23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen the reference in the report of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation to the advances made by the new Commonwealth Development Bank to primary producers? Will these advances offset the current credit stringency?
– I have seen the report. I have merely skimmed through it; I have not had a chance to study it carefully. I noticed the statement that since the Development Bank commenced operations early in this year - I think during January - it has made, I think, 539 advances to primary producers, totalling close to £4,000,000. I thought that that was quite a large contribution, remembering that those advances were made in cases in which the persons concerned did not qualify for advances from the ordinary banking system. I think that, by making advances totalling about £4,000,000 to over 500 primary producers, the Development Bank has made a significant contribution in this field.
In reply to the second part of the honorable senator’s question, I can only repeat what I said in reply to a question that was asked, I think, by Senator Anderson a week or so ago. I pointed out then that although the central bank has asked the banks generally to be restrictive in their advances, that request is qualified by a directive that has been in operation for some considerable time, in which the banks were asked to encourage activities which were aimed at yielding a greater export income. There is no activity more important to our export trade than that of the primary producers.
– Arnotts do not think that.
– I know that a byelection is coming on and that honorable senators opposite are making the most of it. The fact is that the Government’s policy is aimed at assisting exports and assisting primary producers. The primary producers are in the same position as other people, in that if they are engaged in speculative transactions they do not qualify for advances from the Development Bank. Such advances would be made through the ordinary banking system. The control of the monetary system is directed towards expanding exports. I am sure that this is constantly in the mind of the central bank and the banking system generally, and also in the mind of my colleague, the Treasurer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Government noted that, according to figures just issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, life assurance companies in the last financial year increased only slightly the total amount granted in new loans despite a big increase in the number of new policies and in the sums assured? Is this development due to the Commonwealth policy referred to in to-day’s newspapers by the Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Mr. McDonald, as “ the credit squeeze and budgetary policy to check the present rapid growth in internal demand and spending “? Where such restriction on new loans affects housing in particular, is it not a shortsighted policy and one likely to have a damaging effect on family life in general and the birth-rate in particular, matters which are of the highest importance to Australia?
– In order to obtain a satisfactory answer to the honorable senator’s question it would be necessary to examine all the available resources of the insurance companies in relation to any increase in the amount of new loans made by the companies during the last twelve months. I assure the honorable senator that I will bring his question to the notice of the Treasurer with a view to obtaining from him whatever information may be available.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has his attention been directed to statements in the daily press that tuberculosis is very prevalent in Australia, particularly amongst migrants? Is it not a fact that the fine anti-tuberculosis work made possible by the generous financial assistance given by this Government to patients and their dependants was making Australia almost free of this killer disease? ls it not true that success in treating the disease has led to the closing down of many sanatoriums formerly used for tuberculosis patients? If the press statement is true that one migrant in every 883 examined has active tuberculosis, should not a stricter medical examination be made of migrants at their port of embarkation?
– Yes, I read with a great deal of interest the press comment referred to by the honorable senator. This matter concerns not only the Department of Health but also the Department of Immigration. As the honorable senator says, the scourge of tuberculosis has been to a great extent eliminated in the Commonwealth as a result of the present Government’s advanced policy. This has led to the closing down of some sanatoriums in Australia. I should like to bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Health, who is in another place. If the honorable senator will place her question on the notice-paper I will obtain for her an answer to the latter part of it.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a report of the chairman and convenor of a meeting of public bodies in Launceston - Senator Henty - in which he states that facilities for passengers at Western Junction airport, Launceston, have been left in the hill-billy stage compared to other major airports and that, with 150,000 passengers passing through Launceston annually, Western Junction is the fourth busiest airport in the Commonwealth? In view of the fact that the Department of Civil Aviation has stated that its main problem is to finance a programme of airport improvement, and in view of the report that Trans-Australia Airlines made a profit of £320,000 in the last financial year, will the Minister consider allowing T.A.A. to use some of its profits in order to erect its own terminal building at Western Junction airport?
– I do not think I have actually seen the report referred to. But I am very familiar with what has been going on in Launceston in the last few weeks and with the interest of various bodies at Launceston in the facilities provided and the possibility of their improvement. I do know that a meeting was held late last week. It was attended by Senator Henty and also by senior officers of my own department, who met the bodies that had been advocating certain improvements at the Launceston airport.
The position is - it always has been and always will be - that any work undertaken by any department must be programmed in accordance with the money that is available. That applies to the Launceston airport, as to every other airport in the Commonwealth. All I can say to the honorable senator is that, as a result of that recent meeting, the officers of my department are having a look at the position and will report to me soon on work that may be undertaken not this year, but within the next year or two.
As to the honorable senator’s suggestion in relation to the record profit of TransAustralia Airlines, which I am glad he has noticed, I can only say that under this Government’s administration T.A.A. operates as an entity. Whether that organization would be interested in transferring some of its profit to this particular work, which is usually accepted as being the responsibility of the Department of Civil Aviation, is very doubtful. As a matter of fact, I am sure T.A.A. would not agree to that kind of thing being done and, as Minister for Civil Aviation, I certainly would not propose that or any other matter which might affect the normal commercial trading position of that organization.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, by reminding him that in 1928-29, at the behest of the then Prime Minister, Mr. S. M. Bruce, now Lord Bruce, a committee of five Australian men, including Professor D. B. Copland, now Sir Douglas Copland, thoroughly and fully investigated Australia’s tariff policy and reported its findings and conclusions in what is now known as the Brigden report. I ask the Minister whether the Government will consider the appointment of another such committee to investigate and report on Australia’s tariff policy as it applies to present-day internal and external conditions and the greatly changed world economy of the 1960’s compared with that of the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. I ask that particular attention be given to the burden that is borne by primary producers who, whilst they supply 80 per cent, of this country’s exports, are finding it increasingly difficult, because of falling prices, to sell their products at payable prices although, at the same time, they are unable to pass on their increased costs.
– The Government’s policy in relation to the tariff has always been to refer all matters to the independent and impartial Tariff Board. I know that on the board there is one - I think there may even be two - representatives of the primary industries. A considerable number of matters have been dealt with in the last two years. Perhaps the biggest change in the imposition of duties was when a reduction was made in respect of 1,006 items under the British preferential tariff. Those items represented a large proportion of the items upon which tariffs are imposed. The tariff is examined by my department regularly and items that are considered to be redundant or which the department feels should be reviewed are referred to the board. In my opinion, such action by the department, together with the work of the Tariff Board, adequately deals with the position.
– I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister consider whether great advantage would accrue from the appointment of an independent body, the sole function of which was to consider the impact of the tariff - not year by year, but over a period of, say, twenty years - as a unit of the economy? This body would be independent, but would co-operate with and assist the Tariff Board, the merits of which we all acknowledge.
– The suggestion is not without merit. However, the matter is one of Government policy and could not be dealt with in answer to a question without notice. Such a body would have significance in its place.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Navy, who, I am sure, shares my profound regret at the loss of life that occurred in the explosion which resulted in the sinking of H.M.A.S. “ Woomera “ off Sydney yesterday, ls the Minister in a position to make to the Senate a statement concerning this unfortunate occurrence? Because of the extremely dangerous nature of the exercise being carried out by this unit of the Royal Australian Navy - of which my brother was until recently the commanding officer - will the Minister give special consideration to generous compensation of those who were injured and of the relatives of those who were killed in this accident?
– I am not yet in a position to make a statement on the matter. Accidents of this kind must be investigated by naval courts of inquiry. A court of inquiry was convened yesterday, but one or two possible witnesses may have been suffering from shock and were not ready to give evidence to the court yesterday. As soon as 1 am in a position to make a statement on the matter. I shall be glad to do so. I think that the question of compensation is governed entirely by the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, which lays down the scale.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen a report in this morning’s press to the effect that Trans-Australia Airlines made a record profit in the year ended 30th June, 1960? As members of the Australian Labour Party, by questions and speeches in the Senate and in another place, have continually accused this Government of persecuting T.A.A., will the Minister give me an assurance that he will carry on this type of persecution so that TAA. will make even greater profits in future?
– I have certainly seen the report that T.A.A. made a record profit last year. I noted it with considerable gratification, as, I imagine did all those who genuinely admire this organization. I think it can be fairly said that this Government has been accused of persecuting T.A.A. - indeed, of persecuting it unto death. My only comment is that this is the liveliest corpse that I have ever had anything to do with.
– Can the Minister ° representing the Postmaster-General say when the outback areas of Western Australia, such as Hall’s Creek and Fitzroy Crossing, will be connected by telephone with the Australian network?
– Fully realizing Senator Scott’s interest in the outback parts of Western Australia, I am sorry to say that I am not sufficiently acquainted with the progress of activities within the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to be able to answer his question. Therefore, I ask him to put his question on the notice-paper.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Acting Treasurer provides the following answer: - 1 and 2. The information that follows has been supplied by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. In supplying the information, the corporation has warned that the figures relating to applications to the Commonwealth Development Bank should be treated with reserve. This is so because the distinction between an application and an inquiry is not always clear-cut. In addition, many of the applications that were made, particularly in the early days of the Development Bank’s existence, were not only clearly outside the bank’s stated lending policy, but also beyond the limits of its statutory functions. For instance, many of the applications received from members of the rural community were not for development but were for purposes such as the taking over by the Development Bank of debts from other banks; the figures relating to declined applications therefore include many applications where no development was involved. Subject to the foregoing reservations, the corporation has furnished the following information in respect of the period from 14th January, 1960, the date of the Development Bank’s establishment, to 24th August, 1960 -
These figures relate to Australia as a whole. For various reasons and particularly because conditions vary from State to State, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation does not consider it appropriate to provide information on the number of applications approved and declined in each State by the Development Bank.
With regard to the Development Bank’s reasons for declining applications, the corporation has advised that applications have been declined principally because of the lack of prospects of success of the intending borrower or, as indicated above, because (he applications were not only outside the bank’s stated lending policy, but also beyond the limits of its statutory functions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Has any trouble arisen between missionaries and natives over the promulgation of different religions Joel rines by the 40 religious organizations operating in New Guinea and Papua?
Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer: -
There have been three incidents in the past ten years. In Rabaul, the adherents of two missions clashed, resulting in court proceedings and the imposing of a fine on one missionary. In Papua, one missionary made threats against the adherents of another mission and was removed from the Territory by his own mission. In the third case there was disagreement between two sects, but court proceedings were dismissed There has possibly been some confusion in the minds of native people because of different teachings.
asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The following answers are now supplied: -
Z Yes. The original design is British, but they have been modified considerably, particularly from the point of view of habitability, including the installation of air-conditioning, for service on the Australian station and in tropical areas. Special Provision is made to increase the effective range of these vessels during war operations.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following information has been supplied: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following reply: -
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Postmaster General has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping an. Transport, upon notice -
Has the Western Australian Government made any recent approaches to the Federal Government for financial assistance for the standardization of the railway link between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle?
– My colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, has furnished the following reply: -
No. The last occasion on which this matter was formally raised was in January, 1959.
Debate resumed from 11th October (vide page 1019), on motion by Senator Sir Walter Cooper -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When the debate was interrupted and the Senate adjourned last night, I was speaking in support of this bill which, I believe, is another step in the direction of eventual self-determination for the people of Papua and New Guinea. I believe that the attitude of the Opposition to this measure and, I think, to the general development of the Territory is indeed regrettable - I might even say it is irresponsible. At the present time, the eyes of the world are turned towards New Guinea and Australia’s administration of it, but the Opposition has not seen fit to close our ranks and join with Government senators in giving due praise to the Minister for
Territories (Mr. Hasluck) and to his department for the way in which they are carrying out their difficult task in the Territory.
This bill gives an opportunity to the natives, for the first time, to be elected to the Legislative Council on the basis of an equal footing with Europeans. Six natives and six Europeans will be elected to the council. In addition, an opportunity is being given to the more educated natives
Who are working in the Public Service in New Guinea who would otherwise be ineligible to be nominated to that council, again on an equal footing with Europeans. There will be five nominated natives and five nominated Europeans. I believe that this is as far as the Government should go at the moment towards giving a better balanced representation for the people of New Guinea. Obviously at this stage, when the Australian taxpayers are providing the bulk of the money for the development of Papua and New Guinea, they should, through their Parliament and the Minister for Territories, keep a measure of control over what happens in that Territory.
I stated last night that 1 believed that the way in which development takes place in Papua and New Guinea in accordance with the Government’s policy is important from an international point of view and also because of the strategic value of the Territory to Australia and the interests of the people who are living there. It is obvious that New Guinea is important internationally because of the increased attention being given to it by the United Nations following reports by the United Nations delegation. It is also obvious that New Guinea is vitally important to Indonesia. Indonesia has made numerous demands for the return of what she calls West Irian, but which we refer to as West New Guinea. New Guinea is important to the Russians, who seem to point to that country as an example of colonialism. New Guinea is important to Australia strategically, not only because of the proximity of all South-East Asian countries to New Guinea, and therefore to Australia, but also because New Guinea is only 100 miles from the north coast of Australia.
I feel that I should deal in some detail with the importance to the Territory of internal development. I do not agree with honorable senators opposite who claim that self-government can be granted simply by a political act. We must take into consideration the economic, social and educational standards of the people before we decide whether they are ready for selfdetermination. It may be said that other powers have granted self-determination to countries under their control when, in our opinion, those countries may not have been ready for self-determination. We have seen drastic results follow that action in some cases. The United Kingdom and France have granted self-government to some of their former territories, but it is important to note that in every case those territories are not close to the United Kingdom or France. It is ludicrous for Russia to accuse Australia of colonialism with regard to New Guinea. Russia has built around her territorial borders a buffer which stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. We now refer to those countries as the satellite states of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Russia has not made the slightest attempt to grant self-determination or even a measure of liberty to those countries that she calls part of her union of states, but which we consider should be independent countries. Russia has deprived those countries of all liberty.
– That is the best example of colonialism that one could find.
– Indeed it is. But Russia sees fit to point to what we are doing in New Guinea, despite the fact that the Minister for Territories has said that the Government intends to grant self-government to the people of New Guinea as soon as possible. Russia has never made any similar statement in respect of the territories that are her colonial responsibility.
It is impossible to set a time limit for the granting of .self-government to a country such as New Guinea. Some honorable senators opposite have said that we should grant self-government within a certain time. One honorable senator opposite fixed ten years as the maximum time. I believe that we should wait until we can see how the people of New Guinea react to development. I know that the Dutch have set a time limit in respect of their territory. Whether they will be able to adhere to that time limit remains to be seen. lj would prefer to move as rapidly as possible, as I believe we are doing, and when the time is ripe we should give to the people of New Guinea the selfdetermination that they undoubtedly will want. Not only must we establish democratic institutions in the country but we must teach the people the British forms of law and justice. We must improve their health, education and agricultural and technical training. We must show them how to conduct their local councils and other democratic institutions. I believe that we are making progress in this direction.
The Government is making great strides in the taming of the country. The terrain of New Guinea is perhaps the most difficult that one is likely to encounter anywhere in the world. The Government has built roads, bridges and airfields, enabling contact to be made with remote areas, and so to raise the standards of the very primitive people in those areas. I think that we are making progress in bringing the primitive people of New Guinea to a more civilized stage. In most cases they have forsaken such undesirable tribal customs as cannibalism and sorcery. We are bringing them nearer to unity and a common language, thus speeding the day when they will be ready for self-determination.
Senator Dittmer implied in his speech yesterday that there was discrimination against the coloured people. I refute that allegation. I do not think there is any discrimination. There is no colour bar in the Territory. Any social differences that may exist between the whites and the natives are based on the fact that the natives are a primitive people who have only just emerged from the savage state. They are rapidly becoming civilized. In every country in the world people with the same standards of culture and behaviour tend to find a common basis of community interest. That is what we are aiming at in New Guinea. We have not reached it yet, but that is our aim. There is no discrimination on the sporting fields. Each sporting club has contests with the coloured people and meets them on an equal footing.
We have a lot to do before we can grant self-government to the people of New Guinea. First the primitive natives must be taught the difference between right and wrong. If they commit an offence they are given a fair trial, but they aire not treated as we treat offenders here in Australia. In most cases the native who has committed an offence is taken from his family and his tribe and put into a calaboose, which is not a lock-up or a prison as we understand the term. The native offender is given employment during the day and an effort is made to teach him what is right and what is wrong. The bulk of the responsibility for bringing law and order to the Territory is undertaken by patrol officers, and I do not think that we can praise those men too highly. Through their dedicated attitude, their tolerance, patience and paternal way of dealing with the natives they have gained the confidence of the indigenous people. Everywhere one sees the natives looking to these young, dedicated men for guidance. It is a feather in the cap of the Administration that it has been able to attract some of Australia’s best types to do this extremely difficult task in the primitive areas of New Guinea.
Senator Dittmer said that 90 per cent, of the primary education in New Guinea was being undertaken by the missions, and that the Administration was doing very little in the field of education. That is a grossly unfair statement. The missions are, I agree, undertaking a great deal of the initial education in the Territory, but we must remember that the Commonwealth Government subsidizes the missions in their work.
– What is the extent of the subsidy?
– I am unable to say. I think it is quite substantial. The missions have agreed to do this work on the basis of the subsidy offered by the Government. The Government demands a standard of efficiency from the missions and that standard is met. The missions go into the primitive areas and they do a job for which we are extremely grateful. It would be impossible for the Government to undertake all the teaching in the Territory. For a start, it would not be able to find teachers. Great credit is due to the Government. Upon looking at the statistics, one finds that there are 400 European teachers in the Territory, that there are now 5,400 native teachers in 4,100 schools, and that there are nearly 200,000 pupils.
