24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Rights and Privileges of Parry Leadership
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister whether any change has been made in the facilities available to Senator Cole since a former senator, Senator McManus, ceased to be a member of the Senate. If so, what change has been made? Has it been decided that no change will be made? If so, what are the reasons for the decision?
– The answer to the first question as to whether any change has been made in the facilities available to Senator Cole is, “No”. That automatically answers the second question. The answer to the honorable senator’s question as to whether it has been decided that no change will be made is that it has been decided that no change will be made. The honorable senator also sought the reasons for this decision. Those reasons have been the subject of debate in the Senate and, briefly, they are founded upon the basis that Senator Cole represents a very substantial proportion of the people who vote at the election of the Senate, and it is considered that he is entitled to assistance in discharging his obligations to and in carrying out his work for those who support him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether it is a fact that the Australian National University has announced that, for professedly technical reasons, it is unable to confer an honorary degree upon the visiting King of Thailand during his proposed inspection of the university. Is it not a fact that the University of Melbourne and other seats of learning have successfully overcome these difficulties? Is not this action of the Australian National University an affront to the reigning monarch of a country which is so important to Australia that we have already sent a detachment of troops to assist in its defence? What is the attitude of the Australian Government to this affront to its royal visitor?
– There has already been a great deal of discussion in Australia on this unhappy matter, and I should like to reply to Senator Hannan in this way: The Australian National University is an entirely independent body established by Commonwealth statute, with full powers of selfgovernment under that statute. The Government, therefore, is not involved in any way in decisions taken by the professorial board of that university. As there has been so much public discussion of this matter since the first malicious report of it in “ Nation “, I think I should confine my answer to that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. In view of the expressed opinion that the growing prosperity of Europe will affect adversely the flow of emigrants to Australia, does the Minister for Immigration intend to expand the activities of the publicity centres already established in Europe for the purpose of attracting migrants? In particular, will similar publicity be undertaken in Spain?
– The provision for publicity in the vote of the Department of Immigration has been increased in the 1962-63 Budget. That foreshadows an intensive publicity drive throughout Europe, including Spain, designed to attract more migrants to Australia.
– Does the Minister representing the Postmaster-General know that refugee Australian residents of Russian origin every week receive through the post, the Russian language newspaper “ Golos Rodiny “, which means “ Voice of Homeland “? Is the Minister aware that that newspaper publishes letters from Russian friends and relatives of Australian residents urging them to return to their homeland, and prints defamatory statements of Australian conditions and institutions? Will the Minister say what procedures operate to protect refugee Australian residents from such abusive and oppressive practices? As the elation of the newspaper has been forbidden in France, Switzerland and West Germany, will the Minister advise the Senate whether the Government can be expected to take similar effective action to protect these persecuted people from the blackmail, defamation and insults vented on them by means of this Communist newspaper published behind the iron curtain?
– I have no knowledge of the newspaper referred to by Senator Cole; but, knowing something of the Communist technique, I am not surprised to learn that the Communists are pursuing a policy that has been part of their tactics for a long, long time - namely, to harass people living in other countries. All I can say to Senator Cole is that I will bring his question to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral and ask him for his comments on it.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation been directed to the discomfort experienced by passengers on the Saturday evening flight from Adelaide to Darwin? Will the Minister inquire into the practicability of using Friendship aircraft only on day-time flights and flights that necessitate landings at airstrips that will not accommodate larger planes, whilst making provision for larger aircraft to serve the longest overnight flight in Australia?
– I am not familiar with the precise details of the services to the Northern Territory. I know that they include direct services from both Adelaide and Sydney to Darwin. Supplementing these services is a Friendship service which stops at a number of points in between. This, of course, is one of the services to which the honorable senator refers. I feel sure that both operators, in arranging their timetables, aim to please the customer as best they can. If they fail to do so, or if the honorable senator thinks that they fail to do so, I shall be pleased to bring the question to the notice of the operators.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Does the Minister agree that the intensive national development of Australia, particularly the northern portion of the continent, should rank high in modern and up to date defence plans? If the Minister agrees with that contention, will he urge the Government to spend a sizeable portion of each year’s defence vote on a comprehensive development plan, with particular attention being paid to the Northern Territory, northern Western Australia and northern Queensland rather than to pour millions of pounds down the drain - as is done at present - in the purchase of implements which in many cases are obsolete before they are delivered?
– Expenditure under the defence vote is made, by and large, in accordance with the advice of the Government’s professional advisers on defence. Cabinet, when it makes a decision, has before it - as it should have - the advice that is tendered to it by its chiefs of staff. So it is quite wrong for Senator Sandford to criticize the manner in which the defence vote is spent unless he sets himself up as a greater authority than the chiefs of staff. Honorable senators opposite who are interjecting may object, but that is the pith of the question. Senator Sandford says the defence vote should be spent in one way; the chiefs of staff - the professional advisers - say it should be spent in another way. The challenge is: Which opinion is sound - that of the Government’s advisers, or Senator Sandford’s? I have no hesitation in coming down on the side of the Government’s professional advisers. The question of the development of the north is quite distinct from expenditure under the defence vote. The defence vote is for defence purposes. Other very substantial amounts are available for developmental purposes. They are spent in the north of Australia, and that is one of the principal reasons for the extraordinary growth and development that has occurred during recent years in the north of Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. When replying to my question on 9th August as to the present stage of rail standardization plans in South
Australia, in the area between Port Pirie and Broken Hill, the Minister concluded by saying that he would find out at what stage the negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and South Australian Government were, and would let me know. Has the Minister anything further to report?
– No, I am sorry to say that I have not yet had an opportunity to confer with my colleague, Mr. Opperman. I shall do so as early as possible this week and pass on to the honorable senator whatever information Mr. Opperman make available to me for release.
-I wish to direct a question without notice to the Minister for Health. Can some urgent action be taken to restore to the free list the drug persantin in tablet form, prescribed for heart complaints? Purchase of these tablets, costing approximately £2 10s. for 100, imposes a heavy burden on pensioners in particular, and on other persons who, on medical advice, have to take them in order to maintain life.
– I would like the honorable senator to know that persantin was not removed from the free list. It is true that it was removed in its oral form, but it was retained on the free list when given as an injection. This was done on the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee which is, as the honorable senator probably knows, the expert advisory committee. Its members include six doctors, two chemists and a pharmacologist chosen from their various professions because of their great knowledge in this field. The Government may not add to the list except on the recommendation of this committee. However, I should like the Senate to know also that the adoption of the committee’s recommendation has, in some instances, caused hardship and I have asked the committee to look at this matter and let me have further advice in that respect.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it a fact that several hundred accredited diplomats living in Australia are allowed to import motor cars free of duty and sales tax? Also is it a fact that if the diplomats wish to buy an Australian car they have to pay sales tax? If this is a fact will the Minister give consideration to relieving the diplomats of the necessity to pay sales tax on Australian cars as they can bringin cars from their own country free of duty and sales tax?
– The normal diplomatic privileges extended by one country to another enable diplomats to bring in motor cars for the use of diplomatic missions free of duty and sales tax. I do not know the number of cars involved, but I do not think it would be several hundreds as mentioned by Senator Buttfield. I understand that if a diplomatic mission purchases an Australian car for the use of the mission itself it does get some relief from sales tax. The purchase of an Australian car for diplomatic use in preference to a car from overseas raises a very interesting question, and is a matter which I will place betore the Treasurer, who is responsible for the administration of sales tax. In view of the wide variety of Australian cars that are now manufactured it might well be a question of great relevance.
– By way of preface to a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry I remind the Senate that the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry recommended the setting up of an Australian wool industry authority to enable the industry to speak with a single voice. Are the Minister and the Government genuine in their desire for primary producer unity? If so, is the Minister in a position to state why the Australian Primary Producers Union, representing 25,000 wool-growers, and indirectly the Tasmanian Farmers Federation - a division of the A.P.P.U representing the bulk of Tasmanian woolgrowers - is being by-passed in the proposed conference to set up a reconstituted wool board? In view of the great need for wool-grower unity and the right of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation to have representation on the Australian Wool Board through the A.P.P.U., will the Minister give recognition to the A.P.P.U.’s just claim to representation and thus enable that body to lend its undoubted weight and experience for the future good of the wool industry in Australia?
– I say categorically that the Government wants unity among primary producers, particularly in the wool industry. But I remind the honorable senator that this Government cannot say to the various bodies representing the industry “You shall come together and be united “. That would be a marriage of convenience, and as far as I am concerned such marriages are never successful. What I do say is that the two other organizations, in their desire to reach unanimity, have at this point of time come together as a result of the recommendation of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry. They have sought a conference with the Minister and their request has been granted. The Minister has said he will do his utmost to give effect to their wishes by way of legislation. If the Australian Primary Producers Union is not represented at this conference, I do not know why. I do know that the other two organizations have come together. I think the questions of the honorable senator might best be addressed to the industry itself.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, by stating that, in 1960, the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety recommended, amongst other things, that road safety teaching be a basic subject in primary and secondary school cirriculums, and that instruction be given in road safety to trainee teachers at teachers’ colleges. Is the Minister aware that an Australian gallup poll has shown that 65 per cent, of the population supports the teaching of road safety as a standard subject in the school curriculum? Is he also aware that, while an increasing number of overseas countries have adopted driver training and road safety as a compulsory school subject, in Australia, with the notable exception of Tasmania, road safety education in the schools finishes at the primary school level? Will the Minister raise this matter at the next meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, of which all State Ministers of Transport are members, with a view to persuading the States to implement the recommendations of the Senate select committee on this matter?
– I cannot give the honorable senator a detailed answer at the moment. I shall be happy to remit the question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport and ask for a full answer. By way of an interim answer, I state that the aspects of road safety which he has mentioned all fall, or appear to fall, within the administration of State departments, and for that reason a meeting of the Australian Transport Advisory Council would be the most appropriate place to discuss them. It has come forcibly to my knowledge that in some States steps to train school-age children are in fact being taken. Recently I noticed that at the road safety establishment which has been set up in Western Australia there is a curriculum which has been arranged, I think, in conjunction with the Education Department for the training not only of the teachers but also ot some of the students.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. After announcing that the maximum subsidy payable to oil search companies in Australia would be reduced to 30 per cent, of the estimated cost of the operations, instead of 50 per cent., did the Minister say that the Government might well have taken the view that the search for oil in this country was well launched and did not require massive Government support? Has the Minister’s attention been directed to statements attributed to Mr. R. C. Sprigg, the chairman of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, that the Minister’s statement was incorrect, that the decision to reduce the subsidy would sound the virtual death knell of oil search in Australia until the next Budget, and that overseas companies would form the opinion that the Australian Government was weak and not to be trusted? Is it a fact that decisions on many applications for subsidy from Australian oil companies in the closing months of the last financial year were deferred until after presentation of the Budget and have only now been granted at the reduced rate?
– 1 can well understand those who are interested in the search for oil being disappointed by the decision of the Government to reduce the rate of subsidy, but after expressing that understanding, I put the view that some very exaggerated statements have been made on this matter. I have not a complete note of the comments which the honorable senator has quoted, but I took the responsibility of saying, in reply to Mr. Sprigg, that I thought he was very much exaggerating the difficulties of the situation. I think it is nonsense to say that the reduction of the subsidy will sound the death knell of the search for oil in Australia.
The facts are that we have doubled the amount of subsidy for oil search, from £2,500,000 to £5,000,000, and that we expect that as a result of that subsidy the total oil search programme by the companies concerned will cost over £16,500,000 during the next year, which is, I think - speaking from memory - the highest rate of expenditure yet achieved by companies that search for oil. It is not to be thought that, following the discoveries that have been made, the work that the Government has done through the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and the good effect of the subsidies that have been given over a period of years, we are automatically to go on subsidizing at such a high rate. I do not think that anywhere else people can search for oil and obtain the benefit of a 30 per cent, subsidy on the work they do and, in addition, receive, first, such generous taxation concessions and, secondly, the benefit of such first-class basic survey work from the government department concerned, in this instance the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I say to those concerned: Be of good cheer. There is no need for panic or alarm. The Oil search will go on, and it will go on successfully.
– The honorable senator informed me that he wanted some statistical information on this matter, and I can now supply him with the answers that he requires. The supply of wheat for the 1961-62 season was 247,000,000 bushels, or 6,600,000 tons, 24,000,000 bushels being carry-over and 223,000,000 bushels, or 6,000,000 tons being deliveries from the last harvest. The answer to the second question is: No, but the board is now selective. Vigorous selling has placed the board in a good marketing position. It has wheat to sell, but it is not under pressure, and its remaining supplies are expected to be readily absorbed by its regular markets. Main sales to date, for the season since 1st December, 1961, were as follows -
– My question is directed to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In view of the heavy annual cost to commercial airlines in Australia, caused by the necessity either to re-route or to stage aircraft on many occasions over Australian aerodromes, particularly Essendon and Canberra airports, because of fog, will the Minister confer with scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization with a view to deciding whether that organization should conduct research into means of producing an economical system of dispersing fogs which now delay the landing of aircraft, at great cost to the airline companies and with much inconvenience to passengers? I conclude by saying that we all remember the war-time system known as FIDO, but realize that it could not be considered an economic system in Australia in peace-time.
– 1 have grave doubts whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is an appropriate body to conduct investigations into the removal of fog over aerodromes. Certainly it is not conducting any experiments along those lines at the present moment, as far as I know. I do not think it is the appropriate body - if indeed there is an appropriate body - to conduct tests into that sort of phenomenon. Its comparatively large vote is already fully taken up in many lines of research which, if successful, would have even more economic impact than the dispersal of fog over the aerodromes to which the honorable senator has referred.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it correct that Australia imports nearly 2,000 tons of tin each year, principally from Malaya? Has the Government any concern that this supply could be affected in- the event of any additional trouble in that part of the world? Can the Minister say what has been done to step up the production of tin in Australia? Finally, will the Government consider the payment of a subsidy as an inducement to increase the production of tin and to stimulate exploration for new deposits, or, will it, as in the case of Canada, allow a period of five years of tax-free production to enable the tin industry in Australia to become firmly established?
– I think that Senator Fitzgerald has his figures wrong. I do not think our deficiency in tin is as great as 2,000 tons. Still, that does not alter the principle involved. Tin is one of the metals of which we are in short supply, and it would be very helpful indeed to the Australian economy and to Australian industry if we could find additional deposits of tin. That being so, the basic survey work in the search for tin has been given very high priority by the Bureau of Mineral Resources for some time past. Also, tin is on the list of metals which attract the 20 per cent, tax deduction. I think it was in the last session of Parliament, on the advice of the Government members’ mining committee, that we made alterations to the Income Tax Act which put small com panies that are likely to be interested in the search for tin on the same basis as oil search companies, thus enabling them to raise capital with an income tax deduction benefit.
There have been interesting developments in this field. Not only has the Bureau of Mineral Resources played an important part; several large companies have expanded their search for tin. I recently announced an interesting development: The bureau found in the Cairns district in Queensland, the possibility - it is only a possibility at this stage - that there are deposits of tin in old river beds the course or depth of which has been changed as a result of changes in the earth’s surface. I know that a large company also has some hopeful prospects in that same area. I know, too, that a good deal of work has been done in the Northern Territory in the big low-grade deposits there, the name of which eludes me for the moment. The honorable senator has mentioned a fiveyear tax-free period. A couple of years ago we made a very complete survey of the mining provisions in the Income Tax Act and came to the conclusion that they are as favorably based as those of any other country. Comparisons are frequently made with Canada. We think the Australian mining concessions are as good as those that are available in Canada. I would not be prepared to advocate these further proposals because I think that as much as can be done is being done at the government level. Certainly the Government’s own professional staff is fully imbued with the importance of the task of finding tin.
– Can the Minister for National Development state whether the New South Wales Government has yet made a start with the Blowering Dam project?
– No start has yet been made beyond some initial survey work which is not of any great extent in relation to the task as a whole.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether he has seen a report that the United States embassies are to be equipped with home movie apparatus and films in an effort to boost America’s export trade. Will he ask the Minister for Externa] Affairs to inquire into this matter with a view to seeing whether it would be advisable, especially in the interests of our export trade, to do the same thing at Australian embassies abroad?
– 1 have not seen the report referred to, but in the past I have visited the United States Embassy here on occasions when it was showing films, so apparently these embassies have been equipped with film projection apparatus. I remember visiting the United States Embassy at the time of the last presidential election when a film of the television contest between Mr. Nixon and Mr. Kennedy was being shown. Whether any of our Australian embassies abroad are so equipped, I do not know, but I shall make inquiries of the Minister for External Affairs, who. I think, would consult with the Minister for Trade to see whether the honorable senator’s suggestion has any value.
– Can the Minister for National Development tell me how many trade posts the Australian Government has established overseas. Can he say what increase in trade the Government has achieved through the establishment of these trade posts?
– 1 am sorry 1 do not carry the figures in my recollection, but I can tell the honorable senator that over the last couple of years there has been quite a substantial increase in the number of trade posts and the number of trade commissioners appointed overseas. That has been done in two ways. Not only have additional posts been created but the staffs in those posts have been increased. 1 believe that all this has resulted - it is acknowledged to have done so - in very substantia] assistance to Australian exporters and prospective Australian exporters.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he will give urgent consideration to the abolition of sales tax on manufactured goods containing dried fruits. Is the Minister aware that manufacturers declare that sales tax is a real deterrent to the increase of sales of products containing dried fruits and that the abolition of this tax would result in increases of sales of 10 per cent, and upwards? Will the Minister agree that the need to develop the home market becomes urgent with the possible entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market? Will he also agree that the expansion of the home market therefore becomes an important and urgent factor in the industry’s overall economy?
– Consideration of sales tax was, of course, a feature of the Budget discussions, as it always is. It was decided that there would be no remissions of sales tax during the current Budget period. I am well aware of statements that have been made by people who are interested in the manufacture of dried fruit products. Indeed, I think that most honorable members and senators have received from these people their statements relating to sales tax and its effects. The honorable senator asks whether the Treasurer will agree to one or two other things. I do not commit the Treasurer to agree to anything, but I can say that this important question of trade remains continually under the surveillance of the Government and that any changes which are considered to be necessary at any time will be made promptly.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by stating that last week I asked a question about the Independence Day address made by the President of the! United States of America in relation to the building of the new House of Europe in which the President made a monumental Declaration of Interdependence appealing for a new union between the United States of America and Europe to form a concrete Atlantic partnership. In his reply, Senator Spooner said that the Prime Minister would make a comprehensive statement on the Common Market but, after having heard the Prime Minister and after having read his statement, 1 find that he made no reference whatsoever to President Kennedy’s declaration. 1 now repeat the question I asked last Wednesday: Will the Minister ascertain whether President Kennedy’s statement about building the Atlantic partnership has been studied by the Prime Minister and his advisers, and, if so, will a considered statement be made to the Senate stating what benefits if any would flow to Australia, having in mind the many obstacles which confront Australia so far as United States and European trade are concerned, and which are likely to be increased during the coming decade?
