24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has seen a press report which appeared on Saturday to the effect that the gold mines at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, are short of labour to the extent of some 80 underground workers and that approximately 95 workers altogether are required in the industry at the Golden Mile. Is it a fact that the Minister for Mines in Western Australia has approached the Department of Labour and National Service with a view to ascertaining whether men are available in the eastern States, particularly on the fields at Mary Kathleen in Queensland and at Broken Hill in New South Wales? Has the Minister for Mines in Western Australia asked whether such men could be transferred to Western Australia to fill the vacancies to which I have referred? Is the Minister aware that members of the Australian Labour Party are so anxious to stop employees from coming to Western Australia that they even go to Fremantle and visit ships in an endeavour to discourage efficient workers from disembarking at Fremantle?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. I presume that the work involved in mining for gold underground would be classified as skilled work. If that is so, I am not surprised that there is some difficulty in meeting requirements because skilled workers have no difficulty in finding employment in Australia. Indeed, in many categories, there is a shortage of skilled workers. I am not aware whether representations have been m<_de to overcome this difficulty by the voluntary transfer of r en in similar occupations from some other State. I will ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to reply on that point directly to the honorable senator. I have heard and seen evidence in the press that, for some reason unknown to me, the Labour Party in Western Australia is putting obstacles in the way of people coming to work in that State, particularly from abroad. This is difficult to understand in view of the requirements for skilled workers in Western Australia in particular, a State that is expanding so rapidly with the assistance of this Commonwealth Government.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Did the Bureau of Mineral Resources, through the Department of Supply, recently grant a contract to Ansett-A.N.A. for the supply and operation of helicopters for geophysical work? If so, did this contract purport to allow Ansett-A.N.A. to receive supplies of aviation spirit from government sources free of duty and internal transport costs? Was this contract made contrary to precedent and instructions, and are efforts being made to secure a refund of the amounts which the company saved in respect of aviation spirit? Can the Minister explain how the situation arose in the present case and what steps will be taken to avoid a repetition?
– In the nature of things, there is a constant series of contracts between the Bureau of Mineral Resources and organizations which provide helicopter services. I do not remember one recently with Ansett-A.N.A., but I would not doubt it as there are a number of these contracts. I have no knowledge of any special arrangements being made in respect of any contract. I can only ask that the question be put on the notice-paper so that I can go into the facts. No proposals were put to me for any special arrangements. If arrangements were made along the lines that Senator O’Byrne has mentioned I would be quite sure that they would apply to all these contracts. There would1 not be any differentiation.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a report from Washington that the United States Senate passed a bill on Friday last providing that women workers should receive equal pay with men for equal work? As this is the second occasion on which the United States Senate has sought to bring United States policy on equal pay into line with the policies of most other countries, can the Minister inform the Senate whether this matter is still under active consideration by the Commonwealth Government?
– I did notice the particular item to which the honorable senator has referred. The position in the United States of America is somewhat different from the position in Australia in that in Australia the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is the proper authority for fixing rates of pay for both men and women. The commission has been doing this for years and has won the approbation, I think, of both sides of politics. It is generally agreed that this is the proper method to use in the fixation of wage scales. It is open to any people to approach that court and take action along the lines suggested by the honorable senator. I should think that the unions which are so much concerned, and have as members women as well as men, would have taken a leading part had they wished and would have approached the commission and asked it to act in the appropriate way.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Some time ago I asked questions regarding the financial disabilities of the 300 soldier settlers on Kangaroo Island and the extent of any financial assistance which could be given to them arising from the conferences which the Minister had with the settlers in November, 1962. Has the Minister any information in relation to this matter?
– I took the request of Senator Bishop to my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, who has supplied the following information: -
Following discussions with representatives of the settlers and the State Minister of Lands in November last, I have approved action being taken as follows: -
Where settlers allotted holdings prior to 19S7, in which year the developmental programme was revised, have ploughed areas of pasture originally established by the settlement authority, but not redeveloped by that authority, they will be credited with £2 per acre for such ploughing. To qualify for this credit the settlers must have ploughed the areas within seven years following the date of allotment of the holdings.