– How many mission schools are there?
– I am not prepared to answer the honorable senator at this stage because my time is limited. I believe the Administration is tackling the matter of education in a most practical manner. When the students reach a reasonable standard and show promise in the mission schools, they are brought forward to the very modern, efficient schools that have been established by the Administration in all the large centres throughout the Territory. Two hundred students at a time are brought to those schools to live in as borders for two years. Their minds are crammed, shall I say, so that they may become teachers, so urgent is the necessity to have a pool of teachers who may go back to the native villages. The natives themselves are very eager to learn. As yet, we have not been able to provide enough teachers, but we are well on the way to doing so.
I should like to say one more word about the missions. Although, as I have indicated, they have done a splendid job, it is regrettable that there are so many different denominations in the Territory. One can imagine the dilemma in which a native finds himself when he is persuaded to give up his tribal beliefs, sorcery, and so on, and when he turns to Christian leadership and has to decide which of the 30 or 32 denominations he will join.
– Does not a particular denomination get the native when he is young?
– Not necessarily. Of course, in some areas there are not all the 32 denominations. One can just imagine the dilemma in which a native finds himself when, having decided to join a mission, he finds such names as the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Limited. To my mind it would be of great benefit to the people of the Territory if the missions could achieve a greater degree of unity and if perhaps only one mission operated in a certain area and the others went to other spots. In the field of religion, one thing about which we have to be careful is that cults such as the cargo cult do not spread. The cargo cult is a very dangerous cult, because it teaches these impressionable people that the goods - or, as they say, cargo - the Europeans have should have come to the natives. The members of the cult teach the natives that the gods send in these goods - this cargo, as they call it - but that they are intercepted by the white man who takes them for himself. The cult goes still further and tells these people, when a road or an airstrip is built, that they may sit down, that the gods will send in an aeroplane or a truck with the cargo, and that they do not need to cultivate their gardens. Such teaching is extremely dangerous, because obviously, if the natives do that for one season, in the next year they will find themselves without food.
Having mentioned the boarding schools that are situated in every large centre throughout the Territory, I point out that the Administration has gone still further and has established technical schools at which the students learn very easily.
– How many has it established?
– I have not the statistics with me, but I have looked at them. I have visited the schools in every large centre and have noted that the students are applying themselves to the many technical subjects which they are being taught. In addition, there are agricultural schools where the students learn how to tend their gardens. Senator 0’Byrne said that the natives were not being taught agriculture. I point out to him that they are being taught agriculture and that they are putting their learning to great use. Moreover, there are experimental farms which are undertaking research to ascertain what kinds of agriculture can be pursued, and which are experimenting with animal husbandry. We must remember that it is not easy to establish an efficient cattle or sheep industry in the Territory. It is impossible to go in for pasture improvement not only because of the high cost of fertilizers but also because if they were used they would be washed right through the soil as a result of heavy rainfall. Nevertheless, efforts are still being made to establish a cattle and sheep industry on a very sound, though perhaps as yet not a very extensive, basis.
With regard to the field of health, let me tell honorable senators that every time I have visited the Territory in the last four or five years I have seen tremendous advances in the establishment of hospitals. There are now very efficient and modern hospitals in a great many areas. In the areas in which there are not modern hospitals there are medical aid posts, and I think I would be right in saying that every native can get some form of medical treatment when he is in need of it. I was astounded to hear Senator Dittmer say that nothing had been done to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis. At various points in the Territory I met teams of doctors and nurses who had gone there from Australia and who not only were taking X-rays of the natives to see whether they had tuberculosis but also were undertaking thoracic treatment and surgery. Wherever I went in the primitive areas I saw doctors who were giving regular injections of B.C.G.
– No one claimed that nothing had been done.
– A great deal has been done and is being done.
– Something has been done.
– A great deal is being done to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis and the many other diseases that are prevalent in this Territory where disease, parasites and grubs abound. In the field of finance, the Administration is deserving of great credit. Already banks are operating there. Deposits in the savings bank amount to approximately £1,250,000. Admittedly, many of the natives put their money in the bank and never draw it out, because they do not know what to spend it on. Deposits in the cheque-paying banks amount to £8,000,000, and the co-operatives have an annual turnover of much more than £1,000,000. 1 believe that Senator Benn’s suggestion that the companies should be compelled to employ a certain percentage of native investment is quite impracticable. When one notes that deposits in all the savings banks in New Guinea amount to only £1,250,000, how could industries be compelled to use native investment?
It is important to see what has been done by Australia in the investment field. Since 1949, government funds totalling £37,000,000 have been invested in the Territory. It is not easy to assess what has been done in the field of private investment, but there are some statistics, from which I propose to quote, which indicate that a considerable amount of investment is taking place. A sum of £1,000,000 has been invested in shipping, £16,000,000 has been invested in the search for oil, £1,250,000 in the timber industry, £500,000 in plant and machinery for the rubber industry, £100,000 in coffee and tea, £2,000,000 in cocoa, and almost £2,000,000 in other factories. That is not a bad record of investment by people outside the Territory.
– It is not a good one.
– I do not quite know how you could do better. If you can suggest any other industries that could be established in the Territory economically, I should be glad to hear of them. I looked at New Guinea pretty carefully, and it seems to me that it is going ahead from a good solid foundation, that the economy is sound, and that it will not bust when perhaps the European settlers limit their activity there.
I should like to say a few words also about employment. We have heard some disparaging remarks by Opposition speakers on this subject. It is of interest to note that wages and conditions in the Territory are under review and that the Papuan Workers Association has submitted evidence to the commission that is investigating the matter, as have also the chambers of commerce and the traders. Senator Dittmer said there is evidence of exploitation of the natives by the traders and that some convictions have been recorded. Admittedly there have been two or three, or maybe four, convictions; but I think I am right in saying that is all there have been. The fact that there have been convictions indicates that the Administration is trying to ensure that there will not be exploitation. The fact that there have been at the most, only four convictions indicates that there is not much exploitation.
I think that I should say something about wages. Opposition speakers have pointed disparagingly to the fact that a completely raw recruit to the labour field is paid only 25s. a month. But, in addition to that payment, he is provided not only with his fares to and from the village but also with free housing, clothing, medical attention and food. That is extremely important. As his skill increases, he is paid more. From 25s. to 30s. a month is the minimum wage. In most cases the wage paid is above that amount. If these people were to be paid full wages and granted union conditions, what would happen? The ordinance that provides what an employer shall supply, states that a balanced diet must be given to native employees. The ordinance lays down exactly what articles of food must be supplied. At this stage the natives are just being taught the meaning of a balanced diet. If native employees were thrown on their own resources and there was no compulsion upon them to have a balanced diet, they would obviously revert to their old habits, which lead to malnutrition, because they eat mostly starchy foods. Their money would be gambled and lost, and they would be no better off for being put in charge of their own earnings. They still have a great deal further to go before they will be able to control their earnings properly.
Even so, native labour Is not cheap labour. I have questioned many employers throughout the Territory and have received the same answer. They say that it takes from eight to twelve natives to equal the output of one European worker. In addition, the natives must be under the constant supervision of a European worker, because otherwise they tend to sit down and not go on with their jobs. Native labour is not cheap labour when we consider that it costs an employer about £130 a year to employ one native, and that the employer needs about eight or twelve natives to equal the output of one white man. In those circumstances, native labour is expensive labour.
Finally, on the matter of selfdetermination, I believe that we should not be bustled into going too fast. It is most upsetting to hear Opposition senators pressing the Government to go faster in this matter. I believe that it would suit only one group of people in the world if we did go too fast and got out. I refer to the Communists. It is amazing to hear the Opposition siding with the Communists in putting pressure on the Administration to go faster.
– That is not fair. The United Nations Organization has suggested it.
– Who in the
United Nations? The only people in the United Nations who are pressing for this are the Russians.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I rise to support the bill. I fail to see how Senator Buttfield can believe that the Opposition is opposing the bill. Nobody on this side of the chamber has said that the Opposition is opposing the bill and there has been no severe criticism of it, although suggestions have been made by Opposition senators for improvements. That is our job. Our agreement with the bill in principle does not prevent us from asking for improvement. I do not think that Senator Buttfield would have made her final comment but for the fact that the proceedings are being broadcast and she wants a little cheap publicity. She said that if we assisted New Guinea to achieve self-determination faster, this would suit only the Communists.
– So it would.
– A more ridiculous statement could not be made unless it came from a kindergarten child. We might hear such a statement from a kindergarten child who was prompted by her parents. I regret that any honorable senator should stand in this chamber and say that we should curb the progress of New Guinea.
– I did not say that it should be curbed. I said that we should not go too fast.
– If the honorable Senator thinks that it would be dangerous to go any faster, she must believe that the progress of New Guinea should be curbed.
– No, I did not say that.
– The honorable senator did say that. She cannot have it both ways. To curb progress would be to play right into the hands of the Communists. We have a responsibility to the United Nations, and to other nations in general, to do our best for the people of New Guinea and to bring them to the stage of being self-governing and self-supporting as quickly as possible in a manner that is not injurious to the affairs of the world generally. I can point to some countries outside the British Commonwealth of Nations which progressed too speedily or not speedily enough to self-determination, with chaos as the result.
– You would like to see similar chaos in New Guinea.
– No, I do not think along the same lines as the honorable senator, who would like to see chaos; 1 think along entirely different lines. Does the honorable senator want to see in New Guinea events such as we have seen in the Congo? Judging by her outburst, that is what she would like to see. I could take the honorable senator to other parts of Africa, which were under the British regime, where circumstances are entirely different from those in the Congo, but I shall deal with those later. Senator Buttfield referred to the payment of 25s. a month as wages to natives. When Senator Dittmer referred to this matter, I heard an interjection to the effect that the native workers also get their keep. Perhaps Senator Buttfield does not know of the conditions of natives in Rhodesia who were working on the railway and in the hotels. They were getting their keep, while their families were living in squalor only 100 yards away. I have never seen such degradation. The wives and families of the native workers should1 be considered when we talk about payments of 25s. a month, plus keep. We do not want people in New Guinea to live in squalor such as I saw in Africa.
Let us discuss the position on a broad basis, not on the basis of the small items raised by Senator Buttfield. There is a major responsibility on the Australian Government to do all that it possibly can to raise the standard of living of the natives of New Guinea. Perhaps the honorable senator will be surprised when I say that I am amazed at the advances that have been made in New Guinea. I have recently read reports on the Territory and I have seen aspects of the life there depicted on television. The television programmes could not have been prepared for propaganda purposes; what we saw was real. Over the last fifteen years, the Government has continued to build on the foundations that were laid by the Labour Minister, Mr. Ward, and a great deal has been done for New Guinea, from the point of view of both the natives and keeping the peace of the world. I am pleased that so much has been done, but that does not mean that each and every one of us is satisfied with the progress that has been made. We consider that a little more progress in this or that direction would have resulted in greater advantage. In some directions we could be advancing further than we have advanced up to the present. Senator Buttfield stressed the importance of New Guinea to Australia, and I do not disagree with her in that regard. But New Guinea is also important to the world in general. If something is not done to raise the standards of living of the inhabitants of New Guinea to the standards of living achieved by Western civilization, New Guinea could be one of the trouble spots of the world in the not far distant future. Indonesia has given us some very direct warnings, and she is not the only country concerned. Therefore, I say that Australia’s point of view is not the only point of view to be considered. The faster we can develop New Guinea and educate the natives for self-government the better it will be for world peace in general and for Australia in particular.
Let us consider New Guinea itself. A great deal has been done to develop it, but a great deal more can be done. What are we doing to make up for the shortage of teachers in New Guinea? Senator Buttfield said that she supported every word that Senator Dittmer said about education, but does she agree with the suggestion of Senator Dittmer that we should bring a number of natives to the Australian States each year and teach them in our universities? We are doing that for Asians under the Colombo Plan. Why not do the same for the natives of New Guinea and thus give them the highest possible standard of education, the same as the British Government did in African countries? The action of the British Government helped to hasten selfgovernment. That Government saw where it made mistakes in some of its African colonies and set out to avoid them in others. Surely we can learn something from what Britain has done in providing for self-government in its colonies.
One of the things the British Government did, as was mentioned by Senator Dittmer, was to enter a number of natives each year at universities in England and give them the education to which they were justly entitled. We will never get self- government in New Guinea unless we raise some of the native people to a higher educational standard. The British educated African natives in English universities, taught them engineering and other trades and then sent them back to their own countries.
– It is no good giving them a university education until they have a primary and secondary education.
– I am making this speech. If the honorable senator thinks he knows more than the British Government knows - its policy achieved selfgovernment for the native people - he is wasting his time in this Senate. There are higher positions he could fill rather than, waste his time interjecting in this chamber. If he wants to know what the British Go,vernment did -
– I know what it did.
– I have seen what it did. Not only did it educate natives in English universities, but it set up a sound educational system in the countries under its control. The country in which Great Britain has met with most success is Uganda. There have been no disturbances there at al), and the country has now achieved self-government. It is less than seven years since I was there. I saw what the British Government was doing; a native council was administering the country, and I noted the administrative functions that were being carried out by natives. The British Government erected buildings and hospitals and taught the people everything that was necessary for them to learn. Natives were trained as tradesmen, and girls were taught the domestic sciences. I asked some of the natives how long they considered it would be before they achieved self-government, and they replied they thought it would be about 20 to 25 years. I told them that, in my opinion, at the rate they were then progressing they would achieve it within ten years. In fact, they achieved self-government within six years.
Despite the speeches that have been made during this debate, particularly that made by Senator Buttfield, no one can tell me that the native people of New Guinea are not as intelligent as the natives of Africa. Given the opportunity they will achieve the same results. The British benefited Uganda by avoiding the mistakes they made in Kenya, Rhodesia and other parts. For the purpose of applying the same methods to New Guinea, any Australian government, whether it be Liberal or Labour, would do well to study the methods that brought about successful self-government in Uganda. 1 agree that a great deal has been domin New Guinea. We have been told that 5,000 miles of roads have been formed. Who made those roads? I cannot speak with the same authority as some speakers who have spent a considerable time i: New Guinea, but I know that it must have taken a lot of labour to construct 5,000 miles of roads. I would assume that the great bulk of the work was carried ou. by native labour.
– They had to be paid.
– Of course, they had to be paid. 1 would say that a large number of the buildings in New Guinea were built by native labour. When I was in Nairobi I heard people saying the same thing about the natives there as has been said about the natives of New Guinea - that they are all right if you keep them working on one type of job, but that they cannot do anything else. 1 heard that story in Africa just as I have heard it in relation to the natives of New Guinea. Teething troubles such as that will soon disappear if we give the natives the responsibility they should have. Let us bring in legislation that will give them such responsibility and these problems will disappear.
When some people in Africa were telling me that the natives could not do this or that, I pointed to a beautiful theatre down the street and asked, “ Who built that?” I was told that the natives had built it. I then asked, “Who built these bitumen roads?” They said that the natives had built them. In connexion with everything I pointed to, I was told that the natives had built it. I said, “ Who is that on point duty at the street corner? “ I was told that he was a native. I asked these people whether they could tell me of anything that the natives did not do. As a matter of fact the natives did everything. Some people are trying to build up the same sort of story about the natives of New Guinea. If they are given respon sibility they will respond in the same way as the African natives have done, particularly those in Uganda. As I have said the British Government learnt from the mistakes it made in other colonies and avoided those mistakes in Uganda. I do not want to see Australia make the mistake of not giving the natives sufficient responsibility.
In Africa the Europeans were purchasing native land so the Government reserved land for the natives. I do not suggest thai we should not allow any Europeans into New Guinea; but we should bc careful o( the area of land we allow Europeans te. purchase in New Guinea. When natives have been brought up to western standards there will be a land shortage in New Guinea if the interests of the natives are not protected. We do not want to see Europeans buying up all the land, as happened in Kenya and resulted in the Mau Mau. That difficulty was avoided in Uganda and other parts of Africa, and we must avoid it in New Guinea. Senator Kendall shakes his head. I am not saying that the Government will allow that to happen. I am merely saying that that is something we want to avoid. We must see that it does not happen.
– I suggest that the honorable senator go to New Guinea and try to obtain land. He will then see what he has to go through and how far he gets.
– I admit that the wilderness in New Guinea cannot be turned into pasture overnight. I have been brought up the hard way, and I appreciate the difficulties. I know that it takes time to turn land of that kind into pasture. I know that it would not be fair to say to a European, “ The natives in this valley will not be able to take over the land for another ten years”. We have to be very careful to protect the interests of the huge native population. I say “ huge “ because the figures produced by the Government indicate that that is so. According to what I have been told, from pictures that I have seen, and in the light of speeches made in this chamber by honorable senators opposite, it is obvious that if too much of the good land of the Territory is allowed to fall into the hands of Europeans now, there will be a grave shortage of land for the natives within ten years.
I suggest that it is entirely for the Government to determine the point of time at which the Territory will be given selfgovernment. That decision depends on the policy of the Government and on how fast development is pushed ahead. I should say that the Administration in New Guinea has done a good job up to the present time, lt is important to have there the right people as administrators, because much will depend on them as to how soon the people of New Guinea attain self-determination. If the right people are allowed to work in the Territory, self-determination will come about much quicker than this Government perhaps thinks it will, but if the wrong kind of administrative officers are employed, self-determination will take much longer to achieve than most of us hope. With the wrong people administering the Territory, self-determination could take generations to achieve.