– I have no doubt that President Kennedy’s statement has been considered by the Prime Minister. I doubt very much whether the Prime Minister would go much further than he has done in his statement about the Common Market.
– He did not refer to it.
– He referred to Australian-American relationships in that statement. You are referring to a statement made by President Kennedy about American-European relationships, and that is a different area altogether. I doubt whether the Prime Minister would make any comment upon that because that is a matter which relates primarily to other countries.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise whether he is aware of the development that is being undertaken by the Devonport Marine Board and the development that is taking place in the vicinity of Devonport which will lead to the use by the local marine board of the present Customs House. What steps are being taken by his department to provide additional customs facilities at Devonport?
– I have had a conference with the Devonport Marine Board on this subject. For many years the Department of Customs and Excise has used part of the marine board building. The board now wishes to include that part of the building in the rebuilding of its premises. The department has purchased a block of land a little further down from the present situation, and a sum of money has been included in the Estimates for this year for the building of a new customs house at Devonport.
– Is the Minister for Customs and Excise aware that members of the Federated Rubber and Allied Workers Union in Australia are gravely concerned about the threat to employment in their industry from the importation of cheap Japanese motor tyres? More than 7,000 heavy duty tyres were imported in the first quarter of this year. Is the Minister prepared to assure the members of the union that their employment is not threatened by this heavy influx of foreignmade tyres?
– The honorable senator has raised an interesting question. I direct his attention to the fact that only a few months ago the Government introduced legislation setting up a special advisory authority to deal with situations such as that to which he has referred. To the astonishment of the Government and the people of Australia, the Opposition opposed that legislation. In spite of the opposition of the Australian Labour Party, the special advisory authority has been set up. If an industry thinks it is immediately threatened by imports of goods, it now has an opportunity, thanks to this Government, to put its case for protection before that authority at an emergency hearing.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that if the proposed alteration of electoral boundaries, with the subsequent loss of one electorate in Western Australia is accepted, the name “ Curtin “ will either be dropped or made part of the name of a composite electorate - Perth-Curtin or Curtin-Perth? In view of the great service rendered to this nation by our war-time Prime Minister, the only Western Australian ever to hold that high office, will the Leader of the Government endeavour to have retained the name of John Curtin whose memory is gratefully revered by all Australians?
– I cannot give a specific answer to Senator Tangney beyond saying that other electorates are in the same position. For instance, the proposed alterations in Victoria delete the names, “Isaacs” and “Scullin”. We, as a Government, propose to have a look at this matter with a view to ensuring that those names are not deleted.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. What work is being done by the Commonwealth by way of research into the prevention and cure of cancer? If any such work is being carried out, how many scientists are engaged in it and what amount of money is spent annually by the Commonwealth on this research?
– Senator Murphy was good enough to advise me that he would seek information on this important subject and because of the widespread interest in the matter, I have prepared an answer. I will endeavour to compress it into as few words as possible. 1 should like to answer the question first, generally, and then by making specific reference to the activities in which the Government participates, Cancer research in Australia is actively pursued on a wide scale as a result of the efforts of the State governments and nongovernmental associations, such as anticancer councils.
Having regard to the extensive work being done by those bodies, which are generously supported by funds from nongovernment resources, it has been recognized that the most effective way for the Commonwealth to support and foster this work is by making available facilities for cancer research. In addition, the activities of certain specialist committees of the National Health and Medical Research Council figure prominently in the fight against cancer.
Now I will cite five specific instances of Commonwealth participation to indicate briefly where our influence is applied. A research project, financed by a grant from the funds of the National Health and Medical Research Council, is in progress in the Department of Pathology at the University of Melbourne. The Commonwealth Government, some years ago, purchased a stock of radium to facilitate research throughout Australia into the use of radiation in the treatment of cancer. In addition to radium which is on loan to a number of hospitals, part is used by the Commonwealth X-ray and Radium Laboratory to provide a supply of radon for cancer treatment. The X-ray and Radium Laboratory has provided a means of standardization of dosage, has procured and distributed radioactive isotopes, and has assisted in the improvement of techniques and methods for using radiation in the treatment of cancer. The Radiotherapy Advisory Committee investigates radiation methods for the treatment of cancer. Financial assistance is provided towards the maintenance of the Gynaecological Cancer Registry in Sydney. However, as Commonwealth activities in this field are so widespread, it is not possible to say precisely the amounts spent annually by the Government on this important work.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. In recent weeks there has been a spate of publicity in relation to the ill-directed use of drugs, the properties of which are not clearly defined. All this publicity has caused considerable confusion in the minds of laymen. It has been suggested that a Commonwealth drug secretariat in Canberra might be helpful to the Australian medical profession. My question is directed to the Minister in the hope that the ordinary men and women of Australia who lack facilities to test the effects of drugs may be able to obtain helpful information. Could the Minister arrange for his professional advisers to prepare a simple statement on the safety of drugs, new and old, which would be comprehended by the ordinary citizen, would not contain a lot of professional jargon, and would be made public not through professional people, but by being presented to the Parliament for the information of the public?
– The matter raised by Senator Hendrickson is of great interest. He asked whether I would suggest to my officers that a statement be prepared on the uses and side effects of drugs. That sounds a pretty simple proposition. But when I remind the honorable senator that the pharmaceutical benefits schedule alone contains about 900 drugs I think he will readily understand the magnitude of the problem that would confront my department.
If he or any other interested person cares to name a drug that he is concerned about, I shall be very happy to have an examination made. I emphasize this point, which I have made in this chamber on previous occasions: Many of these drugs have saved scores of lives in this country and over the whole of the earth’s surface in recent years. It is true that some of them have side effects. The people who are in the best position to make a study and report on the side effects are the people in the teaching hospitals, the universities and the medical profession.
If the honorable senator is referring to the drugs that we had before us recently, such as phenacetin, let mc say to him again that those types of drugs have been in use in Australia for 40 or 50 years and it is fair to say that only abuse through excess consumption has caused any ill effects that may have been produced. There are many other common commodities that can have serious effects if taken to excess. I suggest that if any one is in doubt about the value of any well-known drug, he should consult his medical adviser and be guided by him. No one should use drugs to excess.
– Realizing that probably no drug is harmless if used to excess, I ask the Minister for Health whether he will consider approaching the State Ministers for Health with the object oi establishing in Australia standards for the purity of drugs?
– 1 would not be in a position to answer that question without giving it some consideration. If the honorable senator will put it on the notice-paper I will give him my considered reply.
– I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister seen an article in this morning’s Melbourne “ Sun “ by Douglas Wilkie pointing out that the Japanese and Russians are undertaking trade arrangements which will bring Japan £450,000,000 a year within the next five years? Is he also aware that Japan is trading extensively with China and has signed a shipping agreement with Peking? Has Japan offered the Chinese long-term credits and invited a Chinese trade delegation to visit Japan next October? Is he aware that the Japanese Prime Minister said recently, “Japan will positively promote trade with China no matter what Washington says about it? “ Finally, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it the Government’s policy to promote trade with Communist countries? If so, what steps have been taken recently to further that object?
– 1 do not get the connexion between the first and second parts of Senator Hendrickson’s question. As I understand it, the first part of the question relates to a series of arrangements that Japan is making with Communist countries, which is of interest to Japan. I had not seen the newspaper report; I was interested in it and I would like to see it and think about it - check its accuracy for one thing. The second part asks whether Australia is promoting trade with Communist China.
– Not only with China, but with Communist countries generally - Russia, China and other satellite countries.
– 1 do not perceive the connexion between the two matters, but perhaps that is my fault. Australia’s trade policy is that we are willing to trade with China so long as the goods concerned are not strategic materials.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that propaganda is being directed to influencing the powers that be to insist that APC powders be purchased only from chemists’ shops? This suggestion has appeared in the newspapers over the past few days, and I ask the Minister whether he will give some guarantee to the House that such a restriction will not be imposed.
– I regret that I cannot give the guarantee sought by Senator Ormonde. It is not within the province of the Government to give such a guarantee. This is a matter wholly and solely for the States; they have complete jurisdiction over the sale of drugs of any kind. When I was asked last week, I think by Senator Marriott, whether the Government would give consideration to confiscating stocks of a particular drug, distival, that might still be in the country, I emphasized that this Government has no jurisdiction. These are matters for the State governments, and for my part I would not dare even to intrude.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Is this requirement generally disregarded by such purchasing officers?
– The Minister for Trade has supplied the following information in answer to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. Imports of electrical capital equipment into Australia in 1960-61 totalled £23,000,000. Imports of this equipment by Commonwealth authorities amounted to £4,700,000. Local manufacturers are afforded the opportunity of tendering for purchases by Commonwealth authorities if local capacity exists to meet the requirements in terms of specifications and time of delivery.
The Australian industry is well established and has the capacity to produce a wide range of electric motors, but not all types and sizes. 4, 5, 6 and 7. In respect of the purchases made by the Commonwealth, it is the practice of purchasing authorities, in comparing local and overseas tenders, to add to the value of the overseas tender an amount equal to any customs and other duties which would be payable on the goods concerned if they were imported by a private importer. This practice is strictly adhered to. In all cases, therefore, the local supplier obtains the benefit of the protection provided by the tariff, even though the Commonwealth does not pay duty on goods imported for its own use.
– I have to announce to the Senate that Senator Kendall has been appointed to fill the vacancy on the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
– Is it proposed to change the order of business of the Senate?
– It is not desired to re-arrange the business of the Senate, but I think I might inform you and the Senate that the Government and the Opposition have agreed, subject to your concurrence, that in the debate that will now follow on Government business, Order of the Day No. 1 - Common Market Negotiations - Ministerial Statement and Paper - honorable senators will have leave to refer to general business, Order of the Day No. 3 - Australia and the Common Market - Ministerial Statement and Paper.
– The Opposition concurs in the proposal. One of the statements refers to a statement made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the other to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on Thursday evening last.
I should not like, in my speech on the Common Market negotiations, to be debarred from referring to the statement of the Minister for Trade - not that I need to refer to it for the purposes of my speech on the Prime Minister’s statement - but I think it would be a convenience to every one if the two matters were debated together.
Debate resumed from 9th August (vide page 116), on motion by Senator Spooner -
That the following paper: -
Common Market Negotiations - Statement by the Prime Minister dated 9th August, 1962 - be printed.
– The speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on Thursday night, and repeated here on the same evening by the Leader of the Government (Senator Spooner), was a vastly important one dealing with a matter of supreme concern to Australia in many aspects of its economy and its future. I have already addressed myself to it on two occasions in this Senate, the first on 17th August last year, and quite recently, following Mr. McEwen’s statement, on 17th May. I have taken the opportunity to read what I said on those occasions. I endorse what I said at both times and I should like to incorporate what I said then in what I now say.
On standing up to speak on a matter of this kind one is dismayed at the difficulty of attempting to do the subject justice in merely one speech. Almost any one phase of Common Market implications would demand a speech of an hour at least. The situation does present one with a real difficulty of selection. On this occasion I feel myself relieved a good deal from dealing with many matters by reason of the very able, brilliant and forward-looking speech in another place of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), which he delivered following the speech of the Prime Minister on Thursday night. I thought it was one of the best-informed speeches that I have read on the subject. It certainly reflected Mr. Whitlam’s great ability and, above all, the enormous benefit that he derived from his recent tour which embraced not only the United Kingdom but also the six Common Market countries, the United States of America and a number of Commonwealth countries. He certainly had little time for sight-seeing. I have had the advantage of hearing from him throughout one whole-day session of the federal Parliamentary Labour Executive a report of the findings that he made on his trip. I am certain that the knowledge he gained will be of benefit not only to his party but also to the country in its consideration of this matter. I should like to adopt and support all that Mr. Whitlam said on Thursday night, and I would recommend to anybody who did not hear the speech that they read and study it. They certainly will find it rich in relevant thoughts.
I come now to the Prime Minister’s speech. Apart from a few digressions from the subject before us his speech was mainly a record of his activities and efforts on behalf of Australia when he was recently abroad. He was concerned, of course, with the implications of Britain’s application for entry into the European Common Market. In the course of that speech he affirmed many propositions with which the Opposition not only does not disagree but supports. I select just five of them. The first was his comment upon what is called the tentative agreement at Brussels on the question of our hard manufactures just as the Prime Minister arrived in England. This agreement related not to our primary products but to a group of manufactured goods that we have been in the habit of exporting to Britain under preferential arrangements of some kind. The report from Brussels - and it appears to be authentic, although it is not official as far is I know - was that our preferences on those particular goods were to be phased out of existence between now and 1970.
Although Mr. Heath indicated that that was really a tentative agreement, I have had some experience with tentative agreements. I recall that on the Constitutional Review Committee one of the earliest decisions was that every decision should be tentative until we came to the end, and that anybody would be free to recall a tentative concurrence when he had obtained the whole picture of constitutional change. It was my experience that these tentative agreements, reached only after long discussion and argument, tended to harden into firm agreements with the passage of time and that they were not reversed later. The only instance of one of them being reversed was the case in which one member of the committee indicated that his agreement was tentative and was subject to certain other things. Only one member of the committee went back on a tentative agreement, having carefully reserved his position. So I fear that a tentative agreement, so characterized by Mr. Heath at this stage, is the first element of agreement between Britain and the States of the European Economic Community.
I agree with the Prime Minister’s comment that the agreement falls far short of providing adequate safeguards for the products concerned. It is true that they involve only an amount of something like £4,000,000 a year; but every million is of importance to this country when it is a matter of export earnings for our economy. By and large in the total field one could reasonably say that the £4,000,000 involved does not amount to an exceedingly significant factor in our economy. But that is not the point. We are in a chronically difficult position with our international balance of payments. It is not a position that arises temporarily but one which will be of constant difficulty in the future. I repeat that every million pounds of export earnings is of great importance to this country. We are a dependent economy. We are dependent in the sense that we rely so very largely upon primary production for our export income, and we rely upon the earnings of our imports to provide the capital goods and the raw materials that so largely sustain many of our great local manufacturing industries which provide the bulk of employment for the work force in Australia. So it becomes a matter of vast importance to us that we do have the export earnings to permit the badly-needed flow of imports upon which so much of our employment in Australia depends.
There is another perhaps more important aspect than that. Our manufacturing industries have grown apace, particularly during the war and the immediate post-war period. Of course, we did not expect them to be static. We hope and trust that this £4,000,000 worth of exports will grow enormously down the years. If we are to be a soundly-based trading nation in the international sphere we must develop our exports in manufactured goods. We need to provide for our own self-sufficiency, to relieve our dependence on imports so far as we can, and to join with the rather unreliable base of primary production, something that will give stability to our overseas trade. As the Senate will realize our production varies with the seasons - fires, floods and drought.
– And prices.
– I was coming to that. In addition, the matter of prices is not in Australian hands. As I indicated some time ago this factor leaves us very dependable, and everything should be directed to expanding the exports of our manufactured products. Happily, there are signs that we are moving in that direction. I ask honorable senators to consider such a matter as the production of aluminium in this country. We have vast bauxite deposits which are only now about to be exploited, with the prospect of the establishment of smelters for the alumina, the ultimate production of aluminium and, I hope, the lucrative and even more important phase of fabrication and export. Vast sums could be involved in the export of aluminium. We in this country cannot be content to look at the present level of exports to the United Kingdom, under the system of preferences, and say, “ There is not a great deal in that matter “, because our expectation and even our need is that exports should be developed enormously.
Accordingly, we of the Australian Labour Party agree with the Prime Minister’s comment that this tentative agreement falls far short of providing adequate safeguards for the products concerned. The Prime Minister, at page 7 of his statement, indicated that entry into the European Economic Community by the United Kingdom was a matter for the United Kingdom alone. The Labour Party recognizes that fact and has recognized it from the beginning of our awareness of the application by the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister said -
Our task is not to oppose Britain’s entry on economic grounds which affect her, and which fall for her judgment; it is to do all we can, by hard work and persuasion, to ensure that the terms finally agreed to by The Six do the minimum of damage to the present and anticipated pattern of Commonwealth trade, and of Australian trade in particular.
We agree with his comment that he is not in a position at present to expound the present state of the Brussels negotiations. They are certainly far from complete. We also agree with the following statement: -
Although one is frequently asked for a categorical ‘ Yes “ or “ No “ to the question “ Are you in favour of Britain entering the European Community? “ no such answer is as yet possible. The position is still confused.
I shall return to that statement before 1 conclude my remarks. I am not controverting the Prime Minister’s proposition, but before I conclude I hope to refer to certain broad principles which seem now to have emerged. Again, we are in the unfortunate position that we have to rely on press statements for information about recent events at Brussels, when the negotiations were adjourned until October. This means that the Prime Ministers, at their conference in London next month, will not have before them the exact terms of Britain’s entry, but I should hope that Mr. Health and the other British Ministers will be in a position to state on a rather firm base the elements that will have to be faced if Britain is to enter. That is a necessary preliminary to our drawing conclusions as to how we are to be affected, either immediately or in the future. I hope to refer to those broad principles at a later stage.
The Prime Minister stated, speaking of the European Common Market -
No one can see into the future and forecast how far close economic associations may generate political pressures for organic political association.
I agree that we cannot see into the future. This is a treaty which relates purely to economic matters, with some impact upon social matters. We cannot know whether success in that particular sphere will lead the members of the European Economic Community to venture further. It may well be that their linking together in close economic union will naturally dispose them to move into very much closer political union. In the minds of those who founded this extraordinarily novel European Economic Community undoubtedly was the thought that ultimately, at some time in the future, there would be a very high degree of mutuality in the political sense, if not integration. So, it is in the air, but political fusion is in the far-distant future.
– fs it not postulated in the agreement?
– I should say that it is not negated, and it is even mentioned as a broad ultimate objective. Such fusion would mean that the member states would not be bound by the terms of the treaty. Any movement towards political fusion would have to be the result of deliberate acts by the constituent states hereafter. I think the honorable senator will remember that, in August last year, in the first speech that I made on this matter, I said that I considered the ultimate political elements in the situation were even more important than were the economic elements. I am conceding that the possibility of political fusion exists, but I think that the Prime Minister ventured a little into the future, with unfortunate consequences, as I hope to show presently.
At pages 5 and 6 of the text of the Prime Minister’s speech, which was made available to the Senate, he made certain statements which I propose to quote for the purposes of later basing an argument on them. He said -
I gathered in Whitehall that Great Britain does not contemplate the creation of supra-national institutions of government, with their consequential clear modifications of political sovereignty. There would appear to be some division of opinion among The Six themselves on this matter. But it does seem that, to take a single example, the rights under the treaty, to the free movement of workers between the member states can readily generate political pressures or organic political association.
