23rd Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– ls the Minister representing the Attorney-General aware that on the 24th instant seventeen firms again submitted identical tenders - that is, £11,742 - to the Brisbane City Council for the supply of an 1 1 K.V. underground cable? Will the Attorney-General refer the facts relating to this form of cartelized tendering to the Minister for Trade so that he can cancel the import licences which may be held by the seventeen firms and arrange an allocation of the electrical goods they were permitted to import to other traders who will not exploit public bodies?
– I ask the honorable senator to put the question on the notice-paper so that the Attorney-General himself can state, in reply, whether he will do what is requested. Whether, in fact, any law has been broken in this connexion is extremely doubtful. The honorable senator does not claim that any law has been broken. I should like him to put the question on the notice-paper so that I may get a specific answer for him.
– In view of the great disturbance and inconvenience caused for the time being to many people intending to go overseas in a chartered aircraft, and the Government’s decision at the time to cancel the charter, I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport: What is the purpose of the Government’s refusal to allow the chartering of planes for overseas visits as charters in various forms of transport have been in operation over many years? As charters mean, in effect, lower fares for the people who comprise the charter parties, and a very large saving to passengers participating in such overseas flights, many of whom probably would not be able to afford the standard rates, what beneficial effect can the government ban on such charters have on this country? In order to meet the requirements of the Government as to the classification of the passengers, would it not be possible for the Government to set out clear rules on the subject of air charters? If the Government is not prepared to allow further overseas air charters, will this ban also operate on internal air charters?
– The entire question of charters for overseas travel by air has occupied a good deal of public attention within the last few days. No doubt the honorable senator will recall that last Wednesday I made a statement to the Senate in which 1 detailed at some length the Government’s policy on air charters. I then pointed out to the Senate that the policy on air charters had not been taken unilaterally by this country, but arose, in fact, from our participation in an international air agreement and our international obligations with respect to the granting of air charters. As the honorable senator suggests, air charters generally do carry passengers at a lower fare. They do not always do so, but that certainly was the case in connexion with this application which has received so much notoriety. These international air rules have been laid down for the specific purpose of ensuring that regular, scheduled flights will be conducted between countries. If air charters are permitted on anything other than a most restricted scale, to meet a particular time and circumstance, they must inevitably affect the operational profits of the regular airline operators. Senator Wood has suggested that the Government might make clear what its policy is. or what the rules under that policy are.
– Particularly in relation to the type of people concerned.
– I can assure Senator Wood that the present position has obtained for some years past. Every airline operating into Australia is aware of the rules, because they apply here just as they do in other countries which, like us. are parties to these international agreements. I was very interested to note a paragraph in to-day’s Melbourne “ Herald “, referring to an item from New York. The paragraph reads -
Tighter restrictions imposed on overseas charter flights from Australia were in line with restrictions in America, Pan American Airways said to-day They were consistent with the general policy in most countries. In the U.S.A. civil aviation authorities gave authority for charter flights only in exceptional circumstances.
That, I am sure the honorable senator will agree, is completely in line with the statement that 1 made last week to the Senate.
– How does this affect internal lines?
– The same set of rules does not apply to internal operators, although restrictions of a like, if not a completely similar, character are imposed.
– I desire to ask a question arising from the answer just given by the Minister. He announced a policy last Wednesday; he repeated it, J think, on Friday and again on Sunday; and he reversed it on Monday. All that I want to know is: What is the policy of the Government? Are we to go through a similar process again? 1 do not want to make a speech, but I should like to know whether the Government’s policy is in line with what the Minister said on Wednesday or with what he said on Monday?
– The policy that will be followed is that laid down or described last Wednesday. I made this single exception for reasons which I thought I made quite plain on Sunday afternoon. This was a flight to be undertaken by an association which included some war brides. In order to fill the aircraft, the association and, I think, the airline, so widened the qualifications as to include any one who had a relative in the United States. On Friday, when I looked at the application, it was so outside the terms of the policy of the Government that I said, “ No “. But, Sir, I must confess to some human frailty. On Saturday and Sunday, when I personally went through all the cases that were presented to me, I saw that some of those intending to make the flight were genuine war brides and that others were old people who had, at great inconvenience to themselves and at some expense, undertaken to take part in this charter. Because of the particularly compassionate circumstances which surrounded this single case, I broke the rule.
– T realize that mv question, which is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, has already been answered in part. However, as other matters are involved, T propose to ask it in full. Is it a fact that a charter flight carrying, mainly, near and aged relatives to America for the purpose of reunion with their sisters and daughters, who married Americans during the war, was peremptorily cancelled at a few days’ notice by the Department of Civil Aviation? Is it also a fact that great hardship and sorrow were inflicted on many of the travellers, who had let their homes in anticipation of their departure? Is it further a fact that, in consequence of approaches made to the Minister, he has now allowed this flight to proceed on compassionate grounds? Have instructions been issued that all future planned flights of this kind are to be cancelled because of an international agreement? Does the present Government not use charter flights to bring migrants to this country, and is this not a contravention of the said agreement? Will the Minister inform the Senate of the participants in the agreement? Does the Minister not consider that the prevention of charter flights, within or without the Commonwealth, is an infringement of our personal liberty?
– As the honorable senator has mentioned, I have dealt with a number of the aspects to which her question is directed. I shall endeavour to refer to those which I have not already touched. The flight was not at any time peremptorily cancelled. The applicants - the association concerned - were advised on 30th January last that in all probability this flight would not be permitted. It is the obligation of the operator actually to lodge the application. The application was not lodged until 28th March and the applicant, or operator was informed as early as possible that the flight would not be permitted.
The transportation of migrants falls into another category altogether, and is accepted under the terms of the international agreement. For one thing, the carriage of migrants cannot be described as being part of a tour. It is merely a matter of getting people as quickly as possible from one country to another. A migrant flight has the particular feature that few of the participants, if any. pay their fare. The fares are paid by the party chartering the flight.
Forty-four countries are parties to the Chicago air agreement and I think that all, or almost all. subscribe to this particular aspect of the agreement.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral been directed to a statement in to-day’s Victorian press announcing the formation of a public company to provide a television coverage for the whole of Victoria’s country areas? Can the Minister say whether Government policy on the extension of television to country areas has yet been determined? If no such decision has yet been reached, will the Government consider the claims of regional interests for the right to form and operate independent stations?
– 1 have seen the statement that Senator Wade has mentioned. I saw my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and asked him for some information on the matter. Accordingly, I am able to inform the honorable senator that the question of the extension of television to country centres represents the third phase in the Government’s planned programme of television development. My colleagues have for some time been considering the degree and method of its implementation. It is expected that a conclusion will be reached very shortly, and the Postmaster-General has indicated that at that time he will make an announcement to Parliament informing it of the decision. In the reaching of that decision. I have no doubt that the claims of regional interests desiring to form locally controlled and operated stations will receive full and fair consideration.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who is acting as Leader of the Government in this chamber, indicate whether or not the Prime Minister intends to include India in his tour overseas? Does he agree that, because of the great power and influence of Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, in the cause for world peace, it might be of great advantage to Australia if the Prime Minister were to include Asia in his world tour?
– I understand that a visit to India is not included in the itinerary of the Prime Minister, who goes abroad to-day. I agree with the statemenof the honorable senator that the position of India and her leaders in the world is of vast importance to all the world. The fact that our own Prime Minister will not visit
India on this occasion arises because of the fact that he is under pressure with more urgent business.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Repatriation been directed to a newspaper report of the Anzac Day service in St. Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, to the effect that it was stated from the pulpit that less than £5 a week is the pension which is paid to the widow of a soldier who has given his life in the service of this country? If that statemenis not correct, will the Minister inform the Senate of the exact rates of pension and allowances that are payable to war widows and their dependants?
– I did see that statement in the press. I think it was widely circulated throughout Australia. I read it in the Brisbane “ CourierMail “. As the honorable senator has said, the statement is incorrect. I feel that the reverend gentleman concerned was wrongly informed; I do not think such a statement would have been made otherwise. lt would be a great help to anybody who intended to make a statement of that kind if, preparatory to making it, he were to telephone the Repatriation Department and ask what the position was in relation to war widows’ pensions and allowances. I am quite sure the department would be only too pleased to give the information desired.
It may be that a mistake has been made in regard to the definition of “ war widow “. The statement claims that £5 a week is paid to the widow of a soldier who has given his life in the service of his country, so I shall stick to that assertion. The wife of a man who has given his life for his country would be designated by the Repatriation Department as a war widow, and she would receive the full benefits payable to a war widow. We accept as being eligible for a war pension a wife whose husband died on service or who died some years after the completion of his war service and in whose case it is shown that the cause of death was wounds or sickness attributable to war service. So we have definite ground to work on.
Such a widow would receive in her own right a pension of £4 17s. 6d. a week. On top of that, she would be entitled to a domestic- allowance’ of £2 7s. 6d. a week, making a total of £7 5s. a week. More than 90 per cent, of the total number of war widows at present draw the domestic allowance, which means that less than 10 per cent, do not receive, it..
– What is the criterion for entitlement?
– I am coming to- that. The domestic allowance is payable to a widow who has a child or children under the age of sixteen, years, or who is 50 years, of age or more, or who is permanently unemployed. Many widows who are, say, 45 years, of age, have spent the years since their husbands died in looking after their children and are not able afterwards to go out into the world and take a job for, say, five years.. Such a widow would be recognized as unemployable. She would continue to receive the domestic allowance.
The first- child of a war widow is entitled to a pension of £1 Ils. 6d. a week, and all subsequent children- to- £1 2s. 6d. a week. There is no means test attached to the pension of either the war widow or her children.
– Is she entitled, to child endowment as well?
– Yes, child endowment is payable m addition to the amounts J have stated. On re-marriage a widow receives a marriage gratuity of twelve months’ pension at £4 17s. 6d. a week, which means that she is entitled to receive £253- LOS. immediately she can show he* marriage- certificate.
In addition to her war pension, a war Widow at the age of 60 years, if she can comply with the social service means test, is entitled’ to another 1 2s. 6d. a week, bring.ing her total pension to £7 17s. 6d. a week. If must be remembered, too, that the department takes charge of the full education of all children of war widows. A special weekly allowance is made for the children of a war widow to cover the extra clothing and other articles that may be required in connexion with their schooling. The Children receive free education at departmental expense. The department meets- the cost of fares, books and fees to university standard.
In addition, the following weekly allowances are. made: Between the ages of twelve and fourteen years, if the child is living at home, 16s. 6d. a week; if he is living away from home, £2 15s. a week; between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years, if the child is. living at home, £1 5s. a week, or £2 15s. a week if he is living away from home; between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years, when the child is on a higher educational level, he receives. £2 15s. a week if he is living at home, or £4 5s. a week if he is living away from home. When he moves on to a university course he is entitled to £4 5s. a week if he is living at home, or £6 10s. a week if he is living away from home. A war widow and her children under sixteen years of age may receive free medical and dental treatment in any repatriation general hospital.
War widows are eligible to receive training where it is necessary to enable them, to follow a suitable occupation. This assistance, includes the payment of fees at training establishments, the provision of books and equipment and fares.. In. certain cases, war widows may also be paid a training allowance. I point, out, Mr. President, that many persons who receive repatriation benefits go on to the universities.. Since World War II., three young men who received education, training and care at the expense of the Repatriation Department became Rhodes Scholars.
I should like now to quote an example to show the weekly amounts that are payable to a war widow with1 one child aged1 twelve years living- at home. The war widow receives’ a war pensions of £4 1 7s. 6d., a domestic allowance of £2 7s. 6d a child’s war pension of £1 Ils-. 6d., an education- allowance’ crf 1.6& 6d-., and child endowment of 5&, making a total weekly income of’ £9 18s. If the- child- is living away from home,, the total income is £11 16s. 6d. A war widow with one child aged fifteen years living away from home and one aged twelve years receives a total weekly income in pensions, domestic allowance, education allowance and child endowment of £14 5s. 6d. a week. I again emphasize that these allowances and pensions are free of income tax, and that no means test is applied except to those who are permanently unemployable. A war widow may earn any income she can in addition to these payments.
I have endeavoured to be brief, Mr. President, but 1 assure honorable senators that 1 could say quite a lot more about the pensions and allowances that are paid by the Repatriation Department. I conclude by repeating what I said at the beginning, namely, that if people who are in doubt about the repatriation provisions will ring my department they will find the officials only too glad to enlighten them.
– I should like to direct to the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate a question somewhat similar to the one that was asked by Senator Wedgwood. Has the Minister seen a statement that was made last Saturday at an Anzac Day commemorative service held in a Melbourne cathedral, in which an unwarranted attack was made on the Government from the pulpit concerning the Government’s treatment of war widows and the children of deceased soldiers? Will the Minister reply to this political attack, made under the guise of an Anzac Day commemorative service - a service that is held for the purpose of paying respect to those who gave their lives, not for the purposes of politics?
– I have not seen the press statement to which the honorable senator has referred, but I shall be interested to examine it. If I consider that a reply to the statement is necessary, I shall certainly take action to ensure that a reply is made.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. In view of the recent allegations that the consumption of butter by humans has an adverse effect on the heart, will the Minister inform the Senate whether in this respect the consumption of butter has any greater harmful effect than the consumption of margarine?
– The battle of butter versus margarine has been going on for some time. I know that the consumption of butter per head of population in Australia has decreased, but I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator’s question. If he will place the question on the notice-paper I shall obtain a considered reply for him from the Minister for Health.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is the Minister aware that the New South Wales Hospitals Commission has issued a circular - No. 1140 - to all hospitals in New South Wales which deals with the hazards of X-ray radiation, and sets out, under twelve headings, notes for the guidance of mobile X-ray units indicating ways by which the hazards of radiation may be reduced? In view of the Australia-wide research that has been carried out into the problems and hazards of radiation by X-rays, can the Minister state whether the National Health and Medical Research Council - a body which has been recently set up - has dealt with the special problems associated with the use of mobile X-ray units? Has the council issued any instructions to organizations under Commonwealth control which might be using mobile X-ray units?
– I have seen the circular issued by the New South Wales Hospitals Commission to which the honorable senator has referred. I am not aware of the steps that have been taken by Commonwealth organizations, but I believe consideration has been given to the matter raised by the honorable senator by the National Health and Medical Research Council. However, I am unable to state the present position. If the honorable senator places his question on the notice-paper I shall obtain full information for him from the Minister for Health.
– I ask the
Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that persons in Western Australia who purchase television receivers in preparation for the commencement of television in that State next year are required to pay the television licencefee from the date on which they purchase the receiver although television will not be available until next year. Is it a fact that persons in Sydney and Melbourne, who purchased receivers prior to the commencement of television in New South Wales and Victoria, were not required to pay the licence-fee at the time of purchase of the set?
– I do not know whether the charge to which the honorable senator has referred was made in New South Wales and Victoria, but I shall ask the Postmaster-General for a statement of the position and shall inform the honorable senator.
– My question to the Minister for Civil Aviation relates to the building now under construction at Canberra airport. For how many years is it considered that the proposed building will meet requirements? Who designed the building? What is the cost involved?
– The long-term plans for the development of the Canberra airport envisage the removal of the terminal building from its present site to a site on the Majura-road, one of the boundaries of the aerodrome. lt was expected that the removal might have been effected within three or four years, and indeed that might still prove to be the case. Meanwhile, however, the National Capital Development Commission has taken up with the Department of Civil Aviation the possibility of removing the airport to another site. Discussions are now taking place between the department and the commission. It was felt that, in any case, despite the fact that the building at present used as a terminal would be there for no more than three or four years, it had outlived its usefulness because it was so small - I think we have all had evidence of that - and should be enlarged if only for three or four years.
The estimate was in the vicinity of £14,000. I understand the architectural work was undertaken by the Department of Works which, to the best of my knowledge, is also carrying out the construction.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Bill 1959. Australian National Airlines Bill 1959. Reserve Bank Bill 1959. Commonwealth Banks Bill 1959. Banking Bill 1959.
Banking (Transitional Provisions) Bill 1959.
Audit Bill 1959.
Christmas Island Bill 1959.
Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Bill 1959.
Crimes Bill 1959.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution
Assessment Bill 1959. National Debt Sinking Fund Bill 1959. Northern Territory (Lessees’ Loans Guarantee)
Officers’ Rights Declaration Bill 1959. Re-establishment and Employment Bill 1959. Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1959.
Ministers of State Bill 1959. Parliamentary Allowances Bill 1959. Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1959.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– 1 move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill before the Senate is the Australian Universities Commission Bill 1959, but the Education Bill 1959, which has just been introduced, is a related machinery measure. I propose, for the convenience of the Senate, to discuss the two bills in my secondreading speech on the Australian Universities Commission Bill, and I suggest that other honorable senators follow suit. This course will not prevent each bill from being treated separately in the remaining stages. I ask for leave to adopt that course.
– There being no objection, that procedure will be followed.
– The Senate will recall that when in May last the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) presented to the House of Representatives the States
Grants (.Universities) Bill 1958, he referred to the intention of the Government to set up a permanent body to advise on university development and the ways in which the Government of the Commonwealth might assist in this development. The first of the bills now before the Senate sets out to establish such a body - the Australian Universities Commission; the second bill deals with consequential amendments to the Education Act 1945.
