management allowed to dismiss or stand down any of the employees, lt was forced to pay them. The goods that were produced were bought by the Communist government at whatever prices it was prepared to pay.
It was obvious that such a factory could not operate economically and keep going, but it was not allowed to close down. For two years the management struggled. Finally, the manager to whom 1 was speaking went to the Communist party and said, “ We would like to give you this factory. We cannot keep it going . Will you take it? “ The Communists replied, “ We will negotiate with you. We will see.” For almost another two years the manager was negotiating with the Communist party through a sixteen-year-old girl who was quite incompetent to deal with any business matter. Never could he reach a decision on any point. He would raise a certain matter and she would say, “ I will take your views to the party. We will notify you. In the meantime we will continue our talks.” All the time the management had to teach Communist personnel how to carry on the factory. When the party considered that these people were properly trained, it said, “ Now you have discharged your duty to the people and we will accept your gift of this £4,000,000 factory”. That is typical of the methods used by the Chinese Communist party, and the manager to whom I spoke was typical of the people that one met in Hong Kong. One heard also of ghastly tortures, treachery, brainwashing and so on.
Coming further down to Viet Nam, I again met a very dedicated race of people doing a magnificent job trying to hold communism at bay. They, I think, need more assistance. We are giving them a measure of assistance through the Colombo plan, but perhaps there is more that we could do. Perhaps if I describe to the Senate what the Vietnamese Minister for External Affairs, does in order to keep the affairs of his country going it will indicate just how dedicated these people are.. The Minister not only works- long hours at his Ministry of External Affairs and attends many functions on its behalf, but he also is a lawyer and lectures at the university from 7 until 9 o’clock every morning. He writes a book on some legal subject every year, one year in French and the next year in Vietnamese. He has a family, which he does not have very much time to see. He has decided that it would be to the advantage of his nation if he learned English, so that he could go to various overseas, conferences and understand what was going on. In the conversations I had with him, it was obvious that after a very few months of study of English he was speaking the language very fluently. That is typical of the leaders of the country. They are doing a magnificent job. In addition, the Vietnamese are settling many millions of refugees, particularly, as I saw, in the north, near the border of Communist Viet Minh, where they have settled 30,000 refugees on market gardens. Every skerrick. of the work in those gardens, which were a picture, is done by hand. Even the watering is done by hand by the men, while the women take the goods to market and do all the selling. They are all working desperately hard to keep communism at bay. They have escaped, from it, and they understand what it means.
I have not time to outline the details of what each country is doing to keep communism away, but I should like to say a few words about Indonesia, which was the last of the ten countries that I visited, i feel thankful that this Government has done what it has done within, the last few days to maintain a friendly relationship with the Indonesian people. It is essential that we should try to establish a better relationship with them.
This afternoon, Senator McKenna seemed to base the whole of his argument on the assumption that, because we have said that we will not disagree with any arrangement made by the Dutch with the Indonesian people, the Dutch will now move out of West New Guinea. I see no reason to believe that the Dutch will move out. In fact, we have been assured that co-operation between Australia and the Dutch in New Guinea will continue. Therefore, we do not need to consider whether they will now move out. I do not think that we have: let them down in any way. I am quite convinced that our Government kept in close touch with the Dutch Government before making any agreement with Dr. Subandrio for closer friendship.
Senator McKenna said that Australia had fallen down on the job by not frequently sending people such, as the Minister t External Affairs (Mr. Casey) to Indonesia. Perhaps there is a. reason for that. When I. was there, the Indonesians were reluctant to let me. go. I was not even allowed on the. plane, on which I was booked, but was held. back. I think that such irritations are sufficient reason, at the present time why important people do not go to Indonesia. If the Indonesians take note of these petty irritations, particularly at the airport, and remove them, perhaps more people of that status will visit their country. If they do that, nothing but good will follow.
The Leader of the Opposition also said that he thought we should have taken all steps for a peaceful solution through the United Nations. I do not agree that that would work out. We have tried that means. The Dutch have tried it and so have the Indonesians; but it does not work out, because many countries are in disagreement with what we believe in regard to the sovereignty of the Dutch. India, in particular, and for obvious reasons, leads a large section of Asian countries in siding with the Indonesians in their claim to West New Guinea-. India has a similar problem in regard to Kashmir. Ever since the partition- of Pakistan and India proper, there has been an argument about which nation s’.ia-ll have sovereignty over Kashmir. At the- present- time, India is exercising that authority, and quite obviously if she decided that the United Nations should determine which nation should have sovereignty over West New Guinea, the same principle would apply to the territory of Kashmir. So we. would never arrive at any conclusion with such a large section, with whom we need to be on friendly terms,, aligning itself against us..
Senator McKenna referred to Chapter li of the United Nations Charter, which relates to non-self-governing territories. He said that the Dutch had an obligation to develop self-government for the people of West New Guinea. If the Indonesians had control of the country, surely the United Nations Charter would apply to them also. I do not see that he needs to quote that as something which the Dutch should do. That is something which would be decided at a later stage if the Dutch should move out. But, as I said earlier, I do not believe that will happen.
The honorable senator also said that Indonesia obviously would colonize West New Guinea with people from her overcrowded territories. I do not believe that would happen. Indonesia already has tried to move large sections of people from over-crowded Java, where about 52,000,000 of Indonesia’s 80,000,000 people are living. That attempt was not successful. These people are not happy when removed from their own villages and environment. If the movement of those people to Sumatra, which I believe is even more fertile and better developed than is West New Guinea, did not work, I do not see how trying to move them to West New Guinea would succeed.