He went on to say -
What we have sought to make clear is that if-
I underline the word “ if “ -
Great Britain went in, and if-
I again underline the “ if “ - in the course of time the extended European Economic Community became a European political community with the structure of a federation, the nature of the present Commonwealth would be clearly and materially changed.
Later, he said -
In short, if Great Britain eventually became a member state in a European federation-
In his speech in the House he interpolated the words, “ I do not say this will happen “, but they do not appear in the statement which was read in the Senate - she would no longer be sovereign as the other Commonwealth countries are. The Commonwealth would have ceased to be an association of sovereign and fully self-governing states.
In the third paragraph on page 6 of the circulated copy, he said -
It is possible to contemplate with approval a close co-ordination of high poliical policies between Great Britain and the European Economic Community. It would, as we see it be an unhappy thing to contemplate the absorption of Great Britain into an organic European federal union.
Honorable senators will see that the Prime Minister has put up a hypothetical case in saying that if Great Britain were to enter into a European political union it would be a mistake and would involve loss of sovereignty. Having regard to the realities of to-day in relation to the European Economic Community, I think it was unnecessary and a waste of time for the Prime Minister to state a completely hypothetical case and then proceed to make strong comments on what the position would be.
That speech by the Prime Minister brought a very strong reaction in the United Kingdom. If one looks at the press, one finds such headings as, “Strong Reaction in U.K. to Menzies’ Speech on the Market”. The “Daily Mail” described it as “ startling “ and added, “ He almost makes our flesh creep “. That newspaper also accused Mr. Menzies of making so many conflicting statements on the Common Market that it was hard to know exactly where he stood. It repeated his various statements, not emphasizing the fact that his comments were directed to a hypothetical case, but taking his comments about a mistake and a loss of sovereignty as though they were addressed to the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community. Mr. Menzies, in truth, was not speaking about anything of the kind.
The point I make is that it was unnecessary to embark upon that hypothetical case, which as the Prime Minister him self acknowledged, he did not think would happen, and which Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Duncan Sandys specifically said - as Senator Wright cited them, in a debate on this subject in May last - was not contemplated and would not happen. It was unreal for the Prime Minister to have gone on. He should have foreseen the effects that those comments would have. The effects are not on the truly informed minds, the legally trained people, the people who are in close contact with these negotiations. Those people realize that Mr. Menzies was directing his strictures to a hypothetical case that nobody expected would happen. But the ordinary public of the United Kingdom and the ordinary public of Australia do not know the niceties of difference between a European federation and the present European Economic Community.
Despite Mr. Menzies’s assertion a while ago and earlier in the speech with which I am dealing, that this was a matter for the United Kingdom itself, the uninformed, inexpert members of the public in the broad must gain from the Prime Minister’s statement the view that he was opposed to the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community. From his vast experience he should have anticipated that and avoided it. I do not think that the headings presented in the United Kingdom press are accurately put, but they are the type of thing that should have been anticipated. The danger to-day is that this kind of thing at least lets the uninformed people feel, and have some justification for feeling, that there are no bona fides on the part of Australia in presenting its case. That is a very bad and unfortunate impression to create. We see in the “Daily Telegraph “, in a great headline on the front page, “ Mistake Warning By Menzies , which must have a very bad effect, from the Commonwealth viewpoint and from the Australian viewpoint, on the minds of the public of the United Kingdom and even upon the minds of the people of Australia. The “ Guardian “ had a headline reading “ **Mr. Menzies Underlines Threat to Commonwealth Idea”. What was not made plain to the people of both countries was that he was addressing his mind to a suppositious case, which he and everybody else acknowledges is most unlikely to happen. Our own Sydney “ Sun “ came out with the heading, “ Menzies
Stirred Britain. Talk Made Flesh Creep.” By and large, for the reason that I have given, it is quite unfortunate that the Prime Minister embarked upon that digression.
We have read a lot in the press about the allegation that Australia has been overstating its case. As a result of the briefing that I have had at the expert level in this country and the opportunities that were given to me to see what had been put, let me repeat that I was most impressed with the excellence and the strength of the factual basis upon which the case was put for Australia by the officials. I saw no evidence at all of exaggeration. Exaggeration would have been stupid, because the experts of the European Economic Community have just as much knowledge of every fact that is important to our economy as our own experts do. Therefore, if there is any exaggeration, it can only be at the political level. It has not helped us to have the Prime Minister make this digression and produce this unfortunate effect.
– Every argument relating to any aspect of this question is surely hypothetical at this stage.
– No, I would not agree with the honorable senator on that. There are innumerable factors in connexion with the establishment of the European Economic Community, which is in operation and has been working for a number of years, that are completely and clearly determined.
– In that case, you must know the conditions under which the United Kingdom will join.
– No, that is the unpredictable element which is day by day becoming clearer. It leads me to repeat what I said on the very first occasion when I addressed the Senate on this matter in August of last year. I said then that after my reading of the Treaty of Rome the outstanding impression on my mind was the very, very tough cohesion with which the members were held together. I say to Senator Vincent that many matters are quite clear. He ought to read the remarks of Professor Donner, the chairman of the court of justice of the community.
– The pertinent, vital matter is not clear, is it?
– I shall go this far with the honorable senator. The issue of whether or not the United Kingdom will enter is not clear.
– And on what conditions?
– And on what conditions.
– And those conditions, I suggest, are at the moment completely hypothetical.
– Oh, no, I would not agree to putting it that way. The question being whether or not the United Kingdom should enter, the Prime Minister should have confined himself to the realities of that question and not projected his mind to some completely hypothetical case not connected with the Treaty of Rome but which could come out of that association. That is where it is unreal, and that it where it is harmful, in the view that I put.
– In the last speech that the honorable senator made on the subject in the Senate he admitted that his argument was pure hypothesis.
– I shall be very interested if the honorable senator will tell me where I said that about the whole range of matters relating to the European Economic Community. I realize that there are hypothetical matters, but I also say that day by day they are growing less hypothetical. Again I will risk taking the role of prophet and say that the tough cohesion among The Six, about which I have talked in the past and again to-day, will not yield beyond the points that were made public in the press at the end of July, when the adjournment of discussions took place. I expect that we shall get very little out of it, and that we shall be at the best, facing up to the easing out of our preferences and our low tariffs over a period that will end in 1970 - the year of the precipice, as I think Mr. McEwen called it-
– Or before.
– It could end before, because the community is making very rapid progress with its time-table. It was unfortunate for Australia that the Minister for Air, who in addition was the Minister assisting the Treasurer, should have announced publicly that the case put for Australia had been greatly exaggerated.
That really could have referred to nobody but the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), because in truth that could not be said about the officials. Mr. Bury’s statement, of course, had repercussions all round the world. It raised the question of how far that opinion went beyond Mr. Bury in the Cabinet. How far does the division go? It certainly will not help Britain in bargaining on our behalf in the councils of the European Economic Community, to have that element appearing in the very Cabinet of this country.
– That view disappeared quickly.
– So did Mr. Bury. I regard those two elements - the Bury incident and the digression of the Prime Minister himself on Thursday night - as being two very unfortunate elements. I should like, as a matter of academic though very real interest, to refer to an address by Michael Gaudet, DirectorGeneral of Legal Services of European Executives, at a conference held in London in 1960 under the joint auspices of the Federal Trust for Education and Research, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. In the course of his article, which appears in a publication entitled “ Legal Problems of the European Economic Community and the European Free Trade Association “, Gaudet deals with the community and federation, the very points to which the Prime Minister digressed. He says on excellent technical and legal grounds, three of which he develops extensively, that it is completely misleading to claim that there is something in the nature of a federal state or a quasifederal state in the European Economic Community. I shall resist the temptation to go through the argument, but it is there for any honorable senator who would like to look at the very issue that has been raised. However, in his final paragraph he states -
Certainly, the Community is not just an ordinary international organization, merely subject to the usual rules of international law. However, on account of the limits assigned to the transfer of powers and of the predominance of the Member States, the Community, as yet and whatever its potentialities may be, cannot be assimilated to the rigid system of a real federation.
– Did he deal with the proposed central bank in that address?
– I cannot say at the moment. It is a particularly long report under many headings. He may well have done that.
– The statement you have quoted is worthy of debate in itself.
– We could usefully have a lengthy debate on the question of the difference between a community and a federation, but, of course, that is not the only interesting legal question that can arise. Looking at the addresses given by prominent and most competent people on companies and their position, the need for uniformity in the law relating to the international sale of goods, the extraordinary difficulty of dealing with patents, the activities of the Court of Justice, and the rules to control competition and restrictive trade practices, one rather recoils from the idea of embarking on the subject at all. It seems to be a miracle, first, that the concept of the community ever reached fruition, and, secondly, that men have had the heart to face up to these enormous problems. I say as a matter of interest for the Senate that the mere description of these as legal problems ought not to dissuade any honorable senator from looking at this publication, which contains a mass of informative opinion. The President of the Court and others made their contributions, and the document is of fascinating interest. I should like to have an hour or two to develop some of the themes, which are very exciting.
Let me now return to the theme I began with, namely, that any subtraction from our exports, any diminution of our markets, will be serious for this country. I want to touch upon another element of dependency - our heavy dependence upon the inflow of private capital into this country. That, too, is a variable; it fluctuates enormously from one year to another. In 1960-61, the inflow of private capital ran to £326,000,000- an extraordinary figure. For the year ended 30th June, 1962, it fell by £234,000,000. Imagine a variation of £234,000,000 between one year and the next! We have been dependent too much and for too long upon that element, which is completely uncontrollable and completely unpredictable, to preserve our international solvency and to hold for ourselves international reserves.
I undertook earlier to come back to a general outline of where we have arrived in relation to the European Economic Community. I repeat that, unfortunately, we have to rely very largely on the press for our information.
– I hope it is not the Melbourne “Herald”.
– No, the honorable senator may rest easily. I may say that the type of matter I am about to read runs through all the press articles that I have seen. Its says in broad terms that this is the position that has been reached:
That, with Britain a member, the Common Market would undertake to shape its domestic agricultural price policies so that “reasonable opportunities “ would be afforded in its market to outside suppliers.
That is a vague provision to bring comfort to the primary producers of Australia.
– Is that in to-day’s press?
– It appeared in the “Sun-Herald” of 12th August- last Sunday - in a special article under the heading “ Background to Brussels Bargaining “. Quite obviously that is about how far we have got on that one. The article continues -
That an effort will be made to secure worldwide agreements on major foodstuffs and, if these have not been concluded when the Common Market comes fully into operation by 1970, then commodity agreements will be sought on less than a world basis.
That is merely an aspiration; it is not quite firm. It does not hold out any particularly firm hope for us. The article goes on -
That between the time that Britain joins the Common Market and 1970 the Market would consult with major suppliers if their exports should suffer a sudden sharp decline as a result of Common Market agricultural policies.
And, finally -
A near promise that special consideration will be given to New Zealand.
Those are vague terms that can be expanded or contracted at will, and they do not help us much at the moment. I hope that greater definition will come out of the meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers with the United Kingdom Ministers later on. I join with Mr. Whitlam in his criticisms of the Government for not having the good sense, as I suggested more than a year ago, to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. It looks as though Australia might have to face up to the worst.
– You are getting a bit hypothetical again.
– Not I. I rely on the prophecy I made earlier, that having regard to all the factors in the situation, it is inevitable that Great Britain will go in on any terms - the best terms she can get. That has been my belief from the beginning. It is based on all the factors before me, and I still adhere to it.
– It is a good hypothesis.
– The honorable senator is a bit touchy about the hypothetical case put by the Prime Minister.
– You started it.
– No, the Prime Minister started it; and he did a very great deal of damage with it.
– What about your previous speech?
– I have made several. Which one7
– The one before this one, the one on the Common Market. Was not that hypothetical?
– No. I should say that the great part of that speech was factual. I join with Mr. Whitlam in his criticism to the effect that the Government should now be preparing for the worst that might happen to Australia. There are many things that we ought to be doing in the interests of this country, irrespective of whether Britain enters the Common Market. I should like somebody on the Government side to stand up and tell me what this Government has done between the time we debated this matter first on 1st August, 1961, and now to prepare for the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market. What has it done to strengthen our position in international trade? What positive steps has it taken?
– A good many.
– I shall be interested to hear somebody on the Government side give us, chapter and verse, what the
Government has done. Where, in the speech of the Prime Minister, to which we listened the other night, did we hear one word about what Australia should do to prepare for the worst? Where was there one element of hope that the industries that are likely to be hurt - industries such as dried fruits, canned fruits and others - will be safeguarded? Where did we hear a pledge that it will be a national responsibility to stand behind those industries? Where is there a suggestion that something like what the European Economic Community is doing ought to be done? The European Economic Community realizes that its movements will upset industries within its bounds, that men will be displaced from work, and that particular industries will go out; and it has therefore set up a European social fund to take care of displaced workers, to retrain them in new occupations and generally to cater for the social problems that arise. If Britain enters the European Common Market on the terms which seem to be indicated at the moment, we will have grave community problems in various parts of Australia. Why should not an assurance be given to those communities now that the nation will stand behind them? I should like some one on the Government side to point to one thing the Prime Minister said the other night which would indicate any plan or even any desire to uphold those industries and those particular communities.
I thought, by way of contrast, that Mr. Whitlem’s speech was one of the most vital and forward-looking to which I have ever listened. He developed the theme that our natural markets are all around us - in Africa, Southern Asia and South America - and that the main obstacle to developing our trade with those countries is their very low standard of living which prevents them from buying from us. He suggested that we ought to be giving the lead in the United Nations Organization, that we ought to be trying in the United Nations to help those under-developed countries and to bring them up to better standards of living. He said that we should be using all our eloquence and force to persuade our fellow nations to help those areas, because, when we do that, we do two things. He pointed out that not only are we doing the right thing by the people of those countries but also that we are serving our own interests by making them strong enough to trade with us.
– Do you not think we have been trying to do that for years?
– I see no sign of it. I see no vigour in the approach. We urge some life and activity on the part of the Government in that matter. There is a need to develop our tropical areas. There is a great need to prepare for the plight into which many of our communities and individual industries will be launched if Britain does enter the European Common Market.
I come back to the theme that I developed somewhat but not in so much detail when I spoke last. I would say that this Government should announce that it is prepared to re-introduce import restrictions when we need to protect our balance of payments position. It has abdicated that position altogether. It has set its face against import restrictions. Of course, it is entitled to do that under Gatt, and it has done it for eight long years. We suffered great losses by the sudden lifting of import controls by this Government in February, 1960. The Government ought to assure the industries of this country that import restrictions will be re-imposed when the need arises. It should be encouraging the development of new products. Instead of being the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for Europe and the world, we should be fabricating our primary products and sending them overseas in more concentrated and more valuable form. We should not be exporting our employment opportunities in the way in which the Government has been doing by sending overseas, for instance, bauxite and alumina instead of aluminium and fabricated products.
The development of new markets should be going on in any event, whether there is a European Economic Community or not. Again, we should be pressing on with oil search because, if we can find adequate supplies of it in this country, oil is the one thing with which we can completely wipe out the ill effects, if any, of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. But at this stage we find that whilst the Government provides more money it reduces the rate of its subsidy. I should have thought that this was the very opportunity for a crash programme. I should have thought that with the difficulties of the European Economic Community facing us, instead of saying, “Ah, we are floating along nicely now that we have various entrepreneurs interested in oil search; we will reduce the subsidy for drilling from 50 per cent, to 30 per cent.”, the Government would be trying to get more and more people interested in drilling. I should have thought that instead of weakening the search, especially the search by Australian companies that cannot bear financial burdens like overseas companies can, the Government would have been increasing the subsidy. Instead, it shows a complete lack of imagination.
I move now to two points which the Opposition keeps on making. We are at the mercy of overseas companies in the matter of every ton of shipping in and out of this country. We are in the same sorry plight regarding insurance on cargoes of goods in and out of the country. Sooner or later, Australia has got to go into those two businesses. If private enterprise will not go into them, then we as a nation must go in; if it means subsidizing shipping, then let us subsidize shipping. In what other way can we expect to get a fair deal from the overseas concerns which charge us far more on the transport of our goods to Singapore than for the 12,000-mile haul from Great Britain?
– How many ships would be involved in that?
– I cannot answer that.
– Would you subsidize the National Line ‘ or overseas shipping companies?
– It depends on what we have. I would subsidize the National Line, of course. If we have ships that are under the control of Australian concerns, then let us subsidize them. We do not have to fill the whole field overnight. The mere fact that we would have ships undercutting freights would be a conditioning factor for the overseas companies. That would be a threat to them that could be exploited. We of the Labour Party feel that this country has been exploited for far too long in connexion with shipping freights and insurance. Why should we not keep the moneys from these sources in our own hands? Why, when we permit the unrestricted flow of private capital into this country, do we not exercise some control to ensure two things? Why do we not first ensure that this money goes into industries that we need, industries that will either save us imports or give us exports? Why do we not see that those industries have a substantial element of Australian enterprise in them? Australia increasingly is falling into the hands of overseas companies. The Government ought to be doing these things whether or not Great Britain enters the European Economic Community. We ought to increase the powers of all our statutory boards, to enable them to sell in any country. We ought to be prepared, when necessary, to conduct government-to-government trading. We ought to get all our statutory boards into one council so that they may make a co-ordinated approach to the markets of the world. They should coordinate their approach and their activities. All these things ought to be done whether or not Great Britain enters the community. Australia should have an exports credit corporation to finance our exporters over a term.
– Should we have a government exports credit corporation?
– I think that is right. Can the Minister visualize a private concern doing that job?
– I am just asking for your views.
– I would be surprised if a private concern were to do that job. I have no knowledge of it being done privately anywhere in the world; but I have ample knowledge of governments all round the world that make the supporting of their exports a very strong feature of their policies.
Mr. Deputy President, I have mentioned some of the things that ought to be done. I ask somebody on the Government side of the chamber to tell me what is happening about those things and to tell me one step the Government has taken since July of last year when Mr. Sandys came to Australia and advised us that Great Britain was applying for admission to the European Economic Community. What has been done apart from talking about Australia’s plight and the disabilities that we will suffer? Is it not time that we moved in and did something? I challenge honorable senators opposite to tell the Opposition what the Government has done to prepare for all the difficulties about which it is, properly perhaps, so vocal. What is the Government doing in case the worst happens? That is the question the Opposition leaves with the Government.
I realize that we can derive some comfort from assurances that have been given to us by Great Britain that she will not enter the community unless the interests of the Commonwealth are adequately safeguarded. We can draw some comfort from that. How much comfort, I say to Senator Vincent, will be hypothetical until the event is over. In the meantime we can certainly make all the efforts we can to present our case and preserve the position in Australia. At the moment we can rely upon assurances that have not yet been reached; but, above all, we have to rely upon ourselves.