Before dealing with the former of these bills, 1 should like to mention something of the help already given by the Commonwealth Government for universities. Under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme, the Commonwealth made available to universities substantial subsidies towards their running expenses, and also met the cost of a major programme of buildings and equipment. In 1950, a committee under the chairmanship of the late Professor Mills made an interim report recommending assistance to the States for recurrent expenditure on universities. These grants have in the interim period been administered by the Commonwealth Office of Education on whose recommendation they were increased from a basic figure of £800,000 in 1951 to £2,300,000 in 1957. More recently, following the admirable report by Sir Keith Murray, senators will recall that the States Grants (Universities) Act 1958 made provision for Commonwealth assistance of more than £20,000,000 for the period 1958-60, not only for recurrent expenditure but also for capital works.
This bill is, I believe, of great importance for universities and for education. It provides for the consolidation and considerable extension of help which the Commonwealth has been giving since 1951 to the States for university purposes. That help has been very useful, and has been greatly appreciated, but more is needed, as Murray showed; and to give more we need the instrument which this bill will create.
The major function of this new permanent Australian Universities Commission will be to advise on funds which the Commonwealth should make available for universities to the Commonwealth’s own university institutions and to the States for State universities. But this, in itself, really leads to the essential question:
Why provide these functions? Perhaps the best answer lies in clause 14.(1) of the bill-
We hope that the advice of the Australian Universities Commission will be acceptable to all parties as a contribution to balanced development both within and between the universities.
Universities are essential to our community, and they are expensive. For this reason, we are prepared to help the States. On the other hand, as senators well know, our funds are limited and one important reason for this commission is that, with the funds which we can make available, we will help universities to make their greatest contribution to the nation.
I mentioned that our funds are limited and this is one reason why we have decided to assist the States in relation to this particular sector of education. Under the Constitution education is a responsibility of the States. They would not wish us, nor would we wish, to interfere. But, as 1 have said before, finance for universities has special features. Our universities are jealous of their autonomy and the Government feels that it can help the States with finance for universities without leaving itself open to the charge of interfering in education.
The bill provides for appointment of a full-time chairman of the commission and I am pleased to say that Sir Leslie Martin, who is Professor of Physics in the University of Melbourne, Defence Scientific Adviser and a member of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, has agreed to be the first chairman. Senators will know that the bill provides also for the appointment of part-time members, not exceeding four in number. There is also provision in clause 17 of the bill for the appointment of committees to assist the commission in relation to specific matters, where the advice based on a detailed examination by persons competent in a particular field might be of value.
Referring to the second bill now before the Senate, that is the amendment to the Education Act 1945, this is an amendment consequential to the former bill and does not involve much of substance. There are two main items in this amendment. One is a modification of the name of the existing Universities Commission to one more in keeping with the functions of that body, which has always been primarily concerned with scholarships and training awards generally - in particular, the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme and the Commonwealth scholarship scheme.
The new Commonwealth Scholarships Board will in fact be the body which is now known as the Universities Commission and its functions will not be changed. Its main concern will continue to be the Commonwealth scholarship scheme and the recently introduced scheme of graduate awards.
The second item in this amending bill - I refer to section 4 - is a provision corresponding to section 13 (2) of the main bill. These are designed to avoid any overlapping of functions between the new Universities Commission and the Office of Education. This matter is left to the discretion of the Minister and, as the same Minister will control both the Universities Commission and the Office of Education, it is the responsibility of the Minister to co-ordinate activities and avoid overlapping. I am anxious that the new Australian Universities Commission will be able to develop its working methods in a flexible manner and at the same time that it should not be distracted by having to undertake activities which could deflect it from its main functions and which could be done by the Office of Education. At the same time I can assure the Senate that there will be effective team-work on this.
I am sure that there is no need for me to speak at greater length. I feel confident that these measures providing as they do a further basis for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States with the object of university development will have the full support of the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
Debate resumed from 23rd April (vide page 1022), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the following paper: -
Foreign Affairs - Asia - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 23rd April, 1959- be printed.
.- The statement which was made recently in another place by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has excited a good deal of interest for the reason that it highlighted the essential requirements of certain Asian countries at the present time. Most of those countries, as is well known by honorable senators, are undeveloped and densely populated. For those two reasons, an urgent demand exists for development to provide the bare essentials of existence for the peoples of those countries. The Minister’s statement also stressed the necessity for countries such as Australia and New Zealand to co-operate with the undeveloped countries in their efforts to improve their existing conditions so as to enable them to support their peoples.
The picture that the Minister presented was not a happy one. We should seek to find a way to assist these peoples. It may be of interest to honorable senators if I point out that many countries have been granted independence since the end of World War II., including many Asian countries with large populations and many problems. Burma, with a population of 90,856,000, was granted independence on 4th January, 1948. Ceylon, with a population of 8,800,000, was granted its independence on 4th February, 1948. India, with a population of 384,000,000, was granted independence on 15th August, 1947. Indonesia, with a population of 82,500,000, was granted independence in two sections. One section of Indonesia was granted its independence on 17th August, 1945, while the other section was granted its independence on 27th December, 1949. Israel - which, of course, is not in Asia - has a population of approximately 2,000,000. It won its independence on 15th May, 1948. Pakistan, which has a population of 80,000,000, was granted its independence in August, 1947. The Philippines, with a population of 22.000.000, obtained independence on 4th July, 1946. Cambodia, which has a population of 4,500,000, won its independence in 1949. Laos, with a population of 2,500,000, was granted independence in July, 1949. Viet Nam, whose population is 12,500,000, was granted its independence between 1944 and 1946. Ghana, with a population of 4,500,000, won. its independence on 6th March, 1957. Malaya, which has a little over 6,000,000 people, was granted independence on 31st August, 1957. Sudan, with 10,000,000 people, obtained its independence on 1st January, 1956. Jordan, with 1,400,000 people, obtained its independence on 22nd March, 1946. Libya, with a population of 1,091,000, won its independence on 24th December, 1951. Korea, which we know as South Korea, has a population of 21,500,000, and gained its independence in 1945. There we have 703,800,000 people living under independent governments. Granting some of those countries independence did not mean that their people would benefit to any great extent. As a matter of fact, in many cases it has merely cast a responsibility upon the government established after independence was gained.
The Minister outlined one of the purposes for holding the Ecafe conference on Queensland’s Gold Coast. May I say in passing that I could not imagine a more appropriate place in the world for such a conference - on the Pacific coast, where great dreams could be indulged in about the future. Independence was one thing, but responsible government, and fulfilling all the obligations which are cast upon a government, was another thing altogether for many of these backward countries in Asia. We find now, Mr. Deputy President, that the governments which have been either set up or elected in those countries, having accepted great responsibilities, find that they are quite unable to provide the people with the bare necessaries of what we describe as civilization. They have found that it is almost impossible to provide the peoples of their countries with sufficient nutrition, or with suitable clothing for all climates. They also find that to provide even simple housing for the people is beyond their means.
– Are you applying your remarks to all the countries that you have enumerated?
– I am speaking of the majority of the Asian countries that have been granted independence since the end of World War II. An organized community, assured of the necessaries which I have just mentioned, does not exist in the majority of those countries. To-day, we are faced in some countries with the prospect of mass poverty. One of the great tasks of governments in such areas is to alleviate and entirely overcome that, so that their peoples can be assured of sufficient food not only during this week, or next month, but in the years to come.
Some of the governments of which I have been speaking are also faced with the task of providing education facilities for the people. Only recently Tibet came prominently into the news. Few of us know much about it, perhaps because of its obscurity in the past years. It has a population of approximately 6,000,000 people and an area of 470,000 square miles. At present only 10,000 people are receiving: any education in Tibet, so we must regard! it as a backward country. When one sees where it is situated one marvels that it has existed in such backward conditions for so long.
Some countries which are able to provide education lack medical services. They have not the facilities to train doctors, and their hospitals are either poor or below standard. These are problems which many of the newly independent nations have to overcome. Perhaps the first problem to be dealt with is that of finding sufficient food for every one. In this, technical assistance must be sought and adequate capital must be provided. The Minister for External Affairs mentioned the preparation, in part of Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Laos, of an irrigation scheme which will benefit 17,000,000 people. It is known as the Mekong River scheme, and it is estimated that the preparatory work for harnessing the river will cost at least £4,000,000. The Minister mentioned that Australia’s contribution towards the cost of the investigation was £100,000. One can visualize what a boon such a scheme would be in such a densely populated: country. The Minister stated that one of the problems dealt with at the conference on the Gold Coast was population pressures - the fact that some of these countries were becoming overpopulated. Organized action to deal with it is contemplated. Western civilization shuns such thoughts but, obviously, they were acceptable to some of the countries represented at the Ecafe conference.
The Minister mentioned that the Colombo Plan was still providing worth-while assistance to many Asian countries. One does not doubt that for a moment because one knows how many students come here every year from Asian countries. They serve a period of training here and then return home to undertake their various tasks. We know that the standard of living in many of the countries which I mentioned a while ago is far below that which we enjoy.
If one makes a brief review of what has happened since the war, what does one see? If one takes the overall period since the last war - some fourteen years - one finds that no other period in the history of the world bears comparison with it. We know that at the conclusion of the World War II. there were shortages, both in Australia and elsewhere, of essential building materials, minerals for the manufacture of iron and steel-
– We were short right up to 1950.
– 1 am speaking now, not politically, but factually about conditions that existed in other countries. If honorable senators on the Government benches wish to take a mean view of the situation, I will admit that there were shortages in Australia, because civilian production ceased for six years during the war period and it was impossible to import goods to make up for the shortages. I shall leave what I was dealing with a while ago to refer to the present situation in Australia. We are now reaching a stage of over-production in regard to certain commodities. We are finding it more difficult to sell our wheat and other primary products, and the sale overseas of our manufactured goods is negligible.
– Does the honorable senator include wool?
– The price of wool has risen recently, but only a few months ago it was in the doldrums and many of us had sad thoughts about the future of the wool industry. However, they are matters which can be adjusted in this country. In Australia, as in many other industrialized countries, production is not a problem. We have the means to produce anything that is required, but 70 per cent, of the goods we import are for the manufacturing industries. If we want to maintain a satisfactory Australian economy, we must have overseas markets and overseas balances to enable us to import goods to such a degree.
As 1 said earlier, the thirteen-year period that has elapsed since the end of the last war commenced with serious shortages. To make matters worse, inflation ran riot throughout the Commonwealth, without any serious attempt being made to check it. Inflation was experienced in overseas countries, too, and it impeded the progress of those countries. Now we are entering an era of automation and are engaging in longterm projects, one of which is the Snowy Mountains scheme. We know the attitude of the government of the day towards the Snowy Mountains project. It was thought that sooner or later that scheme would blend into the Australian economy in a very fitting way. We are now approaching the time when it will play its part in the economy. Indeed, electric power is being distributed in New South Wales, and it will not be very long before water is harnessed and reticulated for irrigation purposes.
There has been progress in Australia. We are able to feed our people. Unlike the Asiatic countries, we have a shortage of population. The countries of Asia have a surplus population and they have the responsibility of feeding, clothing, housing, educating and providing those people with medical services. One of the essentials for those activities is sufficient capital. We understand that the lack of capital presents a very serious problem to those countries. They find that it is quite impossible to effect sufficient savings over a period of twelve months for the carrying out of long-term projects. Because of their inability to save sufficient money from their revenues, they cannot engage in capital expenditure. We in Australia are in a somewhat different position, because the Snowy Mountains scheme, for example, is financed from revenue. If the various Asian countries want assistance, they must look elsewhere, and to lend money to them may present a serious risk. However, the World Bank has lent money to many of the countries that I mentioned earlier. They have obtained loans to carry out long-term projects so that sooner or later they may have sufficient food to feed their people. That is one of the problems confronting those countries.
Another problem which confronts them is the gaining of the technical knowledge that is necessary to enable them to take control of long-term projects. I mentioned a while ago that the cost of preparing for the Mekong River scheme in Thailand will be approximately £4,000,000. All that sum will be expended on surveys, the preparation of charts and plans, transport, and various other matters of that kind. Where are the countries concerned to obtain the necessary surveyors and draftsmen? We know there are universities there, but very few students attend them. The proportion of educated persons in some of these countries is as low as 20 per cent. We in Australia found there was a shortage of technical assistants at the end of the last world war, and we had to send to the United Kingdom for architects and other technical personnel. 1 know what the Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government had to do. The Queensland Government had to send over for surveyors, architects, quantity surveyors and similarly qualified professional men for the preparation of various works and for civil and electrical engineers to carry out the projects after they had been commenced.
The various countries to which I referred earlier have been unable to supply their own professional staff, so they have the responsibility of providing education facilities to enable them to train people to fill future vacancies. The inhabitants of some of those countries are not meat eaters as are the Australian people; their main foods are rice and fish. So they must devote their energies to producing sufficient of such food for their millions of inhabitants. They are not great trading countries, and therefore they do not look for export markets in the same way that Australia looks for markets for her primary products. Their aim is to provide the bare necessities of civilization.
It is possible for us to classify the various countries of the world. There are the highly industrialized and the less industrialized countries. Australia is not an advanced country; indeed, she can be classified as still being a backward country.
– She can still be classed as being a backward country. In comparison with the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other industrialized countries, Australia ranks as a backward country. We must appreciate that fact.
Then there are the Communist countries which have their economy directed from a central source. It appears that they can engage in five-year and ten-year plans and carry them out. How they finance such plans and provide the technical knowledge that is required, I do not know, but we read of their undertaking programmes for the purpose of improving the productivity of their countries. I believe that it is essential for every country to engage in some form of developmental work; otherwise, there will not be sufficient commodities available to sustain the standard of life to which the people have become accustomed. Even small and highly developed countries such as Britain must devote some time and expense to developmental work.
There are in South-East Asia undeveloped countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Viet Nam and Laos. Those countries claim that they are overpopulated. India has a population of 384,000,000. One of the obligations of the Indian Government is to provide sufficient food for that vast population. As I stated in the earlier part of my address, Mr. Deputy President, the Indians were granted their independence in 1947. They then established a government on the British pattern. Since then, they have been confronted with problems that are almost insurmountable. One wonders what lies ahead of India, with its massive population. It will probably take the people *of .India two or three decades before they can provide themselves with sufficient food, clothing and housing.
In recent years, a significant development in the countries of South-East Asia has been the establishment of hydro-electric schemes. That is perhaps a natural development, because many countries in the tropical areas have fast-running streams, and one of the quick ways to produce electric power is to harness fast-running streams. That fact has been demonstrated to us in Tasmania and also in the vicinity of the National
Capital. An essential to development, ot course, is the availability of sufficient capital. I have already pointed to some of the difficulties that the countries of SouthEast Asia will experience in obtaining capital. If there were no such institution as the World Bank, which was designed for the purpose of assisting under-developed countries, their hope of ever obtaining sufficient capital would be slight.
I have been attempting to point out to my friends on the Government side of the chamber that since the last world war we have passed from a period of reconstruction to a period of long-term projects. Australia is over the difficulties that confronted it immediately after the war, but we have moved on to face two other problems. They are, first, the growth of our manufacturing industries, and secondly, the marketing of our primary products at an economic price. I hope that the countries of SouthEast Asia that I have mentioned will reach the stage that Australia has reached, and that they will have a surplus of products, although that may result in the difficulty of exporting those products at an economic price.
– I rise to support the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in the Parliament on Thursday afternoon last. I listened with interest to Senator Benn’s informative speech, in which he referred to the populations of various countries of South-East Asia and to the fact that the people of those countries were finding great difficulty in obtaining sufficient food and other necessaries of life. He stated that it was the responsibility of other nations to come forward and help the countries of South-East Asia. Recently, at Broadbeach in Queensland, there was a meeting at which representatives of 27 nations gathered to discuss the problems associated with South-East Asia and the Far East. It is pleasing to know that at that conference seventeen Asian countries were represented. In addition, there were representatives of seven non-Asian countries, and ten other Asian countries sent observers.
The conference dealt mainly with ways and means to establish and develop economic services for the undeveloped countries of South-East Asia, and to provide their people with better food and clothing. Other matters for consideration were the population pressures within the area, production problems, telecommunications, hydro-electric development, industrialization, regional trade, housing, roads, statistics and censuses. The chairman of the conference was our Minister for External Affairs, and Australia was also represented by Mr. Adermann, the Minister for Primary Industry, and by Mr. Swartz, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade. After all, Australia is really a part of South-East Asia. It is nice to know that delegates from the countries of South-Eas Asia should come to Australia to discuss their problems. Some of those countries require a considerable degree of assistance.