Senator McKenna added that we were trying to dispose of an area and human blood. T repeat that 1 do not believe we are doing anything of the sort. We are simply saying that the matter of deciding who shall have sovereignty is not our business but that we would abide by any decision made between the Dutch and the Indonesians. That seems to me to be quite logical. If by any chance the Dutch did decide to withdraw and hand over the territory to the Indonesians, would we be sane if we tried to fight our nearest neighbours over that section of New Guinea, which does not belong to us? It is quite obvious that we need to make a gesture of friendship to these people and not say that we would eventually fight them if they got their way and we were left sitting in half of New Guinea wondering what we would do to get them out of the other half.
I do not think it is wise for our Government to tell us all the negotiations that have gone on. I have the greatest faith in the Government. I believe that it has had end- less negotiations, and I am quite confident that it has covered all its tracks. If it is not wise for the Government to tell us at this stage all that it has done, I am quite prepared to accept its assurance that all is well and that it has ensured that we shall continue to have good relations with the Dutch, because it is equally important that we should have good relations with the Dutch as with the Indonesians. We are getting some of our very best migrants from Holland. The Dutch Government is looking after those migrants in a splendid way; it is financing them and helping them to build their houses in our country. Would it be sensible for our Government to offend the Dutch Government by making a strategically useless agreement with the Indonesians? I do not believe that our Government would jeopardize our friendship with the Dutch and the very satisfactory bilateral migration arrangements that we have in order to make some inoffensive gesture towards the Indonesian people.
I am sorry that I have not time at my disposal to say something about the work of the Australian diplomatic corps in the countries that I visited. Our representatives are doing a magnificent job. But I should like to see them treated very much better in the provision of amenities and appointments in the ambassadors’ houses. We are being quite niggling in some of the ways in which we are treating them. If we could establish within the Department of Works or the Department of External Affairs a special department to deal with these matters, and if in particular a woman could move around the various embassies to ensure that they were properly equipped with bedding and crockery and that they were properly furnished to receive the important people who are received, the extremely uncomfortable conditions that are being experienced by many of the diplomatic corps would be alleviated. I am unable to deal with the matter further, as my time has expired. I have much pleasure in supporting the Address-in-Reply.
– Before launching into the main body of my speech, I take this opportunity of doing something that is very rare in this chamber. I pay my respects to Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan, who has stepped down from his position as Leader of the Government in this place and now occupies a back bench. Although 1 may have disagreed with him in second-reading speeches and in general debate, I compliment him on the way he handled’ the business of this chamber during the last nine years. During that period he treated this chamber, and the Opposition, with a great deal of courtesy. I know that many times his advisers asked him to use the gag unnecessarily. When a government has been in office for a long time it is apt to use the gag too much, but Sir Neil resisted the great temptation to do so. I am glad to place on record my appreciation of his forbearance. I sincerely trust that the courtesy he showed honorable senators during the time he was Leader of the Government here will be carried into his more minor duties as a back-bencher.
Because of the lack of opportunity this afternoon to deal with the Indonesian question, I propose to exercise the latitude associated with a debate of this type to expound some of the views that I hold, and have held strongly for many years, on this matter. I feel that each of us has a duty to deal as carefully as he can with this most important subject. To my mind Dr. Subandrio’s visit to Australia, the publicity given to his utterances and the results he achieved are of the utmost importance to Australia. His visit is probably the most topical feature of our parliamentary programme, and the results that may flow from it are exercising the minds and1 tongues not only of politicians but also of the people of Australia. It is obvious that over the last few weeks this Government has been responsible for creating a divided1 public and political opinion concerning one of our near neighbours - something that is most undesirable in the field of foreign affairs. “We are dickering to-day with the results attendant on a foreign policy which we have followed for nine years, and are ignoring completely the causes which have brought about the position in which we now find -ourselves.
I charge this Government with the guilt of having produced a dichotomy of thinking, not only in the minds of parliamentarians but also in the minds of the people. Why is it that after such a long period in office this Government has not been able to achieve among the people that unanimity of thought on foreign affairs that is possible and, indeed, is so highly desirable? Why is it that to-day we fear the results of the move that the Government has made? This fear is engendered, not by anything that happened in the past, but by uncertainty of the future.
The Labour Government, when in office, stopped the action of the Dutch in Indonesia, not for any partisan reason but because it feared that a war would break out on our doorstep. Senator McKenna, who at that time was Acting Attorney-General, took decisive action to instruct our delegate to the United Nations to do all in his power to put an end to the action of the Dutch. Had that step not been taken the Indonesians would not have succeeded in their struggle and the Dutch would be still in control of the islands.
We have nothing to gain by hiding our heads in the sand. What has been the attitude of Indonesia all along the line? That has never been made clear in the statements presented to us in this Parliament, and certainly not in the Australian press which is guilty of failing to present to the people the true story about Indonesia. The Indonesians themselves have always said that they do not have any territorial ambitions. They do not want to move their people because they have a rich and wealthy land and, in addition, have many islands to which they could move their people if necessary. They say that they thought that when they were taking over these islands they were taking over completely from the Dutch. Their argument has always been, “ We want what the Dutch had “. That is why they have resisted all negotiations and attempts to deter them in their aim. As I have said, they make the simple statement that they merely want what the Dutch had, nothing more and nothing less.
The Indonesians also say that by retaining West New Guinea the Dutch have given a further example of their duplicity, and they fear that New Guinea is but a toe-hold on the road back to the Indonesian Archipelago. That is the viewpoint of the Indonesians; that is the viewpoint repeated time and time again by every politician in Indonesia, irrespective of his political colour, whether he be a member of the Masjumi party, the Catholic party, or any other party.