I repeat what I said the first time I spoke on this matter. If the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community makes us stand on our own feet, makes us use our own employment opportunities and gives us a greater degree of self-sufficiency, and therefore, of security, then no matter what temporary disability, financial or otherwise, we suffer as a result, this development will make us a nation quicker than anything else will. We should not be depressed and downhearted about this matter. We should do our best, prepare for the worst and get on with the job of developing the nationhood of Australia.
Senator SCOTT (Western Australia [4.59]. - The document on the proposed entry of Great Britain into the European Common Market, which was read in this chamber last Thursday night, is one of the most painstaking documents that have ever been brought before this chamber. Much time has been put into it. It affects every person in Australia. The Prime Minister of Great Britain has said that the best thing that could happen, as far as trade is concerned and from the political angle, would be for Great Britain to enter the Common
Market. He has also stated that Great Britain will not enter the Common Market unless suitable terms can be agreed on for the Commonwealth countries. That has been stated repeatedly not only by the Prime Minister of Great Britain but also by Mr. Heath, Mr. Butler and Mr. Sandys.
– What are the suitable conditions?
– I believe that they will have to be decided by the Prime Minister of Great Britain after consultation with the various Commonwealth countries, including Australia.
This afternoon we listened to a speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). It was the same as the speech made by Mr. Whitlam in the House of Representatives last week. I read that speech with great interest. They have criticized the Government for not taking adequate steps, but they have not offered any worthwhile suggestions. The only suggestion they have made up to date is that we should develop the north of Australia with pilot farms to feed the people of South-East Asia. Any one who knows anything about northern Australia - I do not believe that Mr. Whitlam does - will realize that that proposal is completely and utterly ridiculous.
– Do not bother about Mr. Whitlam’s knowledge. Give us yours?
– -I will give it to you. We have plenty of time, so just listen. Mr. Whitlam mentioned that there were four commodities that could be grown in the north of Australia. One was rice and another was sugar-cane. I was amazed that he did not mention the commodity that could give us the biggest return, namely cotton. People talk about the Northern Territory and, of course, we have to talk about it; but the fact is, as Mr. Whitlam and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate may know, that up to date it has not been proved that anything can be grown there economically, although it is true that meat can be produced with the aid of irrigation. No doubt honorable senators have seen the spectacle of Humpty Doo, on which one or two million pounds has been spent and people are still in debt.
– Are there not reasons for that, apart from the actual growing of the rice?
– I was there not more than two months ago. It is generally considered that an economic crop of rice in Australia is one of at least one and a quarter tons to the acre, or probably 30 cwt, to the acre. In spite of the fact that crops have been grown for three or four years and all the available advice has been received from agricultural experts and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the crop at Humpty Doo this year will not average half a ton to the acre.
– Did the geese get at it?
– I am not saying what happened. The geese did not get at it on this occasion. The people at Humpty Doo have to find new methods. The facts are that when you send a person up there and he comes back and makes a statement to the effect that you can grow this and that in the Territory, and that this should be a pilot area for Australia, it shows how little that person knows. It does not stand up to any analysis whatsoever.
– Those farmers were pretty efficient, too.
– That is so; they were. We have a statement written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and read in this chamber on Thursday night in which he says that when he went to England he was confronted with the fact that a statement had appeared in the press to the effect that an agreement had been reached in the matter of hard manufactures. He and the representative from New Zealand prepared a fresh statement to give the Australian and New Zealand views on this particular matter. He stated quite clearly and concisely that he hoped that Britain would not make statements such as this until the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference had been held and the statements had been made to the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth countries, who are to meet in September this year.
– The other person was Mr. Holyoake?
– No. I think his name was Marshall. They received a considerable press in England and we hope that the right steps will be taken to see that nothing is done until the Prime Ministers’ Conference. We have that assurance. It is true, of course, that the entry of Britain into the Common Market will affect us in Australia to the extent of roughly £135,000,000 a year in our exports to Britain. In answer to the challenge of the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that we are doing nothing to obtain other markets, I remind him that at question time to-day the Government was asked what trade posts and trade missions had been set up overseas to encourage the export of Australian manufactured goods. The Senate was told in reply that a great number of trade posts had been set up with great benefit to Australian trade so that Australian manufacturers would be encouraged to produce goods for sale in countries other than Britain and the Common Market countries. I do not know the number of trade posts that have been established, but I understand that it is quite considerable.
– “ Great number “ could mean three or four.
– No. There are ten or a dozen trade posts - or more - but it is a lot of trade posts and they are encouraging people in various countries other than Britain and the Common Market countries to purchase Australian-made goods.
– All over the place.
– I only wanted to find out where.
– You could ask the Minister. These trade posts are getting results, and you will agree that we, as the Australian Government, have encouraged our secondary industries to a far greater degree than any other government has ever thought of. For the first time in Australia’s history we are now exporting goods in. excess of £1,000,000,000 a year in value.
– What is wrong with that?
– Nothing is wrong with it. It is good; we like it. The only thing that might be wrong with it is that it is not enough, but it does help to balance our budget. The statement of the Leader of the Opposition that the Government has done nothing to encourage or develop or promote trade agreements must be re-examined. I remember quite distinctly that when we entered into peaceful negotiations - a peace agreement and a trade agreement - with Japan, they were opposed by members of the Opposition, who said that Australia must not trade with these people - all because the Opposition wanted a few votes.
– We never said that at all.
– I remember it quite distinctly, and I can quote “ Hansard “ to prove it. The Opposition opposed the trade agreement and violently opposed the peace treaty with Japan.
– The peace treaty?
– Yes. There were two - one before you came in here, Senator. The Labour Party officially opposed and voted against the peace treaty.
– Of course we spoke against it.
– If members of the Opposition did not vote against it they spoke against the trade agreement. The Opposition has voted against this country endeavouring to obtain overseas trade with countries other than Britain and the Common Market countries, yet in this chamber to-day Opposition members are asking, “ What are you doing as a government to encourage secondary industries to obtain overseas markets other than in the Common Market countries and Britain?” That is a ridiculous attitude to take.
– What manufactured goods do we send to Japan?
– It might surprise you to know that we are selling transistors in Japan. We sell vast quantities of wool to Japan. I understand that, since the trade agreement, the amount of sales - in value - has increased almost 100 per cent.
– What, in goods?
– In value.
– But what goods?
– Woolly thinking, Senator Hendrickson. You have heard of wool and coal, wheat and barley? They are all there, but the total amount - and this is rather interesting- is £175,000,000. If we did not have the Japanese attending our wool sales in Australia, primary producers - and I am one of them - would be seriously affected in the sale of their commodities.
– If you did not have the mainland of China buying wheat the same would apply.
– I only want to answer a few more questions raised by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech. One of the accusations that he made quite distinctly in this Senate was that the Government was doing nothing to try to encourage trade with overseas countries. I have endeavoured to explain that when we did bring down a trade agreement with Japan he and other members of the Opposition opposed it. Of course, as the Opposition, honorable senators opposite are entitled to do that.
The next thing the Leader of the Opposition mentioned that was of great interest to me was that this Government has not played its part as it should have done in the search for oil in Australia. He said that Australia has no greater need than oil. The record of this Government is better than that of any previous government. It has granted a tax concession of 100 per cent, on calls paid to companies engaged in the search for oil. It has subsidized drilling and seismographic surveys on a 50/50 basis, and in the past has been prepared to provide approximately 75 per cent, of the money that has been spent in Australia in the search for oil. Do you agree with that?
– I am not the boss.
– You have been mumbling over there for a long time. The fact is that no other government, excepting Communist governments has done so much to encourage oil exploration in its own country. By granting taxation concessions to people wishing to invest in companies searching for oil and by subsidizing oil drilling and seismographic surveys it has brought about a set of circumstances in which oil in commercial quantities has been found in Australia. Do you agree with that? That is the answer to the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition about oil. I do not believe that the Government could do any more than it has done. The Government has decided to reduce the subsidy for oil drilling from 50 per cent, to 30 per cent, because the fact is that we have found oil in Australia. Adequate finance is now coming forward for the search for oil to a greater extent than ever before in the history of Australia. This year, with the help of the Government, in the vicinity of £20,000,000 will be spent in the search for oil.
During the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Vincent accused him of putting up a hypothetical case. If Senator Vincent did not do so I am doing so now. In turn the Leader of the Opposition accused the Prime Minister of putting up a hypothetical case in the course of his statement. The Prime Minister, at page 6 of his statement, said -
It is possible to contemplate with approval a close co-ordination of high political policies between Great Britain and the European Economic Community. It would, as we see it, be an unhappy thing to contemplate the absorption of Great Britain into an organic European federal union.
Speaking about Great Britain the Prime Minister went on to say -
But, I repeat, these decisions are not ours to make. All we can do is to state our views as we hold them and as we are entitled and bound to express them, and trust to the accumulated wisdom and experience of Great Britain, as the centre of the Commonwealth, to come to sound conclusions.
Did not the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) go to Great Britain and the United States of America to explain Australia’s position? Was he not followed by the Prime Minister who went into consultation with all sections of the Government on the subject of Great Britain’s application to enter the Common Market, and how it would affect Australia? It is the report of his consultations that we are studying at present. We find that Britain’s entry into the Common Market will have a great effect on Australia’s trade unless certain steps are taken by Great Britain to protect our vital industries.
I should like to refer to one industry mentioned by the Prime Minister. He said that the value of our exports of metallic lead was £15,800,000 and that Great Britain last year took £10,600,000 worth of these exports. It is suggested that if Great Britain does enter the Common
Market she will not be allowed to purchase lead and zinc from Australia without paying the common external tariff of about 9 per cent., which in round figures would amount to £4 10s. a ton. The interesting thing is that the Common Market countries have no external tariff on zinc and lead concentrates. A set of circumstances could easily arise in which, if Britain joined the Common Market without satisfactory arrangements being made for lead and zinc, we in Australia would find that the lead and zinc industry that has been established at Port Pirie in South Australia - the refining industry - would close down with the result that thousands of people would be unemployed. That would be a dangerous situation. These things have to be pointed out to the British Government, and they are being pointed out.
If adequate safeguards are not taken to protect this industry I can envisage the time, if Britain does join the Common Market, when the smelting section of this industry will have to close down and the mines at Broken Hill will produce concentrate and sell it to the Common Market countries.
– That would be an indictment of this Government.
– That is a fine statement to make! The fact is that at this moment the Government is taking steps to try to prevent that set of circumstances from arising. What did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place do? He went overseas and came back with a report which he made in his speech last Thursday. What did he say? He said that the Labour Party would develop the north of Australia, and he suggested that that was the answer to the whole of these problems. I did not hear Senator McKenna refer to this matter. He did not say what he would do if he were overseas, nor did he say what the Labour Party would do.
While exports of lead and zinc have an annual value of £9,000,000 or £10,000,000, exports of butter to the United Kingdom in 1961-62 were valued at just under £20,000,000, of the total value of £23,500,000 for all butter exports. That £20,000,000 worth of butter entered the United Kingdom duty free, whereas European butter was subject to a duty of 15s. per cwt. If Great Britain should enter the
European Common Market under the terms provided for under the Treaty of Rome, Australian butter would be subject to variable levels of duty and possibly to quantitative restrictions, while European butter would have free access. As Mr. Menzies has asked, is this problem thus presented, in economic and human terms, a minor one?
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) went overseas to point out the problems associated with Australian industries and to make known to the United Kingdom Government the position in which Britain’s entry into the Common Market would place us. I have referred to two of our industries. No doubt an honorable senator on the Opposition side of the chamber will explain at a later stage what Labour would do in the circumstances. I believe that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade are to be complimented on the action they have taken to protect Australian industries and to ensure that Great Britain will know of the effects on those industries of her entry into the Common Market. I read in the newspapers this morning of the Labour Party’s policy on this matter. If it was a correct report, I would be ashamed of such a policy.
I propose to refer to specific industries in the hope that my comments will help to convince the members of the Opposition and the people of Australia that the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade did not go overseas for the fun of it. They did not want to go, but they did so to try to protect Australian industry. Senator McKenna referred to Mr. Bury and asked whether his views were supported by other members of the Government.
– Be careful! You are on dangerous ground.
– I must tell the truth. I am a great friend of Mr. Bury. I like him very much, but I believe he spoke out of turn on this occasion, because we may be right on the threshold of Britain’s entry into the Common Market. A Minister who knows full well what his colleagues have said previously, should be very careful of public statements that he makes concerning matters that are vital to Australian farmers, Australian industry and the Australian people generally.
The sugar industry is a great industry which gives life and significance to large coastal areas of Queensland and northern New South Wales. In 1961-62, Australia exported £18,300,000 worth of sugar to the United Kingdom, none to the European Economic Community, and £14,800,000 worth to other countries. Our exports to the United Kingdom are mainly on the basis of a price negotiated under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. On the remainder of our exports to the United Kingdom we receive the world price plus a preference, which is of the order of £3 15s. sterling a ton. So, even the sugar industry will be affected if Britain enters the Common Market. The whole idea of the visits overseas by members of the Government has been to endeavour to ensure continuation of the conditions that have applied to exports to Great Britain, taking into consideration, of course, the increased production of Australia. It is hoped that a formula will be evolved. I believe that we have a great chance in that respect.
Other industries that are likely to be affected if Britain enters the Common Market are the dried vine fruits industry and the canned fruits industry. All in all, Great Britain is taking products worth about £135,000,000 a year. It is interesting to note that our exports to Great Britain, on a year to year basis, are falling at the rate of approximately 10 per cent, per annum.
– What is the cause of that?
– It is due to the enterprise of the Government in finding other markets for our products. The total value of our exports has not fallen, because our overseas income has increased this year to the record amount of well over £1,000,000,000. The Government has found markets for Australian products and manufactured goods in other parts of the world. That shows that there is a great chance of our finding other markets should Great Britain enter the Common Market, but we need time. It may take longer than ten years to do so. The idea is to negotiate trade terms covering periods of ten years and more, so that we may continue to have in Britain and the Common Market countries the same market facilities that we now enjoy. If we can gain those conditions for Australian industries we will be doing a great thing for this country. This matter is a most serious one for us.
Before the Brussels conference, which was held between 1st and 5th August, was adjourned, steps were taken towards longterm world agreements covering the more important commodities such as wool and wheat. I understand that the idea was to reach agreement among The Six, and Great Britain if she joins the Common Market, to bring down within the next three years the terms for an enlarged community and to take early initiative in securing worldwide agreements for the principal agricultural products, cereals, meat, dairy products and sugar. I believe that the Australian Government is doing everything it possibly can to protect Australian industry and to let Great Britain know our wishes if she should decide to join the Common Market.
Senator McKenna said there is no doubt that Great Britain will join the Common Market, and that is my view also. In my opinion, she will join mainly for political reasons. What a bulwark it will be to have some 300,000,000 people in one group opposed to the Communist nations next door. It is important politically that the whole of Europe, including England, should be united against any attack that may be made by the Communist countries. Members of the community will be united. If one is attacked, all will be attacked. There will be free movement of people from one country to another. I think that if the United Kingdom does decide ultimately to join the European Common Market, political reasons will outweigh commercial reasons.
– I listened very intently to the speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the Government’s attitude to the European Economic Community. I say at the outset that this is one of the most serious problems with which Australia has been confronted since the outbreak of World War II., but it is a problem about which we in the Commonwealth know little. I think that few people, including myself, are very conversant with what action by the United Kingdom to join The Six would mean to the people of Australia.
I do not think many people in Britain understand the pitfalls that could exist or the advantages that could be gained. But whether or not the United Kingdom joins the Common Market, this is a matter for the government and people of that country to decide.
Over the past five or six years I have believed that we, as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, owing allegiance to the Mother Country, should have been doing something to assist the people of the United Kingdom to a decision one way or another as to which course would be beneficial to them. The winds of change are blowing very strongly at the moment all over the world and they have blown for a long while. The old British Commonwealth of Nations has changed. The United Kingdom that went to war in 1914-18 was vastly different from the United Kingdom of to-day. and vastly different from the United Kingdom which a second generation of Australians went to assist in World War II. I do not hear many Government supporters voicing the sentiment that we in this country owe our security in great measure to the Mother Country, by which I mean the rank and file, the soldiers of England, who fought to keep England and this country free from dictatorship or some other obnoxious form of government. I should have expected those people who have wrapped the Union Jack about them many times on political platforms and who to-day constitute the Government to help, instead of hampering, hindering or humiliating the leaders of the United Kingdom in their efforts to attain security and to prevent another war in which the workers of Britain would be involved.
The United Kingdom has fought two world wars in my lifetime. She is supposed to have won them, but that is debatable. At all events, she has paid for them in cash and in kind. The United Kingdom is not the power she was, because she has lost many of her revenue-producing colonies. The countries that comprise the Commonwealth of Nations are diminishing in number. Many countries that have belonged to that organization are gaining their own, separate identities and departing from the Commonwealth. For these reasons, we as Australians should be doing all we can to assist the United Kingdom to come to some decision which might be to her benefit and probably to our own.
There has been a great change of thought in Britain and in Australia as to whether the United Kingdom should or would join The Six. Some three or four years ago I received information from a very reliable source, which I shall mention later, to the effect that the United Kingdom was sure to join The Six. I believe that when she was offered partnership in 1957 she had certain sound reasons for not accepting the proposal made to her. Nevertheless, I believe, opinion in Britain is changing. Not very many people there to-day believe that the United Kingdom will join the European Economic Community. This is due to the fact that the people of Britain, like the people of Australia, have never been made conversant with what would happen if the United Kingdom joined the community. I have always believed that in a democracy one looks for leadership from the Government. That is why I have persisted over the years in trying to gain some indication from Ministers of what they intended to do to help the Mother Country in her time of need.
The United Kingdom is going through a period of need to-day. I assure the Senate that in the United Kingdom of 1914 there would have been no question of being forced to join the Common Market; she would never have considered it. She was a great country on her own account, but the winds of change have blown very bitterly against her. To-day I heard Senator Vincent interrupt my leader, Senator McKenna, in relation to hypothetical cases. No one disputes that the case is hypothetical. If the United Kingdom does join the market and is not able to persuade the organization to allow us preferences until 1970 what do the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) or Senator Scott, intend to do with our surplus primary products? Even if there is preference in relation to these commodities the matter may be looked at again before 1970, if there is a change in economics in that part of the world. Is there not a possibility that some of the countries comprising the community - there may be seven or more - will say, “ We have had enough of these pre ferences for Australian goods. They should be discontinued “? Who could stop those countries from discontinuing the preferences that we think Britain should demand as a condition of her joining the community? These are matters that must be given much consideration. Politically, the advent of the United Kingdom into the European community might mean great security against war for the people of the world.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– As I was saying just before the dinner suspension, there may not be very much worry about Australia’s political future should England join the European Economic Community. The matter that worries me and other senators on this side of the House is the economic future of Australia. Britain’s entry into the Common Market could have very grave effects on Australia’s economy. For instance, if we get concessions when England joins The Six, we must expect to give concessions in return. The only concession that we could give, Mr. President, would be to lower the standard of living of the Australian people.