Senator Benn, in the course of his speech, discussed the Mekong Valley project, a hydro-electric scheme to help develop the areas adjacent to the Mekong River. The valley of the river is a very big one, being about 800 or 900 miles in length and 400 or 500 miles wide. The Mekong, with the waters of its tributaries, flows down the centre of the Valley. It passes through and drains four countries - Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam. Some 17,000,000 people live on its banks. There is not much information, of a scientific nature, available from which technicians may ascertain whether the river is silting up, the volume of water that flows between its banks, or the drainage problems that are involved. Therefore, the nations with financial resources, including America and England, have put in some £4,000,000 to £5,000,000 in order to find out what is needed before hydro-electric stations and irrigation projects are built on the river. It is believed that the gathering of this information will take some four or five years, because the project is so large. When the information has been collated, it is envisaged that an irrigation and hydro-electric scheme can be introduced equal to that in the Tennessee Valley, which is the largest in the world. I think it is a great credit to the free nations of the world to make money available for the purpose first of assembling information, and no doubt money will be forthcoming from the various free nations of the world in due course to build the scheme and bring it into production. This will create employment. The water provided by the irrigation scheme will enable the foodstuffs that are needed in the area to be grown. The hydro-electric scheme will generate the electricity needed to provide cheap power for the people living in the area, thus enabling them to become industrialized and to compete in the secondary industries markets of the world.
Senator Benn said that it is important to provide the people of these under-developed countries with technical education to enable them to undertake development programmes, and he thought that Australia should provide assistance in the matter of education. I am in accord with what the honorable senator has said concerning this aspect of the matter. I believe that students from those areas should be able to attend Australian universities in order to acquire the technical skill they need, not only for the establishment of further hydro-electric schemes but also to enable them to look after industries when established in those areas. Already a considerable number of Asian students are attending universities in Australia. I think that it is highly important for them to be able in this way to attain the skill they need to establish hydro-electric schemes and secondary industries and, after they have been established, to run them. Doubtless the Asian students who receive education at Australian universities will themselves assist in the establishment of universities in their own countries in due course, at which they can impart to the students the knowledge they have gained at Australian universities. I feel that as a nation we are helping considerably by making it possible for students from South and SouthEast Asia to take advantage of the educational facilities in Australia.
Senator Benn mentioned that some 700,000,000 people in various countries have gained their freedom since the war. As a nation in the south Pacific, Australia must play its part in the development of the countries of South and South-East Asia to enable them to withstand the Communist influence that is so close to them at the present time. The honorable senator discussed the problem of Tibet, a nation of some 2,000,000 people. He referred to the fact that the God Prince of that country had to be evacuated as a result of the infiltration and domination of the Chinese Communists. He mentioned that it took about 21 days for the God Prince to trek down to India. The Chinese Communists were exerting so much influence on Tibet that the Dalai Lama chose to get out of the country rather than to carry on as a puppet of their administration. I think an agreement was reached in 1950 under which the Chinese Communists were to look after the administration of defence in Tibet, under the supervision and management, and with the co-operation of the Dalai Lama. It would appear from correspondence I have read that the Dalai Lama is very antiCommunist, and therefore he could not get on with the Chinese administrators who were sent from Peking to look after the defence of Tibet. The Chinese Communists have now announced publicly that the Panchen Lama has been appointed the new chairman of the defence committee. Evidently he is going to work with the Chinese Communists, and no doubt the Communist infiltration will continue. At the moment steps are being taken to bring about a state of peace within Tibet - to quell the revolt by the Tibetans. These steps are being taken by the Chinese Communists and the Panchen Lama, as chairman of the committee.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, is hopeful that a peaceful settlement will be obtained between the Chinese Communists and the Dalai Lama so that he can return to his own country. I am sure we all sincerely hope that peace will be restored so that the Dalai Lama may return to Tibet and once more look after its administration.
What we have to fear as a nation is the infiltration of communism into these areas and into the rest of the free world. It is our duty as a member nation of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization pact to play our part in preventing as far as possible the further infiltration of communism into the countries of South and South-East Asia. We know that Russia is sending quite a lot of industrial machinery to China, and that that nation of some 700,000,000 people is being developed into a highly industrialized country. We must ensure that the nations adjacent to China Which are not Communist controlled are given the same opportunity to become industrialized and to produce the goods that will help to raise their standard of living. I was not impressed by Senator Benny statement that Australia is not a highly industrialized country. He said that Australia is a very poor country industrially.
– What I really meant was-
– 1 am not interested in what the honorable senator meant. I am repeating what he said although I do not think he meant it. However, we shall see to-morrow in “ Hansard “ just what the honorable senator did say. With the conclusion of World War II., Australia established a large number of secondary industries. The manufacture of the Holden motor car is one instance of our industrial progress. From memory, the first Holden car was produced in 1948 or 1949. Since that time other firms have manufactured motor cars in Australia, as well as a number of household goods such as washing machines and refrigerators. According to statistics, Australia is the eighth largest manufacturing country in the world, and therefore, it follows that Australia is the eighth most highly industrialized country in the world. We are able to compete with other countries on the world markets and are in a position to play a very important part in helping the countries in South-East Asia, to which Senator Benn has referred, to establish secondary industries. If we do not assist them in that way, and to improve their standard of living, many of them will be overrun by the Communists who have now turned their attention to Singapore, Indonesia, New Guinea, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam. The Prime Minister of Viet Nam visited Australia recently and told us of the struggle in which h:s country is engaged in countering Communist infiltration.
We shall not have a major war on our hands at this stage in our history simply because the weapons of the free world are equally as powerful as the weapons of the Communists. The Communists know, as we do, that if a war broke out our civilization would come to an end. If hydrogen bombs and atom bombs were used and germ warfare were resorted to, the cities of the world would be devastated within a few days. Having this knowledge, the Communists have decided to infiltrate the free countries of the world in an effort to introduce their system of government. They are helping countries such as China to become highly industrialized so that they may take their place in competition with the free countries of the world. The Minister stated quite clearly that Communist
China is trying to induce Japan to follow the Communist line on foreign policy. Japan, with a population of over 100,000,000, is experiencing great difficulty in providing the essentials for her densely populated areas, and for that reason 1 am pleased that we have signed a trade agreement with Japan. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has said that when he was in Tokyo recently he was impressed by the statements made by the Japanese leaders that the trade agreement is working quite satisfactorily. If we are to prevent the Communists from assuming control of the Asian countries, we the free nations of the world, including the United States of America and the United Kingdom, must increase our trade with them. The Minister has also stated that the Japanese are looking forward to better trade relations with Australia in the future.
About two years ago the Opposition was strongly opposed to the legislation dealing with the Japanese Trade Agreement. T am sure the Opposition now regrets its action because I believe that it is opposed to communism. Honorable senators opposite must realize now that trade with Japan is essential if we are to prevent that country from embracing communism. All nations of the free world must play their part in fighting Communist infiltration in Asia, and we can best do that by trading with Asian countries. Australia’s economy would have been in a sorry plight if Japan had not spent some £120,000,000 in purchasing our wool. We, in turn, have reciprocated by increasing the value of our imports from Japan from about £8,000,000 to about £20,000,000 a year. If we expect Japan to continue buying our wool, we must continue to buy goods from Japan. The Communists have said that they will not allow Japanese goods to enter China. Japan must find a market for her goods, and if we do not increase our trade with her we shall force her into the Communist bloc.
The Minister has also referred to the Seato pact, which is an alliance of several countries in South-East Asia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America. Australia and New Zealand under which each member undertakes to aid the other in the event of attack by any outside force. All parties to the agreement undertake to protect the victim of such an attack. The fact that the United States has given her assurance of protection and assistance gives a feeling of security to the member nations of the pact. The Minister also said that he went to Korea and saw how that country was progressing and developing under Syngman Rhee’s policy. Those who have taken the trouble to read the Minister’s statement carefully will note that two or three points impressed him as a result of his visit. One was the infiltration of communism into that part of the world. Another was that because of the Seato pact, all signatory countries can be assured of help in the event of attack. The Minister also stated that it was necessary for us to do our part in helping other nations to develop. He mentioned that he was impressed with the Mekong River Scheme. He stressed that if we help these countries to develop industrially and otherwise we can be assured of their support for many years to come. Therefore, I have much pleasure in supporting the statement read last Thursday by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton).
.- The statement under discussion purports to give an outline of the present international situation as it affects Australia, but in my opinion it is simply another of those wordy documents which are published from time to time by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) and which, on close examination, prove to have very little in them.
During his recent visits to various parts of South-East Asia, the Minister has been able to obtain a good deal of publicity in the Australian press about the importance of the job he is doing. Because of that publicity, many Australians are inclined to believe that what the Minister is pleased to describe as a satisfactory situation has developed as a result of his many visits to that area. But when we examine a little deeper the situation confronting Australia and indeed the whole world, we find cause for disquiet. The Minister spoke of the conference of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East at Broadbeach and all the assistance it was agreed to give the various Asian countries, but it seems to me that in actual fact the Ecafe conference was nothing more than a gabfest. Nothing constructive came out of its deliberations, and it appears that Australia’s present external affairs policy is to have talks here and there without achieving any constructive decisions. lt appears also that the representatives of the various countries who met in New Zealand recently to exchange views on the South-East Asia Treaty Organization pact were not able to give either the people of Australia or the people of South-Eastern Asia any constructive lead. It is interesting to note that many of our partners in the Seato pact are having serious domestic troubles at the moment. Over the years, we have seen quite a departure from the original ideals of the pact. One of those ideals was the institution or expansion of democracy in various South-East Asian countries. What has happened in that part of the world? The Burmese people obtained their independence in January, 948, and there were great hopes that Burma, after having been under the domination of the Japanese during the war, would be a stronghold of democracy in SouthEast Asia. Since then, however, the Burmese people have gradually come under the control of the army. It is now a long haul from army domination to achievement of the right of self-determination and all those other things that were hoped for when Burma was granted independence. It seems that Australia’s external policy so far from achieving self-determination for the Burmese, has helped greatly in establishing what is virtually a military dictatorship in Burma.
I realize as well as do honorable senators on the Government side, and perhaps as well as does the Minister for External Affairs, that in Asia we must draw a line of demarcation between where our friends are and where our enemies are. Such a line is being drawn throughout Europe and Asia where the adherents of two philosophies are saying, one to the other: “ Thus far and no farther “. I believe that in offering mutual help to those countries which have a newly found independence we must be very careful indeed to ensure that we understand th? trend of their domestic activities for we are finding now that they are gradually coming under the control of military juntas or friendly dictatorships. It is interesting, but rather contradictory, that although we are trying to prove to people throughout the world that our way of life is based on democracy - on government of the people by the people - we are gradually allowing ourselves to get into the frame of mind in which, sometimes only for convenience sake, we are prepared to disregard the basic principles of democracy on which such pacts as Anzus and Seato were founded. Country after country is coming under the domination of military governments, which impose on the peoples concerned the policies of a particular group.
– Are you referring to South Viet Nam?
– Yes, to South Viet Nam amongst others.
– What would you have done?
– 1 refer also to Burma. General Ne Win effected a coup d’érat which, in my opinion, transgressed those great principles that we espouse, and which wc believed that Burma held in common with us when we gave it every assistance we could to obtain selfdetermination and independence. 1 sound the warning that we may create a monster within our own ranks if we allow our foreign policy to encourage the establishment of military dictatorships.
Pakistan is a country that, to all intents and purposes, has the same background - from the point of view of contact with the British people and with the West - as India, ll inherited a great number of fundamental British principles of democratic living and it inherited a British-trained public service. Most of its laws were made against the background of the British system and British influence. However, instead of nurturing and developing the growth that sprang from the democratic seeds that were sown, Pakistan has reversed the process. General Ayub Khan is now very firmly established in the saddle in Pakistan. That means that yet another country has embraced extreme views which we. as a member of a group of nations supposedly upholding the rights of democracy, oppose. How are we goin-‘ to convince the non-committed countries? The word “non-committed” has been, perhaps, bandied around a lot. I would sa that India is definitely a non-committed country. We have a lot to bs thankful for that a man of the calibre of Pandit Nehru is in charge of affairs in India. He can bring some degree of sanity to bear on the muddled state of world affairs, particularly Asian affairs, yet it appears that our external affairs policy has been a policy of frigid tolerance of the Indian stand in Asia to-day.
Over a period of years the Indian people have put forward, in the United Nations and round conference tables where Asian affairs have been discussed, the solution, in my opinion, of Asian problems. The Indian people realize that vast forces are coming into conflict throughout the world and they realize the inevitability of a compromise of some sort. Some people say that a compromise is impossible, and that those who are not for us are against us. They assert that it is no good trying to close our eyes to the fact that eventually the West will have to clash with the East and fight it out to the bitter end. I believe that militarists throughout the Western world are causing a lot of people to take a view which could result only in chaos and annihilation, through a third world war. I believe that a degree of irresponsibility is becoming evident in some of the generals, who, one would think, are speaking on behalf of their governments.
– Such as whom?
– Such as some of the United States generals at the present time.
– You are making the statement. Tell us who they are?
– I do not want to mention any names; you can do that when you make your speech. I hope that you will be vocal on this matter when the time comes.
– You are damning their characters.
– I am not damning their characters at all. This is a forum in which we can make certain observations and criticisms. The tendency towards military dictatorship, which is being aided, abetted and condoned within organizations such as Seato and Anzus, is a negative or retrograde movement. We should seek to establish the principles to which we subscribe, which are inherent in what we call democracy.
Lads has also experienced a military coup. All these countries are reputedly part of the anti-Communist bloc. What excellent propaganda it is for the Communist countries to be able to point to these military dictatorships and say to us, “ You condemn our military coups; you condemn us for going into other countries and establishing our armies there; yet you tolerate exactly the same thing “. The tendency is one that is gaining strength. Successively these countries, instead of expanding and blossoming into stronger, firmer democracies are moving away in the direction of military dictatorship. This process can have a very grave effect on the unity and purpose of all our south-east Asian alliances.
A very interesting article on the subject, by Denis Warner, appeared in the “Observer” of 18th April. In it, he drew attention to the tendency to establish dictatorships, and spoke particularly of the situation in Indonesia. He said -
In Indonesia, General Nasution has emerged as an even more significant figure than President Soekarno while in Bangkok Seato’s capital, Field-Marshal Sarit, having moved from behind the scenes, has erected a monument to democracy which former President Seni Premoj describes as a fitting gesture, sin-e Sarit and his immediate predecessors were responsible for its death . . . This view … is not at all the view of some of the Asians immediately concerned with the situation. On the contrary, a recent letter from a senior Asian official whose duties took him on constant tours of the southeast Asian region, described the situation as “ steadily deteriorating “. While the swing from inefficient, middle-of-the-road Parliamentary democracy to right-wing military dictatorship has produced an orderly facade and even some beneficial short-term results, he does not view military dictatorship as a substitute for democracy and argues, with ample historical backing, that h-5 who rises by the gun is also likely to fall by the gun.
That, of course, merely paraphrases the biblical saying, “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword “, but the sentiment applies with equal truth whether the weapon be gun, sword or bomb.
Instead of our being the leader in South-East Asia, and straining every possible nerve and resource to encourage democratic and parliamentary forms of government there, reports such as that which is now being discussed are produced by the Minister for External Affairs - in which he flippantly passes .over the internal activities of the countries with which we are allied.
– What can we do about it?
– That is the burning question - the 64-dollar question. The whole point is that we had a magnificent opportunity to do something about it in Indonesia. In the first place, when a democratic government was in the process of being set up, all sorts of forces were coming together to prevent it. They did not want the Indonesian people to have real self-determination. They wanted the old, pre-war influence to prevail. It took some of the loudly decried wharf-labourers of this country to assist our foreign policy in a way that, in the long run, proved to be to Australia’s great advantage. Over the years Indonesia has definitely been snubbed by this Government, and by the Minister for External Affairs. Our failure to be present at the Bandung conference amounted to a dereliction of duty on the part of Australia’s Minister at such an important time.
– It was a front organization.
– The Minister was not invited.
– lt is rather strange to see how we get invitations to places where we wish to go. Our great old red hunter over there, Senator Hannan, says that it was a front organization, lt is very easy to brand any organization with which you do not agree as a front organization. As a matter of fact, we are getting into a frame of mind in which, if one is at all critical of the disadvantages attendant upon monopoly capitalism - and they are many - one is branded as putting up a front. The Australian Labour Party was established to right the wrong of monopoly capitalism as it developed, but to-day we find that any criticism at all of this growing menace is branded as setting up a front.
– If we criticize the Labour Party we are described as being like McCarthy.
– That is so, and if ever Australia had a little McCarthy it is you - McCarthy Hannan!
Tae PRESIDENT. - Order!
– What is the story about Pakistan? “You are being drawn off the track.
– I am speaking about Indonesia at the moment. Unless a democratic form of government can be restored in Pakistan there is a possibility that a clash in religious beliefs will bring disquiet and turmoil into Asian affairs. 1 was referring to this Government’s lack of foresight with regard to Indonesia, and its failure to be represented at Bandung.
I remind honorable senators that the conference was attended by countries such as Burma, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam, Ghana, Malaya and the African states. Whether we like it or not, such countries are following the path of self-determination, overthrowing the existing state of affairs by peaceful means, or by force. We do not know what the future holds for many of them.