I do not think for one moment that the Government is of the opinion that generations will have to pass before the people of New Guinea attain self-determination. I believe the Government should try to prepare a time-table, or set a target, for self-determination. It should say whether, in its opinion, that objective will take ten years, twelve, years or some other period of years to achieve. After all, the Government knows what has been the rate of progress in the Territory during the last fifteen years, and surely on that basis it could gauge the future rate.
I have heard it said that we in Australia need money for schools, just as the people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea need it. Of course we do, but we also need money for the development of the Territory so that the native population may be given self-government as soon as possible. If we can find millions of pounds to help nations that are below our standard of living, such as the assistance we provide for Asian nations under the Colombo Plan, what is wrong with putting a little extra money into New Guinea, which is right on our door step and is a very deserving case? I think that the people of New Guinea need assistance as much as the people of other countries. If it is a matter of picking and choosing where we should spend money to uplift the masses of the people of undeveloped countries, what is wrong with making more money available to lift New Guinea on to its feet? Why should we not do that first, and then turn our attention to other countries?
It is a lot of nonsense to say that we cannot afford to spend the money. I say that Australia can afford it. Does the Government of this country take into account the thousands of lives of Australian servicemen that were saved by the natives of New Guinea during the war? No amount of pounds, shillings and pence could ever compensate the natives for the lives they saved at that time.
– The honorable senator should tell that to Senator O’Byrne, who said we could not afford it.
– Senator O’Byrne has his opinion on the subject and I have mine. So, too, has Senator Buttfield. I may say that, in the opinions she has expressed, she is entirely out of step with what the United Nations is asking the Australian Government to do in respect of New Guinea. I suggest that if we all were in agreement, and there were no divisions of opinion, very little would be done. If some bright ideas on the subject of New Guinea were forthcoming from the Government side, perhaps the development of the Territory could be pushed forward a little faster than it is at present.
Senator Dittmer, in his speech yesterday, made the important point that we must educate the people of the Territory to the stage at which they are. able to take over and administer their own affairs. There is no doubt that the people of the Territory must be given the opportunity for primary, secondary and university education, at least so far as a certain number of them is concerned. But we must not let the matter rest there. We must also give them the opportunity to attend our universities and take courses in engineering, geology, and so on, as the natives of Africa were encouraged to do by the British Government. Then, when the people of the Territory achieved self-determination they would not have to import Europeans to fill the key posts or be obliged to pay the exorbitant salaries that no doubt would be demanded in those circumstances.
The British Government learned another lesson in Kenya. One of the natives of
Kenya once said to me, “ I have come back here as a fully qualified engineer, but all I can get is three-sevenths of the European wage “. He added, !! When I went to Cambridge University I was not obliged to do only three-sevenths of the study needed for the degree. I had to pass the examinations that the Europeans had to pass. When 1 boarded at an hotel I had to pay sevensevenths of the tariff, not three-sevenths. I had to pay full prices everywhere when I was at the university. Now I am a fully qualified engineer. They have made a gentleman of me, but when I come back here they smack me across the face by offering me three-sevenths of the European wage to do the same work that a European does. They offer the Indian or Asian engineer five-sevenths of the European wage.” He said: “ What an insult to a man after educating him. I am going back to England, if they will have me there. The British wonder why they have the Mau Mau trouble.” I hope that we shall not have the same kind of thing in New Guinea.
We are sometimes told that the reason for the low wages that are paid to natives is that it takes ten or twelve of them to do the work of one white man. I heard that story in Africa. It is only a myth. Do not let us hear the same thing in regard to the people of New Guinea. We want to raise their standards and allow them to take responsibility alongside the Europeans. As has been done in Africa, they can be brought to the level at which they are able to help themselves, whether it is in the field of administration or in engineering, agriculture, manual work or anything else. If we do the right thing by them, we shall be able to bring them to the stage where they will be entitled to the same rates of pay as are Europeans. For heaven’s sake do not let us make in the Territory some of the mistakes that have been made in Africa.
Does any honorable senator opposite suggest that it would not be greatly to the advantage not only of Australia but also to the world to give self-determination to the people of the Territory within the next ten years? I am game enough to say that that can be done if the Government wants it to be done. We have in Australia and in New Guinea at the present time men who have the ability, the qualifications and the necessary humane approach to bring about that objective, provided that the Government is not too mean with financial assistance. If the Government clamps down on the finance that is necessary, of course the objective must go overboard. Senator Mattner laughs at what I am saying, but I point out that the Budget papers disclose that the sum of £140,000,000 has not been earmarked for any specific purpose this year. It would not be necessary to take much of that sum to provide material assistance for the purpose of which I am speaking. I suggest that if a war broke out to-morrow and the Government wanted to build a road in the region of the Kokoda trail, finance would be found to do that. If lack of finance did not prevent our defending the country, it should not prevent our developing it. The provision of finance is vitally important to New Guinea.
Is the Government afraid that if the natives advanced too far or too fast they may want New Guinea to become part of Australia? I heard somebody say that the native producers could come into competition with Australian producers if they advanced too fast. Does anybody ever stop to think that the population of the world is increasing at the rate of 40,000,000 a year and at that rate the day is not far distant when there will be difficulty in producing sufficient food for the world population? It is ludicrous to say that the native producers will come into competition with Australian producers. That is pure bally-hoo, if I may use the expression. We must develop New Guinea quickly. If the people of New Guinea gain the right of self-determination and if we do the right thing by them, they might say that for their own preservation and protection they would like New Guinea to be part of Australia.
Speaking personally, I can see nothing wrong with that, if it is what the people want. Provided that they had the right of self-determination and made that decision by referendum, and Australia agreed to accept New Guinea as the seventh State of Australia, I would certainly not oppose such a move; I would welcome it. I can see nothing wrong with bringing New Guinea, as fast as we can, to a stage of responsibility where it can take its place as a nation of the world, as the African states are doing at present. If the Government, regardless of its party political colour, put its mind to the task, I am sure that it could make a very much better job of giving self-determination to the people of New Guinea within ten years than the job Belgium did in the Congo.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Senator Aylett, who has just resumed his seat, completely misrepresented what I said. He said that I wanted to see a return to the conditions which existed in the Congo. I said nothing of the sort. I said that 1 did not believe in developing the Territory of Papua and New Guinea too fast; that we should go only as fast as would enable the primitive people to respond, and if we go too fast we shall only create chaotic conditions which would be unacceptable to every group of people, except the Communists, conditions such as those that were brought about in the Congo.
[4.38]. - in reply - I have listened to this debate in regard to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea with a very great deal of interest. Although there are differences of opinion between honorable senators on the two sides of the chamber I think the basic point made by all honorable senators who have spoken was that they desire to see a betterment and development of the native population in the two territories. 1 say “ the two territories “ because by law they are two territories, although they are administered as one territory and there is no distinction between Papua and New Guinea in the administration.
I think back to the first time I visited New Guinea, which was in the mid-1930’s. At that time there were practically no communications, except by sea, and, as far as I could gather, education was left to the missionaries. The territories were composed of large coco-nut and rubber plantations, but scarcely any revenue at all was produced. There is not the slightest doubt that during the war New Guinea was practically wrecked. The development of towns and buildings was put back almost to tors by the end of the war. Immediately after the war, the Labour Government started to put the Territory in order and get it operating again as a going concern. Then the United Nations granted Australia trusteeship of the Territory of New Guinea.
Last year I was again in New Guinea fo~ about fifteen days. I went there to visit the Returned Servicemen’s League subbranches. When I landed at Port Moresby, which in the early days before the war was just a small settlement, and remembered the damage that had been caused during the war, I could hardly believe that the modern town, which Port Moresby is to-day, could have been built and be developing as it is in such a short time.
I do not intend to argue about who commenced Ihe work in New Guinea on education and similar matters. I do not think that question should enter into this debate. We should be thinking of what is being done for the Territory itself and for its inhabitants. I have no hesitation in saying that the progress made in both those respects has been extraordinary. The progress that has been made in the short period of fifteen years since the end of the last war is just magnificent. The credit for it must be given to the administrators, the European people who live there, and the natives themselves. Immediately on arriving there, one can see that many of the native population are in remunerative employment and in their various jobs they are doing a great work for themselves, their community and the two territories.
I will not go deeply into figures. There is room for a great deal of improvement in the field of education, but you cannot do everything in a day or a week. The present transport and communication facilities are marvellous, due, of course to air travel. When I was there in the mid-1 930’s, parts of the Territory were practically out of reach except by horseback, but now within a. few hours or less than an hour, in some cases, one can go right into those areas by air and get on with the job. I think there is still great scope for improvement in the schools. Education is the basic work in the development of any community. From education you work to build up a thriving community that will be of benefit to those who are part of it. The primary schools are up to standard six. The number of scholars in Administration schools is 16,920, in mission schools 53,933, and in exempt schools 113,748. The exempt schools arc those which are run by the missions but are not yet recognized as schools because they are not up to the required standard. We must see whether is is possible to give the missions more support in order that they might bring those schools up to the standard to qualify for additional assistance. The total enrolment in preparatory schools, standard 6, was 184,601. In intermediate schools, standards 7, 8 and 9, there are 875 students enrolled at Administration schools and 541 at mission schools a total of 1,416. At secondary schools, there were 90 students enrolled at Administration schools, 345 at mission schools, and 77 at Australian secondary schools a total of 1,245. At technical training schools, there were 418 students enrolled at Administration schools, and 66 at mission schools a total of 484. For teacher training in the higher categories of education the number of enrolments was less there were 79 students enrolled at Administration schools and 43 1 at mission schools a total of 510. Coming to specialized courses, at the Central Medical School at Suva there were 27 assistant medical practitioners, laboratory assistants and dental assistants. At the Medical College at Port Moresby there were 18 medical assistants, and there were 129 nursing trainees at the Rabaul Central Hospital.
I had an opportunity to see quite a number of hospitals at Port Moresby, Lae, Rabaul and other places. The hospital at Port Moresby is one of the most up-to-date hospitals I have seen anywhere. It compares favorably with the hospitals we have in Australia. As Minister for Repatriation, I was very interested in the ex-servicemen who were receiving treatment in the Port Moresby Hospital for warcaused disabilities. They told me that they were quite prepared to stay there, instead of transferring to Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital in Queensland, as they were being well looked after. The hospital itself is clean and quite up to date. Perhaps other hospitals in the Territory are of a lower standard and not quiet so up to date as the Port Moresby Hospital. However, we cannot do everything in a year or two years, or even ten years. The important thing is to have a good starting point hospitals operating on sound lines.
The bill before the Senate will give to both the native population and the European population of New Guinea a greater degree of self-government than they have ever had. It is our objective that in time Senator Aylett says it will be ten years, but I would not be specific on that aspect the native people will be able to legislate for themselves and run the whole show as we in Australia are doing. I have not the slightest doubt that this measure will signify the beginning of a period at the end of which self-government will be granted to the Territory. I believe this to be the desire, not only of those honorable senators on both sides who have spoken during this debate, but also of those who have not spoken.
I am very pleased to be associated with the passage of this bill, which will result in a great improvement for the native people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I feel that, while they are not of the same colour as ourselves, they have an Australian spirit. Many of them fought side by side with Australian soldiers in New Guinea during the last war, and many made the supreme sacrifice in defending their country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Section thirtysix of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-sections (1.) to (4.) (inclusive) and inserting in their stead the following subsections: - “ (1.) The Legislative Council shall consist of thirtyseven members, namely: -
fourteen officers of the Territory, to be known as official members, appointed by the GovernorGeneral on the nomination of the Administrator;
twelve persons elected by electors of the Territory; and
ten persons, to be known as appointed members, appointed by the Governor General on the nomination of the Administrator. “ (2.) The Administrator shall so exercise his powers of nomination under paragraph (d) of the last preceding sub-section as to ensure that the appointed members include not less than five members resident in the Territory of New Guinea and not less than five native members. “ (3.) Until a date to be fixed by or under an Ordinance as the date on and after which natives are eligible to be enrolled as electors subject to the same conditions as apply to other persons, the Legislative Council shall include, instead of the members referred to in paragraph (c) of subsection (1.) of this section -
six persons elected by electors of the Territory; and
six persons elected by natives.
. -I move -
At end of sub-section (2.) add the following sub-section: - “ (2a.) Every adult resident in the Territory is entitled to enrolment as an elector for the electorate in which he resides.”.
It is not unusual for the Government, when this chamber is on the air, to seek to curtail the discussion of contentious issues. The issue now before us is vital to the defence of Australia and, from a humanitarian point of view, it is vital to the natives of the Territory. In this Parliament there is a certain political party, so called, whose representatives should speak on this subject if they want to play a part in the political functioning of this country. I understand that the position is that one of that party’s representatives was to speak but, by an arrangement with the Government or some representatives of the Government I shall put it that way that party decided not to be heard on this particular question. It is quite evident that the Government has determined that the consideration of this measure shall not be continued to-night, but that other business will be dealt with.
The amendment I have proposed is simply worded and it should be acceptable to the members of the Government. After all, it gives expression to an opinion that has been voiced by many people. I shall deal with the issues involved in this amendment with a sense of responsibility, not in accordance with Senator Kendall’s assessment yesterday. He followed me during the secondreading debate, and said -
After listening for some55 minutes to a tirade from Senator Dittmer, during which he hardly touched upon the matter under consideration at all . . .
Actually, if he had listened to me or if he had been present in the chamber I am not saying that he was not here he would have heard me deal with the basic principles of the bill affecting the constitution of the Legislative Council of Papua and New Guinea, particularly the basis of the franchise. He would have heard me quarrel with the limitation and the discrimination imposed by this measure. I dealt with the constitution of the Administrator’s council. I do not know that there are any other principles involved.
In his speech yesterday Senator Mattner departed from his usual role of urbanity and courtesy and entered the realm of garrulous irresponsibility. He had in his hands as he spoke what I feel certain would be regarded by everybody as rather more than copious notes, from which toe read very carefully and at great length. Senator Buttfield earlier today stated that there was no discrimination against the natives in the Territory. But discrimination is being practised in the right to vote. When 1 referred to discrimination I did not refer only to the exclusion of a native basket-ball team. I spoke of clubs. I spoke of areas on sports fields to which natives were restricted. I made it clear that I did. not seek to determine the rules of any club, sporting or social, but I did say that the rules should cover matters such as habits and hygiene, and should not be concerned with the pigmentation of a person’s skin.
Let us see what other people have said about the extension of the franchise. The people to whom I will refer are not unimportant people. They know the Territory probably better than does any honorable senator opposite. When delivering his secondreading speech the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that after an extensive tour of the Territory he had arrived at the conclusions to which the bill gives effect. He was referring to his recent tour. It certainly was an extensive tour in point of distance covered, but he spent only four days in the Territory, so it is beyond my comprehension how he could claim that his tour was extensive in the sense that he made close contact with the people.
Let us see what Mr. Lynch has to say on this subject of franchise. It is important for the people of Australia to know why the franchise has been limited. Mr. Lynch, who is Assistant Secretary for Law, speaking in Port Moresby, said -
The franchise should be immediately extended. . . .
For Senator Mattner’s information the date on which Mr. Lynch made that statement was 22nd July. In my speech on the second reading I did not give incorrect dates. I quoted from the newspaper cuttings in my hand. If Senator Mattner cares to peruse those cuttings he may do so, or if he asks for them to be tabled I will willingly table them. Honorable senators know that I am at all times willing to table documents in my possession. Mr. Lynch said -
Illiteracy or political naivete are no reason for refusing the franchise to the native people of the Territory … at the absolute minimum it should be extended to all members of the Public Service, including the auxiliary division.
Public servants, incidentally, may be disfranchised under this bill. It has been claimed that they may be permitted to vote at the elections, but there is no obligation on the Administrator or anybody else to give them a vote. I would like the Minister in his reply to deal with that aspect. At no stage has the Opposition refrained from praising the work of the administrative officers in the Territory. Despite what Senator Mattner said I did not malign anybody. I praised a number of people in the Territory, and I did not malign anybody within the boundaries of the Territory. I challenge Senator Mattner to prove otherwise. Mr. Lynch said that the franchise should be extended to -
All natives with junior certificates and graduate apprentices.
All natives on a Native Local Government Council roll.
All natives resident in towns for five years.
Such other classes of natives as the GovernorGeneral or the Administrator determines from time to time.
He said -
The aim should be to extend the voting machinery as quickly as possible to all areas except the “ restricted areas “.
That is the opinion of one man who should have a pretty fair idea of what is desirable and proper. He gave that opinion at a meeting of the Royal Institute of Public Administration. It was not an opinion that he gave on impulse. He had prepared a paper on the subject.
The “ Pacific Post “, in an editorial dealing with this subject, said -
From all the arguments expressed, some facts have emerged with startling clarity. First, this is a plural society, in which there is at the moment a dominant minority. Any political arrangement which continues to stress this dominance could hinder the harmonious growth of a plural community.
It is claimed that to avoid trouble on the African scale, the technique in the Territory should be to scramble political loyalties racially before nationalistic discontents appear. This would mean that Europeans might lose short term political advantages, but the result to be aimed at is the blending of a minority in a plural community into the whole of the community’s environment.
Self-rule will come some day, but long before that time there must be at least an honest attempt-
We on this side of the chamber claim that the Government is not making an honest attempt to grant self-government to the people of the Territory. The article continues -
The risks appear to be few.