Penalty interest charged to the “ first fifty “ settlers for late payment of accounts to be remitted and any such payments which have been made to be credited on account of arrears of rent or interest.
An allowance of £300 to be credited to each settler on Kangaroo Island towards defraying the higher cost of establishment on the island.
Superphosphate to raise the overall application to 7i cwt. per acre on the area originally established to pasture by the settlement authority to be supplied as a cost of development.
These concessions, together with eased commitments previously granted in respect of rental during the establishment period and principal repayments on advances should reasonably ensure settlers of average efficiency becoming established as members of the normal farming community.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Trade. Is there any move afoot, sponsored by certain European Common Market countries, to prevent Australian wines enjoying the time-honoured name labels such as sherry, port, champagne, burgundy, &c? If this is true, what authority is invoked or sought by these countries to force Australian wine- producers to relinquish their wine-labelling practices? Can the Minister inform me whether the United Kingdom Government is a party to this move? Will the Australian Government, through the Department of Trade, make strenuous representations to the countries concerned, including the United Kingdom, stressing the opposition of Australian wine-makers?
– Only yesterday, at a meeting of the Federal Wine and Brandy Producers Council, the Minister for Primary Industry stressed the very situation that the honorable senator now recounts in the Senate. It is true that most European countries have for many years used as trade marks for their wines the geographical names of the districts in which those wines are produced. It is causing some concern to the Australian wine trade that, in the event of the development of the European Common Market, European countries may seek to ,deny to
Australia the use of these district names which are peculiar to Europe. I understand that such action would probably be taken under the trade marks legislation of the countries concerned. I know that this is causing concern to the Australian wine trade, and I can assure the honorable senator that the Department of Trade and the Australian Government are doing everything possible to see that we retain the present system of marketing our wines, the quality of which has so much improved in the last few years that they are making a real impact upon the markets of the world.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for National Development. In view of the war service homes eviction cases listed daily for hearing at Central Court, Sydney - on Wednesday last thirteen cases, on Thursday thirteen, and yesterday fourteen - will the Minister withdraw pending eviction proceedings until he has fully considered the suggestion put forward by Senator McKenna last week that a social welfare section he introduced in the War Service Homes Division? If that were done, sympathetic and understanding officers could call on the ex-servicemen concerned and help them to overcome the human problems which arise. At the same time, women and children could be saved from eviction, as occurred last week on the south coast of New South Wales. Incidentally, I am pleased to say that those cases have now been satisfactorily settled-
– The family involved is now back in its home.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__ I have given this matter a good deal of thought and have had a series of conferences on it. T am satisfied that the department is doing what it should do in the circumstances. In regard to the south coast case, I remind Senator Fitzgerald that the person concerned paid the amount that was outstanding.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for National
Development, concerns a report in the “ West Australian “ newspaper last week to the effect that the Government of Western Australia and the Government of Queensland were considering the establishment of a bilateral, or multilateral, government authority for the purpose of developing the northern areas of Australia. Has the Com.monwealth Government been consulted about this proposition? If so, will the Minister inform the Senate of the attitude of the Commonwealth Government towards the establishment of an authority for this purpose?
– I have seen newspaper reports in both Queensland and Western Australian newspapers stating that such a move was in contemplation. So far as I am aware, no representations have been made jointly to the Commonwealth Government by the governments of Queensland and Western Australia. I have not seen “ any such representations, nor have I heard of any. Therefore I can only say that the Commonwealth would need to await receipt of representations, so that their nature could be ascertained, before expressing views on the proposal.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, by saying that on 8th May I asked the Minister when the Government proposed to release the report of Mr. Justice Taylor, the royal commissioner who inqured into alleged improper conduct by certain postal employees in Victoria, and their lack of cooperation with Victorian police, in regard to alleged starting-price betting activities. I now ask the Minister: Is he aware that there is some public disquiet because of the Government’s delay in publishing the findings of the royal commission? As the Parliament will adjourn this week until the Budget session, will the Minister assure the Senate that the report will be tabled this week? If not, will he give some valid reason for the refusal of the Government to release the report so far?