We had an opportunity to go to Indonesia and establish good relations with all these countries, but we isolated ourselves, saying, “ This is purely an Asian conference “. Intead of doing everything possible to gain representation we more or less snubbed those countries. That has been the tendency all along with this Government. The Minister for External Affairs has been attending the afternoon tea party conferences. He has presented a very good appearance and has uttered a lot of fancy phrases, but in effect he has done very little to establish friendly relations with these very important countries, or with the people in them of democratic persuasion. If they were not prepared to fall in completely with some of the right-wing or reactionary views of this Government and some of its friends in the various countries that have subscribed to the Seato pact, they were snubbed. As a consequence, these people, instead of being able to express themselves in a democratic way, have been subdued by military force.
– Why does not the honorable senator quote some of the Bandung resolutions?
– The Bandung resolutions are available for you to read. The Bandung resolutions were along a set line. The Bandung conference was a gathering of coloured people, and as such represented a departure from the usual kind of conference. I do not suppose there had ever before been a meeting of such a vast number of people among whom the unifying factor was the pigmentation of their skin. That, in itself, is a new factor that has come into world politics. The position as I see it in Indonesia - 1 throw this right into the teeth of Government supporters, and particularly of the Minister for External Affairs - is that, because of lack of support and the shilly-shallying that has gone on in regard to coming out fairly and squarely in support of the democratic forces in that country, there is this move over towards a military dictatorship.
A number of honorable senators opposite have expressed their views at various times about military dictatorships. The last world war found us ranged with others in defending democracy against military dictatorships. The Japanese, the Italians and the Germans organized themselves into a power bloc at the army level. The same thing could quite easily happen again. The point I want to make is that we must be careful that democracy itself survives, lt is an historical fact that the wishes of the majority of the people cannot prevail when military dictatorships take over. Australia and New Zealand are two of the few democracies in the whole of South-East Asia. We have had and still have many things in common with India. India’s leader has taken a sane view of many of the great international problems and is doing his very best to keep democracy alive in his country. It should be our policy to give every encouragement to the Indian people in the maintenance and expansion of democratic principles.
There are many parts of the statement of the Minister for External Affairs, particularly those in which there is sweeping reference to some of the great problems that face us to-day, which could be expanded. It is my firm opinion that Australia has a great responsibility in these matters, but that unfortunately, instead of coming down every time on the side of parliamentary and democratic forms of government, we are gradually being carried away by expediency and are giving encouragement to those who. for short-term purposes - T refer to the military dictatorships in various parts of South-East Asia - are taking charge of domestic affairs. The statement that has been presented to us on behalf of the
Minister for External Affairs does not go to the nub of the problems that face this part of the world. The people of Australia are not being thoroughly informed as to which way Australia is going. Our external policy is shifting towards the support of military dictatorships rather than adhering firmly to the principles of democracy on which the various pacts were based. When we decide to move away from the principle of democracy, the only thing that can sustain the Australian way of life, and support, condone or tolerate military dictators, and take them to our bosoms as close friends, we start on the road to the destruction of that very principle.
– 1 listened with great interest to the presentation of the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in which he put Australia’s relationships with Asia and the way in which we are endeavouring to maintain and further those relationships through such agencies as Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, the Colombo Plan, the South-Eas Asia Treaty Organization, and the various trade treaties. 1 am afraid that I do not agree with the rather maudlin outlook of Senator O’Byrne. I agree that quite a number of military dictatorships have been set up in the South-East Asian area; but I feel, from my own experience of those countries, that perhaps they have arisen because of corrupt forms of government which may have been described as being democratic but which were very far from acting in a democratic way, and that a seemingly efficient way of correcting the evil was to get rid of the existing government, scrap the whole constitution and start again. I do not feel that it has been a very bad move, provided there is a move back towards the democratic way of government. T believe that will happen, if we continue to give our support to those countries.
I think it is necessary to remember that in the Western world democracy has grown up over many centuries, whereas in the East it has been imposed. It is not easy to impose democracy and have it work immediately. As I said, democracy has been imposed on some of these countries, but they are not ready to make it work. Tt is necessary to have an informed and educated public to make democracy work.
Without that, and because of the corrupt practices and the low standard of living that have been in existence, it seemed almost inevitable that there should be, and probably it was thought preferable to have, a military dictatorship than a swing right over to communism, which might have happened if these coups had not taken place.
Senator O’Byrne has given great praise, with which I agree, to Mr. Nehru of India. But there is a grave danger in regard to India, because the people are not yet sufficiently literate or informed. Because Mr. Nehru has no strong opposition, which is so necessary in a good democracy, there is grave danger that when the people of India, rightly or wrongly, tire of the present form of government they will replace it by voting for the only opposing party they know, for there is only one strong opposition to Congress in India, the Communist Party. That has already happened in the State of Kerala. One can disagree with the reasons for that change, but when I was in India I was informed by many people that, in voting into power a Communist government, the people of Kerala were not voting for communism so much as voting out of office a government with which they were not satisfied because they felt that it was not working quickly enough. There is a danger of communism gaining ground in the north of India for the same reason. If we are not careful, the middle of India will be squeezed by the north and the south, both of which have elected Communist governments simply because the people did not know any better. We can help to combat communism by ensuring that improved standards of living are made quickly possible.
I leave that part of Senator O’Byrne’s remarks to say that I can think of no more vital area for Australia to be interested in than the South-East Asia area, which nas been so well portrayed for us by the Minister for External Affairs. In order, perhaps, to make my vision clearer, since coming back from South-East Asia I have visualized the area as a bunch of grapes, with India on one side at the top, and Japan on the opposite side, and with all the other countries clustered together and coming right down to Australia, as the single grape at the bottom of the bunch.
We are in a most precarious position. If India is not able to hold out, at the top of the bunch on one side; if Japan is not able to hold, out at the top of the bunch on the other side; and if the flock of birds hovering over the top of the bunch of grapes descends, I very much fear for the future of the lone grape, Australia, at the bottom of the bunch.
One must be realistic and acknowledge that the big struggle is between democracy and communism. Those are the two ideologies that are fighting out the cold war at present. China, with its 600,000,000 people and its Communist government is, I admit, making rapid strides to reach a higher standard - I will not say a high standard, because the standard of living in that country was so low that it would have been difficult for it not to have improved. I think we must admit that regimentation can, for a time, raise standards at a faster rate than is possible under democracy but at the cost of individual freedom. For instance, in India, with its 400,000,000 people, the government is endeavouring to encourage from below the desire to improve standards. That, of course, takes time. It is necessary to arouse public feeling, to influence public opinion, and to achieve leadership in the lower levels before such a movement can be made to surge forward. The difficulty is that there may not be time to get the people moving as they should in a voluntary way. 1 again want to offer my congratulations to the Minister for External Affairs and to thank him for the work that he has done throughout South-East Asia. In travelling through the area, one never fails to hear his name and to be impressed by the way that he has made Australia’s name so highly regarded there. I do not agree with Senator O’Byrne’s statement that the Minister’s statement is merely a mass of words. If we read it carefully, I think that we shall find in it everything that should be there, but obviously the Minister does not spoon feed us. He expects us to know and to understand what is going on. Having regard to the time at his disposal in making the statement, he could not possibly cover all the details of the area, any more than a speaker during this debate can do so.
– The Minister’s name is a household word in South-East Asia.
– That is quite true. He enjoys the highest prestige there, and through him, Australia is acquiring high prestige. One cannot move about in South-East Asia without feeling proud to be an Australian. That is almost entirely due to the Minister for External Affairs and the personal contacts that he has made there.
I want to go further and to congratulate the Minister and thank him for the work that he has done in bringing to Australia students, farmers, journalists, and in fact, representatives of all sections of the Asian community, so that they may be able to tell the people of their countries just what we in Australia are doing. There is no better way of spreading goodwill than through personal contact. I feel that the recent Ecafe conference was a great boon to Australia in that respect. At the conference in Queensland we had 500 leading Asian people. The tragedy of that conference was that it had to be held as far north as Broadbeach, on the Gold Coast of Queensland, simply because Australia has so few places where such a gathering could meet.
– That was the beauty of it.
– It may have been beautiful for the tourist industry of Queensland, but nevertheless it is tragic that Australia has not yet built a hall big enough to house such a conference or to accommodate those who attend it, so that it could be held more centrally and so that the people of Australia, at all levels, could meet the Asian delegates. I think that it is most important that members of Parliament, particularly, should meet such people. We all need to meet a sufficient number of Asian people of that calibre to appreciate how they think and what they think of us? Surely we ought to get on with the planning and building of a new Parliament House in Canberra so that this building could become our conference hall for future conferences of that type. We want such conferences, and we need to have them in Australia. I think that we could all press, with great advantage, for the beginning of a new Parliament House with that object in mind.
Ecafe, of course, is a United Nations regional organization which provides mainly a forum for discussion. Senator O’Byrne seemed to think that that was a bad thing. He said that the conference was a gab-fest, that the delegates talked here and talked there, and that no answers were provided. I think that the world will be in danger when we stop talking in this manner. It is a very valuable thing to bring together people of various nations. When they go away they are firmer friends than they were before. They understand each other’s problems better than they did when they came. That is the advantage of Ecafe. It affords an opportunity for people to get together and talk, and to educate each other about what is going on in the individual countries.
– Senator O’Byrne uses that argument, too, when it suits him.
– That may be so. I admit that it is not very often that conferences produce spectacular results, such as those that Senator O’Byrne seems to expect, or that they provide the answers to all the problems that exist, but those things take time. The important thing is to air the problems and to talk about them.
In reading of similar conferences throughout the Asian area, I have been impressed by the type of speeches that the delegates make. They do not consider that Australia should give their countries help as a goodwill gesture. They regard it as our duty to do so. They speak of their low standards and of our high standards, and they say that we should be helping them to raise their standards. It rather worries me when I hear Australians, in referring to the help that we give to Asian countries, saying that the Asians should be grateful to us for what we are doing. I think that the very best way to breed enmity amongst two people, two nations, or two areas of the world, is to expect gratitude for things done, it must be confessed, for one’s own advantage. We must see that there is no class distinction. After all, we in Australia know very well that the era of class distinction has gone, and that we are tending more and more to equalize. Perhaps that is not always the best thing to happen. It can kill initiative and ambition. Nevertheless, through assistance to underdeveloped countries we can equalize the international imbalance. That, I feel, is our duty and our responsibility. The Asians, in the forums that I have mentioned, also point out that it is our duty to do so.
I shall take just a few minutes to describe some of the conditions in India which, I feel, are similar in every respect to those of other Asian countries. As I said before, India has a population of 400,000,000 people, and it is increasing at the rate of 5,000,000 a year - at the rate of half of Australia’s population each year! That alone gives rise to a tremendous problem. As one moves in that area one sees the ghastly poverty and filth, because there is no sanitation and no hygiene. The people have not yet begun to understand the need for those things.
– Whose fault is that?
– I have said that we need to help, and I think that we have helped, but I shall come again to that aspect of the matter.
Disease is rife in India. This horror is evident not only amongst humans, but also amongst animals due, again, to the religious beliefs of the people. Because of their belief in reincarnation they think that they themselves may come back on earth as animals, and, therefore, every form of animal life must be kept sacred. No matter how ill and diseased dogs or cattle are they stay alive and in contact with other animals which they infect. One sees poor Sick beasts roaming about the area. Nobody worries about the position or puts them out of their misery.
– Starvation is not confined to animals.
– The condition of many people there is due to more than starvation. Tt is due to the lack of sanitation and to a lack of proper health standards. The agricultural productivity of the country is low. I think I am right in saying that about 80 per cent, of the population of India are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, but they have not begun to solve the problem of raising productivity in any significant way. One of the first things they have to do is to start afforestation, because in many areas there is not a tree to be seen. Every skerrick of wood was cut down and burned centuries ago. Now the people are forced to use animal dung for fuel for cooking and heating purposes. The dung is dried out, and made into patty-cake-like portions for burning. The result is that fertilizers are not being restored to the soil.
The shortage of water is a serious problem for the 400,000,000 people of India. As in Australia, there is relatively little water available on the surface in India, but there is water underneath the surface which is being used to sustain agriculture. It is pumped to the surface, or drawn to the surface by means of bullocks which provide the motive power for lifting the water out of wells. In some instances, human beings perform this task. One sees water running along an open drain and human beings lifting it in bags to the next level. There is very little irrigation in India. Admittedly, a start has been made on the development of irrigation in that country, but these projects take time.
– Is not the largest dam in the world being constructed in India?
– Yes, but vast problems have to be overcome with irrigation. Large amounts of money have been spent on starting irrigation projects, and now the people are faced with the difficulty of trying to reclaim land because seepage difficulties are being encountered. One problem leads to another, and so it goes on.
The first thing that I think is necessary in India is technical education, and Australia is helping in that connexion. The people have to be taught to think for themselves. The people must be informed how to overcome their caste difficulties. Due to fatalism and their idea of reincarnation, they are quite prepared to be untouchable, and to remain untouchable. The people are prepared to put up with the system because they have not been taught to think for themselves. They have inherited certain religious beliefs. Because there is no organized church as we know it, they have not begun to understand the shortcomings of their centuries-old faiths and beliefs. Admittedly, the Government is doing its best with Hindu codes and so forth. It is trying to overcome the difficulties concerned with the status of women and has gone a long way towards doing so. Women are beginning to be taught their rights, but the problem is a colossal one in a country having such a huge population. One of the things that the Government is trying. in the villages, is to educate the people in the matter of family planning in order to check population growth. The many more mouths simply devour the results of increased productivity so there is nothing, more to be spread amongst the population.. The Government is making quite a good job of this activity. There is no religious prejudice against family planning. That is the first thing to be thankful for. But it is difficult to train an uneducated population how to go about this planning. One of the first things the Government did to assist in the family planning campaign was to issue some posters. One-half of a poster depicted a filthy home, ragged children and tired, unhappy parents; on the other side of the poster there were depicted a spickandspan home, two children and happy parents. The object of this poster was to indicate to the Indian people that it was better to have a small family and to have them healthy and happy. What was the response? Characteristic of their centuriesold thinking, the people said: “ The poor parents! They have only two children.” lt is a heart-breaking job to spread a family planning campaign amongst people who are not able to think for themselves.
In addition to grappling with these economic problems that were aired at Ecafe, and will continue to be aired at these forums, we are doing our bit under the Colombo Plan. Senator Kennelly asked a few minutes ago whose fault it is that things are as they are in these countries. All member nations are doing their best to help by providing assistance where it is needed under the Colombo Plan. A country that wants to obtain Colombo Plan assistance asks for that assistance and gets it. I think it is to Australia’s credit that the scheme was first thought of by an Australian, in the person of Sir Percy Spender, and we have been behind it very substantially since it was initiated. We have already subscribed £27,000,000 towards it. That is not a bad effort for a country of Australia’s population. Our contribution each year in the last three years has been valued at £5,000,000 - nowadays more particularly in technical aid than in economic aid. That, I think, is a good move, because when one goes through these countries one sees tractors and other agricultural machinery left to rust. So long as technicians are there to operate them and instruct the people how to repair them all is well; but when the technicians leave and the machines break down no one bothers to repair them. Technical aid is very important, whether we send our experts to the countries to instruct the people, or their students study in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting 1 had been outlining some of the economic problems confronting South-East Asia that had been discussed at the Ecafe conference at Broadbeach, and 1 had chosen India as the epitome of a country facing difficult times. I had been pointing out the need to educate the people of South-East Asia to the stage at which they can think for themselves and work out solutions to their own problems.
It is to the credit of Australia that an Australian initiated the Colombo Plan to which we have contributed £27,000,000 at an average of about £5,000,000 a year over the last five years. 1 understand our policy now is to replace the technical aid we have been giving with economic aid. During my recent visit to Asia I gathered the impression that the countries concerned would prefer that we sent them technicians who have some knowledge of the language and the conditions of the area in order to facilitate their assimilation into the community. In addition, it was suggested that some of the technicians’ salaries should be retained in Australia so that their standard of living in Asia would not be too far above the standard of living of the people with whom they were dealing. -»
Although Japan contributed to the Colombo Plan, she has her own problems which are different from those confronting India and most of the other Asian countries. Japan has developed to a greater extent than the other eastern countries, but most of her problems arise as a result of unemployment due to the fact that over 90.000,000 people are living in densely populated areas on very small islands, only 14 per cent, of which are arable. As a consequence, many Japanese have sought university education as an aid to obtaining employment. Tokyo alone has 78 universities, but a university degree apparently is not sufficient to ensure employment in Japan. I was told of many people who had completed a university course and had then continued with post-graduate work, but were still having difficulty in finding suitable employment. Japan has become industrialized at a terrific rate, and the standard of her goods is extremely high, but unless she can be assured of overseas markets, her unemployment problem will be aggravated. In addition, if the unemployment problem is not solved, the present democratic system of government could be overthrown. We must try to help Japan by importing more of her goods.
The Minister also referred to the Seato pact which, although primarily an antiaggression pact, covers the whole range of military, political, economic and social conditions. The Seato pact does not conflict with the Colombo Plan, but obviously those countries which, as a result of their participation in the Seato pact, must increase their defence preparedness, should also be assisted. They are facing certain economic stresses because of their defence commitments, and we should do our utmost to help them over their difficult times.