Senator Scott, in the course of his speech, questioned the Leader of my party about Labour’s policy on the European Common Market. I say in reply to Senator Scott that we are not the Government. For the information of Senator Scott and Senator Kendall, who has just interjected, I say that we must never forget 1941, when this country faced an economic peril similar to that which it is facing to-day. It was not the Liberal Party nor the Country Party that then saved this country; it was the great Australian Labour Party. In 1962 the great Australian Labour Party has again been called to the assistance of the Government.
– Not yet.
– Yes, it has. I say to Senator Scott, in reply to his query about our policy, that, given the opportunity, the great Australian Labour Party will give the people of Australia the same service as it gave them in the years from 1941 to 1949, and with the same amount of success. This Government, Mr. President, has been an impudent government. It was an impudent government until December of last year when the Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and others, including Ministers in this chamber, lost their arrogance. Now the Australian Labour Party has been called upon to send its representatives overseas to do the job that the Government elected by the people cannot do.
A Liberal-Country Party government let this country down in 1941, and a similar government has let it down again in 1962. The man in our party who had the policy to meet the emergency that has arisen to-day in the free world was the great Ben Chifley, and if the people of this country had not been misled by the promises of the present Prime Minister in 1949, Australia could now, instead of trying to sabotage Britain, give her great assistance in her hour of need. In 1949 the Australian Labour Party put before the people of Australia an economic policy that would have made this country second to none amongst the free nations of the world.
– You have to blame the electors.
– We do not blame the electors. We blame the psychologists who control the press, which in turn controls big business in this country, and has unfortunately controlled big business in Britain up till now, for the tragedy now confronting the free world. I say to this chamber that if Britain goes into the European Common Market, we shall lose our great democratic way of life.
– We will not be able to carry on the democratic way of life we have had in this country for many years. I want you, Mr. President, and the chamber to understand that our way of life was not given to us by the people who comprise the Government to-day, or by their counterparts in the Old Country.
– Are you opposing the British entry?
– I am opposing only one thing at this moment - this Government. I say quite frankly that we in Australia would not have the privileges we now enjoy had they not been fought for strenuously by the workers both of Britain and Australia. I do not want honorable senators and the people of Australia to forget that in 1914 the Kaiser, with his great army, sought to overwhelm Britain. It is history that he was defeated by the gallantry of the rank and file soldiers of Britain and her allies. I do not want honorable senators to forget, also, that in 1939-45 another person, Herr Hitler, wanted to invade England but was denied admittance by the efforts of the rank and file of the workers of Britain, Australia, and other democratic countries.
What do we find to-day? We find that German troops, aided and abetted by this Government, have walked into England without encountering any resistance at all. Senator Hannaford might agree with that. I was one who took part in the fight to ensure that we retained our British way of life. Senator Hannaford might agree with the German way of life; I do not know. I am a democrat, not a Fascist, Communist or Hitlerite, and I say frankly that it is a disgrace for this Government to humiliate the Old Country by demanding from her all sorts of things without offering anything in return.
– I thought de Gaulle was the main factor.
– Senator Hannaford may support de Gaulle; I do not know. I do not support him.
– At least he is not one of our former enemies.
– I would not know what he was. You would be more conversant with that than I am.
– You ought to know what he was.
– I do not. All I say is that if England joins the European Common Market we will lose our sovereign identity.
– We will not.
– The honorable senator says we will not lose our sovereign rights under the Statute of Westminster. Later, we shall see what the Prime Minister had to say.
– That will be worth listening to.
Senator HENDRICKSON__ We have listened to it twice up to date, and I have not been very impressed. I think it was the most anaemic speech I have ever heard. Let us now examine the trend of events. I refer first to a former Minister, Mr. Bury. I do not know Mr. Bury. He had the audacity to make a statement and voice his opinion, just as I am voicing mine. The difference between us is that no one on this side is objecting to my voicing my opinion, because I am a free agent. Honorable senators on the Government side may smile - they are very testy to-night - but Mr. Bury gave his opinion and, when the whip of the big master, the Prime Minister, wielded by his lieutenant, Mr. McEwen, came about the body political of Mr. Bury, he wilted and he was dismissed from the Cabinet. And this is the Cabinet that claims to believe in the right of free speech. Let me stress that the right of free speech is one of the liberties that we could lose if England joined the European Common Market. I remember that when legislation was brought before this chamber a couple of years ago for the purpose of increasing sales tax on motor cars, two prominent senators on the Government side stood out against it. When the lash was used on Senator Wright - I am sorry he is not here to-night - he chickened out; but Senator Wood - and I give him all credit for it - stood his ground. To-day, the policy pursued by Senator Wood in co-operation with the Australian Labour Party, has been found to be right and Senator Wood is back in the Government’s fold; he is forgiven. I do not know where Senator Wright stands, but Senator Wood is forgiven. Let us suppose now that Mr. Bury has been only temporarily buried and that eventually he will be proved to be right. What will Mr. Menzies do with Mr. Bury then? He will have to exhume him and put him back in the Cabinet.
For five or six years now I have been asking questions consistently and have been jibed at by honorable senators on the Government side as being an authority on the European Common Market. I want to say now that I know nothing about the European Common Market.
– That is right.
– But I want to say also that my ignorance has not been lessened by information from members on the Government side who should be able to give honorable senators on this side some knowledge of what is going on overseas. I have asked questions in this chamber on numerous occasions. To some of them I have received negative answers. On other occasions I have been insulted and laughed at, just as honorable senators opposite have laughed to-night. But I shall persist, and later I shall refer to one of the questions I did ask.
I should like to deal now with the statement made, I think it was in May of this year, by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). In that statement he said -
We were assured by Mr. Sandys when in Australia, and by statements made by the British Prime Minister, and other Ministers, that entry by Britain into the Common Market would be conditional upon her securing special arrangements to protect the important trading interests of Australia and other Commonwealth countries.
I repeat that was a statement by the present Minister for Trade; and he cannot make such statements and expect to get away with them all the time. Anybody who has studied the Rome Treaty will realize that England is in no position to demand concessions from The Six. That statement by Mr. McEwen was not confirmed by Mr. Dean Rusk when he was here. As one who attended the dinner given in this Parliament House, I know that Mr. Dean Rusk gave the denial to Mr. McEwen’s statement that England would not enter the European Common Market unless we got those concessions. It is very interesting to refer to these matters again. Later in his statement, the Minister for Trade said -
No one can validly challenge Britain’s right to apply to join.
Why have we made the challenge?
– We have not.
– If I am able to read and understand, I believe that Mr. Menzies has issued a challenge that Britain cannot join unless The Six grant these concessions. According to the Prime Minister, this Government has made that demand. The Deputy Prime Minister went on to say -
Our attitude is to accept her application as real and to take in good faith her assurances that she would not join if the price was serious damage to the Commonwealth.
– Are they not Mr. Macmillan’s sentiments, too?
– I am referring to the Deputy Prime Minister. These are his sentiments. If we must accept Britain’s assurances that she would not join if the price would seriously damage the Commonwealth, why are we now sending four or five members of the Labour Party as well as Mr. McEwen and Mr. Menzies back to England next month? Why is this necessary if England is protecting our interests? Let Senator Vincent who, I understand, is to speak next, answer that. Mr. McEwen went on to say -
The Prime Minister made it clear in his statement to this House last August it was not until the visit of Mr. Sandys in July that the Government was told that Britain was on the point of making the decision whether she would enter negotiations to join the European Common Market notwithstanding the involvement of agriculture and Commonwealth trade.
When I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Spooner) a question based on the Prime Minister’s statement, he said that he had no recollection of the Prime Minister’s making any statement on the subject. That is the type of information we get from responsible Ministers in connexion with the serious position in which we find ourselves to-day. Later, Mr. McEwen said -
Within a month of Mr. Sandys’s visit we proceeded to call Australian industries into consultation, so that the Government could operate in partnership with those whose interests were touched or might be touched. Since then Australian industries have been kept informed on developments, and government policy has evolved in close consultation with them.
That is the statement of the responsible Deputy Prime Minister. I want to know what is the Government’s policy.
I have been very interested in this problem. Without taking up too much of the Senate’s time, I want to read a question that I asked in this chamber in 1957. I do not intend to go through all the questions that I have asked, Mr. President, because they are already on record. Senator Mattner is interjecting, but I do not know what he is mumbling in his beard.
– I want to remind you of when you spoke on this matter.
– The honorable senator is generally asleep and he might have been asleep when I asked my question.
On 16th May,’ 1957, I asked this question, as reported at page 760 of “ Hansard “ -
I should like to address a question to the Minister for National Development, who is at present acting as the Leader of the Government in this chamber. Tn view of the complexity of the many problems associated with the European free trade area and the contemplated establishment of a common market, together with the effect of a common market on imports, and in view of the fact that the Government is no doubt in receipt of copious messages from trade representatives in Europe and the United Kingdom, will the Government prepare a preliminary authoritative memorandum on the subject and have it distributed to members of the Parliament, the Associated Chambers of Commerce, the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, trade unions, primary producers’ organizations, bankers and industrialists? Will the memorandum include (1) a comprehensive statement of the attitude of Great Britain to the free trade area, with special reference to her obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and her obligations to Australia under the recently signed trade agreement; (2) a summary of the discussions relating to the question of the free trade area which took place at the last meeting of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation - whose activities directly affect more than 250,000,000 people, and whose membership includes some countries which are Australia’s best customers - and a summary of the discussions which took place at Gatt recently; (3) a detailed statement showing whether any sensitive Australian products are likely to be affected and, if so, how valuable is the trade in them; (4) the main outlines of the tariff structure of the common market?
I ask the Government to give serious consideration to the calling of a meeting in Canberra, during the parliamentary recess, of representatives of the organizations mentioned, so that Australia’s position can be thoroughly examined and the full impact on Australian exports of meat, wheat, wool and butter can receive the closest examination. In view of the necessity to maintain a favorable trade balance, this matter is of serious importance to every section of the Australian community. From the viewpoint of international trade it is one of the major problems of the twentieth century.
Now listen to this extract from the intelligent answer given by the present Leader of the Government -
He also said -
If I were the Minister for Trade, I would not call a conference . . .
What is the position to-day? The Government is calling such a conference, but five years too late! Had Labour been in government five years ago, that conference, would have been called and the people who are slaving in industry in Australia - whether manufacturing industry or primary industry - would have some security in the work they are doing. But this Government, with its majority of 32 seats, politically spat in the eye of the Opposition and also in the eyes of the electors of the Commonwealth of Australia, because it had the backing of the discredited group that calls itself the Democratic Labour Party. Those extracts from “ Hansard “ cannot be denied. They include the answers given by the responsible Minister.
This afternoon Senator Scott mentioned the work that Mr. McEwen has done. When Mr. McEwen came back from overseas he made this statement -
In each case I had very full and adequate discussions, and without exception was assured that the United States regarded Australia as a very worth-while friend, an important Western country, and that the United States would wish to see our essential interests protected. This, of course, was satisfying and gratifying.
That is part of the report that Mr. McEwen gave to this Parliament when he returned to Australia in May of this year. I should like to emphasize the last two words that he used - “ satisfying “ and “gratifying “.
I refer now to a report in the Melbourne “ Age “ which has not been contradicted by the Minister for Trade or the Prime Minister. According to that newspaper Mr. McEwen sharply rebuked Mr. Dean Rusk after he had been to Canberra. He said that the United States was seeking the abolition of Commonwealth preferences but her policies towards Australian commodities did not measure up to her precept about freeing world trade. Mr. McEwen, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister foi Trade, who is supposed to represent the primary producers, said that the information he gained in the United States was satisfying and gratifying; but just after saying that, when Mr. Rusk was in Australia Mr. McEwen rebuked him for a statement he had made in the dining room of Parliament House here in Canberra.
In his speech in the House of Representatives on 3rd May, Mr. McEwen said -
It was made clear that Australia would take it very badly if the United States attempted to exercise an influence, on the occasion of Britain’s applying to join the Common Market, to try to kill the system of preferences.
Where does Mr. Menzies stand and where does Mr. McEwen stand? Of course Australia will take it very badly. Are we not entitled to take it badly? Despite antiLabour governments in this country, have we not built up a standard of living of which we are jealous and which we would be very sorry to lose? I know that this is very distasteful to the Government, but it has to go on record. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) is smiling. He is another one of these “ yes men “. He will not say what he thinks because if he does the Prime Minister will use the whip or he will be buried, as his former colleague was. Senator Henty might be smiling, but he is not too happy.
– He is more honorable than to bring Cabinet secrets into public.
– That is unfair of you.
– It is not unfair.
– Senator Kendall has just mentioned that Mr. Bury brought Cabinet secrets into public.
– I did not mention Mr. Bury’s name.
– I say that it is definitely wrong, and I venture to say that the Prime Minister would not back up your statement. I also venture to say that Mr. Bury did not disclose any Cabinet secrets because Mr. Bury would not be in on that matter.
– You were talking about Senator Henty.
McEwen said, at page 6 of his report to this Parliament -
I was again assured by Mr. Macmillan and his Ministers of his firm intention to represent Australia’s needs clearly to The Six and to press for adequate safeguards for our trade.
Let us consider the reported statement by Mr. Macmillan on his visit to Washington - which has never been denied either by your Prime Minister or your Minister for Trade.
– He is your Prime Minister, too.
– He is yours, not mine. I would not feed him, politically. I have a great regard for Mr. Menzies’ as a football supporter. I support the same club as he does. But we are paying for these boys to jaunt around the world. Mr. McEwen said in his statement, and I quote it again, that he was again assured by Mr. Macmillan and his Ministers of their firm intention to represent Australia’s needs and to press for adequate safeguards for our trade. But Mr. Macmillan went to Washington last year and stated that England would join the Common Market. That was not so bad, but he emphasized that his special task was to protect first the British farmer, second the European farmer - and, in a race of three, the Australian farmer who ran a bad last. That is a contradiction of what Mr. McEwen told this Parliament when he returned in May this year.
– Mr. Macmillan said that the Australian farmer came last?
– I am dealing with the statement made by Mr. McEwen to this Parliament. You were not here, so I shall read it again for your information.
– I want to hear it.
– In Mr.
McEwen’s statement - if you have not a copy I will give you my copy later - he said, and I quote again -
I was again assured by Mr. Macmillan and his Ministers of his firm intention to represent Australia’s needs clearly to The Six and to press for adequate safeguards for our trade.
Mr. McEwen has made that statement, and we also have a statement from the Prime Minister.
– Did you not say he was again assured by Mr. Macmillan?
– The Deputy Prime Minister said in May that he was assured again - before Mr. Macmillan went to Washington.
– What do you say Mr. Macmillan said?
- His statement, which I have given, is contrary to all the statements made by the Prime Minister last week in another chamber. Mr. Macmillan went to Washington and he said that Britain would join the Common Market. We get no information from the Government and I am only going on press statements. If you like to malign Mr. Macmillan and say he was incorrectly reported, you may do so. He emphasized that his special task was first to protect the British farmer and second the European farmer. Last in a race of three was Australia - a bad last. That is the position you find to-day.
– Mr. Macmillan said that?
– Of course he did.
– Will you quote the actual reference showing where Mr. Macmillan said that. When did he say that?
– I have not the date here, but I am prepared to go to the trouble of going to the library and looking up the newspaper of that date.
– What date?
– I have not your memory, Senator. However, as I said, I will be glad to go to the library and look up the newspaper of that date. The statement was published in the Australian press.
– I would be glad if you would table that in the Senate.
– If you want it tabled in the Senate, ask the Clerk. I am not prepared to be running around looking for things to table for you. In any event, we ran a bad last. I want to emphasize that the Prime Minister tells us to-day that he and another team are going back to England next month to dictate our terms to Mr. Macmillan, Mr. Heath and his advisers. Mr. Macmillan made the statement, the last time that he went to Washington - I forget the date - that Britain had decided to join the Common Market.
– Point out in the Prime Minister’s speech that bit about dictating our terms.
– I shall come to that later.
– It will not be too much later I hope.
– I quote Mr. McEwen again:
We are not prepared to concede that transitional arrangements will be sufficient.
You know what those arrangements are - that we get our preferences until 1970. Mr. McEwen said that we are not prepared to accept that. I might have a little view on that side. I might lean to him a little there. This is his statement made in another chamber and repeated in this chamber. What does he propose now to do about it? He can do almost nothing about it. Let us look at what the Prime Minister said. I have been careful with these notes, Mr. President, because this is a most important matter. This is a matter that could cause starvation or revolution in the Commonwealth of Australia.
I venture to say that alleged Country Party representatives and some Liberal Party representatives would not be game to venture beyond the tram terminuses in the various cities if the position arose - as it could arise - that we have no markets for primary products, because they have allowed themselves to be fooled for so many years. Let us see what the Prime Minister has had to say on this subject. Early in 1959 Mr. Menzies said in his airy-fairy manner at a press conference, “ Don’t worry. We will be in on the grass roots.” The next time he makes a statement to the Parliament I want him to explain where the grass roots are - in England, at the bottom of the Thames, or here in Australia? As he was about to embark on his latest trip to England he loudly proclaimed - and I quote again - “ The Market will be my biggest brief “. What has he done? Absolutely nothing.
– He has apparently satisfied Senator Wedgwood. She is very easily satisfied to sit among the people she is now sitting with.
– Leave her alone.
– She should not interject. Senator Spooner said, many times, “ The Common Market will not worry us “. This was some time ago when he did not know whether the Common Market was a racehorse, a gymnasium turnout, a gymkhana or an eviction order. His statement that the Common Market would not worry us is on record in “ Hansard “. It may not worry Senator Spooner, but it will worry the rest of the people in Australia.
I come now to Mr. Menzies’ report on the Common Market problems. The speech read to the lower house last week by Mr. Menzies caused more confusion in the minds of the people of Australia than was ever created before, if that were possible. The Prime Minister declared that Britain would make a mistake if she became a member State in a European federation. How different that is from what Mr. Macmillan said. Surely this is not some great new discovery. Surely we did not just think about it overnight. Earlier this year I asked several questions relating to sovereignty and the Statute of Westminster. Senator Spooner will recall his amazing answer: He said that he was unaware that there was any common allegiance. His statement is on record. He said there was no change in the structure of the Commonwealth. Just imagine the Leader of the Government in this chamber not knowing what changes had taken place in the structure of the Commonwealth over the last few years. But Mr. Menzies emphatically declares that Senator Spooner does not know what he is talking about.