Our attitude over the years has been termed a cold storage attitude. In effect, we have said to Indonesia, “ You are a young country that has just taken over control from your colonizers. You have many problems confronting you, such as a high infant mortality rate, a high disease rate and a high figure of unemployed. Your rich lands are not being utilized to the best advantage. You seek land reform and you wish to establish yourselves among the nations of the world. If you tackle those problems, as other countries have done in the past, and allow this problem of Dutch New Guinea to rest .for the time being, the day will arrive when all nations of the world will welcome your attempts to establish yourselves on a sound basis.”
My objection lies in the fact that the Indonesian policy has never been clearly stated to the Indonesian people or to the world. I would regard it as a written policy in diplomatic circles that has never been forcefully presented to the world. The press, in dealing with Indonesia, has been so wide of the mark that one finds it hard to imagine how reporters obtained their information.
About eighteen months ago quite a lot of trouble arose when the Communists took control of the Des Indes hotel. Because of some slight knowledge that I possess of Indonesia, I felt that the reports coming from that country were completely false. Honorable senators ‘will remember that ‘the Australian press ‘sent Mr. Denis Warner to Indonesia to ascertain the true position. It was only when he arrived in that country that we began to receive the true story of what was happening in Djakarta.
I have visited Indonesia on three occasions, and each time well-meaning people have said to me, “ Do not go into Djakarta. You will not be allowed to leave the airport. When you arrive, for goodness sake do not go out at night or you will find yourself a corpse! “ I do not know whether I, like Senator Buttfield, possess an innocent face, but I never had any trouble at the Indonesian airports.
– Perhaps they were glad to get rid of you.
– That was when I was .going in. I found the Indonesians a friendly people. They are a tropical people and they are a non-violent people. Reading the press sometimes, one would think that the whole of Indonesia was about to blow up because of riots. No doubt a riot has started, but, because the Indonesians are non-violent people the riot has never spread, as have riots sometimes in this and other countries.
– They had a fairly violent revolt up there about six months ago, did they not?
– It was not a riot; it was a revolt which went on for some time. I ask the honorable senator to be a little sympathetic. I remind him that we are not speaking now of merely one island, we are speaking about a nation that was born in chaos, a nation that has not had a great deal of experience or training in administering a chain of islands. Because of that inexperience, there have been a few insurrections. First there was the difficulty in connexion with Sumatra. The attitude of Sumatra may be likened to that of Tasmania and Western Australia towards the central government. Both Tasmania and Western Australia say they are not getting enough money from the central government, and their complaint may be justified. The Sumatrans have said that the real wealth of Indonesia lies in Sumatra and that they ought to have better representation in the central government for that reason. That is something altogether different from the point I am trying to make. These people are by nature not violent; they are friendly by nature; they are a tropical people. We do hear complaints that visitors have been treated with brusqueness and unfriendliness by the public servants of Indonesia, but when we examine that complaint we should remember that the Indonesians were not trained to take over the public service. Without being partisan in this matter, I must say that the Dutch did not do as much for the Indonesians as the British did for the Pakistanis and the Indians in training them to take over the public service. The British did give the Pakistanis and Indians some training in public service methods although it may have been along the lines of the pukka sahib and old school tie tradition. This was not done in Indonesia. No training was ‘given by the Dutch. The Indonesians had just come out of a war with the Japanese and suddenly had to take over administration. T do not think any .people would care suddenly to have .thrust upon them, without any training in public service. the task of trying to serve the public. Indonesia is a country with, a high tuberculosis incidence, a high infant mortality and a high birth rate. Any one who is ill, or who is mourning the death of a child, cannot be very cheerful in his dealings withthe public. Why, as a former public servant, 1 remember that in my young days people were very critical of me. Now that I have matured a little I feel, on looking back over the years, that this criticism- was completely justified; and I was not suffering from any of the disabilities that confront my brother officers in Indonesia.
I mention these things in an endeavour toclear the decks, in an endeavour to impress upon honorable senators that, the whole matter is one of cause and effect. We have assisted the Indonesians with aid under the Colombo plan, and our experts have done an excellent job there, in getting the work done, which is what the Indonesians want. They want people to go there and’ use their machinery, to develop the use of machinery and get the job done in the shortest possible time. Not only have our experts done the job well there but, by their home life and their social life, they have, been extremely good ambassadors who have earned the respect and friendship of the Indonesians. I have- many friends who have had the privilege of working there, and I know from them at first hand that- these people have done, an excellent job in. Indonesia as ambassadors.
Reference is made- from time to time to a; dichotomy oil thinking - thinking of the past and the future. There are many countries in the world that would- do well to forget the past and look to the future. There is; noi doubt that Indonesia, in common with many other countries of the world, the Pacific- countries- in particular, has been under the threat of communism, not because of anything that may have happened, not because of anything definite to which it may be attributed but because of the threat to South-East Asia brought about by misleading press reports. Communism is a continual threat during the transitional period through, which the world is going. Under those circumstances, is it any wonder that the people of Australia are concerned about this’ sudden about-face on the part of their Government in connexion with the matter which is of great concern to Australia? I submit that if we had. been less biased in our attitude towards the Indonesians, if our press had been a little less biased, if we had. gone along on more equal terms with the Indonesians, this aspect, would not have arisen- to-day. in this era of waning colonialism, when the great question is that of the coloured races versus the white, the great concern- of the coloured races is not only freedom from economic pressure but also freedom from the white man’s contempt. Unfortunately, during the period’ of colonialism, the coloured races suffered from the white man’s contempt. That is rapidly disappearing, but we have to convince these people that it is disappearing. We have not done so by screaming our heads off in the United Nations organization and by simply letting these people float along. We have not helped to convince them of our friendship towards them as much as we could. We have not explained through our people in Indonesia and Japan, or through the Indonesian press, just what our policies are.