Although we are doing a tremendous amount to assist in the development and the propagation of the democratic system of government in South-East Asia, we should do more. We must educate our own people to tighten their belts, if necessary, and do everything possible to increase the rate of development of the Asian countries because, if they lose control of their own destinies, we shall experience great difficulty in defending our own land. We should consider the difficulties that would confront us if a war broke out in both hemispheres. To date, we have relied too much upon the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and have been content in the knowledge that they will remain our firm allies and friends. That is stretching fate too far. We must see to our own security because, if the United States of America and the United Kingdom were engaged in any war in the northern hemisphere they would not be able to assist us to any great extent.
One becomes quite frightened when one hears so many people voicing antagonism to the development of the most modern types of unconventional weapons. One has only to look at the map and see the extent of Australia’s coastline to realize the problem confronting us in defending our country. We experienced that difficulty during World War II. We must go ahead with the development of every possible form of defence because we must maintain our position in this era of jet aircraft, international ballistic and guided missiles. We must educate our people to make them realize that we must be prepared and that we must keep our defence equipment up to date. We need powerful friends, powerful weapons, powerful ships - supported by myriads of highly manoeuvrable torpedo boats - powerful aircraft and swarms of jet fighters capable of intercepting any potential enemy seeking to invade our shores. Hand in hand with our military preparedness, we must also develop our production units to the stage at which they can supply our defence forces with the necessary equipment. We should have nuclear reactors working throughout the country and, perhaps most important of all, we should encourage more and more scientists to devote their energy and time to research to fit them to advise the Government. A great deal of work must be done to encourage young people to study the sciences. Unfortunately, too often we find scientists frustrated in their efforts to carry out research - they never seem to be able to arrive at their destination.
At present a desperate battle is being waged within the country, over the country and around the country. I refer to the propaganda battle. During my visit to South-East Asia I was amazed at the volume of propaganda that is being poured into Asian countries by the Communists. They are winning the battle. A Communist delegation attended a conference at which I was present. The Communists have a knowledge of the language of the Asian countries, and they distribute leaflets and books to the people. I, as the Australian representative, had no hope of winning the propaganda battle against such odds. The Communists know the language, mix with the people and speak to them at a common level. T was able to speak only with those people who could understand me. If we do not give serious attention to the importance of propaganda, we shall face national suicide.
– It is very heartening indeed to find a statement by an Australian Minister for External Affairs which deals almost entirely with the situation in Asia. Most thinking people to-day realize that, just as theinterests of Great Britain are largely bound, up with the situation in Europe, so the interests of Australia are largely bound upwith the situation in Asia. I think we can. all agree with this statement which I took from the Minister’s words -
Asia is of vital importance to Australia, and. our policies must always take account of it.
I propose, however, to offer some criticism, of the attitude of the Government in regard to certain aspects of the Asiatic position and also the position in some other countries. In another part of his statement, the Minister says -
The Communist threat persists, and, in its. most malignant form, confronts us in the shape’ of subversion.
He therefore suggests to us that subversion is the grave danger to-day.
I want to begin my criticism by saying that if that is the opinion of the Government I regret the haste with which it decided some time ago to renew or restore diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. Those relations were broken off as the result of a commission of inquiry into what the government said was espionage of a grave character. In the recommendations of the commission that inquired into that espionage, the Government was advised that the laws relating to espionage in this country were in a most unsatisfactory state. The Government was advised that Great Britain had taken action to place the law against espionage, as far as she was concerned, in a satisfactory state. The implication was that the Australian Government was called upon to do the same.
This present Government has been under very serious criticism from certain sections over that inquiry, and the Government, in face of that criticism, has insisted that there was serious espionage and that the action that it took was justified. I therefore propose to ask: If the Government stands by its position, why has it taken steps to permit the Soviet Union to re-open its embassy without having done anything at all to bring into effect the recommendations of this commission? If the law is unsatisfactory, then we are to be exposed again to the same danger that we were exposed to some years ago. T regret that, when three judges, who can be regarded as men in whose view we should have confidence, have recommended that the Government take action to put the law in regard to espionage on a proper basis, the Government has failed to carry into effect that recommendation.
The people who were responsible foi .that inquiry are now coming back, and the Government has taken no steps to ensure that the law will be what it ought to be. 1 say, therefore, that the Government, in not taking action on this particular matter, has let down the people of Australia. Those people who have questioned the advisability of re-opening the Soviet Embassy are perfectly justified in the attitude they have taken. I say that the Government, to justify its stand some years ago on the Petrov commission, has an obligation now to take action at the earliest possible moment to put the espionage law of this country upon a proper basis. Unless the Government does so, it will continue to lay itself open to the criticism that some people levelled against it some years ago that, in regard to the Petrov com.msision, it was not sincere. 1 did not agree with that criticism, but I point out to the Government that it will not be able to blame more and more people for coming round to the view that it was not sincere if it does not take the action which was recommended by the judges in the report on the Petrov commission. Personally, I was sorry that so much haste was shown in this matter. I know that there are some people who will say that the renewal of these relations was justified as a step in the direction of peace. I do not agree with their attitude. 1 think that the cause of peace has been served more where we have shown firmness in regard to Communist dictatorships rather than in the cases where we have tended in the direction of appeasement. At any rate, those people who say that the Soviet Union is a great country and that we should have relations with it have an argument if they base it on the claim that the restoration of diplomatic relations will serve the cause of world peace. I have no time for the argument that we ought to renew relations purely because such a move will help our trade. We should never sell our security for trade, for money, or for anything else. If we are to have a reason for renewing relations with Communist countries, let it be a reason which at least has something of high principle in it, not merely a reason that it may be better for the pockets of some sections of the community in which we live.
Nor have I any time for the suggestion that has been made by some people who are endeavouring to support a renewal of relations that perhaps more of the new Australians who have come from the Soviet Union to our country will be able to get their relatives into this country. We have had ordinary diplomatic relations with other countries inside the Soviet bloc for years, and I suppose very few honorable senators have not had the experience of finding that it is almost impossible to get people out of those countries into Australia.
It has been suggested that probably when our Government agreed to the re-opening of the Soviet Embassy it made certain conditions in regard to the numbers of people who were to come out, what they were to do, and so on. I have never seen any definite statement that there were any conditions, and, personally, I doubt whether there were any conditions. I doubt whether any country, the Soviet Union in particular, would consent to re-open its embassy on the basis that there would be certain conditions. My own view is that, if a decision was made to re-open the embassy, it was a straight-out decision without tags, and without conditions and I regret that. I think that if the embassy is to be reopened there should be conditions, and I regret, also, as I have said before, that nothing was done to put the law against espionage on a sound basis before this decision was made.
The next matter - it is not referred to at very great length in the Minister’s statement - is that of the recognition of red China. We all know that at the moment there is a great drive by a section of the Australian community urging that we should recognize red China. The principal argument used is that recognition will be good for our trade and that, in particular, it will benefit the wool industry. As I said before, I do not think any country is wise at any time to sell security for money.
The big argument against our recognition of red China is that if we recognize her the democracies, will lose face in Asia. It will be taken by the countries that still hold out on our side as the first major step on the road to appeasement, and the move will be to get over on to the other side which they will believe is going to be the winning side. I think, therefore, that until red China indicates clearly that if she is allowed into the comity of nations she proposes to act according to the principles you expect from a country in the comity no action should be taken by Australia to recognize her. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), prior to the elections, gave what in my opinion, was a clear undertaking that there would be no recognition. The statement of the Minister for External Affairs does not seem to be as clear as that. He appears to suggest that there will be no recognition in the foreseeable future. I suppose there could be an argument that that is as far as he could go, but I should prefer a clear statement that there is to be no recognition. On the question of trade, of course, the argument in favour of recognition is much exaggerated. I recently heard a television session on which a gentleman appeared who had accompanied an Australian trade mission to the East. He did not indicate that any warm welcome would be given to Australian representatives by red China, and he suggested straight out that any people who thought that the dairying industry would benefit from trade with red China were suffering from illusions.
I would suggest that the argument is exaggerated in other respects. We have already been trading with red China, particularly through Hong Kong, for quite a few years. We might as well recognize that fact. We ought to recognize as well that questions of ideology do not worry the rulers of red China or Russia when they consider that the interests of their countries are concerned. If they want our wool they will buy it from Moscow or Peking without regard to whether we recognize them or have diplomatic relations with them or not. The suggestion therefore that they will become all comradely and at once endeavour to bolster up our economy by buying our products, provided we are nice to them, is a suggestion that is entirely out of touch with reality. Whatever honorable senators might say, when you conduct trade with other ordinary democratic nations, the economic motive is uppermost. There might be an underlying political motive, but usually in all cases the economic motive is uppermost. When you trade with a coun try that is part of the Communist bloc theeconomic motive is not uppermost. Tradeto the Communist group is a political, weapon. Being a political weapon, if you open up extensive trade relations with their countries, the Communists will use that fact as a political, weapon against you in every way they can.
Examples can be found in Burma and’ Siam. The Soviet Union and red China, had entered into trade relations, or trade agreements of a certain character with thosecountries, but they discarded those tradeagreements at the first moment that suited them, and at moments which could have had disastrous effects on the economies of those countries. The most amazing example, of course, occurred in the case of the agreements that red China made not solong ago with Japan. Trade delegations went to Japan and made trade agreementswith numerous Japanese firms. Japan is a country which must seek overseas trade, and naturally it welcomed the prospect of these trade agreements. Having made the agreements, red China tied these firms tothe prospect that the agreements would be carried out, but what did red China do? Just prior to the Japanese elections it warned the Japanese people that the agreements would be repudiated, with disastrous, results to hundreds of Japanese firms. Then red China stated that if, of course, the Japanese people in the election would elect a government favorable to red China ii would have another look at the agreements and would, in all probability, renew them. What does that mean? lt means that in the eyes of red China trade is a weapon to be used to dragoon other countries into tying, their policies to the policy of communism.
We have had an attempt in recent monthsto do the same thing in Australia. Under circumstances of most amazing secrecy, which even the Australian press has found’ it almost impossible to penetrate, we have had in this country a trade delegation from red China busily engaged in contacting Australian firms and trying to tie them toagreements for trade with red China, and all the time plugging the line to them that of course the very lucrative trade they could have with red China depended upon the Australian Government’s recognition of their country. Let anybody say that that was not the bargain. The bargain has been deliberately put before hundreds of Australian firms. It was that if those firms were prepared to press this Government to recognize red China, then there was a prospect of lucrative trade with that country. The delegation even went further. We have had inspired propaganda to the effect that the salvation of the wool industry lies in the recognition of red China. I repeat -clearly and distinctly that trade to the Communist bloc is a political weapon. The same delegation declined to be interviewed toy representatives of the Australian press; it tried to keep even the addresses at which members of the delegation were staying secret from the Australian press. The members of the delegation tried to keep all its activities under cover, lt was a political delegation disguised as a trade delegation, here for the purpose of attempting to use business firms in this country to twist the arm of the Australian Government to secure recognition of red China.
Some of the people who support this angle of recognition have pointed to Canada. They told us that Mr. Diefenbaker’: Government was a liberal-minded government in the best sense of the word. They said that it had not adopted this fanatically foolish attitude of non-recognition, that it realized that it had to talk with red China, that it was prepared to trade, and* that in that way it was different from the people in Australia who were opposing recognition. Mr. Diefenbaker was depicted as a person who would be 100 per cent, for recognition. Along with other honorable senators I attended a convention in Melbourne where Mr. Diefenbaker spoke after having made a tour of South-East Asia. He sounded the clearest possible warning to Australia and said that any negotiations with red China ought to be on the basis of guns on the table. In other words, he said that we ought to negotiate on the basis that we were probably going to be deceived or used up. He said that from what he had been told in Burma, Singapore and other places trade was used by red China as a political weapon. This man, who was supposed to hold the other point of view, warned Australia, after he had toured South-East Asia, to be very wary indeed of any trade approaches by red China. Shortly after he had left our shores we had the amazing situation of red Chirn endeavouring to influence the Singapore Government to alter its banking policy. The method used was to threaten that the trade which Singapore might need with red China would be withdrawn unless its banking policy was altered.
While red China uses trade as a political weapon there ought to be no welcome in this country for the secret trade delegation about which it seems so difficult to learn anything at all. I did see one statement, attributed to a senior official of the Department of Trade, that this delegation was here on the same basis as any delegation from any other country. Has a more laughable statement ever been made? When a delegation comes from an ordinary democratic country it represents, by and large, business organizations, many of a private character; but when a trade delegation comes to this country from red China it is a government delegation and I fail entirely to understand why there has been so much secrecy about this delegation. Obviously it is a government delegation, whose entry to this country must have been made possible through government sources.
I appeal to the Government, even at this late stage, to warn Australian firms which may have been approached by this delegation of the experiences of Japanese firms which were similarly approached. They might also be told that firms in Singapore, Burma and Siam were led into these agreements and cut adrift just when that would do them the most damage. I would say to Australian firms: When you make an agreement with a private firm in a democratic country you can at least go to law if it does not observe the agreement, but when you make a trade agreement with a government instrumentality from a Communist country you can do nothing if the agreement is repudiated. I hope that the Government will warn any Australian firms which have been approached by ‘his delegation that they undertake agreements at their own risk, and that firms which have done likewise in other countries have done so to their ultimate misfortune and sorrow.
I sometimes wonder how many Australians realize that, so far as trade is concerned, what we have to worry about in the near future is not so much whether we can sell things to red China as how we will be able to continue to sell in eastern markets when China’s increasing production enables that country to undercut our prices. That is what we have to worry about. Let us be quite clear about the fact that Chinese production is increasing hand over fist. As I said before, trade is a political weapon, and China will use her production to destroy the economies of countries that are not prepared to adopt the policies she wants them to adopt. China will have no hesitation about dumping, about underselling or about undercutting. Therefore what we have most to worry about is our own markets; about where we are going to sell things in the future in South-East Asia. I do not see any real prospect of trade, except in a few things, with China, and I certainly do not know what she can sell us that we would be prepared to take at the present time.
– Production for greed and not need ‘is doomed. ‘It .cannot compete.
– I would not re«gard red China as a .country where there is production for need and not greed. Experienced travellers who have been through the Soviet Union and red China have indicated that the man on the top is just as greedy, and gets just as big a share of the cake, as does the top man in countries such as our own. Instead of the men on top taking their return in the form of salaries, wages and so on, they get it in the form of rewards - for being the people who stimulate production; for being the people who act as the managers. One has only to look at the rewards that are received by the top men in the Soviet Union to-day to realize that there is very little difference between those emoluments and those of the men who ma the big industries in the United States. Anyone who has been to the ‘Soviet Union or red China will tell you that the worker is paid, not according to his need, but according to his work.
I am glad to see the interest that the Government is taking in events in SouthEast Asia. We must, of necessity, be very interested in that area. I fully approve everything that is being done to establish better relations with the peoples there. We have to cultivate better relations because better relations will make for peace. I approve the Colombo Plan. I approve our association with other countries in a number of such organizations, and I strongly approve what is being done to bring Asian students here and provide places for them at our universities and other educational institutions. Whether we like it or not, in the years to come we have to live with Asia, and we should offer every encouragement to countries that are prepared to be cooperative. I think that the people of Asia themselves have been deeply impressed, in recent weeks, by what has happened in Tibet. Tibet has been over-run. That means that the boundary of aggressive communism is now at the borders of India. That is a threat, a great threat, to the future of South-East Asia, but it is also a threat to the future of Australia. After all, in India there are hundreds of millions of people. Already there are very strong Communist influences in that country. They will be intensified because, right on the borders of India, will be the forces of aggressive communism, with all their power to threaten and cajole. No one can look at the situation in Asia to-day with very great happiness. It is a difficult situation. It is hard to see where it is going to end, but I think that it is a question of experience. I spoke along these lines before and some one on this side said that I was warmongering. I said that it was necessary to make a firm stand; that in Asia you could not retreat. I do not think that is warmongering at all. I think that experience has shown that where you make a stand you prevent war; that where you retreat and go .in for appeasement you make war inevitable. I hope that we will stand firm with the other countries that are prepared to stand firm in Asia. I hope that we shall not give way to the suggestions that are being made - unfortunately so often in this -country today - that we ought to sell out our security because it -might mean -money for us in the form of trade.
– The statement on foreign affairs which has been made by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) offers honorable senators one of the few opportunities presented to them to obtain information concerning the Government’s policy in this field. One of the things that I do deprecate is the lack of information that we, as a House, receive from governments regarding foreign affairs. I had hoped that our Foreign Affairs Committee, which has met for a number of years, would at least have been able to inform this, the States’ House, on these matters which are so vital to our welfare, not only to-day but in the future. No matter how well informed the members of that committee may be, unfortunately we back-benchers have very little opportunity to learn what is occurring or what is the Government’s policy on foreign affairs. So I welcome this opportunity for honorable senators on both sides of the chamber to express some of their views which, I suggest, would be tempered by sound judgment if they were in possession of some of the vital facts that I believe the Foreign Affairs Committee has. I do not see any reason why the Senate could not be taken into confidence a great deal more than it has been in the past.