– I am not aware of any public disquiet because of the alleged withholding of this report. I think all honorable senators agree that this is a matter of great public interest and that the Government is obliged to give due heed to the findings and recommendations of the royal commissioner. The Government is doing just that. If the honorable senator will contain himself patiently for just a few hours longer, I think his requirements will be met.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. As he is aware, Australia is still rendering aid, in the form of materials and financial assistance, to Indonesia. Can the Minister say whether this matter has been reconsidered in view of the fact that Indonesia has devoted so much of its economic resources to the purchase of armaments, instead of using them to strengthen its internal economy and to improve the standards of its people?
– The provision of assistance of various kinds to Indonesia for the purpose of building up its economy is still continuing. Assistance is being given, for instance, in respect of civil aviation and in the building of roads - particularly on outlying islands - to open up areas which have not previously been opened up. Assistance is being given also to the printing industry so that books can be more widely distributed and education more easily gained. Projects similar to those in other Asian countries are still continuing. The points which the honorable senator suggests should be taken into consideration have not affected the provision of Colombo Plan aid.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Trade. What representation does Australia enjoy at the ministerial meeting at present discussing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade? Has Australia put any specific requests before the conference? What is the Government’s attitude towards the American proposal made by President Kennedy for a 50 per cent, cut in tariffs?
– The responsibility of representing Australia is being undertaken by the Right Honorable John McEwen, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, who is at the conference with a team from the Department of Trade. The Minister will return to Australia in about six or seven days. When he returns he will no doubt make a statement to the Parliament and to the country about the results of the negotiations and the terms in which Australia has approached this problem. I think it better to wait until Mr. McEwen returns and makes a statement himself. No doubt the honorable senator will then be fully informed.
– The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has not taken any part so far in efforts to eradicate rats from the cane sugar fields in Queensland; nor is it likely to do so in the near future, because the resources available to it are already committed to biological research in the hope of completely eradicating other Australia-wide pests. The problem presented by rats in the cane sugar fields is very largely confined to Queensland and therefore is very largely a Queensland problem. It might well be that even if the C.S.I.R.O. could acquire funds for research into this particular field the Department of Agriculture and Stock in Queensland would regard the C.S.I.R.O.. as interfering. However, the C.S.I.R.O. would be prepared to give all possible assistance and advice to the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock, should that department ask for them.
– Is the Acting Minister for Trade now in a position to explain the difference between the value of wheat exports of £106,200,000 for the period July to February in 1961-62 and only £68,000,000 for the period July to February in this financial year, as shown in the April issue of the Treasury Information Bulletin? This is a matter about which I interrogated the Minister last Thursday.
– When I turned up the Treasury Information Bulletin the first thing that I found was that the honorable senator’s quotation was correct. Having established that, 1 sought information as to the reason for the difference mentioned. I found that in July, 1961, the carry-over of wheat from the previous season was 61,000,000 bushels and that in November, 1962, the carry-over was only 17,000,000 bushels. Because of that, sales were lower in the latter period than sales in the same period in 1961-62. lt is not without interest that the value of sales of wheat and flour for the month of March was £2,000;000 higher this year than it was in 1962 and that at the beginning of this financial year our stocks were very low.
– Has the Acting Minister for Trade read the report of a statement, made on .several occasions by the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Reece, who is at present in South-East Asia, advocating Australian participation in a South-East Asian free-trade bloc? In view of the great difference between the standards of living of Australia and those of South-East Asian countries, will the Minister say how far, in his opinion, this is a practicable proposition, and what consideration has been given to it by the Government?