We have no right to prejudge a country. Why should we say that if the Indonesians take over Dutch New Guinea, our strategic position will be worsened. But we are entitled to refer to the deterioration that has taken place over a long period. I” know that the official attitude is to say that there has been no deterioration. If we were to believe the press reports, we would have the idea that the position has deteriorated there week by week. Actually, the position has deteriorated more in the last twelve months than it did in the previous six years. I think, speaking from memory, that the rate of inflation has increased by about two and one half times in the last twelve months. When pressure was put upon the Dutch about twelve months ago, the Japanese moved into the vacuum causedby the. Dutch with the result that shipping rates, increased, everything else sky-rocketed and there was a complete turnover in- the economy. I repeat that the deterioration in the last twelve -months has been great. If we were to believe press- reports published over the last six or eight years, we could be pardoned for feeling that Indonesia would not survive until next week-end. All this atmosphere has been created between the two countries, and in those circumstances, with publicity such as that, we cannot wonder at the public being concerned.
I was very interested to learn that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has decided to visit Indonesia. Since my entry into this Parliament. Mr. Menzies has made nine trips to London and on all nine occasions he has by-passed Indonesia, our nearest neighbour. We are becoming accustomed to reading each year that the Prime Minister has gone to London for a conference of Prime Ministers. We read snippets telling us that he has attended an opera at Covent Garden, and that he has found time to attend one of the Test matches. We are all pleased to know that we have a sporting Prime Minister, but the cold fact is that for nine years he has had the opportunity of visiting Indonesia and has never done so. The only time he went to South-East Asia he had to cut his visit short. He went to Manila on his way to Japan. It is plain, suicidal folly, I submit, for any Prime Minister of Australia these days to be concentrating on Europe and ignoring South-East Asia.
Now what do we get? We get the junior partner, Dr. Subandrio. He represents a nation that has been in existence only since 1947 and has many difficulties. He comes to Australia, obviously tells Mr. Menzies what he wants, and Mr. Menzies carries out his wishes. It is as plain as a pikestaff that the Government should have made the opportunity to have a look at the chief man. Dr. Soekarno has not had much experience of public administration. He had been fighting strenuously for freedom, and much of the time he had been in gaol. He had not travelled widely outside Indonesia except to study in Holland and to make a trip to Mecca as a Moslem. We left a vacuum there from 1947. We should have invited him to this country immediately as the head of the government of our next-door neighbour. Instead of that, he stayed in Indonesia until he was invited to other great nations such as the United States of America, Japan and Russia, and to Rome, the Vatican City. Still he has not visited Australia. We had an excellent opportunity when there was a vacuum, and we should have moved in. Had we done so, we could have got much closer to the Indonesians. We could have explained to them our point of view. We are the senior partner and we should have moved in, explaining to these people our traditions in diplomacy and public service. We should have been selling to them the traditions of stable government. We had the opportunity to do so but jus let it go. If Indonesia becomes Communist within the next few years, it will do so because of our default in not taking positive action, because we have sat back and allowed these people just to meander along, misunderstanding us while we in turn have misunderstood them.
Just imagine the position of Dr. Soekarno to-day. He has visited five or six of the biggest nations in the world, but he has noi visited us and has not our policies completely before him. Our course of action in the United Nations may have been legally impeccable and may have had the backing of the diplomatic people and all the rest, but it has been unnecessarily vigorous. Anybody reading about the dispute over the last few years could be pardoned for thinking that it was a question of Indonesia versus Australia instead of being primarily a Dutch-Indonesian question. If we had used the same vigour to go into the diplomatic field in Djakarta and explain and sell our cold-storage policy there, we would have done better, because the people there do not understand our policy, and neither do the major Indonesian political parties. We should have done much better to expend our vigour in that way.
One of the important aspects of this matter is the effect of our actions on the people on the sidelines, on the Asian and African nations. What we find is that these peoples are taking the position to be that Australians are the only people in the Pacific area who are trying to bolster up the old colonial empires. That may not be true, but the unfortunate thing is that it appears to be true to these peoples who are sitting on the sidelines. Therefore, we are putting ourselves in a terrifically bad position in relation to these uncommitted countries, which we hope will settle down in time and see the danger to themselves involved in the headlong clash that could occur, and, because of that, make their contribution to world peace. We are putting ourselves in a very bad light when we place ourselves in that position.
There is a tendency among the Australian people - it is not very strong, but, unfortunately, it is there - to say that the coming into Dutch New Guinea of the
Indonesians is going to weaken our strategic position. The Indonesians naturally resent that. They ask, “ What have we done? We have lived with the Portuguese in Timor and have never tried to take over their land.” The point I want to make is that the present state of mind in Australia has been brought about through dithering over the last nine years, through not going into action and making diplomatic contacts, through not previously making the visits that our Prime Minister is going to make this year or next year. That visit should have been made nine years ago. Had that happened, we would not have this very undesirable split in public opinion to-day.