When we consider Australia’s geographical position in the Pacific, it behoves each and every one of us Australians to take a vital and very keen interest in what is happening in our immediate neighbourhood. When I view our position in relation to Indonesia, Malaya, China, India, Tibet and Japan, excluding for the moment Europe and other parts of Asia and more particularly Antarctica, I am strengthened in my belief that the Government will furnish us with much more information than it has in the past.
I shall not touch upon the question of espionage and the Petrov report,, as did Senator McManus, because we have resumed diplomatic relations with Russia. I hope that we shall now be able to have direct talks about Antarctica, particularly in relation to the base that the Russians established, in Australian territory. As every one knows, that base was established during the International Geophysical Year, and it is apparent even to the layman that the- Russians have, very little inclination to give it up.
The recent meeting of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization in New Zealand highlighted the gaps in the defence structure of the Pacific. Both Great Britain and France now have very few interests in the- Pacific. Great Britain is interested in Hong Kong and the Solomons, and France’s possessions are very few. That forces us to the conclusion that America must, become largely responsible for
Pacific defence. India also is of vital importance and so, perhaps to a greater extent, is Japan. I think we have all noted the attitude of the supposed neutral States. Isolated neutral States in the present world situation, with the free democracies on the one hand and the Communist bloc on the other, are dangerous.
Both President Nasser and Mr. Nehru have criticized the West and regional defence posts. They have not been willing to enter into regional defence arrangements. They wanted, as they said, peaceful co-existence - the best of both worlds. To-day, communism stands on the doorstep of both of them. President Nasser, who wished to be the founder of the United Arab Republic, faces overthrow by the very friends whom he has courted in the Communist bloc. Mr. Nehru faces the abandonment of his neutrality. It is quite possible that Mr. Nehru will swing towards the Western camp.
I appeal to this Government to send, not only Mr. Casey and other responsible Ministers and members of the Parliament to the Near East, but also the Prime Minister to India and other nearby places to form friendships and to cement existing bonds of friendship between ourselves and India and those other places. I think such a visit is most important. We know that the Prime Minister intends to visit many countries during his overseas tour, but I hope he will be prevailed upon and will find time to visit India and some of our other near neighbours. In my opinion, such a visit by this great statesman would bring credit to Australia and the British Commonwealth generally.
Whether we like it or not, we must admit that communism has had a remarkable growth during the last decade. In India, communism controls the State of Kerala, and has done so for the last two years.
– What State was that?
– It is in south-east India.
– The State of Kerala has a population of 13,500,000. There are only 70,000 or 80,000 Communists there, but they have had control’ of that area for the past two years. They intend to retain their power by gaining control of all the village councils. In fact, they have a cell in every village, and they are concentrating upon getting control of the police and the judiciary. We must ask ourselves whether the other States in India will follow their example. So far, Mr. Nehru has acted as a brake, but we do not know who will follow him as leader. West Bengal and Bombay are both delicate spots and may swing towards communism.
Every day we read in the press that Russia wants to relax tension, that she wants to sit tight and maintain the status quo. On this question of the status quo there is a great difference of opinion between the West and the East. The Russian idea is that the economic and social revolution that has already taken place in Russia and China, and that is in the course of taking place in Asia and Africa, is the status quo and that any opposition that we of the free democracies may offer to the progress of that revolution is an attempt to change the status quo. In this regard, we have to consider two points. First, can Russia outdo the West technologically and economically? If it does so, countries which have a lower standard of living than we have naturally will turn towards Russia.
The supporting of hundreds of millions of Asians and Africans by way of economic aid is an enormous task. With regard to the question of economic aid. President Eisenhower, who, I think we can agree, is a very important man in world affairs, has stated that communism wants to exploit the world’s unrest by every possible means while it masquerades as the pattern of progress - economic equality for every one, and freedom from Western imperialism. I have heard from honorable senators opposite a great deal about Western imperialism, not all the comments being to their credit by any means. I point out that Western imperialism has been of wonderful benefit to the world generally. When we compare Western imperialism with Russian imperialism, if we are honest we must agree that Russian imperialism is so much worse that we do not want to see it in the world. President Eisenhower, in the course of the statement to which I have referred, went on to say -
The challenge to the free world is to convince the millions of people in less developed areas that they can have bread and the ballot, a right to choose their own way of living, to have social justice, progress and liberty.
I think that those are the aims of every one of us.
I turn now for a moment to Europe, because after all Europe plays a very important part in world events. If there is one thing that we need more than another it is a plan for the defence of the free world, including Australia. Russia will not agree to German unification, particularly if West Germany is equipped with nuclear weapons. It is not even certain that President Adenauer desires a unified Germany. Many complications arise when we discuss the question of a united Germany. France has to be considered in this respect. So, too, must the united Christian movement in West Germany a very powerful movement indeed. We all know of the influence that the church - I am speaking of the Christian church generally, not of any particular sect - exerts in world affairs, and we know how the church has suffered at the hands of communism. Moreover, France does not want a Germany that is stronger than she is. So, the reunification of Germany presents many difficulties.
Russia desires recognition of East Germany by the Western nations. Russia’s problem in this regard is to avoid provoking a war over Berlin. We know that Russia wants to control Berlin, lock, stock and barrel. The question we must ask ourselves is: Can Herr Ulbricht blockade the free city, and if he does so, will his action spark off a revolution similar to that of 1953, when a third world war was almost provoked, when the East Germans looked towards the West Germans for aid, and when Russian tanks ruthlessly mowed down people who wanted to throw off the Communist yoke? Herr Brandt, who, as mayor, controls West Berlin, says that if Ulbricht blockades West Berlin he will encourage anti-Communist riots in the eastern zone.
We must remember that the West has not so far made any attempt to exploit the Russian difficulties in the eastern zone. This would open up vast possibilities, should Russia force the Berlin issue. Russia dare not go too far on the Berlin question lest the prospective communistic action in Asia and Africa be affected. It is my opinion that one of the factors that will prevent war over Berlin is that the Communists have other game to catch, if I may put it that way, in both Asia and Africa. Russia does not want to scare the game away. Only recently, Nehru and Nasser have seen the veil torn aside from the communistic designs, and they have realized the peril in which they find themselves. Countries in Africa and Asia could find themselves in similar peril. Although Khrushchev is endeavouring to stir up all the strife and trouble that he can in those places, he dare not go too far.
Turning from Europe, I think that we need to have a very good look at our relations with China. I listened with a great deal of interest to Senator McManus, but 1 think we must face the facts. Of course, we have also to consider the position of Chiang Kai-shek. Again, this is a matter on which we have little information. If we had more authentic information we would be in a much better position to decide what our attitude should be. So far as our defence is concerned, we have to be candid. We cannot deny the existence of the hydrogen bomb. Some people tell us that if we did not make hydrogen bombs or have them ready to be used, we would be safer than we are now. But would we? We know that the hydrogen bomb exists and that Russia has it. Because Hungary wanted to get rid of communistic rule, Russia massacred the 61ite of the Hungarian people. I suggest that if we in the free world were as helpless as the Hungarians, we would suffer the same fate as they did if we did not have the hydrogen bomb.
As we view this question and think of our own safety and that of the people who will follow us, we realize that Communist propaganda, teaching Communist aims, is spreading throughout the world. We know that in our own country there are some men and women who are obsessed with these ideas. They talk and preach the gospel of communism and many Australians think they are not bad fellows at all. But when we face realities we see that these people are being fooled and gulled by Communist propaganda. When we realize what is happening to the rest of the world I agree with Senator McManus that we need to be certain that there is no espionage in this country if it is possible to prevent it.
I am quite in agreement with the Government’s aim of giving economic assistance to our near neighbours. The Government is to be congratulated not only upon supplying money, which after all is a valuable gesture, but also on sending materials. In addition men and women with the knowhow go to train the natives in the Asian countries how to utilize the machines that we send them as well as the machinery which comes from other countries. We are doing this to enable them to raise their standard of living. I agree also with Senator McManus with regard to the exchange of our students. The closer and better the understanding we can have with our near neighbours the better it will be for each and every one of us.
Many of our pre-conceived notions and ideas will have to go by the board. We cannot look to Europe in the future for our defence. Of course, I hope that such a need will never arise. I am hoping that in the years to come we will be able to live at peace with our neighbours so that our standard of living will be improved and we may help these peoples to raise their standard also.
I am not at all worried about the suggestion that Australia may have hundreds of millions of Chinese coming to it. Nor am I worried about the supposed teeming millions in China. The fact is that nearly all those teeming millions live on river flats which are extraordinarily fertile, close to the coast of China. In China there are enormous areas of better country than the arid interior of Australia. But these teeming millions receive their food and sustenance from the sea. Fish is their staple diet. We have not a great expanse of fishing ground around Australia, so the thought of these people coming here en masse does not worry me very much at all. I do not think that there will be any great influx of them. If they want to live in semi-arid areas they have plenty of that country in their own country.
I am delighted that the Government has given honorable senators the opportunity to discuss foreign affairs, even to some small extent. I hope that in the future many more ministerial statements of this kind will be presented to the House, so that each and every one of us may gain a better knowledge of what is happening around us. This will help us to temper our opinions with sound judgment and correct information will guide our actions and cause them to be reflected in benefit to Australia.
– Mr. Deputy President, we are discussing a statement which was made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in the other chamber and printed; then the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) kindly read it to us in this chamber. May I suggest to the honorable senator that that was pretty good training. He will become nearly as garrulous as the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) is when he is answering questions, if he continues with training of the sort he received in reading this eleven-page statement.
The extraordinary thing is that the statement contains an enormous number of words but very little information at all of any value. From this statement it appears that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) had some appointments and he took a tour. He went from one place to another and this statement is practically a synopsis of the visits he made, with one or two little rambles in between. First the Minister went to the conference of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East held at Broadbeach in Queensland. I have never visited the place where it was held but I have been told that it is very pretty. Consequently, we are not told too much about what they did there. We get a little of it, which I will deal with presently.
Next, according to the statement, the Minister paid an official visit to Japan. Senator Buttfield went out of her way to explain some things in connexion with Japan, such as shaking hands and meeting people. Those whom the Minister met were in the same category as himself because they were Ministers of the Crown and so on. It must have been of marvellous benefit to Japan hut we do not know what benefit it was to Australia because he does not say much about it.
Then he went on an official tour of Korea. According to the statement the Minister met the dictator of Korea and had a chat there in connexion with conditions in Korea. Then he tells us that Korea has a standing army of about 600,000 men and that because they are kept in service the economy of Korea is in a deplorable state. That is about as far as the Minister goes. He does not tell us much more about it. If we are to learn a lesson from this part of the statement it seems that the best thing that Korea can do is to disband that army and put the soldiers to work to produce something useful and in that way the economy of Korea will be improved. That is a reasonable conclusion to draw from the Minister’s own statement.
Apparently the Minister then attended the annual Seato conference at Wellington, New Zealand. He gave us very little information about that conference because he said it was a secret session, so naturally the matters discussed during that secret session cannot be made public. The Labour movement has been complaining for many years about the great secrecy in diplomatic circles throughout the world. The Minister made a grand tour, and the meagre report before us is the result. He mentioned nothing at all about the difficulties confronting Africa; nothing at all about the difficulties confronting the Arabian countries; nothing at all about the difficulties confronting India, and only passing reference to the Colombo Plan as affecting member countries of Seato. Referring to the conference held at Broadbeach, Queensland, the Minister said -
Seventeen Asian countries were represented at this Ecafe conference and seven non-Asian countries. In addition, ten other countries sent observers. Eight United Nations specialized agencies and fifteen non-governmental organizations were also represented. Including 27 members of the Ecafe Secretariat, the total numbers attending were 220.
I think it was Senator Buttfield who said that when the new Parliament House is built we should make this building a meeting place for such conferences. Unless some alterations are made, it would be impossible to fit 220 delegates into either this chamber or the chamber of the House of Representatives.
The Minister also commented on the way in which the conference was organized, and said that he, and the other delegates, were inspired by the way in which the problems were tackled by the conference. He said that one of the issues of particular importance discussed by the conference was the population problem and that the conference did not arrive at any decision about the problem but left its solution to each country concerned. That information is not new to us. Long before this conference met we knew that some Asian countries had taken steps to restrict their population in accordance with their beliefs, religious and otherwise. The Minister said -
An effort must be made to allow the great and growing human potential of the region to be more effectively utilized. This can only be done through the provision of capital equipment and technical training. The Australian Government is already providing aid of this kind, especially through the Colombo Plan.
With the Minister’s words in mind, let me refer to India which, for many years, was controlled by Great Britain. She provided the technical equipment and everything else necessary to assist India’s expansion and development. Some Indians were taken to the schools and universities of Great Britain, and some were even sent to France and Germany to be educated. The historians have told us that the Indians were educated to enable them to control India’s affairs and solve her problems. At the same time, Great Britain continued exploiting the Indian nation. When the Indians completed their education in Europe, they returned to their own country and said, “ We can now hunt the British from India and exploit our own people. We have had the advantage of an education made possible by the people who previously controlled us.” If the capital equipment and technical training to which the Minister has referred are provided, we shall find the nation being exploited by the few. Why can not Asian countries manufacture their own capital equipment? If the labour and materials are available, lack of capital should not stand in the way. The internal credit of the nation can be used to meet any expenditure.
– How will the labourers be paid for their work?
– They will be paid with the capital supplied by the inhabitants, on much the same basis as applies in Australia. The money will be available by internal borrowing. However, the Minister’s statement contains no suggestion as to how the Asian countries will be able to develop by using their own resources.
The Minister then made some reference to the Mekong Valley project. He said -
The Mekong is one of the world’s great rivers . . The project for its development affects four countries, Thailand, Cambodia, Viet Nam and Laos . . . The Mekong Valley scheme is a multi-purpose project which will seek to deal with navigation, flood control, water conservation, irrigation and power generation. It will benefit 17,000,000 people living along the Mekong Valley.
The scheme seems to be extraordinary. Apparently the four countries mentioned will be concerned in the project. According to the Minister for External Affairs, Australia’s contribution to that great work is, not money, but £100,000 worth of expert advice and equipment!
– But that is a free gift.
– It is extraordinary! But the Minister goes further and says that it will take five years to get the scheme started! What is to become of the people who are suffering the degradation of despair and starvation at the moment? The Minister says nothing about them. So that all we have is a statement about something which is to be done in the future, long after we are gone. It is a reference merely to an ideal, and Australia is to contribute £100,000 worth of expert advice and equipment towards something that is to be bigger than the Tennessee Valley scheme in America and much bigger than the small Snowy Mountains scheme in Australia. Why, that £100,000 is only about twice as much as the increase the Government proposes to give to parliamentarians in Canberra!
Later in his statement the Minister refers to the Communist threat. Senator McManus dealt with that, and I suppose it will be mentioned also by one or two other honorable senators who look only with one eye and see nothing but communism all the time.
– It is better than not seeing at all.
– Senator Mattner is one-eyed. All he sees is communism. He says that in one particular place 13,500,000 people are being ruled by only about 700,000 communists. Why, here in Australia we have 100,000 active members of the Liberal Party, and they are ruling a population of 10,000,000. Talk about one-eyed individuals! Here in Australia the people are ruled by less than 10 per cent, of the population; but it is a different matter in the country to which Senator Mattner referred because somebody, at some time or other, called the ruling party Communists. That makes the system entirely wrong there, yet it is quite all right here where, although the economy is different, the principle is the same.
The Minister for External Affairs then went on to say -
As honorable members will know-
This is the first intimation of it - the Australian Government has had a programme of Seato defence support. Under this programme, the Australian Government has undertaken commitments up to a total of £3,000,000.
He tells us that the scheme was introduced in 1956, but when we suggested at the time that Seato would be used for defending other countries, the Minister stated that Seato had nothing to do with defence at all, that Seato’s main purpose was to provide opportunities for discussions relating to technical advice and the helping of one another. Now the Minister tells us that Australia has commitments totalling £3,000,000 for a Seato defence programme. Is this for the purpose of defending SouthEast Asian countries, or is it for the defence of Australia? I submit that it will not be used for either purpose, that it will be used for the encirclement of China by the SouthEast Asian countries. That this is so is verified later in the Minister’s statement. He does not say so outright, but he does say that with the encirclement of China by eleven countries the defence position right up to the Philippines can be used for certain purposes. And the Government wonders why we quarrel with the use of Seato in this way!
I think I have said sufficient to impress upon the Minister for External Affairs that when he makes a statement on behalf of his department we want something more informative, not a rambling statement covering eleven pages about a four or five weeks’ tour of certain countries with just a smattering of information here or there.