Of course they are few, because the Commonwealth still has control. It will retain a majority of the 37 members in the proposed new Legislative Council. The “ Pacific Post “ editorial continues -
The Commonwealth, holding the purse strings, will have the final voice for many years, and meanwhile indigenous skills will be developed. Ten years ago, when the first Local Government Councils were established, it was claimed that the natives knew nothing about operating such councils. During the last decade they have come a long way in local government administration.
Perhaps there are risks in extending the franchise, but the natives eventually must be given the right to vote, and the evidence is accumulating that it appears wiser for this right to be given before it is demanded and while there is an atmosphere of political calm.
Dr. Reuben Taureka is possibly one of the most outstanding natives in the Territory. He is a serious man interested in his people. He is not interested in agitation or the creation of chaos, which some honorable senators opposite would have the people believe is the aim of the Australian Labour Party. One honorable senator opposite claimed that we of the Australian Labour Party associate ourselves with Communists. On the contrary, we divorce ourselves from Communists. I object strongly to any allegation that we have any sympathy with the Communists. Honorable senators opposite know that what I say is true, but they are getting ready for the next election and, with the assistance of the press, they will once again engage in a smear campaign of character assassination. That is the only way in which they can hope to retain control of the treasury bench.
– What has this to do with the subject before the committee?
– I will make my speech in my own way.
– I rise to order. 1 ask you, Sir, what this line of argument has to do with the subject before the committee.
– Order! There is no substance in the point taken by Senator McCallum. Senator Dittmer is quite in order and may continue.
– Thank you, Sir. Because of your knowledge of the Standing Orders, I know that if I transgress you will tell me. Dr. Reuben Taureka is reported by the “ South Pacific Post “ of 26th July last as having said -
An immediate extension of the franchise to include all natives was the first essential step towards achieving political unity in New Guinea.
Dr. Taureka made those remarks after he had given serious consideration to the subject. He was fully aware of all the difficulties associated with developing a relatively primitive people. He realized that there were difficulties of location and communication. He realized that there were difficulties associated with granting a franchise to the natives so that they would exercise it in their best interests.
He said there should be a common roll on which would be the names of the indigenes and the Europeans, all of whom would have the right to vote at the election for the Legislative Council. Yet, despite these opinions, supporters of the Government say we are irresponsible in our approach to this problem. On the contrary, we are people of real responsibility. We have a sense of proportion. We are putting the problem in perspective and are recognizing, not only the rights ofl the indigenes, but also the pressure of world opinion which is rapidly increasing and which will continue to increase.
We know that in some measure feeling will be stirred up by certain Communist countries for the purpose of their own aggrandisement or to suit their own plans for imperialistic expansion. But supporters of the Government are blind to the fact that there are many non-Communist nations that are interested in the government and development of the Territory. We must pay due regard to their opinions and wishes in the matter, because they are close to us and we want them to remain friends of ours. We do not want a repetition of the alienation of these people, as happened last week when a representative of Australia, at the behest of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, went to New York nominally to defend New Guinea but made a mess of things. Irrespective of whether his statement was correct or incorrect, the time at which he made it was essentially inopportune. We say that the time is now opportune for the Government to do something worth while in the interests of the natives and to meet world opinion. It is not a question of the natives not being able to look after themselves. They have shown in the local authorities what they can do.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to what part of the bill the honorable senator is relating his remarks. We find it very difficult to follow him.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I take it that Senator Dittmer is advancing reasons why adult residents are entitled to enrolment and are capable of participating in the government of the Territory. I cannot see that his remarks are so far removed from the clause under consideration that I should uphold the point of order.
- Mr. Temporary Chairman-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I do not think it would be wise for the committee to agree to the amendment, because the bill represents a great step forward towards selfgovernment in the Territory - a much bigger step than any one contemplated. Possibly the sense of urgency that has arisen as a result of pressure from outside has had something to do with it. I agree with all honorable senators who say that we must have that sense of urgency. But we must not allow ourselves to be driven by fear, to be panicked, or to be led to attempt to placate people outside this country. As far as the trust territory is concerned, a trust has been committed to us, with only general conditions, by the United Nations. What concerns that part of the Territory which has been annexed is purely a domestic matter. Therefore. I think we have a duty as well as a right to take the steps towards self-government in the order in which the wisdom of the Parliament, of the Government, and of the Administration, determines. 1 do not want to use a term that would offend any one in the Territory, but 1 point out that we are training and are attempting to develop a people who are just emerging from a primitive state. I have been to the Territory and have talked to many of the indigenes. I believe they are a highly intelligent people. That is revealed in the schools, when one talks to the pupils and the native teachers, and also in the native missionaries, some of whom I have met. I believe that, without forcing the case, without being hag-ridden by all the considerations that have been put before us, in time we will make these people capable of governing themselves. The step we are now taking will provide a roll and a franchise suitable to the present condition of the people. I believe that, to have a common roll, it would be necessary to have people with a common education, who are literate, and so forth, lt is in the interests, not of the European minority in the Territory, but of the indigenes that the conditions laid down in the bill should prevail.
The Opposition has quoted remarks made by people in the Territory. I, too, propose to quote the words of Dr. Reuben Taureka, who is one of the most esteemed of the indigenous people in the Territory. He has said definitely -
This is the first stage towards self-government.
Although he may have expressed a wish for more to be done, he has expressed himself as being quite satisfied with the step we have taken. Mr. Dowling, who is the president of the Chamber of Commerce in Rabaul, has expressed the same opinion. I believe that, if we support the bill, we are acting in the interests not of the white minority or of the bureaucracy but of the indigenes themselves.
I have seen these people in the local councils. I have spoken to the chairmen and the presidents of the councils and to the various officers. These natives accept the advice of the officers. They need a particular method of voting; they need guidance and advice. We should regard the bill as being not one which seeks to give immediate self-government but which is designed to begin a period of training for self-government. Let us not forget that that is the way in which self-government has been achieved by many countries, including our own. Self-government came to all the colonies by stages. Even the British Parliament, the mother of parliaments, evolved over hundreds of years before the final stage was reached.
I ask the committee to support the clause as it stands and not to accept the amendment. It is well to let the fruit ripen before you eat it. If we do the reverse, we will be acting against the interests of the indigenes and will perhaps ruin the whole scheme of self-government.
– I rise to speak, Mr. Temporary Chairman, mainly because the Australian Democratic Labour Party was attacked to a certain degree by Senator Dittmer.
– It was not attacked. I just wondered what had happened.
– I shall put the honorable senator right. It was arranged that the bill should be passed within a certain time. The reason why I did not speak was that the Opposition Whip, in collaboration with the Government, removed the names of certain Opposition senators from the list of speakers. The Democratic Labour Party was not in collaboration with the Government, but the Labour Party was. The honorable senator should get his facts straight before he starts to attack us.
– If you know of other facts, that is all right; but it does not alter the veracity of my statement.
– It does alter the veracity of what you said. You were quite wrong. In fact, one may doubt the veracity of a lot of what you say.
– It may alter-
– The amendment is quite an irresponsible one. The Opposition has taken the view that the action of the Government in placing a limitation on the right of the natives to vote is wrong. I point out that in this country, which regards its standard of education as being very high. we have the same thing. I am referring, of course, to the limitation that applies in respect of certain legislative councils.
– You are not accusing us of imposing that limitation, are you?
– I should say you are very pleased to have it. I know the people in Tasmania are. There would not be a Labour government in Tasmania now if it were not for the present composition of the Legislative Council; otherwise the Government could not introduce legislation and be certain that it would not be passed by the Council. The amendment is quite irresponsible, because the objective of the people supporting it; it goes deeper than the Australian Labour Party is to allow the natives to surge upwards very rapidly with very little education. We must educate the people of Papua and New Guinea before they are given the responsibility of governing their country. Certain nations have urged that these people be left on their own, with no economic advancement, because that would allow certain ideologies to permeate and overrun them. It is a part of the cold war.
That is the danger of the amendment at this stage. The Government, in its wisdom, has decided to extend the franchise to people with education. That is as far as it should go at present. As education extends, 1 presume that we shall have new bills extending the franchise. The matter is vital to Australia, as New Guinea is really our front door. It could be the place where we have our first physical contact with Communist countries. I have in mind West New Guinea. The Australian Labour Party would allow the Territory to develop without responsibility, with the result that it would be easy to subvert the people before they became educated and attained responsibility.
– If a war came, they would be responsible enough to light.
– They had that responsibility during the Second World War and they carried it to the best of their ability. If they were put against a Communist regime over the border, I do not think it would make much difference whether they fought or not.
– A Communist regime over the border?
– Our closest physical contact with a Communist country may be in West Irian.
– Is the inference that those who govern Indonesia at the moment are Communists?
– The trouble with you people is that you do not look ahead. You think only of what will happen from day to day.
– Of what happened yesterday.
– Even earlier than that. This amendment should be rejected. The Government has studied the subject very closely. The Minister for Territories is doing a good job in this respect.
– If in no other respect.
– I think that he has earned respect. He is doing quite a good job. Why should we interfere with what is being done by passing this amendment to give all the people the right to vote? We know what happens when ignorant people who want something done are herded together. I oppose the amendment.
– I am amazed that Senator Cole says that education should be a qualification for enrolment.I suppose he has forgotten that at the last election 12 per cent of the votes cast for the Senate were informal, yet we are supposed to be a highly educated and intelligent people. He cannot show that the Australian Labour Party in his own State has not attempted to widen the franchise for the Legislative Council.
The amendment seeks a widening of the franchise in the Territory. Let us remember that even if all the people on the roll in the Territory voted for one set of candidates, these would be like the opposition in any parliament. An opposition may have logic on its side, but, not having the numbers, it does not get very far. Clause 8 provides for the inclusion of the following sub-section in section 36 - (1.) The Legislative Council shall consist of thirtyseven members, namely: -
So, of the 37 members, 25 will not have to face the electors at all; only twelve will be elected.
The cause of the troubles in Africa that have worried us so much in recent years is that people have not been given opportunities to take part in the government of their countries early enough. What is wrong with allowing every one over the age of 21 to be put on the roll? Even if they all exercised the franchise, nothing that was done by the elected members could endanger the Administration’s policy. It will be a question, not of logic, but of numbers. I do not dispute that the Administration may have both the numbers and the logic, but even if it has not the logic, what it wants will go through.
Australia has been criticized by certain people at the United Nations. I am not referring to the leader of the Soviet delegation. I have no need to refer to him now. No doubt, in November and December of next year we shall hear so much about him that his name will be nauseating to the people of this country. Let us deal with the facts. The amendment provides that adults be enrolled. There is no suggestion that every one on the roll will be compelled to vote, as is the case in Australia. With all our talk about education, of the 4,500,000 people in this country who are entitled to vote at general elections for this Parliament, 12i per cent, cannot mark a ballot-paper validly.
– But they know that they are over 21 years of age.
– I do not mind if the Government amends the bill to provide for a definition of the word “ adult “.
– How do they know they are over 21 for a start?
– If you say that some of these people do not know whether they are over 21 years of age, you will at least widen the franchise if you qualify the word “ adult “. I recall that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that it is better to be too early than too late, and he was referring to the particular area that this bill covers.
– He was not referring to the amendment that has been moved by the Opposition.
– I am not saying he was, but he made the statement that in anything this Parliament does in the area under discussion it is far better to be too early than too late. I cannot see what objection the Government can have to this amendment. Government supporters no doubt have discussed the bill in their party room, as they have every right to do, and having made a decision, irrespective of the arguments put up, they refuse to accept any amendment. I regret that the Government adopts that attitude. We should allow the natives to be enrolled, and we should make this provision too soon rather than too late. Those who would become entitled to vote would not be able to do any harm because they would have the opportunity to elect only twelve of the 37 members of the council. Perhaps the Government feels that this amendment would affect even the ten members that are to be elected. I hope that that is not the thought.
I recognize how important Australia’s actions are in this area. It is a very bad advertisement when representatives of the United Nations visit New Guinea and issue a report to the effect that we are not doing the things that we ought to be doing. Such a report, to say the least, is not complimentary to Australia’s trusteeship. Surely, the area is not that large.
– The honorable senator is assuming that the report is accurate.
– My friend Senator Vincent said that I am assuming that the report is accurate. AH I am saying is that the report says that we are not doing as much as the four people who represented the United Nations would like to see us doing.
– Have you ever read that report?
– I am not agreeing in toto with the report, but it is a report that goes out to the world. For the life of me I cannot see why the Government is so adamant about this. The amendment cannot affect the purpose of the bill one iota. It cannot affect the Legislative Council and in all possibility it will not affect even the ten people to be elected.
– They were saying that about the Congolese six months ago.
– The action taken there might have been a little too early because the people were not sufficiently prepared for it. It is wise that this Government help the people of New Guinea to be prepared so that when the time comes to give them the right to govern themselves they will be in a position to do so. The Government should, carry out the dictum of the Prime Minister who said that it is far better to err on the side of being early than on the side of being too late. He made that statement about the area we are considering, no doubt thinking of what was happening in Africa.
I repeat that this amendment will not affect the bill to any large extent. It certainly cannot affect the Legislative Council. By rejecting it we are saying to the world that we will not even allow the natives to get their names on the roll. By allowing them to be enrolled, we do not compel them to vote. For the life of me I cannot see the reason for the opposition of the Government, and I say to Senator Cole that I cannot see anything irresponsible about this amendement.
– What will happen when the complexion of the legislature changes?
– We will deal with the position then.
– You “cannot take away the universality of the vote then.
– No one should know better than Senator Cole that he who gives can always take away. There is nothing irresponsible about this amendment. Senator Dittmer reads statements made by people in New Guinea to the effect that they want this amendment. I never heard any Government supporter say that those people were irresponsible. I heard my friend Senator McCallum praise one of the men and no doubt that man deserved the praise that Senator McCallum gave him. Why should the Government be so frightened? There is nothing to be frightened about. The people who would obtain the right to vote cannot do any harm. The Government has gummed the position up in such a way that it would not matter if babies were enrolled, because only twelve of the 37 members of the council are to be elected.
I hope that the Government will give further consideration to this amendment and I repeat that it should keep in mint* that with all our boast about education in this country 12 of every 100 voters at general elections for this Parliament cannot record a formal vote.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The two honorable senators from the Government side who have spoken have given no valid reason why the amendment should not be accepted. Of course, they may not have been speaking on behalf of either the Minister or the Government but were merely putting forward their own views. However, Senator McCallum did not even touch on the amendment. Having heard the remarks of both honorable senators, I doubt whether they have read the amendment. After all, we do not propose to provide for any form of compulsion, to interfere with the liberty of the natives, or anything of that nature. The amendment merely seeks to provide that every adult resident in the Territory shall be entitled to enrolment as an elector for the electorate in which he resides.
If we want to give the people of the Territory self-government at some future time, should they not now be entitled to have their names on the roll of electors? The amendment does not seek to compel natives to enrol. If they want to enrol and have a say in who their elected representative shall be, what is the objection? Let us consider the complicated procedure for which the bill provides, and compare it with the simple method that would be provided if the amendment were adopted. I suggest that the procedure provided for in the bill is confusing. There is also the possibility that it could be wangled so that a certain person would be chosen as the candidate. That could not happen if the Opposition’s proposal were accepted.
The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) stated in his second-reading speech in another place -
There will be six electorates, each returning one member. When ari election is to be held the chief electoral officer will call for nominations. The nomination of native candidates will be free and open to individuals. The nominations will pass into the keeping of the chief electoral officer who will have the responsibility of summoning an electoral conference in each of the six electorates at a designated time and place and calling on all local government councils to send delegates to it. The councils entitled to take part in an electoral conference and the number of delegates that each will be entitled to send will be set down in regulations under the relevant Territory ordinance. The chief electoral officer or a divisional returning officer will preside over each electoral conference and, after opportunity has been given for discussion and that period of discussion will be most important as I am sure will be recognized by every one familiar with the community up there and after an opportunity has been given for addresses by the candidates, a vote of the delegates to the conference will be taken by secret ballot, each delegate voting individually.
Consider all the processes involved in choosing delegates to go to the conference. Then, when they get to the conference, the intellectuals amongst the natives will have a secret ballot. What is wrong with the intellectuals being allowed to have their names on the electoral roll? Also, what is wrong with the natives who are not so intellectual and who are not sufficiently fortunate to be elected as delegates to an electoral conference, having a secret ballot?
An honorable senator has said that if we educated the natives too quickly it might help the Communists to get a foothold in the Territory. I do not know what he meant when he said that if we went too fast in raising the standards of the natives we might play into the hands of the Communists. Does he want to hold them back? Does he want to deprive them of the right to vote and run the risk of an eventual dictatorship, under which it would be easy for the Communists to get power? Surely if natives are competent to select delegates to go to an electoral conference they also are competent to vote. Our job in New Guinea is to try to teach the natives the western way of life. By allowing them to enrol, we should be saying to them, in effect, “ Do you want our western system of elections? Do you want to put your name on the roll? You can listen to the candidates and then choose the one you wish to represent you “. That would give them something to think about. Senator Vincent laughs, but I think that if we did that we would discover whether the natives really were interested in the western way of life. We should give people who do not understand our ways or who, it is claimed do not understand our ways the right to make a free choice. We have the opportunity to teach the natives the western method of conducting elections. I think that the natives who were interested certainly would place their names on the roll. In the course of time, when those not on the roll complained about the shortcomings of the elected representatives, those on the roll could say, “ You had the opportunity to vote. It is your own fault if you fail to do so “. In my opinion, there is no better way to teach the people of New Guinea about electoral methods than to give them experience of the way in which we run elections.