– I have read with some interest the repeated statements of the Premier of Tasmania, as leader of the Tasmanian mission to South-East Asia, on the desirability or possibility of establishing a common market area. I do not think that Mr. Reece said explicitly that there should be a free-trade area. Undoubtedly, of course, we shall be trading more and more with this area. Our trade with it is increasing every day. Australia is becoming more and more a base for the supply of not only agricultural products but also manufactured products to South-East Asia. Sales at the Australian trade fair in Japan are indicative of the great increase in trade with this area. I regret that Mr. Reece was not a little more explicit, because in that area the term “ common market “ has particular reference to the situation in Europe, where work is proceeding towards duty-free trade eventually between the countries that form the European Common Market. Apparently the Premier of Tasmania has not, in his advocacy of a common market, given real consideration to the effect upon Australian manufacturing of a free-trade area in the south-west Pacific. I think it is obvious that his understanding of a common market is not the understanding of those countries through which he is travelling.
– I should like a heart to heart talk with the Leader of the Government in the Senate, but in order to conform with the Standing Orders I shall put what I have to say in the form of a question. With your permission, Mr. President, I should like to state that last week I raised a matter of cruel injustice to a citizen of Queensland, whose tools of trade, in the form of a truck, have been taken from him. His wife and ten children are on the verge of starvation and he has had to go on the dole. I know that the Minister is a bighearted Australian. Will he help me to expedite consideration of the welfare of this citizen by bringing personal influence to bear on the Attorney-General, with a request that he take immediate action to resolve this matter and see, if possible, that the truck is returned to this man, so that he may go on with his job as a hawker, and thus provide sustenance for his wife and ten children, without having to rely upon the State for such sustenance?
– I can only say to Senator Brown that I shall bring the matter to the notice of the AttorneyGeneral. Whether he can act in the way suggested is another matter because, I suppose, the proceedings have been taken according to the law.
– Is the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation recall representations made by me in 1959 when I asked that the two main civil airlines grant concessional air fares to Tasmanian students at mainland university medical schools when they are travelling between those schools and their home State? Does he know whether the airlines are reconsidering their earlier refusal to grant this concession? If they are not, will he ask them to discuss the proposal again? I remind him that the concession is requested only because of the lack of a medical school at’ the University of Tasmania.
– I well remember the honorable senator bringing this matter to my notice. It is one in which he has displayed a continuing interest over a long period. The airlines recently conferred again about the proposal. Following their further conferences, and eventually reference of the matter to the rationalization commitee, it has been decided that there shall be a liberalization of concessions to university students by making them available to students of an age greater than nineteen years, which is the age now prescribed. The concessions will apply during vacations to university students and other kinds of students. I prefer to take a little time to look at the minutes in relation to other aspects of the matter and to inform the honorable senator about them rather more fully by letter.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the report that the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has stated that the remission of the accumulating fines imposed upon waterside workers is a matter for the Parliament to decide? Does he not interpret this suggestion as being an appeal to the Government to end the industrial turmoil on the Sydney waterfront which has been caused by mounting fines?
– I would not’ interpret the suggestion as being an appeal to the Government to do anything of that kind. If Senator Ormonde is suggesting that a government should readily interfere to upset the decisions of a court on industrial matters, I would regard it as being a very strange suggestion indeed.
– Has the Minister for National Development studied the report of a survey by the Bureau of Census and Statistics which reveals that the average weekly earnings of men employed in mining and quarrying is .£28.99 compared with an average of £24.64 for all industrial groups? Is it fair to say that a stable coal industry is just about the best industry in which a man could work and that that is why so many people wish to obtain employment in the industry?
– I do not think anybody would dispute that coal-mining is hard work. But we can take a great deal of satisfaction from the fact that the transformation which has occurred in the coal-mining industry in the form of increased mechanization and a greater output per man shift has been accompanied by a higher level of wages. The men have obtained a share of the benefit of improved conditions in the industry. I think it is correct to say that the average weekly wage in the industry is now £30. Coal-mining is one of the most highly paid occupations in the Commonwealth.
– I should like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether he has seen a press report to the. effect that there is claimed to be in existence a secret agreement between the Government of the United States of America, and the Australian Government regarding the control of the transmitting and receiving station proposed to be established at North West Cape in Western Australia?