Where are we going from here when we have a responsible Minister who knows nothing about the changes in the Commonwealth, and who has to be rebuked by the Prime Minister for not knowing what he is talking about? Naturally I do not know whether the Cabinet, or whoever controls this Government, has discussed these problems. Surely if Cabinet Ministers discuss these problems they should be able to come into this chamber and give honorable senators information about them. I have asked many questions in this chamber pointing out that the European Economic Community will have far-reaching effects on all phases of Australian life, particularly in the fields of immigration, civil aviation and other matters apart from trade. You will recall, Sir, the answers which I received which, in effect, said that such problems would not arise. I do not want to take up time by reading the answers I received, but the substance of the replies I received from the responsible Minister was that the problems to which I referred would not arise. Yet Mr. Menzies, the Prime Minister, in his speech last week said - It would be an error to think that the problem is of interest to limited sections of the people. It touches the Australian economy at many points and must be the concern of us all.
That is a reasonable and sensible statement which contradicts the reply given to me in this chamber by the Leader of the Government.
It will be recalled that I asked further questions which had a bearing on production. I asked about the revaluation of German and Dutch currency. I did so for a special reason. The first answers I received indicated that the action of revaluing those currencies would not strengthen the Common Market States, but six months later, when I again raised the question that this action would have a serious effect on the Australian wheat industry, it was then agreed that the wheat industry was facing disaster. Why did I ask the questions? 1 wanted information. The revaluation of the currency in Holland and Germany took place for a purpose. It was carried out to increase production of primary products in those countries. I wanted the responsible Minister to give us some information about that, but again the reply 1 received was a negative one. This Government stands indicted because it has done nothing to give us any information about the outcome if Great Britain joins the European Economic Community.
Both Mr. Menzies and Mr. McEwen have been overseas on many occasions, but they have come back empty-handed. We are dependent on them. I did not depend on them but the nation did. The people foolishly depended on them. They were misled into depending on them, but these leaders did not come back and tell the people what would happen if Britain joined the European Economic Community. Finally, let me say that we know - at least we have been told by the Six - that eventually tariffs will go. What will it mean if these tariffs go? lt will mean a free exchange of goods between these countries.
– We will have to make you Minister for Customs in the next government.
– They would not want me. What will happen in regard to immigration? There will be a free exchange of labour between the Six countries wilh a resulting higher standard of living. Will people then want to come to Australia to be starved by the Menzies Government? Of course, they will not. That is why I have been asking these questions.
– Where are you now?
– You would not have the intelligence to answer any questions. What I am saying is that the movement of labour between the countries of the Common Market will be free; and that is something that will affect us. The problem that faces Australia is not whether Great Britain joins the Common Market or whether she does not, but what we are going to do if she does. I think, Sir, that unfortunately she will be forced through economic considerations to join the European Economic Community. It will not worry Senator Henty because he has no brains to worry with, but it will worry a lot of people who believe in this country.
What are we going to do about our primary products? I should like any speaker who follows me to tell me, if Great Britain decides to go into the European Common Market after the Prime Ministers* Conference in London next month and does not grant us the concessions we are working for, what the policy of this Government will be towards the manufacturing industries arid the primary producers of Australia. What does the Government intend to do with our commodities if we are left high and dry as the result of Great Britain entering the Common Market? I have heard a suggestion from Senator Cole and his one-man party that we should create a six or a seven with Japan, Malaya or the Philippines. If we want to lower the standard of Jiving of the people in this Commonwealth to the standard of those who live in those unfortunate countries, that might be a good suggestion; but if we want to maintain the present standard of living in Australia we will get rid of this Government, and instead of allowing the Prime Minister and Mr. McEwen - the alleged Minister for Trade - to go overseas again to attempt to obtain a solution to our problems, we will keep them here. The people should demand a Labour government which would do the same as a Labour government did in 1941. It would give to this country an economy that would be unequalled in any part of the free world.
– Senator Hendrickson has spoken for about an hour on the European Common Market. Having listened to his contribution for that period, I feel that, in all fairness to the honorable senator, 1 should perhaps wait until I see the “ Hansard “ report of his speech before 1 attempt to answer the gravamen of his charges. 1 think that I would then be much better equipped than I am now to ascertain what the honorable senator really was complaining about.
I preface my remarks on the thoughtful and excellent speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) by referring to two criticisms of that speech which Senator McKenna made in the Senate this afternoon. Senator McKenna had two major points of criticism with which I wish to deal, one concerning a political matter and the other an economic matter. He very properly emphasized that the political implications of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market are more important than are the economic implications. 1 agree with that proposition. It is a statement to which 1 think most people will subscribe. He went on to attack the Prime Minister’s statements in regard to the political implications by stating, in effect, that the Prime Minister’s comments were unnecessary and a waste of time and could, in fact, do serious harm in Britain, Australia and elsewhere. The reason for the attack was his assertion that the Prime Minister’s observations on the political aspects of the question were hypothetical. I refer, of course, to the Prime Minister’s observations upon the consequences of Britain joining the Common Market and, at the same time, embarking on what might be regarded as a rigid or formal division of States politically.
Senator McKenna disagreed rather strongly with that element of the Prime Minister’s speech. He made it, I think, the subject of the major part of his attack. Most arguments in relation to the Common Market are hypothetical. I am perfectly prepared to accept Senator McKenna’s claim that the Prime Minister’s observations were hypothetical. Of course, they were. The fundamental element in the whole of the discussions concerning Britain’s entry is an entirely hypothetical one. Surely the whole problem associated with this matter is concerned with the terms and conditions on which Britain should join. That is a completely hypothetical question at the moment. 1 see no reason why we should not accept that fact, nor can I see any reason why the matter should not be debated in this chamber. Even if it is hypothetical, it is proper for it to be discussed in this Parliament.
In order to show how dangerous it is to avoid such questions, let me refer lo Saturday’s press. In last Saturday’s “ West Australian “ there was reference to one of the political implications of this question. The article in the “ West Australian “ was headed “ Secret Letters Leak “, and it stated -
The unauthorized publication of top-secret letters between the Belgian and French Governments has led to an intensive hunt for the culprit.
One letter, written by Belgian Foreign Minister Spaak, was tantamount to a surrender to President de Gaulle’s demands over Europe.
The French President wanted any future European political community to be a loose confederation of sovereign States and not a Federal United States of Europe with supra-national policy-making bodies.
This was opposed by the Belgians and the Dutch and, to some extent, by Luxembourg. . . .
In his letter to President de Gaulle, M. Spaak said he no longer insisted on Britain’s entry into the Common Market as a condition for seeking the formation of a European political community.
That happened only on Saturday last. The communications were concerned with the consequences of Britain’s entry, and the possibility that The Six, together with Britain, would form some kind of political union.
Here we have the spectacle of Monsieur Spaak, the Belgian Foreign Minister, discussing the question with President de Gaulle. My point is that they were discussing the very question that the Prime Minister was discussing in the speech that he made in this Parliament last week. If it is proper and desirable that members of The Six should be discussing this hypothetical question - and I admit that it is a hypothetical question - surely it is equally desirable for the Prime Minister of Australia to discuss it. How foolish is it, then, for the Prime Minister to be told by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate that it is quite wrong for him to be discussing the most vital of the issues, as admitted by the Opposition, on the ground that it is hypothetical. Senator McKenna said, in effect, this afternoon that the Prime Minister had no business to be discussing the political implications in this context because they are hypothetical. Yet, at the very time that the Prime Minister was discussing them we had members of The Six also discussing them. I leave the matter to the Senate in that form. When it is viewed against the comments I have made, I think that Senator McKenna’s argument rather crumbles to the ground.
There is a second element of the question to which I should like to refer. For some time the Opposition has criticized the Government for a lack of action in regard to exports, in anticipation of Britain joining the Common Market on unfavorable terms. That criticism, I suggest, is based entirely on hypothetical grounds. The Opposition is now insisting that the Government should anticipate, by way of economic action, some hypothetical set of circumstances, and seek trade elsewhere, but it would deny the Prime Minister the right to discuss the same circumstances in their political implications, because they are hypothetical. I again leave it to the Senate to determine whether Senator McKenna’s argument was as sound ashe made it out to be.
Senator McKenna developed a second criticism of the Prime Minister’s speech. It was based on certain economic factors, and I want to make brief reference to that criticism. In effect, the honorable senator claimed that the Government had not faced up to the problem of finding alternative export markets. That was the gravamen of his charge in relation to the economic elements of the Prime Minister’s speech. I think it is correct to say that Senator McKenna argued that, whether Britain goes into the Common Market or not, Australia should be doing more to develop its export trade with Asia and other countries and should have done more in the past. I have some facts that I want to put to the Senate in regard to the action that the Government has taken over some years to increase our export trade. I agree with Senator McKenna that the Government should be looking for alternative markets. I also agree with him that we should perhaps be looking on the dark side in this respect, irrespective of whether this question is hypothetical or not. I suggest that the Government has done exactly that. It has looked for additional markets and it has, in fact, succeeded in finding them. The proof of the pudding, broadly speaking, is this: Are any Australian commodities at the moment desperately in need of a market? Is it not correct to say that all have been sold? Is any wheat left unsold? Is any wool left unsold? Is gold or any of the base metals in need of a market? There is the proof of the pudding.
Let me cite some facts in answer to Senator McKenna’s criticism of the Government’s effort in regard to Asia. In 1949, 32 trade commissioners were operating overseas in seventeen posts in thirteen countries. To-day, 73 trade commissioners are operating in 36 posts in 27 countries. So in that short space of time the Commonwealth has increased its trading posts to operate in 27 countries, as compared with only thirteen countries when Labour was in office. Here is the picture in detail. Since 1954 twelve major trade missions have gone overseas to Malaya, Singapore, India, Ceylon, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, British North Borneo, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf. In addition, three trade ships have been plying, and four trade survey missions have gone to Asia, Africa and South America. The results of these efforts are revealed in the statistics. One must bear in mind that even the Opposition was quite prepared to admit that there were problems associated with Australian trade in Asia, for the simple reason that the under-developed nations of Asia found it most difficult to pay for our goods. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place very ably, I think, put that case on Australia’s behalf. Notwithstanding that disadvantage, this is the picture in regard to trade with Asia: In 1956 our export trade to Asia was running at the rate of £A. 153,000,000 per annum. Last year, it ran at the grand total of £A. 233,000,000, representing an increase of £A. 80,000,000 in that period.
– Have you taken into consideration the inflation within that period?
– Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, the quantitative increase rather corresponds with the monetary increase.
– It could not do that.
– Of course it could.
– It could not do that. No one knows it better than you do.
– I shall not embark upon the economics of the statistics, but the honorable senator will realize that the prices of many of those commodities have dropped considerably during that time, so in many cases the quantum of goods exported - not in all cases - bears a very favourable relationship to the monetary statistics I have cited. I shall not develop this argument, because it is merely in answer to Senator McKenna’s proposition. 1 suggest that the agrument must proceed from those bases. It is all very fine to get up in the Senate and criticize the Governfor not having done enough, or for not having increased our trade with Asia or with any other continent. Having regard to those facts and to many others I suggest that the onus is on the Opposition to say in what respect Australian export trade is lagging, to what extent our products remain unsold and - this is the rub - to what extent the Government can take action to expedite bigger and better sales if a surplus of goods remains in Australia for sale. The onus is fairly and squarely on the Opposition. I am a little weary of listening to broad statements and criticisms to the effect that the Government has not done enough, but against the background of the figures I have put- I admit in inexact form - the onus is on the Opposition to justify its general criticism.
– The first year you mentioned was 1954. What was the later year?
– I referred to the increase between 1956 and 1961, the past five years.
– No, you did not. You cited a specific year.
– I gave details of the trade missions that had been sent from Australia since 1954, and the increase in the number of trading posts under this Government, between 1949 and 1962.
– That is right. Do not answer it. It is easier not to answer it.
– I am not trying to confuse the honorable senator. I have not any other figures with me.
– You said that in a certain year we sold to Asia £153,000,000 worth of goods and that in another year we sold £233,000,000 worth. What were the years?
– All that I tried to convey to the Senate, which includes Senator Kennelly, was that Australia’s trade with Asia in 1956 was running at £A. 153,000,000 and that it increased to £A.233,000,000 last year, a total increase of £A. 80,000,000 over the period. That was in face of the difficulties admitted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, and by Senator McKenna here this afternoon, in regard to Australia’3 trade with backward nations, because trade is a reciprocal exercise. The situation revealed by those figures is, I suggest, by no means in harmony with the general criticism of members of the Australian Labour Party that this Government has done nothing - that is the usual tenor of the remarks - to increase Australia’s trade with Asia. 1 now want to discuss in some detail some of the aspects of the Prime Minister’s excellent speech. I prefer to confine my remarks almost exclusively to the political implications. The Prime Minister very properly gave due emphasis to the importance of the political factors that are associated with this great problem - and here I agree with Senator McKenna that it would be quite impossible to cover all the ramifications of any one aspect of the question in one speech. So my modest contribution will be confined solely to the political implications of the question, as it stands at present. I say by way of preface Chat the political factors and the economic factors are somewhat inclined to become confused when we discuss the total question. I suggest to the Senate that they are completely separate issues - that the political issues are quite distinct from the economic issues. It is a great mistake to confuse them or to endeavour to synthetize them. I go so far as to say that I agree with Senator McKenna that the political factors are more important than the economic ones. I say also that the political factors must be considered first, because is is upon their consideration that Great Britain’s decision with regard to joining the Economic Community will finally rest. In other words, if the political considerations and the political climate are such that
Britain is forced to reject entry into the Economic Community, then the economic factors will not be considered by her at all. She would then withdraw her application on purely political grounds. I believe that if Great Britain were confronted with a fait accompli, if she were presented with no alternative but to join a registered federation of States in a political union, with consequential loss of sovereignty, she would completely reject that notion and would not further seek entry into the Economic Community. In those circumstances Britain would not be obliged to consider the economic factors, which, of course, are quite important in their own field.
I shall go further and say this, with respect to that proposition: Even assuming that the still vague economic conditions as finally hammered out are most favourable in the ultimate, not only to Britain but also to Commonwealth nations including Australia - even if they are all we ask for and all that Britain asks for - if the political factors of this union are violently opposed to British sentimental ideas and constitutional principles, I suggest that Britain will not further her application to join. Therefore, I consider in arguing questions relating to the Common Market we have to be careful not to confuse the two issues. I again emphasize that the political issues are the more important and should receive priority, in consideration. The economic factors, important as they are, must be looked at after the political issues have been decided.
On the question of the political issues, I again agree with Senator McKenna. Party politics aside, there is, I suggest, a very large area of agreement in this matter between the parties. There is a very broad inference to be drawn that the Treaty of Rome will not stop at an economic union, but is intended to go much further. Any one who reads the overriding clause that precedes the detailed articles of the treaty, will, I suggest, immediately be seised of the importance of what I am saying. Article 2 reads -
It shall be the aim of the Community, by establishing a Common Market and progressively approximatingthe economic policies of member Statesto promote throughout the Community a harmonious development of economic activities, a continuous and balanced expansion, an increased stability, an accelerated raising of the standard of living -
And this, though put last, is, I think, the important phrase in the broad aim of the community - and closer relations between its Member States.
I suggest to the Senate that for that reason and many others, which I shall develop as I go along, there is very obviously by implication a very broad consensus of agreement that the Treaty of Rome goes further than the building up of a purely economic community. You can see from reading the press - I have given as an example the unfortunate incident of the Belgian letters having been read by some one without authority - that the member nations are already discussing the possibility of a closer political union. Far from being hypothetical, this possibility is, I think, very real.
There exists a very broad spectrum of political unions which are available for these member nations to contemplate. At one end of the spectrum is the one to which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) referred as a full-blooded federal union. The right honorable gentleman said - very properly in my opinion - that it would be a mistake for Great Britain to join the Economic Community with a view to effecting a fullblooded political union as well. I heartily agree with that sentiment, and I think that most people would agree with it.
– Would that be possible?
– It would be quite possible. It would depend entirely upon Great Britain herself. It would entail a substantial transfer of sovereignty from the British people and the British Parliament to some other body, and I think that this would incur the almost open hostility of the British people because for some 800 years this little nation of Britain has had a form of parliamentary sovereignty which is unique in the world, and a rule of law which is completely democratic. If the British nation were to transfer a substantial portion of that sovereignty to what would be regarded in Britain as a foreign body, the people of Britain would,I believe, voice their disapproval.
Honorable senators will be aware that the Treaty of Rome is administered by an assembly, an executive and an international court. The edicts of the assembly - what might be called the supra-international Parliament - would be enforceable by the international court. Britain’s joining with any arrangement for a formal political union or federation would, I think, be quite inconceivable because, as I say, for centuries the British have had in their blood the conviction that the only sovereignty to be exercised over them is that possessed by the British Parliament. They are more conscious of the exercise of sovereign powers by Parliaments than we are in Australia. I do not think the argument is purely academic. It must be looked at against the background of the other elements in the spectrum, which we shall now examine.
The next political question to arise is this: Is it more likely that Great Britain would join if there were an understanding that there was to be no express transfer of sovereignty to the assembly, but only an understanding for some ad hoc arrangement such as a meeting of Prime Ministers? That takes us to the other end of the spectrum. Between the two ends there are a number of possible combinations of political administrations and loose confederations but I shall not go into all of them. It is conceivable that Britain would be prepared to enter on the terms De Gaulle is now seeking. According to the press, he is seeking a political community as a loose confederation of sovereign states. It might be argued that that might be all right because the member states would lose no sovereignty. I want to discuss that proposition. I do not believe for a moment that Britain will join unless it is a rigid form of confederation; but I suggest to the Senate in all seriousness that notwithstanding any terms upon which Britain joins there will be an involuntary, partial abrogation of authority by every one of the member nations.
– That is the modern trend.
– That is so. That abrogation of sovereignty, inevitable as it might be and however much it might be against the wishes of the member nations, is implicit in the successful functioning and proper administration of the Rome Treaty. Even if the other nations say, in effect, that it Britain joins her sovereign powers will be expressly preserved by some form of document, Britain and the other member nations will eventually lose a considerable degree of their sovereign powers by virtue of the implementation of the Rome Treaty.
The common economic policy of the Rome Treaty powers entails a common agricultural policy, and common policies relating to finance and banking, the employment of labour, and social welfare and transport. In addition, of course, there are the Assembly, the Executive and the International Court to enforce the edicts of the Assembly. It might be said that we have that set-up already in the United Nations Organization, but this particular body is quite different from the United Nations Organization in that it is a much tighter confederation. It will have a central bank controlling the finance and destinies of the nations and which, through the power of the press, will be quite capable of exercising control and enforcing its authority in pursuance of the decisions of the Assembly.