Is there anything wrong with teaching the natives of the Territory democracy from the beginning? By allowing them to enrol as electors, we could provide them with an opportunity to participate willingly in democracy. If this right is not given to the natives now, no doubt in the future an Australian government will say, “ The Territory is ready for self-government. We shall compel the people to enrol and to vote, whether they know anything about electoral affairs or not “.
It cannot be denied that no people are better able to say who should represent the natives on the Legislative Council than the natives themselves. I suggest to the Minister that the Government is going about this matter in a roundabout way. It is providing for the holding of three or four different conferences before a representative is chosen. Incidentally, the Administration has a say in the way in which the representative should be chosen. The method proposed is, I think, far less democratic than that proposed by the amendment, and as I have said, no valid reason has been given why the amendment should not be accepted.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
.- I support the amendment moved by Senator Dittmer. I do not want to delay the Senate. The very argument used by Senator Cole in opposing this amendment, which aims to give adult franchise to the people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, is a very potent reason why the Government should agree to the amendment. Senator Cole said that in Australia we already have legislatures elected on restricted franchise.
We know that from bitter experience, and we know that they are privileged legislatures. We do not want to implant in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea a type of legislature with which we have had great difficulty in some States of the Commonwealth. It is also apparent that in opposing this amendment the Government is acting more or less under duress and is not giving this improved form of government to the Territory of its own free will.
Senator Buttfield criticized the speech of Senator O’Byrne in which he suggested that adult franchise should be granted to the native people of the Territory. She said that she hoped Senator O’Byrne’s speech would not be made available to the United Nations. I do not think she can deny that she said that. I have an idea that all Australians are very sorry that the United Nations ever heard a certain speech; and that is the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who, unfortunately, has again indicated that he is a complete failure in the field of international affairs. In 1956 he went overseas, elbowed the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Casey, as he then was, out of the way, and went to Egypt to discuss the Suez crisis. We all know that he made an ignominious retreat from Egypt.
Order! I ask the honorable senator to keep to the amendment.
– He would not know what is in the bill.
– You can tell me afterwards. What I am pointing out is quite relevant to the amendment because we do not want to fall into the same pitfall in New Guinea, as we have in the cases to which I have referred, by not making proper provision for self-government of the Territory.
As I have said, it is apparent that the Government is not giving the Territory this measure of self-government of its own volition. One needs only to refer to the statement of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) on 23rd August of this year in which he said -
It is worth recalling that Australia herself took a notable part in the discussions which led to the setting up of the trusteeship system of the United Nations, and that at the first general assembly in 1946 we were among the first nations to make a declaration indicating readiness to conclude agreements respecting the mandated territories under our control. We did not come reluctantly to the trusteeship system. We helped to promote it and we were among the first to embrace it.
I emphasize that that occurred in 1946 when the present Minister for Territories was an officer of the Department of External Affairs and a Labour government was in power. It is very interesting to note that in 1945, when the Labour government introduced legislation to make arrangements for Australia to take over the Territory of New Guinea as a trust territory, not one Liberal Party member of the then Opposition agreed that Australia should take over the Territory under the trusteeship system.
I have a list of statements taken from the “ Hansard “ report of that particular debate. I will not go through then in detail. Mr. Beale, who is now the Australian Ambassador to the United States of America, said among other things -
I am completely in favour of annexation.
Mr. Harold Holt said ;
Why all this talk about trusteeship? Why do supporters of the Government object so indignantly to the suggestions that New Guinea might be annexed?
The late Sir Thomas White said -
Australia should have retained the territory as South Africa has retained its territories.
Mr. McEwen, the present Acting Prime Minister, said that this trusteeship system would make Australia answerable to small South American nations.
I want to show, by mentioning those few statements, that the Government is actually reluctant to grant to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea the measure of socalled self-government that is proposed a? the present time. The Government is not prepared to grant adult franchise. As has been pointed out by honorable senators on this side of the chamber, adult franchise should be granted initially because we do not want to implant in the Territory a system of government with which we have had considerable trouble in some States on the mainland of Australia, namely, legislatures elected by restrictive franchise. If that system of government is implanted, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to rectify the position.
It has been pointed out that eves if adult franchise is granted to the people of the Territory, for all practical purposes the policy of the Government will not be affected because only twelve of the 37 members of the Legislative Council will be elected. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Kennelly, has said, even if those twelve members have the logic, they will not have the numbers, f believe that it would be a retrograde step to grant to the Territory any form of selfgovernment without granting the people adult franchise.
– Are you not completely ignoring the fact that the native people do not want adult franchise?
– Senator Buttfield also said - I notice she is interjecting and asking for more - that there is no colour bar in New Guinea. I had the privilege of being a member of the delegation to the opening of the Legislative Council in Port Moresby in 1951. On that occasion I saw evidence of the colour bar. After the opening of the Legislative Council in Port Moresby, a dinner to celebrate the occasion was held in the Hotel Papua. The elected native representatives received an official invitation to that dinner, as did the rest of us. At that dinner, th, management of the hotel instructed the waitresses not to serve the elected native members - legislative councillors - with liquor. Honorable senators may read reports in the mainland papers of that time which stated that a Labour senator served them with liquor. I am proud to say that I was the Labour senator to which those reports referred.
– It is a pity that it was not your permanent occupation.
– Although you are supposed to be right, I would never serve you. You are not right all the time. You are the Hobart howler.
– Order! The honorable senator should proceed with the debate.
– Senator Buttfield said that there was no colour bar in New Guinea. I could not understand why she said that, if she had been there, because definitely there is a colour bar operating in the Territory at the present time. Australia has been under criticism in relation to its management of this trust territory.
We do not want to fall into the error of making it something that could develop into a second Congo, because we all know what has happened there recently. A little while ago I read a report in a paper to the effect that the Prime Minister of the Congo - or ons of the two men who claim that office - had challenged his rival to a duel. We do not want that sort of thing to happen in a country that is under the trusteeship of Australia, so I suggest that the Government has nothing to lose and everything to gain by accepting the amendment, because its administration of the trusteeship has been criticized.
The Prime Minister of Australia made a very bad impression, I think, on world opinion by his original statement on the South African question. One cannot deny that the opinion was held in some parts of the world that, as Mr. Menzies had on that occasion more or less upheld the attitude of the South African Government, we had something to hide in New Guinea and other places under our control. We should show the world that we have nothing to hide. We should give to the whole of the adult population of the Territory the right to vote. As I said before, if we impose on the Territory now a form of restricted franchise, in later years the Territory will have great difficulty in obtaining the adult franchise which is essential to democratic government.
– You want another Congo.
– I said a moment ago that we do not want another Congo. 1 suggest to you, Sir Neil, that if you listen you will learn a little.
Order! It is not in order to address a member of this chamber other than as “ Senator “.
– 1 advise Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan to listen to me. If he does he may learn something. I suggest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the logical course for the Government to follow is to accept our amendment, thus indicating the sincerity and honesty of the statements that we intend ultimately to grant selfgovernment to the Territory. It should make the franchise available to all of the adult population in the Territory. It wo ;!d have nothing to lose by doing so. The eyes of the world are on our administration of the trusteeship at the present time. The matter has been mentioned in the United Nations, and there has been some criticism from that quarter of Australia’s management of the Territory. I urge the Government to accept the amendment that was proposed by Senator Dittmer.
[8.15]. - It appears to me that the Opposition, by moving this amendment, which has been discussed at length, is working towards the objective that the Government has in mind, but with a different angle of approach. It also seems to me that the Opposition has not had as good an opportunity as the Government to ascertain from the representatives of the natives the desires of the people of Papua and New Guinea. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has stated that he went to Papua and New Guinea for the specific purpose of meeting, not only the leaders and representatives of the native population, but also the representatives of the Europeans engaged in industry and commerce in the Territory. He wanted to find out their reaction to the proposal to introduce a measure to alter the constitution of the Legislative Council, as a step towards the granting of self-government to Papua and New Guinea, and to obtain their advice. Mr. Hasluck carefully considered what would be the best method to adopt. Each of the leaders of the natives whom he consulted on the matter said that he did not think the time was opportune to give a full adult franchise - full voting powers - to the people of New Guinea. That was the view of the leaders of the natives themselves, and the advice that they gave to Mr. Hasluck.
Whom are we to believe? Are we to believe the leaders of the natives in New Guinea that we want to help, or the Opposition? I admit that some honorable senators opposite have been to New Guinea, but not all of them. The Minister for Territories obtained all the advice that he could get from the representatives of the people in New Guinea and he has accepted that advice. He has provided that a period of time shall elapse before a universal francise is given to the people throughout New
Guinea. I understand that the new council will hold office for a period of three years, if nothing untoward occurs during that period. That is the period for which the House of Representatives in this Parliament is elected. Surely this method of election should be given a trial for three years. That is not a long time to wait to see whether it proves successful. If it is successful, consideration could be given then to granting a full franchise to the whole of the population of New Guinea and Papua. I consider that that is preferable to blundering in now and giving a full franchise at once, contrary to the advice of the representatives of the people of the Territory. If we did, and then found we had made a mistake, we would be in a difficult position. We are tackling this problem step by step which, I think, is the best method to adopt. Evidently the Opposition agrees with all of the provisions of the bill apart from the provision in clause 8 concerning the method of voting. I ask the committee to give this arrangement a trial. It will be on trial for three years. I do not know whether we shall need more than three years. However, after three years we shall know how the people of New Guinea react to this provision. After all, they are the people that we want to help. The main objective of all parties in this Parliament is to help the people of New Guinea.
– Will this council be elected for a term of three years?
– I understand that it will be elected for a period of three years.
– The bill makes no mention of that.
– The term is three years.
– There is nothing specific in the bill.
– After the council is elected, in February or March next year, a further election will take place three years later.
– Does the bill provide that the council will be altered after three years?
– The council will be elected for a period of three years, but the method of voting will not specifically be altered. The system is on trial. If the trial is successful and beneficial to the people of New Guinea, the system may continue for another three years or six years. Everything depends on its effect on the people of New Guinea.
– That is what we are afraid of.
– The honorable senator does not seem to realize that the council is elected every three years. Surely he does not think that the council will do a disservice to the people of the Territory. The native population will have its representatives on the council to speak for it. We on this side of the chamber are anxious as are honorable senators to give the people of the Territory an Australian square deal. By trial and error over a period of three years we shall see how this system works. It is not definite that in three years’ time the native population will have a full franchise, but we shall know more about the people of New Guinea in three years’ time than we do at present. I cannot see any reason why the Government’s attitude should be questioned. We will give these people a vote when they are able to understand what they are doing. They will then be in a far better position to register an effective vote than they are at present.
– My proposed amendment seeks to have every adult resident in the Territory enrolled as an elector for the electorate in which he resides.
– Irrespective of his ability to read or write?
– In India and other places in the world people who cannot read or write are still entitled to vote. Even in Australia we have people who cannot read or write, but they are entitled to a vote. The honorable senator who interrupted me would not stand on a platform and deny any Australian over the age of 21 years the right to vote.
I congratulate the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) on his courteous approach to this matter. Hs dealt with it intelligently. He was coldly analytical, but at the same time delightfully vague. He said that, according to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), the natives of the Territory do not want a full franchise. My amendment does not suggest that they be given a full franchise. The Labour Party is not suggesting compulsory enrolment. We are not suggesting a compulsory system of voting. We are merely suggesting that those who wish to be enrolled should be enrolled, and that if they wish to vote they should be allowed to do so.
Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan is interjecting, but all I want is a chance to make my speech. The Government was anxious to close the debate. I would like to meet the wishes of the Government, as I usually do. However, if I am to be interrupted by honorable senators opposite I will remain on my feet, because I will not be denied my right. I am concerned with the interests of Australia and those of the people who live in the Territory. The Australian Labour Party has been criticized because its members have dared to criticize this bill. The inference has been that we on this side of the chamber are taking the part of the Communist Party.
– You are not offending them, are you?
– If Senator Sir Neil O’sullivan wishes to speak he may do so for two periods each of fifteen minutes. Honorable senators opposite should not feel that there is something reprehensible in our opposition to certain parts of this bill. I have yet to hear that avoidance of the truth is a virtue. Just because honorable senators opposite support the Government they should not think that they are above criticism. They certainly will not be above criticism from honorable senators on this side of the chamber if they are guilty of any wrong-doing.
– Order! The honorable senator will please address the Chair.
– I am sorry, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I was carried away by the rude remarks of some honorable senators opposite.
I wish to deal briefly with some of the remarks passed this afternoon by Senator McCallum. He said that we should not be driven by fear. We on this side of the chamber certainly are not driven by fear. We will not be stampeded even by world opinion, but we do accept the obligation to pay due regard to it. It is our duty to ensure that the basic humanitarian rights of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea are protected. Senator McCallum referred to the limitation of the franchise. As we all know, Senator McCallum is a thoughtful man. He is highly intelligent, and he told us that in his opinion the natives of the Territory are highly intelligent. Nevertheless, he would deny them the right to a franchise. He was not referring to compulsory enrolment but to natives who desired to be enrolled. He said that Dr. Taureka said that the franchise was the first step towards self-government. I accept that statement. Senator McCallum then said that Dr. Taureka was satisfied with the Government’s proposals. But it does not necessarily follow that Dr. Taureka is satisfied. He may be prepared to accept a slice of bread when he knows that he cannot get the entire loaf. For that reason, being highly intelligent and coldly analytical, Dr. Taureka said that the franchise was the first step towards self-government, but that Australia should move further ahead. The Government is not giving anything away. All it is doing is giving the people of the Territory an opportunity to learn to govern themselves more rapidly than might otherwise be the case. I do not think that Dr. Taureka is satisfied. I do not challenge the statement that Dr. Taureka said that the Government’s proposal represented the first step towards self-government, but I think that Senator McCallum will agree that it does not necessarily follow that Dr. Taureka is satisfied.
Senator Cole said that the amendment was irresponsible. Over these last two days we of the Opposition have attempted to show that we possess a sense of responsibility and lack a sense of irresponsibility. I think the tenor of the debate has proved that. Do honorable senators opposite suggest that the fact that we are trying to confer on individuals rights that have been advocated by the United Nations shows that we are possessed of a sense of irresponsibility? The honorable senator said that we want these people to surge upwards too rapidly. We are not desirous that they surge upwards too rapidly. We realize the difficulties that are involved. If Senator Cole had been here yesterday when I was speaking, he would have heard me deal in some detail with the difficulties associated not only with the primitive habits of these people but also with the terrain on which they live.
We believe that within the limits of safety from their own viewpoint and in keeping with the rights of the Australians who have gone up there and have done such a magnificent job, we should do as much as we can to help these natives forward. We should do that not only as a matter of right but also because of the increasing pressure of world opinion which has been sponsored, we must admit, in some measure by Communist countries for their own selfish purposes. But as I have mentioned, they are not alone in advocating the conferring of such rights. We must also consider the attitude of countries in the AfroAsian bloc, which for many years have suffered the exploitation of their lands and brutality at the hands of whites. Those countries are not particularly trustful of the white countries. For that reason, we should do something substantial for the natives of Papua and New Guinea. By conferring upon them the rights that we seek to confer we are just giving them the right to learn as quickly as possible. Under this legislation, the Government will still have the authority to control them. Less than 33 per cent, of the proposed membership of the new Legislative Council is to be accorded to elected representatives. So what danger can there be?
Irrespective of what Senator Cole may say or seek to imply about a tie-up between the Australian Labour Party and the Communists countries, we are not beholden to those countries. Probably the greatest number of people who are beholden to the Communists are those who oppose the Australian Labour Party and who utilize communism constantly and particularly before each election to defeat the party and to frustrate its legitimate aspiration to assist the people of Australia in developing this nation.
Senator Cole said that the Government was studying the position in the Territory. Does he not think that the authorities I have quoted have studied the position? Does he not think they aire closer to the people of the Territory than are the. people here in Canberra? Does he not think they realize the disabilities and difficulties that are associated with changing circumstances? The honorable senator finished by saying that this amendment, if agreed to, would give to every one the right to vote. I thought I made that point clear yesterday. I made it clear this afternoon, and I am making it specifically clear now that that is not so. If these people desired to enroll and subsequently to vote, they would have that specific right. Let us not forget that, under this bill, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, with a population of 1,700,000, of whom probably 700,000 are adults, we propose to confer equal voting rights on 24,000 people, of whom probably 8,000 will be adults. That is the position as I see it and as any intelligent person would see it.
I think it was Senator Vincent - if I am wrong I shall apologize to him later - who asked: How would they know when they had reached adulthood? Does the honorable senator know that now, in relation to the native councils, natives many years younger than 21 are voting? Apparently the Government of which he is a supporter has experienced no difficulty in determining the age of those people. In future perhaps the honorable senator will inquire a little more carefully about how the Government approaches the matter of according responsibility to the natives. We may say that the whole question is very difficult. Of course, it is. But the Opposition objects to the two basic principles that are contained in the bill. The bill provides for a restricted franchise. It is all very well to say that the Administrator will decide that the educated people such as the teachers, medical assistants, nurses, laboratory assistants, administrative officers and others employed in government departments shall be given the right to representation. If that is what the Government desires, why does it not specifically say so?