– I have seen the report to which Senator Scott has referred and I can say that no secret agreement of this kind has been entered into. The Minister for External Affairs has stated that in the course of negotiations on this matter a number of things were considered and discussed. The United States Government, for instance, did, during these negotiations, insist on the right of control of this station. The Australian Government, in its turn, insisted on the right of consultation under Article 3 of the agreement. Conversations on this point were held to clarify the fact that Australia’s right of consultation, does not carry with it the right of a veto or the right of detracting from United States control. That was agreed between the Minister for External Affairs and the United States representative. This, in fact, was made public in the speech of the Minister for External Affairs who made it clear that the United States has control of the station. It is possible that this might be the basis of some such report as Mr. Calwell put out. If so, the fertile mind of the Leader of the Opposition in another place has got from this as ridiculous an assertion as those he has made on other aspects of this matter.
– Has the Acting Minister for Defence received a letter from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia expressing concern at the lack of adequate air and sea defences in Western Australia? In order to allay these fears which are extensively held in Western Australia, will the Minister have a statement on defence prepared and presented to the Senate before the end of this parliamentary session?
– I have received no such written representations from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. Last week I received a deputation from the league which presented a number of views to me in relation to the general subject of defence. I presume that the honorable senator may have been referring to a letter which was forwarded by the Australian Legion of Exservicemen and Women and which received some publicity in the Western Australian press over the week-end. If that is so, I have received such a letter in my capacity as Minister for Civil Aviation but not in my capacity as Acting Minister for Defence. No doubt such a letter is in the mail and will reach me in due course. A full and comprehensive statement on defence will be made before the Parliament rises.
– Has the
Minister representing the Treasurer seen the editorial which appeared on the front page of the “ Daily Mirror “ yesterday headed, “ Stop This Damn Nonsense “ relating to the naming of the new decimal coinage? If so, will the Minister advise his Cabinet colleagues that the sentiments expressed in that article have, without doubt, the whole-hearted approval of the majority of the Australian people? If he has not seen the editorial will he secure a copy for presentation to his colleagues in
Cabinet, making sure that he gives them the same information?
– I must confess at once that I have not seen the article with the rather intriguing headline to which Senator Fitzgerald has referred. I do not know whether my Cabinet colleagues have seen it. In view of the light-hearted nature of the headline, I doubt whether the contents of the article would command much attention. Cabinet is giving consideration to this matter and when it has reached its decision it will make an announcement in the ordinary way, having given due and proper consideration to all aspects of the matter. I can assure the honorable senator that, in the end, Cabinet will choose names for the coinage which will reflect more dignity than the article from which the has quoted.
– In addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, I wish to refer to a statement purported to have been made by Mr. Calwell when speaking at Port Pirie last night in which he claimed that the Commonwealth Government believed in having a pool of unemployed. In fact, he stated that at the moment there is more unemployment in Australia than there has been at any time since the 1930’s. I should like to ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the proportion of unemployed in the population is about 2 per cent. What was the percentage of unemployed during the June quarter of 1949? What was the percentage of unemployed in Australia during the 1930’s when Mr. Scullin was the Prime Minister of Australia?
– A number of figures have been asked for, running considerably into the past. I cannot with complete accuracy give them to the Senate.
– Why not?
– Because I cannot remember them. Why do you think? But Senator Scott’s question was based on the fact that Mr. Calwell had stated that we have a greater pool of unemployed in this country than we have had at any time since the 1930’s. I can only regard this as another example of his fertile mind running riot; or, as 1 think that even he has more sense than to believe this is so, it is possible that his speech was written for him by the 36 faceless men who dictate Australian Labour Party policy. It is quite clear that unemployment figures which have been compiled in exactly the same way for the last couple of decades show that about 2 per cent, of the work force is unemployed.
– O.K. Adolf.
– Order! Senator Sandford will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it with apologies to Adolf.
– Order! Senator Sandford will withdraw unreservedly the remark.
– I withdraw the remark.