– Will it have a foreign policy?
– It must gradually evolve one. Let us take one of the common policies referred to in the treaty. Take the agricultural policy as an example. This would entail common marketing policies among all the nations, common policies in relation to costs and prices of primary products, and common policies in relation to production, or quotas, or even acreages to be planted. It will also entail a common policy in regard to agricultural research because the knowledge of one nation will be common to all. It will involve common policies in relation to freights and the trans.poration of goods. When you look at the common policies even in relation to agriculture, a member nation will have no option but to accept them, and to that extent sovereignty will go progressively and automatically.
All those common policies added to the common policy relating to tariffs must inevitably spell a tremendous modification of the sovereign powers of the member nations concerned. Therefore, even if Britain joins with an express arrangement in relation to sovereignty I feel there must be an involuntary movement of sovereignty from the member nations to the collective bodies now known as the Executive, the Assembly and the Court. I think that must inevitably happen, although it may happen against the wishes of the member nations. After all, to an extent, treaties are a restriction of sovereignty. This is not an ordinary treaty. We call it the Treaty of Rome, but in effect it is a treaty which forms something quite unique - a confederation of states. That treaty is enforceable and irrevocable. It can be enforced by the power of the purse; it can be enforced by sanctions, and it can be enforced by the Executive. It has all the force and powers that the Commonwealth of Australia has over our States under our Constitution.
If I wanted to fortify my argument further, I could refer to the Commonwealth of Australia. Although it is not a complete analogy, I think it is fair to argue that the Australian Federation of sovereign States is virtually - not altogether, but substantially - a common market. Each of the States has the right of free trading under section 92 of the Constitution, and to that very important extent the Commonwealth is a common market of States. We have an express, written, rigid constitution which preserves the sovereignty of the States with respect to those powers which have not been transferred to the Commonwealth; and I suggest to the Senate - I need hardly elaborate this - that the whole history of our federation over 60 years has been one of the failure of the States to preserve their sovereignty as against the Commonwealth. Decision after decision of the High Court has gradually whittled away the sovereign powers of the States, powers which the States originally thought they held and which were intended to be preserved to them. Again, we have the curious spectacle of some of the States being very keen indeed to dispose of their sovereign powers to the Commonwealth in consideration of the Commonwealth accepting financial responsibility in relation to those powers. There we have a voluntary modification of sovereignty. I repeat that the whole history of our federation is one of the gradual whittling down of the sovereign powers of the States and the building up of the powers of the Commonwealth.
It could never be argued, for instance, that housing, over which the States claim to have exclusive powers, comes exclu sively within the powers of the States. After reading the Commonwealth and States Housing Agreement, no one could possibly argue that the States have sovereign powers with relation to housing. Yet there is not a word about housing in our Constitution. Take employment. It may be argued that the States have sovereign powers in respect of employment and full employment, but we have just produced a Commonwealth Budget, one of the aims of which is the preservation of full employment in Australia. To that extent, the States have lost sovereign powers. Take education, a matter which every student of the Constitution proclaims is the exclusive prerogative of the States. Can anybody really argue that that applies to tertiary education when the Commonwealth is supplying funds and conducting an investigation into tertiary education in our universities? Would anybody argue that the States have not voluntarily ceded authority in relation to education? Take mining. Not very long ago I heard a State Minister for Mines, who should have known better, claim that it was time that the Federal Government accepted is responsibilities in relation to the mining industry. In theory, the Commonwealth Government has no responsibility in connexion with the mining industry, although, as a result of the current Commonwealth Budget, we shall see introduced this year a piece of legislation relating to the gold-mining industry in Western Australia which has been much sought by Western Australia and which involves a loss of sovereignty to that State. I do not think I need continue these observations for very much longer because it is palpably clear that as an Australian “common market “ the States have lost sovereignty and arc continuing to lose it.
– In the interests of self-preservation.
– I am not prepared to argue about the effects along those lines. I do not intend even to argue at this moment that the trend is good. I am merely trying to establish that it is happening. I do not think any one can argue that it is not happening. It can be argued that it is a very undesirable happening, or that in certain circumstances it is a most desirable happening. I do not think there is a short answer on the effects.
I realize that I am getting away from the Common Market; but I suggest that we in Australia have a very similar set-up to that which gradually will emerge from the administration of a united states of Europe. Again 1 emphasize that even if Great Britain joins the Common Market with express agreement on sovereignty, that sovereignty eventually will be whittled down. I will not say that that is good or bad. I merely point out what I believe will happen.
If honorable senators agree with my speech thus far, the observations made by the Prime Minister become most important and most significant. If Great Britain joins either as a member of a rigid political union, which is quite a remote possibility, or without strings in relation to political associations, the end result will be the same. I put that as a postulate and submit it to the Senate with great respect. In theory, if Great Britain joins with no idea of forming a formal federal union, she will retain her sovereignty as the Australian States retained their sovereignty in our federation; whereas, if she joins with an express arrangement that her sovereignty will be preserved as the sovereignty of the States is preserved under the Australian Constitution, in theory she will be a sovereign State but in effect she will have lost a great degree of sovereignty.
Honorable senators might ask where all this is going. I suggest that it is going along this road: In the end result there will not be a great deal of difference. So the Prime Minister’s remarks are particularly apt. But I go further than the Prime Minister went.
– Be careful. Remember Mr. Bury.
– I am very conscious of what Mr. Bury said. I go further and say this: Even if Great Britain’s joining is a mistake, it will happen. I believe that Britain will join the Common Market. She cannot avoid joining it. For the sake of her own security, the security of the world and her own existence, she must join the Common Market. People may say what they like, for instance, that it is a mistake for her to join and that she can join only at the cost of a loss of sovereignty, but I believe she will still join. She will en deavour to preserve her sovereignty but I believe that it is inevitable that she will join. Anybody who tries to resolve this question into a clear-cut issue and say that the proposal is good or bad is very foolish. It is too big an issue for the goodies and the baddies to be segregated in a simple sense.
We have to look at the implications for the Commonwealth. I want to devote a few minutes to that aspect. If it is a mistake for Britain to join - I concede that it is in a certain context - we must admit that there will be grave consequences to the Commonwealth. Some people claim that the Commonwealth will collapse. I do not agree with that. I do not think it is as easy as that either. For instance, I can see no change being made in the theoretical structure of the Commonwealth. It will still be a collection of sovereign States. I do not think Britain will formally renounce any sovereignty at all. In theory she will still be a sovereign State in the same way as New South Wales is a sovereign State.
The members of the Commonwealth who still retain their allegiance to the Throne and the Crown - unfortunately, precious few of them are left - will still do so. I do not think Britain’s entry will change that attitude towards constitutional sovereignty one iota. There will still remain, of course, the strong community of interest in matters political and in democratic processes - something that we treasure probably much more than any other nation. We have acquired that from Britain over the years. Those elements of our association with Britain will always remain. They will also remain in other members of the Commonwealth.
I also believe that the very strong cultural relationship between Britain and Australia will always remain. I regard that as a very important relationship between us and the Motherland. Our culture, which we sometimes endeavour to assert is an Australian culture, has its roots and its basis in Britain. Even in a thousand years’ time an element of British culture will be seen in our culture, whichever way it goes. That is a very important element in our own lives. These things will remain irrespective of what happens in this amazing transformation of western Europe that we call the European Economic Community.
Of course, the similarity ends there. There will be changes. I do not intend to become a prophet to-night, and try to delineate how far those changes will go. It is perfectly obvious to rae that with Britain becoming a competitor with Australia in markets there must be changes in our relationship with Britain and other members of the Commonwealth.
– She is a competitor now.
– The honorable senator who interjected is perfectly correct. Those changes might well have to be faced by Australia even if Great Britain does not join the European Common Market. Australia is becoming increasingly important as a manufacturing nation. Inevitably, we must face up to the fact that the British nation and ours will be competitors in that field.
Probably it is very desirable that we should accept that situation. Certainly, if Britain joins the Common Market we will immediately be made competitors in all matters appertaining to trade. That of course, has great significance to the Commonwealth in that it will prevent the continuance of the close association between us and the British race that we have enjoyed for so long. That will produce repercussions on our way of life over the years. I do not think I need develop that aspect any further to-night. I now agree with Senator McKenna that if I did so I would be getting too hypothetical.
I think every one will admit that those changes will flow from the lack of the close association in the fields of trade, commerce and intercourse that we have enjoyed. In those fields we have been very close to Britain heretofore. These developments will mean great changes. I believe that they will come. We have to face up to that. Having decided to face up to it, we then can look at the economic problems associated with it and settle them in their context. I believe that they will be settled, probably to our disadvantage. I will not go into this question to-night. I have spoken for too long already.
I believe that these changes will come about, caused not only by Britain but also by ourselves, as the price that we must be prepared to pay for the great process of evolution that is taking place amongst the peoples of the Western world, which means the peoples of the Western civilization. That has to be accepted as our contribution to this process of evolution. On one side that process can be only for the good of all mankind. Here we have the spectacle of the Germans and the French living in harmony. Did anyone twenty years ago imagine that this would ever be possible? Surely this is one of the elements on the other side of the ledger which we must face up to as a people and accept as the price to pay. In proper hands the other elements of the political problem - which is the major problem - could be ironed out.
I close by making one observation about the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference. It is most unfortunate that the Brussels discussions did not reach a conclusion, so that the Prime Ministers could be presented with a reasonably clear picture of what might happen. I suggest in all seriousness to our Government that when the nations of the community and Britain have eventually decided upon a blueprint for British entry, the Commonwealth Prime Ministers should again meet and discuss it, because it is on the Commonwealth level that the best discussions will take place. I suggest in all earnestness to the Government that when the situation arises, as it may between now and next June, or earlier, there be a second meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers to discuss something about which every Australian is and every member nation of the British Commonwealth are most concerned, but about the end result of which we should be most optimistic.
.- I think there is only one issue in this discussion, and that is what Australia’s economic situation will be should the United Kingdom join the European Common Market. I have listened to the previous speaker entertaining himself by talking abour political considerations which the United Kingdom must think of should she join the European Common Market. What in the name of goodness has that to do with any Australian Parliament? That is the responsibility of the United Kingdom, and she is quite capable of looking into the future to see just what political turns and twists will be necessary should she decide to join the Market. It is not for this Parliament to put up one Aunt Sally - a political Aunt Sally - knock it down, set up another, and knock it over, entertaining itself merely by doing that repeatedly.
I understand that should the United Kingdom join the European Common Market there will be a new political atmosphere in the United Kingdom. It would not be possible to have a changed set of economic factors and circumstances operating without having a different political complexion. Senator Vincent made that clear by the illustrations that he gave about the changing political structure in the Commonwealth of Australia. He pointed out how the political situation has changed in recent years as a result of certain factors and happenings. One of these is the introduction of what is known as uniform taxation, under which the States get a grant from the taxation collected by the Commonwealth, which is the sole collector of income tax. In other ways the Commonwealth has assumed full responsibility for social services and employment and unemployment. Naturally, the structure of the States’ sovereignty has changed. We are a federation and have always been one. We are one people; we are one race. One cannot draw a parallel between the Commonwealth and the European Common Market - far from it. The European Common Market consists of different races and different people, with different attitudes and different cultures. 1 return to what 1 said at the beginning. Our consideration is the situation that will exist in the Commonwealth should the United Kingdom join the European Common Market. What will it be, and how shall we approach it? Are we not entitled to approach this question as typical citizens in the Commonwealth? We have to look at this matter in terms of the wheatgrower, the sugar-grower, the woolgrower and the fruit-grower - the men who get their livelihood directly from the land. T-kat is our only consideration. Australia has developed her economy by selling her excess rural products on overseas markets. We should not camouflage that fact in any way. We are not so industrialized that we can become a manufacturing country selling the products of our secondary industry overseas, but we can successfully sell on world markets our excess rural products. We have been doing that, and have built up our population. We have been establishing the few secondary industries that exist in the Commonwealth at the present time. Of course, we can hope to become more industrialized in the future. That remains to be seen, and is a matter for conjecture.
To return to my argument, what is at the back of people’s minds as a result of information in the press about the repercussions of Britain’s joining the Common Market? One speaker said that we know little about it - and nothing is reported officially to us. We rely on cablegrams sent by press agencies to Australia. Mostly they contain statements made by interested parties with a certain line to plug. Therefore we become simply the thinkers for the country. We look at this Common Market proposal with a feeling of fear. We believe that it will affect us seriously, and one can be pardoned for believing that. In a minute or two I shall quote the value to the Commonwealth of some of our primary products. When I am doing that I want honorable senators to keep in mind what will happen to the various industries if we cannot sell our surplus products - what we cannot consume here. What will happen to the Barossa Valley if Australia cannot export most of the wines produced there?
As I see it, the picture at the present time is that Australia is gripping the United Kingdom by the hips and, saying to her, “ Do not join the Common Market unless you preserve the trading arrangements that exist between us at the present time “. Is not that a fair epitome of Australia’s attitude towards the European Common Market and the United Kingdom’s entry to it? We are holding the United Kingdom back as long as we possibly can. We are forcing her to try to compel the Common Market countries to accept Great Britain with all her hungry children attached to her. Are they going to do that? Arc the six countries that are working under a treaty signed in 1957, which has operated most successfully for them, likely to whittle down anything they have established in the charter of the Common Market? Would we give anything away from our Constitution to satisfy any applicants for admission to Australia? Not likely! You will pardon me, Mr. Acting Deputy President, if I read a portion of the charter of the Common Market. The Treaty of Rome has something like 248 articles and it would take almost half a day to read all of them and perhaps 20 or 30 half-days to explain them. I shall quote briefly a portion of Article 3. I am doing so because in this article is to be found the obstacle that prevents the United Kingdom from joining the Common Market without getting some concessions for the Commonwealth. Article 3 reads -
For the purposes set out in the preceding Article the activities of the Community shall include, under the conditions and with the timing provided for in this Treaty:
the elimination, as between Member States, of customs duties and of quantitative restrictions in regard to the importation and exportation of goods, as well as of all other measures with equivalent effect;
The next sub-clause contains the snag. It reads -
One word in that involves Australia seriously. We can talk about our alliance and our affiliation with the United Kingdom, but what does it amount to? When it comes to selling our goods in the Common Market we are a third nation notwithstanding our link with the United Kingdom with whom we have many longterm contracts operating at the present time. If the United Kingdom joins the Common Market we are to her a third nation and she must apply the preferences, customs tariffs and embargoes that are implied by the six Common Market countries at the present time. I shall read that portion of the article slowly again -
There is no escape from that provision. Can we ask the six countries now forming the Common Market to change the Treaty of Rome that has operated for seven years? To do so would be impudence on our part. We are expecting far too much, and it is unlikely that the United Kingdom will enjoy any success in its endeavour to do the best it can for the Commonwealth.
I want now to deal with a few facts relating to the primary industries of the
Common Market, but before I do so let me inform the Senate of our main obstacle in getting our produce into Common Market countries. We must realize that these six States are agricultural countries. We think that because we have wide areas given to agriculture we are unique; but these countries have aimed at selfsufficiency. That has been forced upon them as a defence policy, and they have been somewhat successful over the years. They have been successful in becoming industrialized for defence purposes, but when wars have occurred they have had to feed their people. Consequently they have exploited their land far more than we have. But I shall let the information speak for itself. Belgium is one of the small countries. Just in passing let me give you, Sir, some little information about Belgium. The other day I was walking with a friend of mine through one of the big chain stores in Brisbane. He wished to buy a mirror. Pointing to a mirror he said, “ What do you think of this one? “. I said, “ It is a nice shape and it looks a nice mirror “. We went over and examined it and, believe me or not, it was made in Belgium, notwithstanding that there are mirror factories in every State in the Commonwealth. I tell that story just in passing. I shall have something to say about that form of trading in another debate.
Honorable senators may not believe this, but 13 per cent, of Belgium’s population is engaged in agriculture, and agricultural products account for 7 per cent, of the country’s national income. Belgium is a small industrialized country with not a large population, but 13 in every 100 are engaged in agriculture. They not only produce for the Belgium people but also have a surplus of agriculture products. Honorable senators may ask what they are doing with this surplus. They have a market. As we know a market is a place where you buy and sell, and it is only common sense to realize that you can sell agricultural products only by having them consumed somewhere. The available market in the Common Market countries amounts to 169,000,000 persons. That is a fair market, and Belgium, of course, is happy that she can sell her excess agricultural products in the Common Market.
She is not dependent, as the United Kingdom has been for years, upon any product that is produced in Australia.
Twenty-three per cent, of the population of West Germany is engaged in agriculture, and her agricultural products account for 7 per cent, of her national income. We know that West Germany is a highly industrialized country. We see her manufactured products in this country; one sees them on the roads and the streets everywhere. I pass to Switzerland, a small country from which we have borrowed money. We are now repaying Swiss francs. She is one of the six Common Market countries, and 16 per cent, of her population is engaged in agriculture and 18 per cent, of her national income is attributable to her agricultural products. The position is much the same in The Netherlands in that 19 per cent, of the population of The Netherlands is engaged in agriculture of some form or other, and 12 per cent, of her national income is attributable to her agricultural products.
I imagine that France will be one country which will hold out strongly against the United Kingdom being admitted to the Common Market with any Commonwealth tics, because 28 per cent, of France’s population is engaged in agricultural pursuits. One can understand clearly how much agricultural production means to France when 14 per cent, of her national income is attributable to her agricultural products. Italy will not be so easy to deal with if the United Kingdom is admitted to the Common Market, with Australia, Canada and New Zealand holding her round the waist. Italy has 33 per cent, of her population engaged in agriculture. Twenty per cent, of Italy’s national income comes from agricultural production.
I shall deal briefly with the population of these countries in order to show what their market is worth. West Germany has a population of 53,000,000; France, 45,000,000; Italy, 51,000,000; The Netherlands, 11,000,000; Belgium, 9,000,000; and Luxembourg, 500,000. The total population of the Common Market countries is 169,500,000. There is the market. It is almost as great as that of the United States of America, which enjoys what is known as self-sufficiency. Europe has a market right within its own borders. The countries of the Common Market are establishing their own markets and fields of production. They intend to satisfy their own requirements and to attain, if possible, self-sufficiency. So far as they are concerned, it is a case of the devil take the hindmost. We cannot blame them for adopting that attitude.
I do not blame the six countries which comprise the European Economic Community for resisting the attempt of the United Kingdom to go into the Common Market and retain the preferences she has allocated to Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the past. The countries of the Common Market are the signatories to the Treaty of Rome. They originated the Common Market, and having commenced it they are entitled to carry on with it. They have made an offer to the United Kingdom because they see in the 52,000,000 population of that country an extension of their market which is not to be scoffed at.