The bill is delightfully vague. That is because of one of three things. Either the Government is cowardly - I do not think it is - or it is unwise. But it is not necessarily unwise, even though on occasions it is. On the other hand, it may be displaying a reversion to ultra-conservatism. And I really think that that is the basis of this bill. I have paid a tribute to the vast majority of the people who are in the Ter ritory, but there are still persons who believe that the unfortunate natives are merely beasts of burden with two feet instead of four. The form in which the bill has been drafted is not inconsistent with that attitude of mind.
The Government should face up to the responsibility of recognizing the rights of the natives. Supporters of the Government say that the Opposition is stupid in its approach to this problem. But let us see what the Dutch are doing in West New Guinea. In that area there are 700,000 people, and the land is much poorer than that in New Guinea but possibly not much poorer than that in Papua. Do honorable senators opposite know what the Dutch propose to do for the people of West New Guinea? The relevant legislation has been passed by both Houses of the Dutch Parliament and is only awaiting Royal Assent, and elections are to be held in March or April next. The Dutch propose to give the franchise to every person of the age of eighteen years and over. Fifteen representatives are to be elected and thirteen are to be nominated - quite the reverse of what this Government proposes to do in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I repeat that there will be universal adult franchise for persons eighteen years of age and over in the controlled areas.
– In the controlled areas?
– Yes. Senator Mattner dealt with me yesterday. I replied to him most effectively and most courteously this afternoon, and incidentally I completely debunked what he said.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I do not want to delay the passage of the bill, but I wish to say a word or two in reply to Senator Dittmer. I did say that the people of the Territory were highly intelligent, but high intelligence alone is not a sufficient safeguard against misuse of the ballot. My grandchildren are highly intelligent and are learning the task of self-government very well, but they are not yet lit to elect the Government of this country. I believe that the safe, right and proper way to help the indigenes of
Papua and New Guinea towards selfgovernment is to agree to the carefully drafted provisions of this bill.
With regard to the present method of electing members of the local councils, there is not a ballot such as we have here in Australia. They have what is called a whispering ballot; the voter goes to an officer and tells him whom he wants to vote for. In all these local councils the officer concerned has to act almost as a schoolmaster. The natives rely on his judgment. I believe that the keeping of separate rolls for some time is necessary. Of course, the ultimate aim is the common roll. If we were to insist upon it now, with many of the people knowing nothing and with a vast number just beginning to be educated, it would be impossible to have anything like the sort of democracy that we have here. A false, premature step might jeopardize everything that followed.
Senator Dittmer referred to what the Dutch are doing. I was in the Netherlands New Guinea. I say that the Dutch are doing some things very well, but I do not approve of a policy - whoever follows it - of merely building up what is called an 61ite, without general education for the whole body of the people. If .you get an indigenous elite, it can easily degenerate into a mere bureaucracy or oligarchy. Unless there is something like public opinion, unless there are educated, trained and enlightened people scattered right through the country, you will not get anything that you could call self-government.
I want to emphasize that my whole concern is for the indigenous inhabitants. The European people who are there also have their rights, and I hope that ultimately they will be completely safeguarded by proper relations between the two peoples. I have discussed all of these problems with officers of the Administration and with some of the indigenous people, including a present member of the Legislative Council. All of the native people who are vocal and with whom you can talk say that they are prepared to trust our officers. We must accept this trust. We have a responsibility and a duty. We must not allow ourselves to be persuaded to act too quickly, simply because of a fear of what will happen to us. If we were thinking only of ourselves, we could jettison New Guinea - throw it to the United Nations, or to any one who would take it - but that would be a betrayal of duty and a breach of trust, and therefore I am against it.
I believe that if every provision of this bill is accepted now, any provision that is a little behind the times can be rapidly remedied. If the Opposition is really thinking of the interests of the inhabitants of the Territory, it will assist us to get the bill through as quickly as possible and to get the new scheme working.
.- I desire to say a few words to direct attention to a state of affairs that has not been mentioned. First, I direct attention to the publication “ Outlook “, which has been circulated. As one who has been reading the history of the rise and decline of imperialisms as far back as it is possible to go, I consider that the article in this publication headed “ Background to a Nation “ is one of the best reasoned theses on Papua and New Guinea that it has ever been my privilege to read. It has been prepared by a group of historians, economists and anthropologists with a special interest in the field of New Guinea studies. For now well-established reasons these contributors prefer to preserve their anonymity. I can quite understand their attitude, knowing as I do from years of experience how men and women in privileged positions have been penalized because they have expressed opinions contrary or in opposition to those of the government of the day. I propose to read one paragraph of the thesis, which should be studied by every honorable senator. This is one of the best written and closely reasoned expositions that it has been my privilege to study. After dealing with the historical background of New Guinea, leading up to the present day, the authors say -
The first requirement of a sound New Guinea policy is the recognition that Australian responsibility is historically limited. We must be prepared for the time in the not-too-distant future (and it won’t be decades, but years), when demands for self-government will come from within PapuaNew Guinea. We must plan in the hope that when these demands are made Australia can retire gracefully, leaving behind as sound and friendly a political society as possible.
Then follows an explanation of how it can and should be done. A lot more of the article could be quoted with advantage, but 1 do not wish to take up the time that would be necessary. 1 want to give some reasons why we should carry the amendment, in the light of our experience, not in the remote past but in our time - within recent years.
Senator Cole referred to education. Education by practical experience is quite different from mere theorizing based upon subjective or objective categories and assumptions. People, whether merely primitive or highly educated, are influenced most, in conformity with their understanding, by self-interest and self-preservation. That is the driving force within all of us, whether we be natives of New Guinea or members of this Parliament. The education of to-day does not deal with the science of politics; in other words it does not deal with social science. I know of no school that teaches social science and the social relationships between man and man. There are two approaches - the mathematical approach, whereby it is assumed that the part is greater than the whole, and the geometrical approach, which assumes - rightly so, in my opinion - that the whole is greater than the part. Most of the approaches that are made are purely mathematical. Statistics are purely mathematical and they are accepted ex cathedra as being beyond contradiction or beyond question until the time arrives when reality has to be faced. What is the position in this country? We have an adult franchise. In order to give people some idea of their responsibilities, it was decided that voting should be made compulsory. As Senator Dittmer said, the amendment does not propose that voting be made compulsory in the Territory. The people will be able to please themselves whether or not they vote. In my opinion, that is as it should be.
I have studied the rise and decline of imperialisms. Imperialism, or political authority and domination, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. The wider the imperialism, the greater is the tendency to revolt, and to revolt successfully. The Congo, Cuba and Kenya are all rebelling; and because it is beyond the power of the imperialists concerned to enforce their authority, they are rebelling successfully. The Americans hesitate to take any action in regard to Cuba. Years ago they would not have hesitated to do so in such circumstances.
Let us consider Australia itself. During the years 1853, 1854 and 1855, we were denied an extended franchise. We rebelled at Eureka - the weakest link in the chain - and succeeded up to a point. In 1776, the Americans were denied the franchise and they rebelled. The methods they adopted involved considerable bloodshed. The technique to-day does not seem to be very much different from what it was in the past. The lessons of the past have not been understood or learnt as they should have been. We should bear in mind what is happening throughout the world to-day as we see the weakest links of imperialistic domination breaking because the countries concerned are rebelling against their economic conditions. They are rebelling against increasing poverty and the increasing fear of another war. They want the right to decide and determine their affairs for themselves, even though they may lack the education which we think we possess.
People learn only by doing things. The hardest school is that of practical experience. It is an old saying that practical experience without theory is blind and theory without practical experience is futile. The most reliable men and women in the world have had a background of practical experience plus theory. One of the deficiencies in this institution is that some men with academic qualifications have had very little practical experience.
– There are exceptions.
– I qualified my statement. I said that there are some who have had no practical experience. I was not referring to you. I admit there are exceptions. My point is that education does not consist merely in going to school and memorizing certain theories. Members of universities are beginning to realize that universities should give a lead in these matters. As far back as 1931, Professor William McDougall, a physiological psychologist and one of the most highly qualified men of his day, pointed out that the universities were lagging because they were not dealing with practical affairs. Then came Dr. Alexis Carrel, who was a leading member of the Rockefeller Institute for 30-odd years. He made a similar statement.
If we want to do justice to the people of New Guinea, irrespective of whether we think they are educated to the point to which we are educated, we must encourage them to take an interest in their own affairs. If we do not do that but allow a position to develop similar to that which has developed in Africa, America, and even in Asia, wel. will be faced with a worse position than we have had to face in the past. We are living in a period of modern machine slavery and savagery. Unless we are very careful we will have a war that possibly will annihilate the world. There was never an age in the history of man when slaves to machines produced wealth of all kinds so quickly, so cheaply and so enormously in excess of the subsistence wage which is appropriated by private monopolies.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– This debate has taken a lot longer than we thought it would.
– It is a very important debate.
– The Opposition does not like the idea of facing to-morrow the bill that has been introduced by the Democratic Labour Party. That is why it is stringing out this debate.
Order! Honorable senators will cease interjecting.
– It would be impossible to carry out the principle contained in th; amendment that has been moved by the Labour Party. I cannot see for one moment how a body of natives that have not yet been contacted could be given a vote. The Labour Party suggests that there should be adult franchise: but some 500,000 of the people living in these areas have not been contacted up to date. The Government believes that eventually there should be adult franchise in this area, but that the natives are not ready for it at the present time.
The whole idea of this bill is to give a vote to a greater number of native people living in New Guinea and Papua, but we cannot at this stage give a vote to people who are completely uncivilized. Whether we like it or not, we must recognize that there are some 500 different tribes in New Guinea speaking 500 different dialects. They have developed during the last ten or fifteen years to the stage where the Government is prepared to alter the voting system and to increase the size of th_Legislative Council from 29 to 37 mein bers. The Government proposes to increase the number of elected members of the council. Up to the present, three members have been elected but this bill will provide for twelve elected members. In the present council there are sixteen official members but this bill will reduce the number to fourteen, and the number of nonofficial members will be increased from nine to ten. Whereas previously the official representation could never be defeated, under this legislation that will be possible. The people of the Territory, particularly th, native people, will have far greater authority than they have under the pres(legislation. Despite that, we have this amendment from the Labour Party which seeks to give the adult franchise to all th<; people living in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– Read the amendment.
– Very well. It reads: “ Every adult resident in the Territory is entitled to enrolment as an elector for the electorate in which he resides “. I think that the Opposition is trying to spread the net too widely.
We heard a speech earlier this evening from an honorable senator from Tasmania, who said that the Government did not propose, and had never proposed at any stage, to give the residents of Papua and New Guinea self-government.
– Who said that?
– A member of the Senate.
– Name him.
– I shall not name him. I do not think I should do so. If he is as irresponsible as that, I should not care to name him at this juncture. I think it would be terribly wrong, however, if that impression were to be given to the public.
– Why do you not name him?
– The excellent work being done by this Government in developing New Guinea is costing the Australian taxpayer £14,500,000 a year. The Government is spending more per head of population in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea than is being spent in any other trust territory in the world. I believe that we have a record of which we can be proud. I think, too, that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has been very conscientious, and has done a better job than perhaps any other person in Australia could do. Honorable senators opposite screw up their faces when I say that, but they must appreciate that nobody in the Australian Labour Party could do nearly as good a job as the Minister has done.
– You are only following the Labour pattern.
– For the information of Senator Dittmer and other honorable senators opposite, I have here a few figures which I propose to cite, because they are very interesting. In the last ten years we have established in the Territory four large base hospitals, 101 subsidiary hospitals and 1,200 aid posts. We have assisted the missions to build 92 hospitals and 420 aid posts. We and the missions have in operation to-day 578 maternal welfare clinics. There are in the Territory 119 doctors, 16 dentists, 17 chemists and 347 nurses. Those figures surely indicate that we have gone ahead with the development of the Territory.
The Government wants the people of the Territory to have a greater say in the running of their country, but to contend that we should give wholesale adult franchise at this stage in the development of the Territory is quite ridiculous. The amendment is just humbug. It will not help the advancement of the Territory. The speeches from members of the Opposition to which I have listened during the debate have been absolutely disgraceful. It must be realized that the Australian nation is endeavouring to develop the Territory.
– On a point of order, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I object to the use of the word “ disgraceful “ in relation to members of the Australian Labour Party, of whom I happen to be one. I think I speak for all honorable senators on this side of the chamber when I say that our conduct has not been disgraceful. On the contrary, we have contributed intelligent comments to the debate, which is more than some of the supporters of the Government have done.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– There is certainly no substance in it. I think that the word I used was a polite one in the circumstances. What we must realize is that the eyes of the world are on the Territory that is being administered by this Parliament. The proposals that have been made by members of the Opposition in this chamber in the course of their speeches will go against the Parliament of Australia. The debate on the bill before the committee should be on non-party lines. The eyes of the United Nations are on the work that we are doing in the Territory. It is pleasing to know, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that many of the representatives of that body pay frequent visits to the Territory to see how Australia is discharging her trusteeship duties. To date, their reports have been quite satisfactory.
– They have not been entirely favorable.
– They have been quite favorable.
– Tell the truth!
– By and large, they have been quite favorable. They have made slight suggestions-
– Not slight at all.
– Order! I shall have to name Senator Dittmer if he interrupts again.
– By and large, the suggestions that have been made conform to the policy of the Government regarding the development of the Territory. I do not agree, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that we should at this stage give the franchise to all the people of the Territory, including those who have not yet been contacted, and I therefore oppose the amendment.
– I rise to support the amendment and to speak to it, because I am afraid it has been lost sight of during the last two or three speeches. In supporting the amendment, I refer to the following words that were spoken by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in August last: -
Before self-government can be effective in a country as. . . undeveloped economically as Papua and New Guinea is at present, considerable. . . economic progress will be required. … In close partnership with the native people, the resources of the country have to be developed and a diversity of industries established. Australian policy embraces all such activities.
The key words in that passage are “ in close partnership “. I put it to the Senate that partnership involves rights and privileges as well as responsibilities. The Opposition has brought forward the amendment now before the committee in order that those natives who wish. to enrol on the electoral roll may be able to do so.
The bill is very vague, Mr. Temporary Chairman, lt says nothing about the qualifications that a native must possess before he can be judged worthy to become an elector in the sense in which the term is used in the bill. I should like to know who decides the standard of literacy which must be attained by a native before he is considered worthy to vote. As far as I know, no such standard of literacy applies in any other Australian Territory. It is fortunate that it does not apply in Australia itself where there is such a large number of informal votes at every election.
A point which has not been raised - at least, I have not heard it raised or seen it mentioned in any of the speeches I have read so far - is the position of women under this bill. What is the standard of literacy which a woman must attain in Papua and New Guinea before she is entitled to enter her name on the electoral roll?
– There is no discrimination there. It is not mentioned.
– I raised that matter for a very special reason, Senator Buttfield, because if your remarks made in Montreal in last December or January and reported in the daily press in Australia are any criterion, you do not regard very highly the standard of literacy of the women of Australia who are entitled to vote.
– Do not take statements out of their context, as the newspapers did..
– The remark attributed to you - which, to my knowledge, has not been repudiated in any Australian news paper; certainly not in the “West Australian” in which it originally appeared - was that you found it very difficult to get the women of Australia to read anything at all, even a newspaper. If it is true that the women of Australia, who will not even read a newspaper, have full citizenship rights and have not only the right to vote but also the right to represent the people of Australia in this august chamber, what standard of literacy are we to apply to the women of Papua and New Guinea?
I commend the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) for what has been done in the development of the Territory. There is not one honorable senator on this side of the chamber who doss not realize that the job that has been done there has been well worth while. I also commend the Minister for what he has done in the Territory of Nauru. I think the granting of self-government has progressed even further there than is envisaged in this bill. I saw it in operation in that Territory some years ago. The natives already had a much greater measure of self-government than is envisaged in this bill.
It is rather ridiculous for Senator Scott to say that the Opposition wants the indigenous population of Papua and New Guinea, which numbers, nearly 2,000,000 natives, to vote. We want them to have the right to vote, if they want to. If they are sufficiently civilized to realize what voting means and if they want to become electors, we want them to be able to do so without somebody saying that they are not sufficiently literate. I put this question to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman: Who in the world can say which members of the Australian public are sufficiently literate to be on the electoral roll of this country? If the same standard were applied to many people in our community who vote on various matters, I wonder how we would stand up to that test. We say that it is ridiculous even to judge the natives on pre-conceived standards of conduct and intelligence which are applicable to the ordinary Australian citizen. I should like the Minister to tell me how the standard of intelligence of the natives of New Guinea compares with that of the natives of the countries which have been granted independent status over the last twelve months or two years. Have the natives of such countries measured up to any special standard of literacy? Would the ordinary Australian say that the natives of the countries which have achieved their freedom measure up to a certain standard of literacy? The whole thing is ridiculous.
The bill, as it stands, is quite innocuous. In order to relieve it of its vagueness and make it worth while and to ensure that the benefits which the Government hopes will flow from it arc extended to as many as possible of those natives who are sufficiently alive to their responsibilities and privileges to become enrolled as electors and so acquire the right to vote, this amendment should be agreed to. We are not referring to natives in the nomadic tribes in the distant ranges who do not know anything about voting. We know the difficulty that would be encountered in forcing the natives in those nomadic tribes to vote. Nobody would be so stupid to suggest that the Opposition intends to put anything like that into this bill.