– In reply to the statement by Mr. Calwell that at present there is more unemployment in Australia than there has been at any time since the 1930’s, I would say that these figures are compiled on the same basis as they have been compiled for the past two decades. Surely the Leader of the Opposition must know that in the 1930’s the percentage of unemployed must have reached somewhere about 30 per cent, in the worst depths of the depression. Clearly, to say we have more unemployment, now is just fantastic.
Furthermore, my mind goes back, not to the particular quarter of 1949 when, under the Labour Government, there was such great unemployment - because at that time the Labour Government had the excuse that there was a coal strike which radically inflated the statistics - but to the period subsequent to that when unemployment was running at some 5 to 7 per cent. Then one of the members of the present executive of the Labour Party, Mr. Haylen, said that this was to all intents and purposes full employment, and he was very satisfied with the position. Honorable senators opposite are interjecting. I thank the Opposition for the interest it has taken in the answer which I have given to the question asked by one of its members.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the Royal Institute of Technology has rejected more than 300 qualified science students and 137 engineering students because of lack of accommodation and training facilities? Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a report appearing in the Melbourne “ Sun “ to-day that W. D. and H. O. Wills (Australia) Limited have offered the Victorian Department of Education a suitable building on better than reasonable terms but, according to Mr. McKay, Director of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the Director of Education had not sufficient funds to accept the offer? Will the Minister consult with the Victorian authorities with a view to giving assistance in these special circumstances for industrial and technical education?
– To the best of my knowledge - and I speak subject to correction - the institute to which the honorable senator has referred is entirely under the control of the Victorian Government. If the honorable senator’s proposition is that the Commonwealth Government should make more money available directly to this institute all I can say is that that would be contrary to the financial arrangements that have prevailed for years between the States and the Commonwealth. If the suggestion is that the Commonwealth should tell Victoria that the money made available to it in such large quantities - and it is made available in large and increasing quantities - should be directed to this or that particular work, that would be regarded also by Victoria as an infringement of its sovereignty. So I do . not think this question really comes under the administration of the Minister for Labour and National Service.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service inform the Senate what was the percentage of unemployed when the Menzies-Fadden Government went out of office in 1941 after two years of war? Is it not a fact that there were then 250,000 unemployed?
– As I indicated in reply to similar questions earlier, my recollection of the exact percentages of persons unemployed twenty to 30 years ago is not accurate. All I do know is that there is at present a far lower level of unemployment than there was when the present Government came into office.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice - .
With reference to the recent decision of the Government to grant a Sydney television licence to United Telecasters Sydney Limited, a company of which the promoter was Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and in which Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and Email Limited are substantial shareholders -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
In committee: Consideration resumed from 8th May (vide page 332).
Postponed clause 3.
– Mr. Chairman, I was responsible for moving that the committee report progress and ask leave to sit again. I did that so that the Government might have an opportunity to consider the desirability of including in this bill provision to permit the enforcement of maintenance and affiliation orders. The bill does make provision for service of process in those matters, and I would have anticipated that the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who is in charge of this bill, would have been prepared to indicate the result of the Government’s further consideration. If the Minister were in a position to indicate that, I think the committee might proceed.
.- The AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has availed himself of the time available since consideration of this clause was postponed to re-examine whether he thinks it is right and proper, and whether he thinks it would be of advantage, to insert into the bill new provisions enabling a degree of uniformity in the execution of orders for maintenance and affiliation. He has, after reflection, come to the conclusion that he should not seek to interpose these measures into this bill. The reasons that he has given, so far as I. understand them - I hope the committee will pardon any imprecise legal phraseology I may use - are, first, that he believes that this end, which I think we are all seeking, can best be achieved by the provision of uniform State acts. As the Senate knows, the Attorneys-General, the draftsmen and the legal officers of the various States, are all, as we are, imbued with the belief that the present methods of collecting amounts due under maintenance orders are too confused, too diffuse and too difficult. In order to correct them, for about the last eighteen months State representatives have conferred in an endeavour to arrive at a formula which could be enacted by each State. This would introduce uniform practice on this matter throughout Australia. The drafting of these proposals at the State level has progressed quite some considerable distance. The Commonwealth has been represented at the conferences that have been held, and it is expected that perhaps as early as June some agreed uniform legislation will be ratified by the various State Attorneys-General. This, I gather, our Attorney-General regards for many reasons as a better method of attaining uniformity.