We have made another mistake. I disagree completely with Senator Buttfield when she says that the Dutch have not got a problem and that there is no fear of them moving out of West New Guinea. Every one knows that the Dutch have been hit terrifically hard by the loss of Indonesia. Senator Spooner frequently tells us very nicely about the unemployment in Holland. There is unemployment in Holland now because for many years Dutch people went out to settle in Indonesia. When that outlet was suddenly stopped, there was, of course, a piling up of unemployment in Holland. People could not get jobs in that tiny, submerged country. Now the Dutch have a very serious problem on their hands. I think the figures show that about one-half of the Dutch New Guinea budget is being paid for by Holland. The present policy is a hard one for the Dutch Government to sell to opposition parties in the Dutch Parliament and to the Dutch people. We have completely ignored that aspect.
What we have been trying to do on the diplomatic level is to go into Holland - I know some of the people this Government has sent from here - in order to try and bolster up the Dutch, saying to them. “ For goodness’ sake, do not move out of West New Guinea “. We shall put ourselves in a completely false position if we do not try to realize the position in which the Dutch find themselves. It is not for me to prejudge the issue and say whether the Dutch are going to get out of West New Guinea; 1 merely state the fact, which is incontrovertible, that their possession of that territory is causing a great drain on their finances. Therefore, there is always a chance that they will get out. Instead of working on the Indonesians, which we should have been doing, we have been working on the Dutch, pushing the Dutch into a false position and intensifying their problem rather than assisting them.
I remember that on the last occasion I spoke on Indonesia I was under constant fire all the time. One of the things I said brought quite a lot of jeers from the Government side. I mentioned1 something that is regarded as unmentionable in Liberal circles, namely, the trade union movement. I referred to the trade union movement of Indonesia. If ever there was an opportunity for Australia to do something, it was on the industrial level in Indonesia. After all, surely nobody will deny that whenever there is an attempt at Communist infiltration - something which is occurring in Indonesia and in every other country of the world, particularly those in South-East Asia - one of the methods of attack used by the Communist is to get into the trade union movement. In Indonesia there are 15 different organizations of trade unions, only two of which are Communist. The rest of them range through various shades of political and non-political thought, and many of them are completely industrial organizations. There is a peculiar set-up there. Because of lack of education among the Indonesians, we generally find lawyers and people of that nature controlling the Indonesian trade unions. They are very intelligent people, who know a lot about the theory of trade unionism throughout the world, but they know nothing of practical organization such as the pursuing of wage claims, arbitration cases and the rest of it.
There has been a glorious opportunity, because of our long tradition of arbitration in this country, to bring selected Indonesian trade union leaders to Australia to give them a chance to learn the techniques and the machinery of trade unions, but, of course, to say that would be saying something regarded as unmentionable by this Government. So we have dithered around and have not taken advantage of this opportunity. The only people from whom the trade union movement in Indonesia is getting any direction are those in the two unions known as Sobre and Sabse, which are two Communist unions there. I was amused, just prior to the last election, to find the Indonesian-speaking press - this shows that they do not understand the position in Australia - -.forecast that if there was a Labour victory in Australia, that would be what Indonesia wanted, because immediately the gates would be let down in West New Guinea. Now everybody knows, from what Senator McKenna said to-day and from Dr. Evatt’s statement prior to the election, that the reverse is the case, lt is the Australian La’bour party ‘that is defending our position. I emphasize that it was not the Englishspeaking press but the Indonesian-speaking press that made this statement. I say that to show how completely misunderstood we have .been and how completely we have fallen down on the diplomatic level in selling our story to the Indonesians. Senator Vincent is interjecting, but I can never understand what he says, and 1 do not think he understands what he says.
The other point that interests me relates to our diplomatic posts. This Government seems to think that Washington, London and Ottawa are places, not for career diplomats, belt for politicians. Why that is so, I do not know, because those countries are what may be called non-controversial countries. The polished diplomat might do much better at Whitehall than would the rough, tough politician. 1 have often wondered whether this Government has ever .thought that in a country where the people are living on a razor’s edge and being bullied about, we should use, not diplomacy in the normal sense of the word, but the John Blunt approach. If ever there was a country where we could use an approach of that kind, it is Indonesia, .because the government of Indonesia, ever since it got its freedom, has been highly political. We have seen Prime Ministers go overnight; we have seen complete changes in government, complete reorganization of cabinets and so forth. We have seen Sumatra opposed to Java. If there is a place where we could use an experienced politician, it is Indonesia. We could have used, him and kept the career diplomats for the places where we are now using political appointees. Had the Government done that. I think that the feed-back from -Indonesia would have been twice as good as it is to-day.
It is a great pity that this Government acted in the way it has done. I think the Government has missed a grand opportunity for bargaining, A can think of the things Indonesia could have been asked. 1 have a -great deal of sympathy for the Indonesians and for their case, but you never give anything away in bargaining, particularly in international politics. A question that should have been asked of the -Indonesians is: What is .your attitude to your own -minorities today? When dealing with -Indonesians, you often do not get a complete policy, because of the spread-out nature of their islands. Sometimes pressures are being applied in one island but ‘not -in .others. There are pants ‘Of Indonesia to-day where the Chinese minorities are not -given the freedom that they get in -other parts of the world. The question of Chinese minorities in South-East Asia is terrifically important, because whoever controls the Chinese of South-East Asia controls the whole df the trade and the economy of the area. The Chinese have an aptitude for going into other countries and becoming -the businessmen and traders. The Indonesians are not treating the Chinese minorities ‘in their country properly at the moment. There was a grand chance to move in and do something. “Not only Australians, not only the people df Holland anil Indonesia, but also the representatives of the Chinese and other minorities which would be affected eventually by any negotiations, should have ‘been taken into confidence and their point of view expressed. To-day, the nation is completely split, both in this Parliament and outside it, in relation to the attitude that this Government has taken in the matter. I say that ‘this is a field of political endeavour where there should be unanimity rather than dichotomy in -our thinking ‘on international affairs. The fault lies at the feet -of this Government which, for nine years has dithered around with the problem and ignored the causes. The opportunity has been present for a long time to do something, but now we have had the spectacle of the junior partner, Dr. Subandrio, making the first Indonesian visit to Australia, telling our Prime Minister what to do about visiting his country, and of the right honorable -gentleman bowing his knee and agreeing to do it. The reverse should have been the case. Our diplomats, in visiting overseas countries, have -flown past Djakarta year after year instead of dropping in.