During the war years we paid great tributes to these people. We paid great tributes to the valour of the fuzzy-wuzzies. We did not test whether they were literate. We did not determine by some standard whether they had achieved the same high standard of literacy as our Australian soldiers had. They were willing to give their lives in many cases they did in order to save their Australian brethren, and they are enshrined for all time deep in the hearts and memories of all Australians. If it had been necessary to apply to these natives in war-time high standards of literacy that we do not dare to apply to the indigenous people of Australia itself, the lot of many of our soldiers in Papua and New Guinea during the critical war years would have been much sadder and more terrible than it was. For the reasons I have outlined, 1 support this amendment. I believe it will give a certain measure of justice to those natives who deserve to benefit from it, and who wish to do so.
– I think the stage has been reached in the debate on this amendment at which the Senate is hearing tedious repetition. We have no desire to hinder debate; we like to give every honorable senator an opportunity to express individual views. However, a reasonable time for the debate on this bill lapsed some hours ago, and all that is now being advanced by honorable senators on the other side of the chamber is constant repetition of the same arguments. In those circumstances I am perfectly justified in moving, as I do move -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator R. W. Pearson.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Dittmer’s amendment) be added.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator R. W. Pearson.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– 1 now refer to sub-clause (3.) of the clause, and move -
Leave out “ Until a date to be fixed by or under an Ordinance as the date on and after which natives are eligible to be enrolled as electors subject to the same conditions as apply to other persons,”, insert “ At the first election “.
I was rudely interrupted previously by the hand of time and the gross usurpation of authority by the Government to deny the elected representatives of the people of Australia an opportunity to deal with a question of great national importance affecting the rights of a native people. This amendment is quite simple. If Government supporters, particularly the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner), are as interested in the rights of the people under discussion as they profess to be, they will not object to my amendment. Honorable senators opposite claim to be anxious to preserve the prestige of Australia in the eyes of the world. They say that we on this side of the chamber are being spurred on by the clamourings in the Communist countries, but that is not so. Our amendment seeks to give the natives full voting rights after the first election for the Legislative Council. The Government has asked for time to see how its scheme works, but it has a certain measure of time now, so why is it not reasonable about this matter? It should see this problem as it is seen by the indigenous population. My amendment does not vitiate the bill one iota. The Government claims that it is giving certain authority to the people of the Territory, but it is not, because it has the right to veto any decision that they may make. The Government may hoodwink a few people, but it will not hoodwink the vast majority of Australians and it will not hoodwink members of the Opposition.
It is not much to ask the Government to accept my amendment. In my view if the Government refuses to accept the amendment it will refuse for one of three reasons. The first reason is cowardice, which I reject at once. The second reason is lack of wisdom, and there are so many intelligent men on the Government side of the chamber that 1 cannot accept that as the reason. So the only thing that is spurring on the Government is its oldfashioned conservatism, of a kind that dates back through the centuries. We are now asking the Government to do something for the people of New Guinea. My earlier amendment was defeated by weight of numbers, but we are now asking the Government to do something that has been urged repeatedly by the United Nations Organization and by the Trusteeship Council. Those bodies have repeatedly asked Australia to set target dates for selfgovernment in the Territory. The Government should not forget that in the adjoining territory the Dutch have attempted to fix a target date. An honorable senator opposite said that the Dutch had fixed 1970 as the date for self-government, but that is not so. The Dutch said that they were aiming to achieve some measure of selfgovernment by 1970, and they have set out to do things which this Government and its immediate predecessors never attempted to do. The Dutch are attempting to educate a substantial proportion of the population. Despite what Senator McCallum said, we on this side of the chamber have never advocated the creation of an educated elite. I pointed out very carefully yesterday
– Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the clause under discussion. He has been making something in the nature of a secondreading speech.
– I am sorry if I strayed from the clause. I was trying to keep to the point under discussion.I was drawing a comparison between Australia’s actions in Papua and New Guinea and those of other countries in their territories. It is important that we know what other countries are doing in their territories. The Dutch, with a population of 700,000 in their territory, compared with a population of 1,800,000 in Australia’s Territory, have undertaken to enfranchise the natives by a definite date. They have fixed 1961 as the date, and the election will be held in March or April next year. The necessary legislation has been passed through both Houses of the Netherlands Parliament and is awaiting the assent of the Queen of the Netherlands. When the legislation receives Royal Assent everybody in Dutch New Guinea who is eighteen years of age or over will have the franchise. White settlers, in order to qualify for the franchise, must have three years’ residence in the territory, and administrative officers must have been there for twelve months. The Dutch are not afraid to fix a date, but apparently Australia is. The world is not demanding that we give self-government to the Territory by 1964 or 1965. All it is asking is that we fix a date. But the Government will not do that. Is it any wonder that the coloured people of the world distrust Australia?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable senator is again straying from the clause under discussion. He has had a fair amount of latitude. I suggest that he confine his remarks to the clause under discussion.
– I am trying to do that. The first election will be held in 1961. My amendment seeks to limit the proposed arrangement until the first election is held, by which time I hope for the sake of Australia that the present Government is no longer in control of the treasury bench. The majority of Australians hope that this Government will not be returned to power at the next election. My amendment is a simple one. It aims at something definite. I have told honorable senators opposite what the Dutch have done how they have been prepared to take a risk. The Commonwealth Government is not taking much of a risk with the Legislative Council of the Territory, because less than onethird of its members will be elected. The Government will be in control of the Administrator’s council. There will be no danger to the Government if it accepts my amendment. I hope that on this occasion honorable senators opposite will show some sense of responsibility and vote for the amendment.
– The Government regrets that it is unable to accept the amendment. Senator Dittmer’s argument in support of his amendment was similar to the argument that has been advanced on other occasions. This subject has been well covered. Therefore, I move -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator
Dittmer’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Senator K. M. Anderson.)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 17 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir Walter Cooper) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– This bill is, of course, of vital importance to the nation, and I am amazed at the attitude taken by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) during the committee stage. Perhaps I could have understood if he had spent more time in the chamber during the debate, but he had no reason for saying that the speeches from this side were repetitive. Even if that could have been said of the discussion of: the first amendment that was moved, it puzzlesme how it could be said of the second amendment, on which there was only one speech.How could there have been any repetition? I leave that to his imagination.
We are concerned about this bill because we do not want the name of Australia bandied about in the United Nations as a country that will not do what the majority of the nations believe it should do in regard to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. History records that reforms are always good in the days that are to come. In several speeches delivered during the committee stage reference was made to the intentions of the Government for the years ahead, yet the Prime Minister (iv. . Menzies) said that it was better to give self-government sooner than later. That is all that the Opposition desires. First, wo gave the Government an opportunity to increase the number of persons who are to be enrolled. Then, after the Government got its proposals relating to the roll through the Senate, not by logic but by numbers, we gave the Government a second opportunity. I have no objection to the Government’s use of its numbers. Politics is rather a peculiar game. It ebbs and it flows. The time before we come into office again may be long, or it may be short, and some of us have good memories.
Government supporters said that we should have a common roll, but the time is not opportune. Almost every page of history records occasions when the time was not opportune for reforms for the people. I understand that it is proposed to hold an election in the Territory some time in March next, and no doubt the period of office of the council will be three years. The Opposition wanted the Government to have another look at the position so that the Parliament could decide whether or not there would be an extension of the roll after the next election. Even if the Government agreed, the enlarged roll would not become operative until the following election, which will be about three and a half years hence. The Government says that it wants reforms, and that it wants self-government for the people. The sooner we enlarge the number of people entitled to vote the better. We must give them an opportunity to learn some of the forms of government as we practice it here. Surely we do not want to see in the Territory, which is very close to us, some of the things that are happening in Africa.
One of the reasons given by the Leader of the Government for hurrying the bill through the Senate was, to my mind, most remarkable. He accused the Opposition of being frightened of another bill. That was an inane statement as well as being contrary to the facts. He knows as well as we do that that bill can be discussed tonight. As I said in division, if the Government wants that bill discussed, let it be brought on to-night. The Leader of the Government said that he had other work for the Senate to do. That is his prerogative to decide, but it is pretty unsavoury for him to cast aspersions. I assure the Government that we are not afraid to discuss Senator Cole’s bill. The sooner we get it off the stocks the better. Senators on this side were not prompted to speak by a desire to delay consideration of that bill. The Minister is, up to a point, old in this game. I should have thought that he would have learned from an incident that happened last week, but seemingly he will take a long while to learn the ordinary game of politics. If he wants us to keep on, we shall accommodate him.
– You said that you would roll him.
– If time is good enough to let me live, I shall roll him with the greatest pleasure and with the biggest grin on my face, and no personalities at all will be involved.
– And there will be a smile on my face.
– I hope that there will be. I do not like the Minister to cast untrue aspersions. If the Government is sincere when it says that it wants to give the indigenous people freedom, but is afraid that this is not the time, why is it not prepared to agree to making a change after the first election? There would be no alteration then for about three and a half years. Acceptance of our proposal would redound to our credit in world councils that are concerned with this Territory. I cannot see how conditions would be adversely affected. We would have ample time. We all realize that it is not always easy to find sufficient work for an upper chamber such as the Senate. However this matter could have been considered in perhaps eighteen months’ time when we could have decided whether the native people of New Guinea were entitled to have an enlarged roll. We should endeavour to do all we can to bring independence to these people as quickly as possible.
Senator Scott said that Australia was doing more than any one else. We are spending at the rate of about £17,000,000 a year on a country with a population of 1,800,000, whereas the Dutch in West New Guinea are spending £16,000,000 a year on an area with a population of 700,000. I understand the annual per capita income of the territory which Australia governs is £565 whilst the annual per capita income of the territory controlled by the Netherlands is £311.
I rose only to protest in a mild way against the application of the gag to the debate on the second amendment that was moved by the Opposition. It is a matter of opinion whether the Government had a case for moving the gag in the debate on the first amendment, but I say with the greatest of respect that it had no case for doing so on the second occasion; and that is the reason why I rose.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
– I move-
That the Senate takes note of the report of the Select Committee on Road Safety, presented to the Senate on 21st September, 1960.
The Road Safety Committee came into existence some sixteen months ago, following a motion that I had moved during the preceding May. It is proper that I should state that the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety was representative of all parties in the Parliament, and of all the parties in this Senate. Each of the six States was represented on the committee. The report presented to the Parliament on 2 1st September was unanimous.
It should be made perfectly clear that the report was the work of a team of senators who were prepared to devote their time to the arduous task of collecting evidence across the face of the continent from specialist people and then to sit down over a long period and study the evidence they had collected.
The committee’s report is a comprehensive document, lt contains no fewer than 46 recommendations under fifteen headings. Most importantly, I would say, it sets out in printed form a summary of the background thinking, together with the evidence, which formed the basis of those recommendations. I earnestly ask honorable senators to read the report and to read the statements made in relation to the recommendations, because in so doing they may well avoid the error of perhaps arbitrarily writing down some particular recommendation with which they personally disagree. It is conceivable, indeed perfectly normal, that honorable senators will hold a contrary point of view on some of the recommendations, but I ask them to read the documents that formed the basis of the recommendations made by the committee.
The recommendations are based on evidence, direct and indirect, and on the weight of that evidence. I mention indirect evidence because I want to make it clear that many of the witnesses brought as evidence recommendations and reports from all over the free world; and that evidence in turn was tendered for the consideration of the select committee. I have in mind the special evidence that was tendered by the branches of the British Medical Association in the various States and the Commonwealth. I have in mind too the special seventeen-member committee which made recommendations following an investigation carried out as a result of a resolution carried in the House of Commons. I have in mind also the special report of the United States President’s Committee on Traffic Safety. The World Health Organization also had something to say on this issue. I mention those cases to illustrate that in addition to direct evidence the committee had the advantage of special papers which represented the views of people knowledgeable in these problems the world over.
The recommendations of the committee flow from subject-matter given by no fewer than 122 witnesses, whose names appear on the back of the documents. I invite the Senate, and the community at large, to consider the people who gave evidence before the committee. Nobody could gainsay the importance of the evidence that was given to the committee by some of these people. For instance, we had evidence from the Chairman of the Australian Road Safety Council. Extensive evidence was given by Mr. Paterson who was able to make a most valuable contribution to the solution of the problems we were considering. Surely nobody would deny the value of such important evidence. No one can question the value of evidence given by the Secretary-General of the Australian Automobile Association which represents the motor organizations in the six States of the Commonwealth. It is interesting to mention in passing that that organization has gone to the trouble of having the evidence it gave to the committee published and issued in printed form. I think every honorable senator has already received a copy of that printed evidence.
I invite the Senate to consider the people who gave evidence before this committee. I do not want to go through all the witnesses - there were 122 of them - who came before the committee and gave the evidence which has formed the basis of the report which the Senate has before it. I see Senator Kendall looking at me, so perhaps I should turn to Queensland and indicate the witnesses who gave evidence before the committee in that State. They included Mr. Downward, the secretary of the Queensland Road Safety Council, and Mr. Hogan, the traffic engineer of the Department of Main Roads. Other witnesses were Mr. Quant, Mr. Guymer, Mr. Blumberg, Mr. Solomon, Mr. Leitch, Dr. Hayes, Dr. Friend, Dr. Tonge, and Mrs. Hamilton. An officer of the Queensland Department of Traffic, whose name escapes me at the moment, also gave evidence. It will be seen that evidence was taken from a wide section of the people of that State.
– The honorable senator missed me.
– Yes. Senator Kendall also gave evidence, but he did so in
Canberra. In Western Australia, a representative section of the community gave evidence. I notice that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), who comes from Western Australia, is in the chamber, and perhaps it will be interesting for the people of that State if I refer to some of those who gave evidence. They included Sir Thomas Meagher, the President of the National Safety Council of Western Australia; Mr. Clark, an executive director of that council; Mr. O’Brien, the Commissioner of Police; Mr. Digby Leach and Mr. Longman, a member of the Metropolitan Traffic School. If I had the time, I could go through the list of witnesses from each State of the Commonwealth. However, I am sure that honorable senators will grasp the point that I am trying to make, which is that the committee had the advantage of evidence from people in every State and the Australian Capital Territory. Evidence was taken from those whom the committee considered were competent and experienced, and who were most likely to be able to suggest a solution to the important problem of road safety.
I have said that the report contains 46 recommendations. It is clearly not possible for me to deal with all the recommendations as they are printed, but since the proceedings are being broadcast, and in order to give the debate a logical sequence, I think I should deal with the recommendations in an abridged form. I say that, too, because I am leading in the debate, and such a procedure may help subsequent speakers. The recommendations have been grouped under different headings, the first being road safety research. The committee recommended, amongst other things, that it is imperative that a research group be established, financed by Commonwealth funds and directly responsible to a Commonwealth Minister, to direct and co-ordinate basic and applied research into every aspect of road safety. The committee dealt with road safety education, and recommended that education authorities should include road safety teaching as a basic subject in primary and secondary schools. It also recommended that instruction in road safety should be given to trainee teachers as part of their training courses at teachers training colleges.
The committee dealt with traffic management, laws and enforcement, and came down heavily on the side of a uniform traffic code as a matter of the greatest urgency. In relation to accident reporting and statistics, it was recommended that the Commonwealth and State authorities, in consultation with the Commonwealth Statistician, should define basic information to be required in accident reports. In regard to driver training, the committee recommended that control should be exercised over driving schools by legislation requiring training and special licensing of instructors.
On the subject of driver licensing, the committee recommended a system requiring examination of applicants for driving licences by way of driving tests, physical examination and questioning on knowledge of traffic regulations as standard procedure throughout the Commonwealth, on as uniformly high a basis as possible. It also recommended that holders of driving licences should be required to submit to eyesight tests at least every ten years up to the age of 50 years, and at least every five years thereafter.
The committee also considered the question of speed limits. It recommended that absolute speed limits should be adopted throughout Australia. My attention has been directed to the fact that the Australian Transport Advisory Council, of which our own Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) is chairman, which consists of the Ministers for Transport of all the sovereign States of the Commonwealth, and which is regarded, I suppose, as the supreme federal authority on road safety, recommended as late as July last the very proposition that is to be found in the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety.
Under the heading “ Alcohol and Driving “ the committee recommended that there should be an intensive educational publicity campaign to educate the community to understand the influence of alcohol upon driving skill. It also recommended that chemical tests to assist in determining the degree of intoxication of drivers should be introduced on a compulsory basis.
In regard to pedestrian control, it was recommended that a national planned pedestrian programme should be drawn up, denning the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians and establishing standards of safety measures for pedestrians. On the question of vehicle inspection, the committee came down heavily on the side of annual inspection of all vehicles, on a compulsory basis, lt also was of the opinion that snap inspections might be made from time to time.
Under the heading “ Vehicle Design and Safety Equipment “, the committee was very firmly in favour of safety belts. It recommended that it should be compulsory for persons riding motor cycles to wear safety helmets of approved design. In regard to roads, the committee recommended that design standards for all types of roads should be established. The use of road markings, road signs and traffic signals should be in accordance with as uniform a code as possible throughout the Commonwealth. The committee also considered the subject of road safety in country areas. It recommended that road safety councils and local government authorities should provide more leadership in establishing and sustaining road safety committees.
Finally, in regard to the Australian Road Safety Council, the committee made a series of recommendations. It advocated in very strong terms that the Australian Road Safety Council should endeavour to achieve the tripartite co-operation between Commonwealth, State and outside bodies that was envisaged when the council was originally proposed. I have dealt with the recommendations quickly because I think it desirable to set a pattern for the debate. However, I want to make it clear that the recommendations have to be considered in relation to the whole of the evidence that was received by the committee.