As 1 understand it, the Attorney-General claims that we cannot, through federal law, obtain uniformity throughout Australia. We can - again, as I understand it - impose by federal law on State courts the obligation to collect amounts owing under maintenance orders of other States. It is probable, though not certain, that we could by federal law tell those States what matters they had to take into consideration and what rules they had to follow should there be an application for variation of such a maintenance order. I am given to understand that this is a matter upon which there is some constitutional doubt, but it may well be that that could be done by federal law. If that were so, constitutionally wc probably could not impose on these State courts by federal law an obligation to collect in the future. They could collect arrears of maintenance which were at that stage owing, but I gather that the Attorney-General believes that it is doubtful whether the Commonwealth could impose on a State court from then on an obligation to collect weekly or monthly payments.
Again, there would still be in existence in Australia two sets of maintenance laws, because whatever we did by way of federal law to make an order of one State collectable in another State, and whatever rules we might lay down by which amounts owing under an order made in one State could be collected in another State, we could not lay down rules or laws in this matter which would be effective intra-State. So, uniformity could still be lacking. A man against whom a maintenance order had been made in New South Wales would, we suggest, be treated in Victoria under the federal law in a different way from that in which he would be treated if he were to return to New South Wales. This would be overcome if the State Attorneys-General could each bring in a uniform act.
When the final draft of an agreement between the Attorneys-General is reached, if there is any assistance which the federal law can give in any field outside the scope of any State law, and if the States wish to refer to the Federal Government particular matters which would be applicable interstate or intra-state, the Federal Government, because it has recognized that this problem should be overcome, would do what it could in conjunction with the States to overcome it. For the reasons I have attempted to explain, the Attorney-General believes that the end we all seek can be better attained by the States getting together and passing uniform laws, and that it cannot be wholly attained even if we pass a federal law on the subject. That is the position as it stands at the moment.
– 1 have listened with interest to what has been said by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), but I feel that the arguments which he has placed before the Senate are not at all convincing. A bill has been introduced to amend the Service and Execution of Process Act. Through no fault of the Minister, a most important policy has been embarked upon. 1 refer to the policy to retreat from the field of enforcement of maintenance orders throughout the Commonwealth. There was no indication in the Minister’s second-reading speech that such a policy was to be entered upon. Again, no blame attaches to him.
During the discussions at the committee stage in this chamber we have discovered what the position is. The bill proposes an amendment of a definition and this will affect section 20 of the act. In itself, that may not be so important, but what is important is that the Commonwealth is abdicating its responsibility in this field. Yet, the enforcement throughout the Commonwealth of the judgments of the courts of the States is the special field of responsibility of the Commonwealth Parliament. We referred earlier in the discussion to the “ full faith and credit “ section of the Constitution, which is section 118, and to the placita of section 51 which enable this Parliament to make laws for the purpose of ensuring that the judgments of the courts of the States may be executed throughout the Commonwealth. Maintenance orders are judgments of the courts of the States.
One of the other placita of section 51 provides for this Parliament to enable process of the courts of the States to be served interstate. Something is therefore being done in this field, and has been covered in the act, to enable service of process. But, Mr. Chairman, I am not at all satisfied with the reasons that have been advanced for this abdication of Commonwealth responsibility concerning enforcements. We have not been told that the Commonwealth cannot provide for the enforcement interstate of these maintenance orders. I think every one in the chamber will agree, after the discussion that took place when the bill was last being considered by the committee, and after having heard what the Minister had to say to-day, that the position is unsatisfactory in that provision for such enforcement is to be left to the States. Fancy legislating through six legislative bodies, so that on every occasion that trouble occurs it is necessary for those six legislative bodies, most of which have two chambers, to go through the whole process again. It is absolutely nonsensical to adopt such a course if there is any other course we can adopt. That is why it was intended by those who framed the Constitution, that this Parliament should carry out the task.