The question of independence arises. Will the United Kingdom lose its independence or its sovereignty if it joins the Common Market? That is a political consideration and we should not give it any thought. That is my submission in this regard. Any set of economic factors will produce its own political complexion, and it cannot be controlled beforehand. Should the United Kingdom join the Common Market, there will become payable on the products submitted to the United Kingdom from Australia a tariff amounting to 24 per cent. That is a high rate. All our primary industries are going to be adversely affected unless Britain is able to grant us the preferential treatment she has accorded us in the past. That goes without saying.
The United Kingdom has taken 90 per cent, of our surplus dairy products over the years. The value of those products has been approximately £27,000,000 per annum. As I have said, we must take a cold-blooded view on this matter. We must discard our political feelings and look a’, the situation calmly. If we cannot sell our excess dairy products on other markets in the future, we must think of what will happen to our dairy farmers who have done the pioneering work by establishing farms in the dairying areas of the Commonwealth. This is not a matter to be passed over lightly. If we are to calculate the possible losses in terms of millions of pounds, it may be asked, “ What does £170,000,000 or £180,000,000 matter?” It may be said that we could overcome those losses and survive them. Perhaps, if we say it quickly, £170,000,000 is not such a large sum of money. But if we go down to the areas along the Murray River - to Mildura, for instance - where dried fruits are being grown, and try to convince the fruit-growers that they will not be adversely affected should the United Kingdom join the Common Market, the fruit-growers no doubt will tell us plainly what they think. That is being practical and getting down to the very earth in dealing with matters as the common folk deal wilh them.
Let us consider this question as typical citizens are looking at it at the present time. 1 have not had the pleasure to read the statement made by Mr. Bury, for whom I have the highest regard as an economist. 1 hold the opinion that he is a very clever gentleman. I regret very much that he was sent off the field and sentenced to an indefinite absence from the Ministry. I think that he adorned the Ministry. If a penalty had to be imposed on him, he should have been appointed Minister for Trade. I would have allowed him to do the negotiating on the part of the Commonwealth, and I feel that he would have acquitted himself very well. I make those few remarks in passing.
Many people in Australia gain a livelihood from growing wheat. As honorable senators know, we export about 100,000,000 bushels of wheat under the guarantee system. The United Kingdom has been a good buyer. As a matter of fact, she has purchased approximately 23 per cent, of our wheat annually in the past. Where are we going to make up that leeway in the future? Will it be easy to do so? Those are problems that are going to face Australia. The representatives of the Government may travel about the world and establish trading agencies in other countries, but where are those agencies being established? They are being set up in countries from which payment is always a doubtful matter.
When I made my opening remarks 1 said that we had developed this country and established our economy by exporting our surplus products to countries overseas, mainly the United Kingdom. That will go on in the future. But let us visualize a situation in which our markets are cut off quickly, and we have to sell to other countries. The problem of making sales is ahead of us. This year, Queensland can sell every pound of sugar that it produces. We have a market for our sugar in the United States, in Japan and in other countries. That is all very well, but for how long will that market last? You cannot put land under fallow to grow sugar next year, whether the area is assigned sugar-growing country or not, unless you can see markets ahead. In the past, we have had the advantage of knowing that our produce could be sold to the United Kingdom. Should the United Kingdom join the Common Market, we are not going to be as complacent as we have been in the past. That complacency will go for ever. In the present state of the economy it is not a happy situation for any country such as Australia, with its meagre population, to find that it has to go roving the world to get rid of its products.
I come from the greatest meat-producing State in the Commonwealth. Queensland has more than 7,000,000 head of beef cattle. If something serious happened to the meat export industry, I know what it would mean not only to meat producers but also to wage earners in the export meat works. The United Kingdom has always been one of our best customers for meat. She has always taken about half the volume of our meat exports, valued at about £40,000,000 per annum. If that market were cut off overnight, where would we sell that £40,000,000 worth of meat? At present, we enjoy pretty good trade with the United States of America, but we do not know how long it will last. We have not the same affinity with the United States of America as we have always had with the United Kingdom.
This question is not to be considered from the aspect of the future sovereignty of the United Kingdom or political considerations affecting her. We must look at the matter from the aspect of the small producer, the fruit grower, the meat producer, the meat worker, and others who rely upon the export trade to maintain their present standard of living. I have mentioned sugar. If the United Kingdom enters the Common Market, she will not be allowed under the terms of the treaty to import any Australian sugar after 1970. Up to 1970 the United
Kingdom will be able to import from Australia sugar in the quantities imported in the past. All the European countries, which produce sugar from beet, are looking at the United Kingdom market. There are in the United Kingdom 52,000,000 potential users of beet sugar. The fruit grower has his own view about the Common Market. He is wondering what will happen to him. He is only a battler. Sales of fresh fruit to the United Kingdom are valued at £9,300,000 per annum; they represent 56 per cent, of our total product. Sales of dried fruits to the United Kingdom are valued at £9,100,000 per annum.
I have mentioned the self-sufficiency of the United States of America, with a population of between 160,000,000 and 170,000,000 people. A common market exists in that country. It is a replica of the Common Market formed by The Six in Europe. The United States of America has erected high tariff walls around her industries. She has been known to cut off markets for imports, for instance, lead and zinc. Her attitude has been to cut off imports abruptly, and let the devil take the hindmost. These things have happened outside the European Common Market, and we have had some experience of them. We have had a wide field to rove in Europe and the United Kingdom and we are wondering how much longer we shall enjoy it.
The United Kingdom has been a large exporter and we have been one of her best customers, taking more in value from her than she has taken from us. We have been a very good customer of the United Kingdom, but she is in the unfortunate position of having to import from some country or other half of the food she consumes. That is the lead bag which the United Kingdom has to carry, and I sympathize with her. That is why she has been such a good customer of ours over the years.’.- She is trying to enter the Common Market taking with her the goodwill and the marketing arrangements that exist between her and the Commonwealth countries, but resistance is coming from the six countries forming the Common Market. Australia is holding the hips of the United Kingdom, not willing to allow her to enter unless we can have from her the fruits we have had in the past. If she joins, we must find alternatives.
Instead of wasting the time that has been devoted to-night to discussing the political implications of the United Kingdom’s entry into the Common Market, we should have been discussing alternative arrangements. Our alternatives may not be, as we imagine, the finding of markets in Asiatic countries. We may not be able to sell to them as we have sold in the past to the United Kingdom. We might have to give away some of our commodities. Those countries have a large population, but they have other customers, too. I have a cutting from a journal produced by a rural organization. I do not doubt the information it contains, because over the years I have found the reports in this journal to be correct. The heading to the report is, “U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. Produce Quarter World Farm Produce,” and the text reads -
Together, the United States and the Soviet Union account for more than one-quarter of the world’s annual farm output. Soviet farm production made up about 11 per cent, of total world agricultural production, and U.S. farm production production about 16 per cent., the United States Department of Agriculture reports. The production of farm commodities in the U.S.S.R. is roughly estimated at about two-thirds of the U.S. level. On a per capita basis, this is reduced te about half that of the United States.
We speak about establishing markets in Asiatic countries. What do honorable senators think those two countries have been doing? Have they not a surplus production?
– Not Russia.
– Even if Russia has not, we must admit that her potential is still great. I have not read all of the article. There is a disparity between the quantities of wheat produced in the United States and in Russia. There is a huge difference. Those countries will be our competitors for trade in Asia. Japan is a very highly industrialized country which is progressing every year. She is pleased to take our sugar and some other primary products. She has paid her way, meeting her commitments when they have become due. I have been reliably informed that mainland China, too, met her commitments for wheat purchased from Australia at the very second when they fell due. These countries offer possibilities for our future trade.
I shall finish on this note, Mr. President. Let us imagine that the United Kingdom does join the Common Market. Let us see her adding her great industrial potential; let us see the seven countries then manufacturing all the things that their peoples require; let us see them successfully manufacturing all the goods that they can export: will it not happen at some future date that the level of production will be higher than the level of consumption and the level of sales? That must automatically follow. I do not profess to be an economist, but 1 have learnt many things the hard way. 1 say that that could happen before seven years, and that instead of these countries enjoying the prosperity they have enjoyed since the establishment of the Treaty of Rome, they could be confronted with a serious recession
Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) [10.211. - We are now debating - I emphasize the term “ debating “ - a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the situation so far as the Commonwealth Government and Australia are concerned in respect of the possible entry of the United Kingdom into the Common Market. Therefore, I want to spend a few moments dealing with some remarks made by Senator Benn. I listened very attentively to his speech, but I still do not know what side he is on. or what he thinks of the prospect of Britain’s joining or not joining the Common Market. He appeared to me to be either undecided, or to be having two bob each way.
I would say this to Senator Benn: The Australian Government’s approach to this question is not as he implied. It is not that we are trying to force the United Kingdom not to join the Common Market. All that the Prime Minister, Mr. McEwen and Dr. Westerman have done in all their negotiations is, I believe, to remind the Government of the United Kingdom that we have been helping to feed the people of the United Kingdom for a number of years, and that in doing so we have employed a lot of people in Australia. I believe that it would be very wrong for the United Kingdom, having received our food and manufactured goods, suddenly to cut off its market, thus causing unemployment in this country. I think it could be said that we are just reminding the United Kingdom that we have industries and production born not of our own needs but of the need to feed the British people.
Senator Benn was, I think, a bit on my side, or perhaps I am on his side, whichever way you like to take it. I am reminded of the phrase that has come into the Common Market discussions - “ phase out “. I believe we should have the right to trade with Britain and the Common Market countries under regulations that are negotiated and agreed upon. We should not merely be told that, “In 1970 you will be out “.
One point upon which I differ completely from Senator Benn, and upon which I cannot understand his thinking, was his severe criticism of the Prime Minister’s reference to the political aspects of this matter. Whether Senator Benn interprets the Prime Minister’s remarks as being party political or not, I do not know, but the political aspects of any government must receive very deep consideration. Our Prime Minister and his co-negotiators must have deep thoughts about the political considerations, and so I say it is sheer nonsense to say that we in this debate should cast aside all thoughts of political aspects of the negotiations.
Now, Sir, leaving Senator Benn’s speech, I come to my own speech. I wonder what good a debate in the Senate on this subject can do. We have people negotiating, almost behind the scenes, with one country that may become a partner in the European Common Market, and nothing that is said in this chamber can help. If something is said unwisely it could do harm, but however wise the remarks, they cannot help the negotiations. However, it is a subject for debate in this chamber and therefore I, as a senator, believe that I should be upstanding in my place and express my views.
I begin by saying - it may prove a wrong prophecy, but it is my own opinion - that the United Kingdom will not in the foreseeable future enter the Common Market. I say that the calamity-howlers, the people who say that great harm will be done to Australia and the Commonwealth countries if Britain should enter the Common Market, should be discouraged. Why? For two reasons. The British Prime Minister,
Mr. Duncan Sandys and others have repeated time and again that the United Kingdom will not enter the Common Market if this will seriously hurt the Commonwealth countries. Secondly, Australia has such open fields within so few miles, comparatively speaking, in which to develop its trade, that I believe we could take the impact of any loss of markets.
The reason for the formation of the European Economic Community is basically political. There is no doubt about that. The Prime Minister pointed that out in his speech in another place. He said -
The British Cabinet clearly is impressed by what it believes to be the political advantages for Great Britain, Europe, and the Western World which would flow from British membership of the European Economic Community. Mr. Macmillan made this clear in our discussions.
What is the object? The object is, clearly, to get former enemies to unite. I do not want to recite history. We know the enmity that has existed between Germany, France and Italy. The Western world wants them to unite. We want them to remove trade barriers. Surely there is more chance of peace and friendship between nations if trade barriers are wiped out. I should think another reason would be to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Anything that can be done in Europe to strengthen the bonds and to increase the power of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would result in a greater chance of world peace in our time and in the time of our children.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, 1 formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I do not wish to delay the Senate for very long, but I wish to raLe a matter of vital importance to Western Australia as well as to some of the other States and the Northern Territory. Approximately eighteen months ago the Government, in its wisdom, decided to lift the embargo on the export of iron ore but laid down certain conditions under which it could be exported. Those conditions provided that up to 50 per cent, of new discoveries of large deposits could be exported provided that not more than 1,000,000 tons of ore was exported from any one deposit in any one year. If a deposit contained less than 3,000,000 tons of ore, special permission could be granted by the Minister to exploit the whole of that deposit for export.
When the embargo on the export of iron ore was lifted, large companies, both Australian and overseas, engaged in the search for this vital commodity. Very large deposits totalling many hundreds of millions of tons of high grade iron ore have been found in both Western Australia and Queensland and deposits containing large1 tonnages have also been discovered in the Northern Territory. I now take the opportunity to bring to the Government’s notice the difficult position in which a large company is placed if it is allowed to export only 1,000,000 tons of ore in any one year. We know from our studies that Canada is now exporting something like 17,000,000 tons of ore a year and that most of that ore comes from only one or two deposits. WC also know that Canada hopes to increase that amount to 35,000,000 tons a year by about 1965 or 1967. The expense involved in handling large tonnages of iron ore is tremendous. For instance, to handle such tonnages efficiently, it is essential to have modern equipment such as trains capable of carrying 5,000 tons a trip, and port facilities capable of catering for vessels of 50,000 tons or more. This equipment could cost anything from £15,000,000 to £20,000,000, and although finance would not present any problem to the large companies they will require to be able to export more than 1,000,000 tons a year if they are to operate efficiently. I remind the Senate that in December last the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) issued a press statement to the effect that Australia now has hundreds of millions of tons of high grade ore in both the Northern Territory and Western Australia and, although I congratulate the Government for having lifted the embargo on the export of iron ore, I do not believe that there is any need at the moment to restrict the export from any one deposit to 1,000,000 tons a year. If these companies are to compete on the world’s market, they must be given the opportunity to operate their expensive modern equipment efficiently so that the ore may be produced at a competitive price.
– It is true that it is almost two years since the Government lifted the embargo on the export of iron ore. It is also true that at the time when the embargo was lifted the huge deposits which are now known to exist in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory had not been proven. At that time, it was not known whether the ore in those deposits was of sufficiently high grade to attract customers from overseas. Now that the huge deposits in these three areas have been proven, we have a different picture of the steel industry of Australia. I submit that we have ample proof now that there is sufficient iron ore available in Australia to support two steelworks, one of which could very easily be established in Western Australia. I remind the Senate that the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland are now spending money on improving port facilities for the export of coal. Surely these facilities could be used for the export of iron ore in those cases where company surveys prove that the ore is sufficiently high grade for the purpose. I point out also that there is no firm proposal to export iron ore from Mount Goldsworthy. We also know that at the moment we send both coal and iron ore overseas where the iron ore is manufactured into steel and exported to other parts of the world, some of it coming back to us.
At the present time we have mediumsized ore carriers transporting iron ore from Cockatoo Island to Port Kembla, where they discharge and run in ballast back to Cockatoo Island for another load of iron ore. That is wasteful running. With sufficient ships, coal could be picked up at Port Kembla or Newcastle and transported to South Australia, where, after unloading, the vessels could re-load with iron ore to be transported to Port Kembla. In that way we could have a line of ships circling Australia, especially if we had a second steel works in Western Australia using our own raw materials. This new works would provide employment for numbers of Australians, and I emphasize that at the moment we are looking for avenues of employment for our citizens. I say frankly that no more of Australia’s raw resources than is absolutely necessary should be exported to provide employment for people in other countries when there is unemployment in Australia.
.- Mr. President, Senator Scott, in his comments on the lifting of the embargo on the export of iron ore, overlooked one point in the announcement that was made. The press release that I made on 2nd December, 1960, giving details of the new policy on exports of iron ore, contains this sentence -
Special consideration to be given to requests for permission to export at a rate greater than 1,000,000 tons having regard to the size and location of the deposit.
– I thought that was for the small deposits.
– No. There is a proviso enabling special consideration to be given. That was included specifically to allow for the discovery of a large deposit that was so situated that it could not be developed economically if export was restricted. So, at the time the formula was laid down, the sort of contingency to which Senator Scott referred was provided for.
It is only fair to add that we did not contemplate then that such enormous deposits as are now in the process of being found would be found. It would be wrong to proceed on the basis that export licences will not be forthcoming where the circumstances justify them. It would be equally wrong for the Government to start granting export licences on the blind, as it were, without more knowledge than we now have of the extent of particular deposits; the richness or quality of them; whether there are markets overseas for the iron ore; whether, in relation to any single deposit, the right thing to do is to permit the export of the ore in its natura] form; or whether we would get a better national result if in some cases there was a requirement for some beneficiation of the deposits. Indeed taking the longer view, we should think carefully and prospect the possibilities of the development of large-scale industries along the lines mentioned by Senator Cant.
Almost suddenly these riches have unfolded to us. The whole history of mining shows that it takes some little time to be sure where you stand in respect of the quantity of the deposit and what is the right thing to do with it.
In my opinion, the Commonwealth Government will not be obstructive in this matter. On the other hand, both the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments have responsibilities not to agree casually to proposals. We have a responsibility to consider the propositions that are put to us in respect of these new big deposits, to make a careful evaluation of the pros and cons of them and to give the decision that is best in the national interest. The Western Australian Government has given tenements for various areas to various companies. Representatives of some of the companies have written to me and asked whether they can get licences to export greater amounts. I have replied, I hope, in terms that are not discouraging to them and in terms that are adequate to let them know that we want to have a good idea of what their proposals are and what is the extent and nature of their deposits before we come to a firm conclusion on them.
As both Senator Scott and Senator Cant have mentioned, very big issues are involved in this matter. It is not just a case of earth-moving, open-cutting or developing an iron ore deposit. It involves very big questions of transport facilities to the coast and port facilities. Also, I do not think there is an unlimited market for this ore. I believe that there will be restrictions on the amount that can be sold at least in the near future.
I hope to have a chance to talk to the Western Australian Minister for Mines on this matter. The way in which it is handled and the permissions are given can have a very big influence on the nature of development in the north of Western Australia in relation to which ports might be developed and in what areas transport facilities might be provided. I think we should think out these questions, talk about them, and make certain that we are doing the right thing before we come to our conclusions.
We have a similar problem to that in Western Australia in the Northern Territory and Queensland. These iron ore deposits are very much, greater than any one contemplated we had. I myself doubt whether any one yet knows how great they really are. In many of these mining propositions, as time goes on and more and more information becomes available you find that a deposit is much greater than was originally thought. The initial information shows the vastness of these deposits, but I will not be surprised to find that more information shows them to be even greater.
I wish to say only a couple more things. No one should think that we are not watching the matter carefully. No one should think that in any approach to it we will be obstructive. On the other hand, and more importantly, no one should think that we will not consider carefully all the pros and cons and all the facts and information in order to achieve the best national result and the best result for the various States in which the deposits are located.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 August 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19620814_senate_24_s22/>.