I have said that a comprehensive document has been produced. A complete copy of the evidence given might be regarded as a unique document because never before in the history of Australia have we been able to gather together the evidence and opinions of people from all over the Commonwealth who have lived with this problem hour by hour, day by day, week by week and year by year, striving to find the answers and to do what is necessary to help to solve the problems associated with the toll of the road. The evidence that has been gathered will be most valuable to experts and will be a source of reference in the solution of the problems which confront us.
It is not possible for me to debate the individual recommendations; nor do I think the Senate would wish me to do so. However, I think I should briefly re-state some aspects of the problem which confronts us. I do so without drama, just giving facts. Last year over 2,300 persons lost their lives in Australia.
– As a result of road accidents?
– As a result of road accidents. In addition, 57,246 persons were injured in road accidents. The committee, after extensive research, putting’ aside human feelings, has estimated that the’ loss to the Australian community is of the order of £70,000,000 a year. This year the figures will be higher. I have before me a cutting from a press report which deals with the accident rate in New South Wales. It says that this year the accident rate will be higher. Last year the number killed increased by 12.7 per cent, on the 1958-59 figures, which would be incorporated in the figures I have already given the Senate. The number of people injured increased by 12.4 per cent. Dreadful as the figures are, this toll of the roads persists and increases. It follows that the cost to the community will increase correspondingly.
It has been said that a family group - a young man, his wife and three children - can be certain that at least two of them will be involved in a road accident in their lifetime. I think the actual figure is 2.4 persons out of 5, but since I find some difficulty in defining .4 of that family group, I say that two members of such a family will be involved in a road accident in their lifetime.
Many people have asked where accidents occur and what are the causes of accidents. The committee received a great deal of evidence on this aspect. We found that fatalities in the capital cities amounted to only 3 per cent, of the total, in the suburbs 39. per cent., and in the remainder of the State 58 per cent. We also found that the prime cause of fatalities is excessive speed. While it is not good to give too many figures, I think those in relation to the causes of fatalities in 1958 are important. Excessive speed accounted for 454 fatalities; inattention, which could include a lot of things, 392; failure to keep to the left of the road, 146; failure to give right of way, 114; intoxication, 114; careless acts of pedestrians, 362; careless acts of passengers, 19; careless acts of other road users, 10; and other causes, including mechanical defects, roads, acts of God, &c., 224. Those figures take the total number of fatalities to over 2,200.
Many people do not appreciate the fact that the greatest killer in road accidents is driving on the open road in country areas at an excessive speed. Whilst I do not want to single out any particular issue involved in the 46 recommendations, because all are important, we should have a proper appreciation of that fact in relation to recommendations for an absolute speed limit rather than a prima facie speed limit. The recommendation put forward by the committee, the Australian Transport Advisory Council and the Australian Road Safety Council, on the weight of evidence that the committee received is unassailable. I once heard the term “ prima facie “ referred to as “prima faster”, and I believe there is considerable evidence to suggest that the prima facie speed can be taken to that level.
Fundamentally, road safety is a personal problem. The fact that it involves motor vehicles, roads, street lighting, road signs, &c, is purely incidental. There is nothing new about the basic problem which is man’s failure of himself. Of course, when I say “ man “ I mean men, women and youths eligible to drive motor vehicles. Only the manifestations of this problem are mechanical. In the overwhelming majority of accidents the guilty party is man, not the machine; his reflexes, not failure to yield right of way; his mind, not the motor. It is man who is primarily responsible for the killing of over 2,000 people and the maiming of more than 50,000 men, women and children on Australian roads each year. It is a stark statement to say that in a young country of little over 10,000,000 people we are losing 2,300 of them each year, but 1 feel justified in making” such a statement.
We are. spending about £9,000,000 a year in bringing migrants to this country. That is a good thing, and regardless of the party to which we belong we are very proud of our immigration programme. We try to bring between 100,000 and 125,000 migrants to this vast land of ours each year, to help us develop it. On the other hand, because we are not giving sufficient attention to road safety, we allow about 2,300 people to slip through our fingers each year at an annual cost to the community of about £70,000,000. Therefore, road safety is a problem which commands all the attention that this Senate, which is a States’ House as well as the second chamber of the National Parliament, can give to it. We have problems in Australia that are peculiar to this country. We have a federal system and we have sovereign States. It is true to say that many of the problems which are the subject of our recommendations fall within the responsibility of the State governments. In Australia, the bulk of the population is concentrated in a few vast cities. The mileage of roads is out of proportion with our population and national income. We do not have the ability to construct roads to meet our requirements. The motor car, having regard to the speeds at which it is capable of travelling, has out-stripped our ability to provide suitable roads for it. I have mentioned some of the problems. Nevertheless, we must always come back to the fundamental problem, which is that man himself is responsible for about 90 per cent, of the prime causes of road accidents.
The time available to me will not permit of my dealing with all of the committee’s recommendations, but I should like to refer to those concerning research and the Australian Road Safety Council. It is fair to say that in every State the overwhelming weight of evidence was in favour of the Commonwealth setting up a research organization. I have before me a precis of the evidence that was given in each State. If any honorable senator challenges what I am saying, I can produce the transcript to support it. Practically all along the dine - -with some notable exceptions with which I shall deal in a moment - there is a clamour for research in connexion with the problem of road safety. Basically, of course, before an attempt can be made to solve a problem, it is necessary to know what the problem is. The divergence of opinion on a variety of subjects by the experts was really amazing. Mr. Deputy President, it is as dangerous to accept a wrong opinion as it is for the master of a ship to depend on a defective compass. I think that that analogy will appeal to my naval friend, Senator Kendall.
Conscious of this divergence of opinion - of what might be called the opinion evidence that was given so often - the committee made a very careful study of the submissions that were made for the establishment of a research organization. I shall not develop this theme at length, but I should like to quote a couple of examples of what we are confronted with in order to show the necessity for research. Take accident statistics. I believe that the present statistics are too subjective. Comparative statistics for New South Wales and Victoria, for instance, are widely divergent, whereas one would expect that, in view of the volume and the density of traffic in those two States, they would be similar.
– New South Wales does not employ the same methods as Victoria.
– Exactly. Senator Wedgwood has made the case for me. Those States do not employ the same methods. They do not apply the same measuring-stick. We are told - one may read statements to this effect any day in the newspapers - that there is a difference between the two States in relation to the causes of accidents. I shall mention them in order to demonstrate the problem that confronts us in regard to statistics. Take the case of fatal accidents of which road conditions are the prime cause. In New South Wales it is said that 7 per cent, of fatal road accidents are attributable to road conditions.
– But nil in Victoria.
– The honorable senator is anticipating my next comment.
– 1 know that that is so.
– As Senator Wedgwood has said, in Victoria no fatal road accidents have been attributed to road conditions, yet the all-Australian average is 4 per cent. Quite clearly, there is an unknown factor as between the States.
– We have better methods in Victoria.
– In putting it that way, the honorable senator is helping my case. Take another example, roads as a cause of injury. In New South Wales, the number of cases in which road conditions are said to have caused injury has been as high as 11 per cent., whereas in Victoria the number of such cases was less than 1 per cent. - 0.4 per cent, to be precise - and the all-Australian figure was 6 per cent. In all aspects of this problem in regard to statistics, a variation is evident. This makes one very concerned about the need for basic statistics to be compiled on a common basis, to enable the States, and, indeed the nation as a whole, to get to the root of the trouble.
Let us consider the position in relation to the number of accidents reported. Evidence that was given before the committee showed that in 1957 in New South Wales there were reported 473 accidents per 10,000 vehicles. Yet Mr. Lackey, of the Fire and Accident Underwriters Association of New South Wales, gave evidence that in that State in that year the number of accidents reported to insurance companies was 4,220 per 10,000 vehicles. I remind the Senate that only 75 per cent, of motor vehicle owners insure, and that accidents causing damage of less than a certain monetary amount are not reported. In view of this conflict in. regard to statistics, the committee has come to what it believes to be the unassailable conviction - based on evidence given by various people throughout the Commonwealth - that there is a need for active research. “ The committee does not envisage the setting up of a huge Commonwealth research authority. It anticipates that a Commonwealth authority would farm out the work to existing bodies. For instance, in New South Wales there is the University of New South Wales which embraces faculties of road engineering and traffic engineering. Quite clearly, those faculties are ideally equipped to undertake research. In the Commonwealth sphere, quite clearly the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization would be the ideal organization to undertake research on certain aspects of road safety. It may well be that the British Medical Association is an ideal body to appoint a small cadre to undertake certain research.
– Some of the States are doing it themselves.
– Yes, but do not get confused on this. The problem is too big for any one State alone to handle. Nobody is going to suggest that we should rush in and take away from the sovereign States their sense of responsibility. What the committee says is that we should have a co-ordinating body to ensure that the results of specialized research will be made available to the whole of the Commonwealth. That body should be charged with the responsibility of establishing a set of standards, which would be of advantage to the whole Commonwealth. Research is so fundamental to the entire problem that we should seize the nettle. We must determine the character of the problem, select the method to deal with it and measure the results.
I have dealt with research because it is fundamental to all the other recommendations in the report. The committee does not suggest that the States should be deprived of any of their sovereign rights, but the Commonwealth must work with the States in a co-ordinated plan. We do not want the Gilbertian situation in which two or three States spend large sums of money on the same avenue of research. If we can rationalize research we shall do much to alleviate difficulties that confront us.
I should like to deal in a little more detail with the recommendation relating to the Australian Road Safety Council. This is a matter that relates to Commonwealth responsibility perhaps to a greater extent than do some of the other recommendations. The Australian Road Safety Council has done a magnificent job for the Commonwealth and the States, and for the cause of road safety. The committee took a considerable amount of evidence in every State dealing with the activities of the State and district road safety councils. The committee is concerned to see that the tripartite conception of the Australian Road Safety Council is retained and consolidated. The committee believes that co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States and the public should be fostered. Any action that will lead to increased co-operation and support from the public, including the motor trade and other organizations, should be encouraged. The committee makes no apology for urging that greater financial assistance should be provided by the Commonwealth and State Governments, and by the private sector of the economy for the Australian Road Safety Council.
– How much has the Australian Road Safety Council achieved since it has been in existence?
– lt is hard to give a simple answer to a question like that, but I would say that the council has achieved a great deal. The committee saw some examples of what it has done. I can remember vividly the work that the council was doing in Western Australia. I can remember the work that it was doing to educate the young people in the principles of road safety. The council was, of course, using publicity provided by the federal body. The committee saw the work that was being done by the road safety council set up in the Latrobe valley in Victoria, where Dr. Bouvier was the guiding star. In that instance the council set out on a road safety drive over a limited period of time. Everybody who came into the valley in a motor car was made aware of the road safety campaign. Organizations such as Rotary and Apex assisted in the road safety campaign, and the people of the area became aware of the importance of road safety. The result was that the number of road fatalities in the area was reduced dramatically. Another example of roadsafety activities was seen in the Snowy Mountains area. With the assistance of the Snowy Mountains Authority a road safety committee was set up. Cooma has been captured by the idea of road safety.
– Are those campaigns organized by the Australian Road Safety Council or by local councils?
– Those campaigns start at the top and work down through the State organizations to the local organizations. The committee is concerned to see that this tri-partite arrangement is not lost. The committee does not claim that the road safety problem can be solved solely by governments contributing large sums of money. We must get as many people and organizations as possible interested in road safety. The more people and organizations interested the greater will be our success. If the Commonwealth and the States make more money available the various road safety organizations will be encouraged to carry on their good work, but we shall never make a real impact on the problem merely by making large amounts of money available for road safety. What we need is a crusade. We need dedicated people, and we can get them. We need them to encourage the private sector of the community to work with governments for road safety. The Australian Road Safety Council is the body to co-ordinate all these activities. Important in this problem of road safety is the Australian Transport Advisory Council which, leaving aside the Premiers’ Conference, is the supreme authority because there the Commonwealth Minister for Transport and the State Ministers for Transport meet to discuss, among other things, the problem of road safety. If the States can agree on a course of action we have a chance of getting somewhere with this problem at the Commonwealth level.
I can speak feelingly about this problem of road safety because I have seen many dedicated people striving to reduce the toll of the road. Sometimes I am sure they must have felt disappointed and downhearted because their activities have been hampered by lack of funds. This Parliament and the State Parliaments must acknowledge their responsibility so far as road safety is concerned.
There is no easy solution to the problem of the toll of the roads. On one occasion I read a newspaper statement which implied that the Senate Select Committee dealt with matters that had been dealt with before. The committee makes no apology for doing that. Anybody who thinks that he can solve the road safety problem by waving a magic wand is crazy. The fact is that there are hard rows to hoe. We must educate the people and the governments of Australia to do what must be done if we are to save lives that we can ill afford to lose. In road safety circles people talk about the three E’s. Any one who looks at the 46 recommendations made by the Select Committee on Road Safety will find that they all fall within the ambit of the three E’s. The three E’s stand for engineering, education and enforcement.
The field of engineering is fairly limited. It has to do, of course, with the building of roads. The term “ enforcement “ has to do with the enforcement of the law and the duties of the police. But we as a committee believe that the great hope for the future lies in education. There are many sides to education. The field of education includes the home and its environment, the pulpit and the church, the press, radio, television, schools, universities, the parliaments, the public platform and the family doctor. They all afford an avenue of education which public men and women should exploit. If they exploit those avenues, they will be doing something to help not only their fellow men but also this wonderful Australia of ours as a whole. We feel very sad at the fact that we are losing approximately 2,300 people a year as a result of road accidents. The stark tragedy is that the people who are being lost are in an age group which has life before it.
I have just been informed that I have overshot my time. I do not wish to offend any further, because this is a matter in relation to which every honorable senator should have an opportunity to speak. I earnestly appeal to all honorable senators to discuss the matter with the knowledge that, if we can bring the message to the governments and the people of Australia, we will be able to save Australian lives and assist the advancement of this Commonwealth.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion, and reserve my right to speak later.
– On 14th May last year, on behalf of the Opposition, I supported the motion for the appointment of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety. I recall that 1 wished the committee well, and that I expressed the hope that it would bring in a report which would be a credit to itself, a matter of pride to the Senate and, above all, a matter of use and importance to the people of this country. I am very happy at this stage to be able to congratulate the chairman and members of the committee upon the realization of my hopes.
The committee has submitted a report that is a splendid contribution to thought on the subject and which represents a gathering together of the factors that make for road safety. Of course, thought is the essential precursor to action. The report not only will stimulate thought but will lead to the next step - the promotion of some badly needed action. The transcript of the evidence that was taken by the committee is not attached to the printed report that we have. I do not propose to say that I regret that it was not attached, because, quite frankly, if it had been attached I would never have found the time to read it, particularly having regard to the vast number of witnesses who were examined by the committee.
It is quite obvious that the committee has had wonderful co-operation from all the people who are knowledgeable in regard to this problem. The report of the Australian Automobile Association, comprising the main bodies from each of the States, is a magnificent appreciation of the difficulty and importance of the problem and is a wonderful contribution to thought “on the subject. That report has been circulated to some 2,000 interested people. It contains the association’s considered views as presented to the committee. It is the kind of thing that any one who is interested in the problem would want to keep by him.
In my view, the committee has made a balanced and very temperate approach to a hydra-headed problem. It has pleased me to note that the committee has placed the emphasis on public education and remedial matters rather than on prosecutions and convictions. As Senator Anderson has just indicated, in this field there are six State authorities and the Commonwealth. The six State authorities in turn very often delegate power to municipalities. So we have seven main bodies legislating in the fields that affect road safety. The committee has directed attention to the lack of uniformity in codes, standards and practices throughout Australia. I shall not dilate upon them; I merely point to the need for a much higher degree of uniformity in all those fields.
One sees the proper pattern when one looks to the field of civil aviation. There the Commonwealth, devoid of power over intra-state aviation, conferred with the States. The States co-operated and within their boundaries applied the regulations that were promulgated by the Commonwealth. I think we all take pride in the fact that civil aviation in Australia has a marvellous accident-free record. It is one of the best in the world. I think it is fair to say that, apart from the efficiency of the Department of Civil Aviation and the fact that very expensive funds have been made available to it, the existence of uniform control no doubt is a very real factor in keeping the accident rate so low. In fact, but for a recent unhappy accident, we could almost say that it is at an insignificant level. We are very fortunate in that respect. I tried to-day to get some statistics relating to accidents on the railways, but I was not able to find any. Here again we have an indication of the result of unified control. The various States co-operate very closely with the rest of the Commonwealth in the adoption of safety measures, and there is a very low accident rate. I believe these two factors should be projected into this debate.
As Senator Anderson told us, the total number of people killed on Australian roads last year was approximately 2,300. Moreover, 57,000-odd people were injured. It is a rather horrifying thought - this puts the problem into perspective - that on each day of last year 163 Australians either were killed or suffered some personal injury, which very often was serious. We have a wastage of human material every day of every year to the tune of 163 Australians. That thought should make every one who thinks alert himself to the problem and feel that he has a duty to take some part in finding a solution to it. It has been said that the problem is mainly one for the States. That is true, but the Commonwealth is not lacking in both power and responsibility in the matter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. D. Reid). - 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.
– I am sorry to delay the Senate at this stage but because of some remarks that were made in the Senate to-night I feel that I should make an explanation. Senator Tangney directed attention to some remarks that were attributed to me in certain Australian newspapers some months ago. By way of interjection, I pointed out that those remarks were taken completely out of context. However, the honorable senator continued to say that I had not refuted them. I should like to say here and now that I did refute them, and that reference was made to my explanation in the Adelaide press at that time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 October 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1960/19601012_senate_23_s18/>.