– What about our Minister for External Affairs?
– Admittedly Mr. Casey has visited Indonesia on a- very few occasions. But that is not the same as a visit by the Prime- Minister. I think it is a first-class insult to the Indonesians’, that Mr.. Menzies by-passed1 Indonesia on- nine occasions. I: am- not growling about the number of visits that the- Prime Minister has made to the United Kingdom, but I think he at least could’ have found time to spend a couple of days with our nearest neighbours. It is a great pity that the Government has suddenly reversed the policy it has pursued over the last nine years. I sincerely hope that we shall not have a recurrence of this in the future and that the Government will at long last learn to turn its eyes to South-East Asia and will take the people of Australia into its confidence when it is dealing with South-East Asia.
– I wish, first, to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty that have been made by the proposer of the motion and by other speakers, and I should like to congratulate both the mover and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply on the excellent speeches they have made. I should like also: to- join in- the congratulations that have been, extended to Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan and Senator Sir Walter Cooper on the honour that Her Majesty the Queen has bestowed on them. 1 should’ like, in particular to join in the expressions of cordial welcome to the young princess who is to visit us this year. It was my good fortune to see her some six years ago when, of course, she was somewhat younger and slighter than she is now.
– You were a bit younger, too.
– That is so. I am. reminded of the following: words from Edmund Burke: -
Surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a. more delightful vision.
His Excellency stated that it is proposed to reconstitute the Constitution Review Committee. I have read the interim report of the committee and I think every member of this chamber should consider very carefully what has been recommended in that document and what is. likely to- be recommended. I hope, that further consideration will be given to some of the proposals that have been already made, particularly with regard to this chamber. I recognize, as well as the Government and the members of that committee, the- importance of maintaining a proper balance between the two chambers and between, the executive and the. legislature, and any proposal made by the committee, as well as any proposal that will be made in the future, will receive my careful consideration. I should also like to say that I have read trie Constitution and I know what the fathers of it. had in mind when they drew up the provisions relating to the Senate, and in the main I agree with them.
We read in the press many cheap remarks about the Senate, and we sometimes hear such remarks in this chamber, but I wish to say that the continued strength and efficiency of this chamber are necessary for the preservation of parliamentary government. I will consider from that point of view every proposal that is made, and I will never agree to any proposal designed seriously to diminish the efficiency or the prestige of this chamber. We have, had an experiment in one-chamber government; only one Australian State has tried that, although many States abroad! have tried it.
– It has been a great success in Queensland.
– I do not think that it has been a great success.
– Queensland will never go back to the two-chamber system.
– That is not proof that Queensland did not make a mistake in departing, from the bi-cameral system. If I had sufficient time to relate the history of Queensland since the Legislative Council was abolished, I could point to many measures that have been passed-, by the Queensland Parliament and to many things that have happened in Queensland which prove that the system, has not been a great success. For instance,, as. Senator Byrne and others have told us,, if there had been a properly constituted second chamber in that State, the. University of Queensland would never have been in the position in which it was placed by the ill-advised legislation that proceeded from the single chamber.
I do not think that we can afford to-day to risk having a single chamber as the sole legislative body. We have only to consider what has happened in many other countries. At any rate, as far as Australia is concerned, I have a great respect for the wisdom of those who drew up our Constitution, I have a great respect for the judges who have reviewed it, and I have a great respect also for the Australian citizens who have always regarded very curiously and critically any proposal to change the Constitution. I am sure they will do so in the future.
I wish to say that I do not regard it as a very great triumph for the committee to have got agreement with regard to the Senate when one of the parties to the agreement is a party which wishes to abolish the Senate. If one party wishes to abolish the Senate and the people who do not wish to do so are prepared to bring in a measure which will weaken the Senate, it is quite easy to get agreement, and, for my part, I will not support any measure that will not strengthen the whole Parliament, that is, including the Senate.
I did not intend to say anything about Indonesia, but it happens that two of the speeches that I have heard in this debate - one from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), and the other from Senator Willesee - have so emphasised what has happened with regard to Indonesia thai I cannot ignore it. Therefore, 1 must sacrifice some of the things I wanted to say in order to discuss it.
I think we should have a bi-partisan policy. Ever since I have been a member of this chamber, it has been the policy of this Government to endeavour to get the fullest measure of support from the Opposition. We have set up a Foreign Affairs Committee, in which the Opposition has persistently refused to participate, holding itself free to criticise in any way what this Government does, possibly without fully understanding it. I agree that i! would be good if we could have full debates on foreign affairs, as there are in the House of Commons, in the United States Congress, and, indeed, in most, countries, hut we are all of us very immature with regard to anything that has happened outside tn.s country. As honorable senators know, we have grown up in the shelter of the British Navy, and until the second world war it was not apparent, even to many far-sighted Australians, that we were finally alone in the world - alone except for such friends as we had got. We have to shape our foreign policy, but we cannot shape a sound foreign policy if every action that is taken by the Executive is used by the Opposition merely to create a party advantage. I am not attributing any motives to honorable senators opposite. fully respect what the two senators I have mentioned have said. I think that they have applied their minds to this problem. They have some knowledge of it and 1 agree with a number of things that both said, but this negotiation with Indonesia has obviously been .a most delicate one.