Those honorable senators who have supported the Minister for External Affairs have made some extraordinary statements. Senator Buttfield said that we must help to educate the people of Asia so that they will be able to think for themselves. Why, one would think that they cannot think at all now! What she means, of course, is that they should be educated to our system of society so that they will think and act in the way in which the Government wants them to do. That has been the Government’s policy for years. That is what happened in India until the Parsees, Hindus and others took over and there was what might be called an industrial revolution in India which resulted in the withdrawal of England. Of course, England still has investments in India and certain commitments have to be met, but as certain people are getting a cut out of it you do not get much further in regard to India. Now it is suggested that we should educate the people of India to our way of thinking, and that they should be educated to a system of society similar to ours, but I submit that once they are educated and start thinking for themselves they will immediately be branded Communists unless they remain subservient to the Western world. If they do not submit to the dictates of the Western world, they will soon find an army at their doorstep.
What has happened in all those countries about which we heard the little one-eyed versions to-day?
– Your versions would not be one-eyed, would they?
– Every version we have heard from the Government side has been one-eyed. Why, a barracker at a football match is not in it compared with honorable senators on the Government side. Most of the countries to which they referred were educated according to Western ideologies. Perhaps the country in the centre of the circle - China - was not, but all the countries on the outskirts of China and Russia were educated in the ways of Western economies. They send their people to the universities and schools of the Western world. When the students return they apply the education they have acquired to their own particular ideology and not in accordance with the ideas of the Western world. Immediately they do that they are traduced all over the Western world as being Communists and we get propaganda about things that are happening in these countries.
I heard Senator McManus say, during his speech, “You know what happens to the top dog in the western world “, but apparently he did not hear the interjection, “They cut their heads off.” Senator McManus said that they get a higher screw than the other fellows whom they exploit within their own ideology. When they do that over there they are entirely wrong, but if it is done here in Australia, it is quite right. The higher paid man in Australia uses his brain power for the purpose of making a profit out of the application of labour and machinery to industry generally. That is quite right in this country, but in some other countries - Russia for example - it is entirely wrong, according to the one-eyed people here. The same applies to red China.
We talk about offering education facilities to people from other countries. Are we educating them so that they can think for themselves, as Senator Buttfield said, or to persuade them to adopt our way of thinking? They come to universities in Australia where they are taught, as they would be taught in Great Britain or in America, to think in terms of our economy, which is an exploitation economy. There is no question about that. If it were not an exploitation economy there would not be 70,000 unemployed people walking about and not knowing from where they will get their next crust. If we expect that the students who come here and are educated in accordance with our economy will apply that education back in their own countries when they start to think for themselves, we are making a great big mistake. What will happen is the same as has happened in all of the Communist bloc countries. Anybody who looks around with both eyes, and not with one eye only, will not lightly make the statement that it is wrong for the Communists to use all sorts of force for the purpose of making some countries around them do what they want them to do. I have heard people talking about Hungary in the past and I hear them talk about Tibet at the present time, but they have shut their eyes to what goes on in western countries. What about Lebanon, Syria and those places? Do honorable senators think that armies went into those countries just to protect the people there? Not on your life! They went in there to protect the economic investments in those countries. The people of those countries have to conform to western ideals or else the western powers will put in their armies to protect the economy.
When the economy of some of these countries was inclined to shift towards another ideology, the American army went into one country and the British army into another. The same thing has happened in the Sudan. If honorable senators look at these things properly with both eyes open they will see that both the western and Communist countries are in exactly the same category. This trouble is going on in the world to-day. The whole world is in a state of turmoil simply because the capitalist system, as we know it, has grown into more or less a dictatorship of monopolies and cartels. People are beginning to wonder how they can alter the position. They are getting less and less of the production of these capitalist countries while the few nobs at the top are getting a great rake-off from the stuff that is being produced by the multitudes. It is not so noticeable here in Australia, but it is apparent in other countries if you care to look at them. You can see it happening in Arabia to-day. Princes there have millions of pounds to spend - never mind how they spend it! One prince will be cut down and another prince or a sheikh will bob up. He may not get quite as much as the first man got. He may distribute some of the money amongst his people a little more until the time comes, of course, when the people protest again. This sort of turmoil is going on all the time.
– Is this the Labour Party’s foreign policy that you are stating?
– I am speaking about foreign policy. Some speakers have related their remarks even to the south pole, and some have spoken about the north pole, but it all comes under the subject of foreign policy. The subject of ideologies comes under the aegis of foreign policy. The struggle I have mentioned is going on in the world, and I am pointing this out to honorable senators so that more can be done to help Asian countries than is done by just talking about aiding them in some way. Mention has been made in this report of giving technical assistance, or a paltry £100,000, to these countries, but it is necessary to understand just what is going on throughout the whole world in order to find out what the position will be in Australia in the final analysis.
Things are going on in South-East Asian countries which are handy to Australia. To-morrow, 1 think, the Indonesian people will be going to the poll. If they vote for a socialistic government to-morrow, you can take it from me that the Australian Government will immediately brand them as Communists and probably will have no more to do with them. It would probably cut off trading with Indonesia. The point I am making is that the people in these countries are being dictated to by the Western world, which seeks to tell them exactly what they should do in relation to its investments in their countries.
One honorable senator said to-night that the difference between the Communist and the non-Communist countries is that Communist countries use trade for the purposes of Communist propaganda. That is a oneeyed approach to the matter. That sort of thing is going on all over the world to-day. I have already mentioned Lebanon and other countries. Those countries had to do what they were told because of a threat of armed force. Honorable senators know what happened in Italy immediately after the war. The armed forces of some of the allied nations dictated to the people of Italy what they should do. They had to vote a certain way in order to get assistance. The same thing is happening in other parts of the world. Senator McManus quoted a statement made by Mr. Deifenbaker with reference to our trading with Russia and other Communist countries. If that statement applies to Communist countries, it applies also to the Western world. You do not make a song about it. Oh no, the propaganda is not against the Western economies; it is against the Communist economies. Yet the Communist ideology is spreading throughout the world. Why? Simply because you are exploiting, in accordance with Western plans, the people of nations that we call backward.
As for trade agreements with Communist countries, one would think that there was some redress if agreements with other countries - even in the Western world, including former allies - were repudiated, but there is not. Do honorable senators mean to tell me that before the last war there was any redress when repudiation occurred as between Germany and Great Britain, and other countries? There was no redress, in any court. Honorable senators suggest that trade agreements are all right with Western countries, but not with Communist countries.
Not so long ago we went to war with Germany. At present one hears propaganda, aided and abetted by this Government, which is designed to build up West Germany. An honorable senator mentioned the free market - very briefly it is true - doubtless because the Government and itsfriends are building up West Germany for all they are worth. They will give Germany the necessary fighting material. They have even arranged, up to a point, for nuclear weapons to be put at Germany’sdisposal - for what purpose, if not to fight Russia? I suppose that it will not be very long before we shall be told that Australia must raise a contingent to fight beside the Germans, who were so frightful as our enemies during the last war, and during the war before that. We will be asked to go arm in arm with these people to fight Russia, which was our ally in the last war and which, together with the other great powers, caused Germany to break. Now we, as a Western nation, are part and parcel of the effort to build up West Germany once more so that she may conduct a war against Russia.
Why did we go to war with Germany? It was simply because Germany repudiated some agreements. It wanted to expand its trade further and wider than was acceptable. We would not let Germany do it and raised armies to stop her. Camouflage was provided, to the effect that Germany was a fascist dictatorship, but that country is. being built up again. We see there the same state socialist movement rising once more. To-day, of course, we are told that Germany is a democracy; that Russia is the fascist, or Communist-dictated country. That being so, we are asked to go to war with the Communists. You cannot go towar with communism. Communism is an ideology. Government supporters use the word “ Communist “ to describe any one who differs from them, but in the final analysis, by way of trade, or by way of arms, the people of the world are going to take possession of the world themselves and use it for the purpose of benefiting all the people, and not just a few individuals. We must realize that fact, and the moment that we do we shall be able to institute a policy based on fact, instead of some dreams of the future - such as one finds in this statement by the Minister for External Affairs.
In conclusion, I would point out that the whole world is changing. In actual fact it is undergoing a revolutionary process. Some people might call the process evolutionary, but whether that is so or not one sees distress and convulsion in almost every corner of the globe. There is trouble in Africa - all over Africa. There is trouble in Asia - all over Asia. There is trouble in Arabia. There is trouble in Europe, and there is trouble in America. The whole world is undergoing a convulsion, and out of that convulsion will come something better than the world in which we are living at the moment. It behoves us to take note of just what is happening.
One finds a change in the economic sphere, though one does not always see it clearly in this country because Australia has a Liberal-Australian Country Party Government which is forever talking private enterprise and giving it an open go. But the day of reckoning is coming - and it is not far distant. In all countries there is a convulsion in the political field also. This all leads to the conclusion that there has been a distinct change of thought throughout the world. It means that the people are going to do their best to alter the economy, one way or the other. If it goes the Western way it will be either by force of arms or because of the education of which Senator Buttfield spoke. If it goes the other way it will be the result of the degradation and despair into which the people have fallen. The little education that they have will be sufficient to cause them to think for themselves. Then there will be an upset through the length and breadth of the world which will institute an economy and ideology other than that which we are trying to bolster to-day.
.-~I welcome the presentation of this paper, because it gives us an opportunity to offer whatever ideas we may have on foreign affairs. I begin by saying that I feel profoundly ignorant concerning Asia.
I was reproached by an honorable senator opposite because on the last occasion when a debate like this occurred I left Asia and discussed Africa and Europe, about which I knew something. Moreover, I considered it relevant.
These debates can be very valuable if we all approach them with some humility. I do not think that the requirements of this topic are adequately met by a speech such as we have just heard - full of dogmatism, of assertion, and of accusations of bad faith on the part of every one on this side. I think I may say with justice that Senator O’Flaherty’s speech, except for the last three minutes or so, in which he offered a little hope and tried to build up a picture of the future, was characterized by something to which we are now accustomed - the snapping, sneering and snarling which is his stock in trade. I intend to approach the matter in a totally different way. I begin by saying that I feel I know little of Asia and that I cannot find the means of learning enough about Asia to be sure of the worth of any particular policy.
What is certain in history is this: Over the centuries, what we call Asia stretched from Persia right across to the coast. I think the Levant - what is called the Near East - is largely Europeanized. We had a very distinguished statesman here from Lebanon and I had the good fortune to listen to him in committee. When he had finished speaking, I said to myself, “ This man is not an Asian; he is a European through and through “. But China, Japan, India and what we now call Indonesia have grown up under civilizations that are so utterly different from the European civilization to which we belong that we arc only beginning to understand them. For that reason. I am not coming out with any certain assertion that our policy is right. I regard it as being tentative - something that we are trying to do in order to fit into our place in the new world.
Apart from some accounts of the travels of the Minister for External Affairs, the statement that was presented to us dealt with two institutions - the South-East Asia Treaty Organization and the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. The latter organization represents an attempt to help certain countries - to give economic help to the backward countries of Asia, to give them some capital, to give them some technical assistance, to give them technical training and other forms of education. Our contribution is small. However, it is necessary, because we must enter into the partnership. It is a partnership of the whole West, as we call it - the Europeanized countries. Of course, America being the richest country, she must carry the biggest share. But it is necessary for us to put in our little widow’s mite, because we cannot expect America to shoulder the huge burden that her taxpayers bear unless we make some contribution. That is where I think the value of our contribution comes in. We are showing that we are part of the team that is trying to develop Asia. It is not the exact value of what we give that counts, but the fact that we put in our part.
The other institution is, frankly, a defence institution. Whatever attacks may be made on the Minister for External Affairs, on the Cabinet and on our policy, 1 am quite sure that if the Australian Labour Party were returned to office to-morrow it would continue that policy. No seriousminded man on that side of the chamber would think of altering Seato. Even though I am dismayed when I think of certain honorable gentlemen opposite ever sitting on this side of the chamber, I know there are enough responsible people in the Labour Party to see that our present policy in regard to Seato is not reversed. So why should we have all this talk from a gentleman who certainly would not be Minister for External Affairs and whose advice, I should think, would never be sought by anyone who administered that portfolio?
It is true, as we have been told, that we are in a new age. A great many extravagant statements are made as to how we should face it. Some gentlemen - one of them happens to be a supporter of the Government in another place - say that we are all Asians. That may be a rhetorical statement intended to arrest people’s attention and to get them to think about the matter; but we are not Asians, and we do not want to be Asians. Our immigration policy shows that. We are in the European tradition and we intend to retain that tradition. But we know there are people in Asia who have a good tradition and a culture of their own, and we should attempt to understand their tradition.
If we are to do that properly, I believe we should begin with sound information from people who understand Asia. It is necessary that we should institute at some university or other to begin with, and perhaps ultimately at all of them, schools of study on Asia. That, I imagine, will be one of the main duties of the Universities Commission that is to be established. 1 believe that those schools should be thorough-going. I believe that we should have the more important Asian languages taught in our universities, not as compulsory subjects, not to replace the European languages or any of the studies we call the humanities, but to give to those who are interested in Asia a solid basis of knowledge. I believe those schools should teach the languages, history, literature and the other arts.
I have heard it said that history can be taught without knowing the language. Well, you may do so, but unless you know the language of a country you are apt to be very much led astray. That is particularly so in regard to Asian countries where the mode of thinking is so different that it can hardly be translated. I know some Europeans who know something about the Chinese language, but I have never yet met a European who could talk to me about China as any educated European in Europe could talk about other countries of Europe. We simply cannot translate the Chinese language into English as we can French, German, Italian or Spanish; it represents a totally different mode of thought and is extremely difficult for any of us to grasp. That is the kind of fundamental study we should begin with. Until that is done, I deplore efforts that are made by well-meaning people to alter our education system, with half-baked attempts to understand Asia by teachers who do not understand it and who have been taught by people who do not understand it. When we have schools of oriental studies at our universities and when we have trained teachers and other teachers who are trained by them, possibly we will have the kind of education that will enable us to understand Asia as some of us understand Europe.
I do not say for one minute that we should not teach children in the elementary schools the doctrine of the good neighbour, that we should not teach them in a simple way, as the parable of the good Samaritan is taught, that the Chinese, the Japanese and Indians are our neigbours; but let us not attempt to say that they are exactly like us or that their problems are exactly like ours. That is why I deplore the last speech that was delivered. I limit my remarks to the last speech, because that is the only one delivered on the other side of the chamber on this matter that I can recall. I deplore any attempt to look at the Asian problem as being a purely economic problem to be judged from the Marxian angle, and to say that all the problems of Asia simply result from exploitation by European countries.
Let us be frank. There has been exploitation from European countries. As 1 know the history of those countries from the European angle, 1 would be the last to deny it. Let us take India, about which we know something, lt is true that the East India Company, which went to India to trade, made treaties with little local rajahs, had armed forces, and then suddenly found itself in possession of an empire. It did not go out to conquer that empire; it suddenly found it there. Why was that? This, I think, is part of the answer to a question that was asked by Senator Kennelly. When the position of the Indians and other Asians was discussed, he asked, “ Whose fault was it? “ To a very large degree, it was the fault of the people who lived in those countries. When Clive, Hastings and these other fellows in India suddenly conquered an empire, they did so because it was completely rotten and was falling to pieces. The Great Mogul, a descendant of the conquering Muslims, who had come in and given some degree of law and order, suddenly became impotent. The local rulers became independent and fought with one another. Most of them were corrupt. They were feeble and really could not fight, and it became a contest between the French and the British for possession. The British won. Then the British Government came in and gradually took over.
Even in what is called exploitation there was a great measure of good for the people. I shall give an example. The East India Company was unable to govern the country, and it happened that Mr. Pitt, the brilliant young man of 24 years of age who assumed control of Britain’s affairs, needed the support of a Scot named Henry Dundas. The Scottish constituencies in those days were very small. Some of them consisted of half a dozen men. They were all what might be called pocket burroughs. Needing the support of Dundas, Pitt made him chairman of the board that was set up under the government to control India. Scotland, being a needy country, as Dr. Johnson was pointing out at that time, and the best road being the high road to England, Dundas appointed many needy Scots to positions in India, where they transformed the affairs of that country. They set up banks, trading companies and factories, and became largely the rulers of the country. Having good positions and being able to make money, they retired early, as nabobs, to the old country. But they did not create the conditions under which India operated. On the contrary, they brought law and order, and a degree of honesty into commerce that had never been there before. The real exploitation of India was by Indians, and still is. Any one who has been in India will find that that is what the average Indian believes.
Then the British went from India. Honorable senators will remember how they went. Some of us may have heard a very able British statesman deliver, last Sunday night, one of the finest talks that I have heard on this new device of television. I refer to Earl Attlee. He told us how the British went from India. He said that the Indians talked and talked and talked. They said. “We want self-government”. Then, suddenly, his government stated, “ You will get it “. and the Indians would not believe him. They still haggled and went on talkins. They wanted the British Raj to remain there, but Attlee set a date. He sent to India a most able man, Lord Mountbatten. He said to Mountbatten, “ You make it quite clear to them that, by that date, the British power goes, and that if they are not able to control the country it will be their responsibility “.