In all such negotiations between sovereign States it is impossible to tell the public - it is impossible to tell the world - all of the factors involved. Such things can only be understood by those who have made a close study of what has been going on. When I first heard the announcement that we had agreed that any settlement between the present sovereign rulers of West New Guinea - Holland - and Indonesia would be acceptable I felt a little disturbed, but I have read very carefully the statement made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Spooner) which was the same as that made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in another place. I have tried to read between the lines.
I ask Senator McKenna and Senator Willesee how any one but the Communists would have benefited if our Government had decided to send the Indonesian Foreign Minister back with empty hands. Surely that is the question which we all ought to answer to ourselves. Surely it is in our interests to have in Indonesia a stable. nonCommunist government. Possibly I know less about Indonesia than does Senator Willesee. I was there twice, for a couple of days, some ten years ago. I know something about it by reading, and while I do not wish to say anything that would be offensive to the people or the Government of Indonesia I believe that in all countries which have been under some kind of tutelage, whether European or otherwise, there is a good deal of disturbance an J instability. We know perfectly well that Communists and other forces - some purely local and some anarchistic - are attempting to upset the new government. The Government of Indonesia has been in a very precarious position ever since the Dutch left. It has managed to maintain itself, and we are very glad of that.
Last year I welcomed, on behalf of the Government, some visitors from Indonesia, including one of that country’s Ministers. 1 farewelled them and had long conversations with each of them. As a result, I believe that I know something of the problem. Let us suppose that we had a furious debate on this subject in this chamber and in another place. Suppose that our press raised - in the way that the worst of our press does - all the troublous questions that might be mentioned in the course of that debate. Suppose that, as a result, any latent hostility between Australia and the people of Asia were blown into a flame. What good would that do to any one? Members of the Opposition have a very serious responsibility to ensure that, in order merely to put us in the wrong and to claim that they are the only people looking after the interests of Australia, they do not raise those difficult questions. [ for one do not want to see the Indonesians governing West New Guinea, but whether they would do it well or badly I would not say. I also feel that any one governing there must take on the position as a trustee under the aegis of the United Nations, However, that is not the most important thing. The most important thing is that they should act in the spirit of a trustee. Whether it would be wise or good for us to do it ourselves I would not say. I would need a great deal more information before I would even look at that question, but the plain fact is that the people of West New Guinea do not naturally come under the Indonesians or any one else. As far as I can see, the Dutch have as good a claim there as has any one else. Indeed, they have a better claim than most because they have been there and have done something to develop the country. I hope that if they go, they will go not merely as a result of an agreement with the Indonesians, but with the general agreement of public opinion throughout the world. Under the shadow of, and in accordance with the principles of, the United Nations.
The time may come - I hope it will come - when New Guinea will be some kind of a self-governing unit, but we are only playing with words when we talk about institutions such as trade unions or parliaments, with which we are familiar and say, “ Oh, well, let us get that settled and these people will do it.” Every one knows that fairly primitive people - and 1 gather that that is how the people of West New Guinea may be described - have great difficulty in adapting to their own requirements the institutions of Europe or of more advanced peoples in Asia.
Let us resolve that this will not be a party question, and that such considerations will be transcended by the interests of Australia and of the people of the country concerned. I hope that before the end of this Parliament there will be a genuinely bipartisan foreign policy, and if the debates in this chamber or anywhere else can help io achieve that end I shall certainly welcome them. However, I do not think that everything which has been said by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), or by Senator Willesee, tends towards that end.
I now come to what I intended to make the main part of my talk to-night - what is happening in Canberra itself. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech said little about that because no legislation is involved; it is mainly a matter of administration. I should like to say that I welcome what has been done during the last few years towards the building of this city. There have been very great advances since the Senate Select Committee’s report was presented a year or two ago. The first has been the decision to bring to this city the service departments, which have for too long been in Melbourne. For that I give credit to all the Ministers concerned, but particularly to the Prime Minister. This will not be the capital city of Australia until we have concentrated here all the great departments, and other important bodies associated with the Government as well.
The decision to transfer the defence departments was a very fine one, and has involved enormous administrative tasks. I believe that, in the main, it has been carried out successfully. It has involved special building. It has involved what might perhaps ‘seem to the people who have to come here an arbitrary decision. It has involved one or two minor changes, of one of which I disapproved. However, in general, the policy has been very sound.
Also, I welcome the setting up of the National Capital Development Commission. This was, as honorable senators know, one of the recommendations of the select committee. The commission has not been given all the powers and authority that the committee recommended, but it is a good commission for all that. I am satisfied with the qualifications of the three gentlemen who have been appointed to it. Each is very distinguished in his own sphere. Also, in the main, I am satisfied with what they have done so far.
This chamber in particular - .being a little above the ordinary conflict which goes on in another place - should be vigilant concerning what is happening in Canberra. We constantly see a need for bold decision. We see going up here and going up there a building that we do not particularly like. We see what appears to be a little of the bungling that we thought had ;gone but, in the main, I think that the commission is going along very well. While 1 am speaking of buildings, I should like to congratulate whoever was responsible for the addition to the shopping area at Civic Centre. That, 1 think, is one of .the finest pieces of architecture of its type .that I have seen. Having said that. I may say that there are other buildings going up - a few flats here and there, and one or two glass and steel buildings - that I do not like; but of course, although J interest myself in this matter, I quite .realize that no single person has the right to try to enforce his own private foibles as to what the architecture of Canberra should be. Provided that we have variety and some one who will .prevent the worst land of .monstrosity being perpetrated, we can leave a great .deal .to the good judgment of the -people who are doing these things.