After the initial troubles, such as over the partition of Kashmir between Pakistan and India, the Indians have so far done reasonably well. Why have they done well? Because of the training that the British Raj, for 200 years, had given them; because the men who stepped into the positions of the former rulers of India were Indians trained in the British school. Nehru himself is a product of an English school and an English university. If you talk to him, Mr. President, he seems to be the most completely Europeanized man you could meet. He understands your thoughts and speaks the language you speak. There is something else behind that you do not understand. There is the Kashmiri-Brahmin, which may be a more fundamental thing, but he does understand British methods. Below him, there is a whole army of trained public servants. I happened to be, in 1947, in the room of the then head of one of the leading departments, and I said to him, “ When you go, who will take charge? “ He replied, “ Oh, the gentleman in there “. The “ gentleman in there “ was an Indian, trained in the British school and trained in that tradition of honesty which Great Britain brought to India, after centuries of chicanery in every department of life. I hope and believe that those two countries, of which I understand something, India and Pakistan, will endure. They will endure only if they have sufficient people who know the art of self-government.
People talk about whether a government is democratic or not. It must be remembered that democracy, as we understand it, is a European invention. There may have been something resembling it somewhere in Asia - I feel profoundly ignorant of Asia - but from what I have read of Asia I can find no trace of democracy anywhere. The rule everywhere seems to be feudal, or something resembling what we call feudalism in the Middle Ages. Democracy was a gradual growth. The first democracies, of course, were the Greek city states. Now and then, representative institutions were to be found springing up in most European countries. For instance, some of the Italian States became little self-governing republics; but it was in the British Isles, more than anywhere else, that representative government was invented. And how slow a growth it was! At first, there was the representative body meeting and petitioning the King, then getting the power to vote money, and finally, the power to pass bills. But every now and again there was a reactionary movement that seemed to be a return to absolute monarchy, until finally, in 1689, the House of Commons was firmly established, not as a democracy, but as a governing body which in some way represented the people of the British Isles. From that has come the self-government of the whole British Commonwealth.
With all our faults, we in this chamber and the other place understand this art of self-government. We understand that certain principles and certain rules must always be observed. We understand that, however much we may attack one another as parties or as individuals, there is a limit beyond which we would never think of going, and everybody knows that we will not do so. We all feel that, although there are parties opposing one another and pushing one another in and out of office, underneath there are always certain fundamental principles which make for the common good. Those principles have to be developed in the countries of Asia if they are to have what we call democracy. It may be that, if these Asian traditions are deeply rooted, and if they represent the real will of the people, the system that evolves will not be democracy as we understand it. It may not be the sort of representative government that we understand.
Let me take one country of which, as I say, I have some little understanding, because I have known a good number of the people who belong to it. That country is Pakistan. Pakistan is not a democracy in our sense of the term. We have seen changes of government there. I have been told privately by a former member of this Senate - I had better not mention his name, but he was a very brilliant member of the Senate who was with us for a year or two and then left us - that some of those changes in Pakistan took place at the end of a gun. Yesterday afternoon, I had the privilege of hearing a most distinguished gentleman from Pakistan, a learned scholar, not a politician, who understands his country. He said, “ We have had these changes of government. Some of them have taken place in ways that you would not approve of, but we have never changed our foreign policy. You can depend on us.” I believe that we can.
That brings me to another point about ideologies, or systems of belief, which is a better term. There is one system of belief that I think I can understand fairly well, and that is Mohammedism or Islam. I must express my understanding of it very carefully, because I should hate to say anything that would be offensive to an honest believer in that faith. Any one who has dipped into the Koran, as I have - in translation, unfortunately, and I hope it is a good translation - must see that it bears, in much of its teaching, a very great resemblance to the Jewish Old Testament and to the Christian New Testament. There is a great similarity between much of the ethical teaching of Islam, of Judaism, and of Christianity. I think that that is one of the things that makes the Muslim easier to understand. I would not attempt to give any kind of explanation of Hinduism, because that is a most intricate system of belief. If you go to see some of the villages where the uneducated worship, or if you visit some of the temples where the unthinking go, you may form a very low opinion of that system of belief; but it you study some of the writings, or if you listen to some of the better-type Hindus, you feel that there must be in it some basis of belief which has a great ethical content. We may think that, from out point of view, Buddhism is harder still to understand.
The point I am making is that if our foreign policy is to be effective, we must not only build up institutions such as the two I have referred to, but we must understand countries and groups of people. We may have to make a choice among them on the basis of our understanding and of their dependability. Communism is certainly a great danger. When it is mentioned on this side of the chamber, of course, somebody on the other side usually says, “ Well, that is just party slander”. Nobody could ever accuse me of beating the anti-Communist drum. Communism is a subject that I refer to very seldom, but when I do refer to it I try to understand it. But this is certain. It wants proselytes; it wants people in all countries who believe in it; and it says quite openly that it wants its system established in every country. And it is a system. In the words of the prophets themselves - Marx and Lenin down to Khrushchev - it - must, at first, be a dictatorship. That is the very essence of communism and, as we know, it has been a most cruel dictatorship. If I may borrow a phrase from Bernard Shaw - he, being in heaven, does not need it any more - Communism is a man-eating idol, red with human sacrifice. It is so in Russia, in China and in every country it has overrun.
Therefore, we are foolish if we do not make acceptance or rejection of communism one of the tests by which we choose our friends. We cannot rely on any nation which has bowed the knee to communism to support us. We may try to be neutral but we must always regard it as a potential enemy. But other countries, where communism is anathema, we can trust, whether there is a dictatorship or not. Again I refer to Pakistan because communism is anathema to the good Muslim. He can no more believe in or support communism than any Christian can. I know there are muddle-headed Christians who think they can support communism and they try to reconcile incompatibles and there may be some muddle-headed Muslims who try to do so, but the downright people in Pakistan who understand what Muslim teaching is know that there can be no truce and no quarter between Islam and communism. The countries where lslam prevails are Persia and Afghanistan - they do not matter much to us - Pakistan and Indonesia. I believe that if Indonesia is to have a settled and stable government which will become genuinely representative it will be from a people who sincerely adhere to the teachings of the Muslim religion.
Those, I think, are the facts that we have to look at when studying Asia. Even members of the Opposition have said that we must not attribute our own thoughts to them or try to impose our own systems on them. I fully agree with that. I think the trend of much of the discussion from the other side, and certainly that of the last speaker, is that we should look at this matter from the point of view only of capitalism and something we might call communism or socialism or something else which is replacing capitalism. I believe that the capitalism of the nineteenth century is dead but I believe, too, that capitalism in the future will take quite different forms. I believe that without capitalism there can be no freedom because any other form of government is a monolithic and centralized thing which imposes law from the top. It does not permit deviation. The great merit of capitalism - individualism as some like to call it - is that it permits infinite variation. It is not true that capitalism builds up cartels and trusts and nothing else. It does, but sometimes they break down and newer and smaller bodies are continually rising. 1 constantly hear from the other side a description of American capitalism which is fairly accurate if you put against it the year 1899. That was during the period between the Civil War and the end of the nineteenth century when the Harrimans, the Rockefellers and other people with immense fortunes were crushing their competitors by perfectly ruthless means, sometimes legalized by corrupted judges and legislatures. That was the era of that type of capitalism, but it has gone.
– It has gone since the anti-trust laws began to work.
– One socialist story was that the Sherman anti-trust laws did not work, but they did work. Apart from that, however, the enterprise of the American people - the determination of the ordinary man to have his own business - is so strong that it cannot possibly be crushed, and America is the country of great enterprises. But it is still the country of small enterprises, too, and sometimes the great enterprises actually nourish and help the smaller enterprises. America is a country where the idea of freedom, laid down by the simple farmer community which drew up the Declaration of Independence, still survives.
That, I think, is roughly the kind of community we are building up here. But I do not want us to imitate America. There are many things in American history thatI would urge our people to flee from. However, we are becoming increasingly industrialized. We are getting bigger enterprises. There is a tendency for monopolies to grow up, and I fully agree with Senator Hannan when he says that this legislature must, in the future, take means to check that tendency. ButI am full of hope for the freedom and individuality of this country. As I look at this problem, I see us as a part of Europe. Australia is not so far from the older countries by aeroplane. Very soon any one will be able to get to any part of Europe in an hour.
I shall sum up briefly my ideas of what our foreign policy should be. It should be to assist the growth in Asia of some form of government which will secure peace, order and the welfare of the people living there. We should not scrutinize it too closely. So long as it is not aggressive, so long as it is not aimed at our own liberties, it is not for us to go in and say, “ This is a dictatorship, we will have nothing to do with it.” If it is communism, I think that communism itself has shown us that we can make no terms with it.
We also make leagues and associations for our own defence. That is where this little organization we call Seato is perhaps the acorn from which the oak will spring. We all still live and think in the lengthened shadow of the old British Empire in which we were born. It is hard to believe that it has been so transformed. It is so different from what it was in our youth that we no longer have the certainties. We do not quite know what the British Commonwealth is or what it is going to do. At times, I have been extremely critical of certain developments that have taken place within dates. Mr. President, as I should like to develop this point more fully, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain the approval of Parliament for an increase in Australia’s subscriptions to the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I have been advised that the International Monetary Agreements Act of 1947, which provided for Australia’s membership of the fund and bank, already contains sufficient authority for Australia to consent to an increase in its fund and bank subscriptions. However, in view of the importance of these two institutions in the field of international finance the Government has decided that it is in the public interest to give Parliament an opportunity to express its views.
I should first make it clear that the proposed increases in Australia’s subscriptions to the fund and bank are part of a general proposal to increase the subscriptions of all of the 68 member countries of each institution. At the annual meetings of the boards of governors of the fund and bank held in New Delhi last October, resolutions were passed instructing the boards of directors of each institution to examine the case for an increase in its resources and to report back to governors. There are eighteen directors on each board and since 1948 an Australian representative has been appointed to serve on both boards. Governors have delegated authority to the directors to carry on the day-to-day operations of the fund and the bank but revisions of fund quotas or increases in the capital stock of the bank are among the matters that must be referred to the boards of governors on which all 68 member countries are represented.
Last December, the directors reported back to governors that they were in favour of an increase in the resources of each institution and the texts of their reports have been circulated to members. The reports recommended a general increase of 50 per cent, in fund quotas and a doubling of subscriptions to the capital stock of the bank with additional increases for certain members.
The governors of the fund and the bank have approved the recommendations contained in the reports of the directors and it now remains for each member country, in accordance with its own procedures, to determine whether or not it will consent to the proposed increase in its own fund quota and capital subscription to the bank.
The Treasurer, as Australian governor of the fund and the bank, has voted in favour of the recommendations and it is now proposed that Australia should accept the increase in its fund quota by 5J) per cent, and in its subscription to the capital stock of the bank by 100 per cent.
I shall deal first with the proposal to increase Australia’s fund quota by 50 per cent. When members joined the fund they were allotted quotas which determined both the size of their subscriptions and the amount of financial assistance they could obtain from the fund. The amount of a member’s subscription was equal to its quota and was payable partly in gold and partly in its domestic currency. On joining the fund, each member was given the alternative of making a gold payment equal to either 25 per cent, of its quota or 10 per cent, of its official holdings of gold and United States dollars in 1946.
Australia joined the fund in August, 1947, with a quota equal to 200,000,000 United States dollars, or £89,000,000 at the present rate of exchange. A gold subscription equivalent to £4,000,000 was paid, representing 10 per cent, of our gold and United States dollar holdings in 1946. The balance of £85,000,000 was paid in Australian currency.
The increase of 50 per cent, now proposed would raise our fund quota from 200,000,000 United States dollars to 300,000,000 United States dollars, and the consequent increase in our subscription would be the equivalent of 100,000,000 United States dollars or £45,000,000. Under the articles of agreement of the fund, 25 per cent, of this increase, about £11,000,000. would be payable in gold and the balance of £34,000,000 would be payable in Australian currency, but not in cash. For the Australian currency proportion Australia would lodge nonnegotiable, non-interest bearing securities with the Commonwealth Bank as depository for the fund.
As mentioned earlier, the quotas allocated to members determine the amounts they can borrow from the fund as well as the size of their subscriptions. The fund lends foreign currencies to its members to assist their balance of payments, and there is now a firmly established policy regarding the amounts members can borrow from the fund. A description of this policy is contained in the report of the fund’s directors. Members can obtain from the fund virtually on demand an amount equal to the amount of gold they have paid in. Thus the gold payment of £11,000,000 would always be available to us in time of need. In appropriate circumstances Australia can, of course, draw from the fund amounts substantially larger than its gold subscription; and the increase in our total subscription by 50 per cent, will raise the maximum amount ve could draw, if the fund considered the circumstances warranted it, from £93,000,000 to £149,000,000. Such an increase in our borrowing potential from the fund would be a most useful addition to what is, in effect, our second line of international reserves.
I now turn to the proposed increase of 100 per cent, in Australia’s subscription to the International Bank. The increase in our subscription to this institution will involve no cash payment by Australia. Unlike the fund, which relies entirely on its members’ subscriptions for its working capital, the bank obtains the greater part of its finance from its borrowings from institutional and other investors. It has been able to do this for two reasons: First, the bank has become recognized as a sound financial organization which lends only against the guarantee of the governments of its members; the second reason lies in the way the bank’s capital has been constructed.
When members joined the bank they were allotted shares in its capital stock. However, of the total value of shares allotted to each member, only 20 per cent, was called up, 2 per cent, being paid in gold and 18 per cent, in the domestic currency of the member. The remaining 80 per cent, was left subject to call only if required to meet obligations arising out of the bank’s own borrowings or guarantees of loans. It is this 80 per cent, uncalled capital that provides the backing for the bank’s borrowings. In the eyes of the investor, the uncalled capital constitutes a guarantee undertaken by all the member governments of the bank to provide funds to meet the bank’s debt to him in the unlikely event that the bank could not meet its obligation from its own resources.
Because of the growth in the bank’s lending to its members the point could be reached before long where, in the absence of an increase in its uncalled capital, the bank would be hampered in raising further funds in the world’s capital markets. In order to prevent this situation from arising and to allow the bank to continue its lending operations at the high rates achieved in recent years, it has been proposed that members should double their capital subscriptions to the bank. However, in view of the purpose for which the increase in capital is being sought, it has been proposed that all of the 100 per cent, increase will be left uncalled. Thus, all that the member governments of the bank are being asked to do is to accept an increased contingent liability to provide funds if they should ever be needed to enable the bank to meet its obligations - a contingency which, given the way the bank operates, is extremely remote.
When Australia joined the bank in 1947 it was allotted a share of the capital stock equivalent to 200,000,000 United States dollars or £89,000,000 at the present rate of exchange. As already explained, only 20 per cent., about £18,000,000, was paid up and the remaining £71,000,000 has remained uncalled. The proposal to increase Australia’s share of the capital stock by 100 per cent, would increase this uncalled liability by £89,000,000. As a net importer of capital from overseas it is to Australia’s advantage to see the capital of the bank increased in this way so that the bank may continue at least to maintain its present rate of lending to members Since 1950, Australia has negotiated six bank loans totalling £142,000,000 and the equipment and materials imported under those loans have played an important part in the development of our economy in the post-war years.
Having looked at the proposals from the Australian point of view, I would finally like to say something about the part the fund and the bank have played in the wider sphere of international financial relations. When the proposals for the establishment of the two institutions emerged at the end of World War II., many countries had misgivings as to whether they would prove to be of real value. To-day, after twelve years of operation, there can be no doubt as to the contribution the fund and bank have made to international trade and economic growth in the post-war period. It is, perhaps, not irrelevant to note that the current membership of these bodies comprises almost all the countries of the free world.
Since it commenced operations, the fund has made short-term finance available to 36 of its member countries totalling over 4,000,000,000 United States dollars. This assistance has been an important factor in maintaining the growth of international trade, in which Australia has a vital interest. The largest single transaction by any member country with the fund arose out of the Suez events, which caused sterling to come under pressure. In December, 1956, the United Kingdom drew 561,000,000 United States dollars from the fund and entered into a stand-by arrangement which allowed it to draw a further 739,000,000 United States dollars if it so desired. Over the years, other Commonwealth countries have also had occasion to make use of the fund’s resources. Australia has made two drawings, one of 20,000,000 United States dollars, in 1949, and one of 30,000,000 United States dollars, in 1952. Both these drawings have been fully repaid.
The International Bank makes long-term loans available to its members for the development of their economies, and in its twelve years of operations it has made over 200 separate loans to 49 of its member countries, amounting to 4,300,000,000 United States dollars. Apart from the fact that an enlargement of the resources of the bank might be considered as enhancing the possibility of further investment by the bank in developmental projects in Australia, the increase is needed to ensure that the bank will be able to continue financing economic development elsewhere, particularly in the less developed countries. Such aid is of great importance from the political point of view. Moreover, it benefits not only the economies of the less developed countries themselves, but is generally conducive to the expansion of world production and trade.
It is the Government’s view that a strengthening of both the fund and bank will make an important contribution to political stability, as well as to orderly economic growth, in the free world generally; and that Australia stands to gain substantially, both directly and indirectly, by increasing its own contributions.
I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
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 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1959/19590428_senate_23_s14/>.