Incidentally, during the last Parliament 1 .happened to say something, as a mere interjection, which got into “ Hansard “, about the .new .Academy of Science building that is going up near the Australian National University. I must say that at my last glance at it I rather liked it. It provides variety and looks much better on the landscape than it did on the plan.
There has been some misunderstanding - I think honest misunderstanding - about the recommendations of the Canberra committee with regard to industry. I have seen it stated in some newspapers that the committee wished to keep Canberra as a show place, and that it wished to keep all ugly industry out. lt is a pity that we could not publish the evidence -given to the committee. We did not publish it because we wished to save expense, and also because some of it was not worth publishing and we could not make a selection. But if honorable senators read the evidence and the report they will find that the committee went very carefully into the question of what could be done to bring some kind of industry here. We recognized that it is not a good thing that this should be a purely Public Service city; that we should have, as some one has pointed out, a kind of hereditary race of public servants, with the children of public servants becoming little public servants, and that process going on and on for ever. That would be truly deplorable.
I think it is good that there should be a fairly representative cross-section of Australian life here, but we are bound by constitutional limitations. The Constitution -set this place down to be a legislative, executive and administrative city, and we cannot avoid that. If you bring .all .the heads of departments and so forth here, you get a hard core of public servants to begin with, but there are various qualifications of that. Those public servants have demands which have to be satisfied .and that will bring quite a lot of retail, and possibly ultimately some wholesale, industry of various types. It is an established fact that, for whatever reason a city was first established, once it has been established it becomes a .centre. It becomes a magnet and draws other things to it.
There was, immeditely after the war, a rather pretentious plan in the Department of War Organization of Industry to make Canberra a regional centre for the whole of southern New South Wales. Our committee examined that plan. We heard evidence on both sides and we came to the conclusion, with which I think honorable senators from every State will agree, that we could not possibly, under the Constitution, adopt those recommendations because-, to do. so would involve spending money from the taxpayers in the States in order to build up, by a. very artificial process, an industrial centre at the expense of other towns of New South Wales. The senators from the other States on the committee were concerned about the taxpayers’ money, but 1, as a senator representing New South Wales, was concerned with the other towns. By what right could we as a Federal Parliament deliberately deprive the nearby towns of such industry? Queanbeyan, of course, in the natural course of events might be absorbed in Canberra, but we should not do anything to injure it as a separate entity. By what right could we draw to Canberra industry that would naturally go to Wagga, Cooma or Goulburn? We could not do that. So we were definite in our decision, and the committee was unanimous. That was not just the opinion of the sole senator from New South Wales - myself. Every senator was against that plan.
We were of the opinion that we had to build Canberra up as an administrative and governmental city and hope that such industry as the people here would need would be attracted. But the Government has done something beyond that, lt has established a national university. It has established a university college which will, I hope, very soon become a university in its own right. Those two universities and the various schools that have been established here will make this an educational centre, a very natural development. Therefore, we will combine with the purely governmental and administrative functions those that pertain to such a city as Oxford or Cambridge. I think that that will make for a very desirable kind of city.
There is one industry, Sir, which I think we could quite definitely encourage in every way without injuring any other part of the Commonwealth, and that is the industry of printing and publishing. You will see, Sir, what advantages we have for that industry here. First, we have the Government, with all the printing that a government involves. Then, we have the National University and what I hope will be the University of Canberra. Those things alone - the governmental printing and the printing for the universities- will tend to bring here enough printers to make, this a printing settlement. ! have visited the city of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, a number of times. The first time I visited it I was puzzled to find such a big city with no heavy industry that I could see. I inquired and found that the one big industry there was that of printing. Edinburgh became a great printing centre in the eighteenth century and has continued to be one. On the last occasion that 1 visited the city I took the opportunity to go over the great Nelson printing works, with which all honorable senators are familiar. The printing industry is one which fits in with university, educational and governmental life, lt does not in any way bring noxious trades. It does not bring heavy trades. It does not do anything that could disturb the beauty of this city. Yet, it provides alternative occupation for many people. I hope that this city will become as famous as Edinburgh or Oxford for that great industry.
– The report of the Canberra committee refers to printing, does it not?
– Yes, it does. 1 thank Senator Vincent for reminding me that in the report of the Canberra committee it was specifically recommended that printing was one of the industries that we should encourage.
When I heard the Governor-General’s Speech, and when I lifted in my hands the rather small printed copy of it, I could not help thinking of the criticism of a certain book, which simply read, “ This slim volume “. The Governor-General’s Speech does not contain an enormous amount of promise of legislation, but the legislation promised in it will be of benefit to this country. Possibly, Sir, we have too many laws. Good government does not always consist, perhaps, in making more and more laws and regulations. Possibly, sound and honest administration, which will keep the economy of this country as it ought to be kept, is the greatest good that we can get in the next three years. I conclude, Sir, by saying that I am very satisfied with the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I think we can look forward to three years of good and sound government.
– I wish to associate myself and my colleagues with the motion before the Senate. I agree with Senator McCallum that the Governor-General’s Speech does not hold out any great promise. As a matter of fact, it is really a resume^ of actions, good, bad and indifferent, by the Government during its period of office.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister 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 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 February 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590218_senate_23_s14/>.