I should like to refer the committee to what has been said by the High Court of Australia in connexion with this legislative power under section 51 of the Constitution, concerning the enforcement of interstate orders. The Full High Court dealt with the matter in the case of Aston v. Irvine, which is reported in volume 92 of the “ Commonwealth Law Reports “.
– What kind of an order was that?
– The case concerned the bringing of a person interstate in connexion with a gaming offence in South Australia. The Minister may be familiar with it. I propose to refer the committee not to the particular situation concerned in that case but to what was said by the Full High Court in respect of this legislative power. At page 364 of the “ Commonwealth Law Reports “, in the joint judgment, the court was referring to the power given by placitum (xxiv.) of section 51, which provides that the Commonwealth may make laws with respect to the service and execution throughout the Commonwealth of the civil and criminal process and the judgments of the courts of the States. The High Court stated -
The nature of this power, as well as the prior history of the subject to which it relates, provides strong ground for interpreting it as enabling the federal legislature to regulate the manner in which officers of the law in one State should act wilh reference ‘ to the execution of the process of another State. It is a legislative power given to the central legislature for the very purpose of securing the enforcement of the civil and criminal process of each State in every other State. It is given to the central legislature because before federation it had been found that territorial limitations upon colonial power made the effective reciprocal action of the colonies in this field difficult, to the point of impossibility.
The situation being the same, the colonies which are now States have endeavoured in their way to provide for such enforcement, but they are not able to do so satisfactorily. Why, even in 1960 the New South Wales Parliament amended its Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Act. . To-day, the Minister agreed that the position was not satisfactory and that further steps would have to be taken.
It is unthinkable that we should leave the matter as it is at present and not do something about it. Why was not the Senate consulted? Why was not the position put clearly before this chamber? After all, it is not the Attorneys-General who. are making the law. The legislative chambers in this Parliament are doing so. Why were we not informed of whatever constitutional and administrative difficulties there might be and given an opportunity to determine what should be done in this field, and whether or not we should abdicate it? This is an important matter, Mr. Chairman. It affects many people and it affects also the revenues of the Commonwealth. It has a bearing on all kinds of administrative procedures. Therefore, we should give it great consideration before we abdicate the field.
Apparently, what is envisaged is some permanent step to take us out of this field for many years, or until there is a breakdown again and the people become so utterly dissatisfied that there is a demand for this legislature to carry out its responsibilities. The Senate ought not to allow such a position to develop. The Government should face its responsibility to introduce a measure which will deal with the situation in the best possible way. If there is anything in these suggested constitutional difficulties, which I doubt very much, let the matter be tested. It is so important that we cannot retreat from the shadows of possible constitutional difficulties. Let us legislate and see whether we can clear up the mess, instead of allowing it to continue year after year. I again ask that the Government introduce legislation which will enable this Parliament to carry out the responsibilities which have been vested in it by the Constitution.
.- There is little that I wish to add to what I said before, except to direct attention to one or two words used by Senator Murphy in his recent speech which I think were improperly used. He talked of the Commonwealth Government abdicating something or retreating from a position. That, of course, is not the case at all. The Commonwealth Government is not giving up some power which it is at present exercising. It is not retreating from a position which it at present occupies. There is not now, and has not been, a use of federal power to enforce processes of other courts in this particular field of maintenance. Since there never has been such power the Commonwealth cannot be said to be abdicating, or retreating from a position.
– It is retreating from its responsibility.
– That is probably what the honorable senator meant, but it is not what he said. I just wanted to clear up the position that the Commonwealth is not removing itself from a field in which it was previously engaged.
– I was using the term in the proper sense of power and not in regard to legislation. I was speaking of an abdication of power.
– The complaint was about something which the Commonwealth does not do. I make the point that this power has not been used. I cannot see what advantage there would be in the Commonwealth Government’s at this stage entering this field. Everything which the honorable senator wants to see done would be done if uniform laws on this matter were passed by all the States.
– Depending upon what form they took.
– From the point of view of uniformity it might be that he or any other individual could object to a particular aspect of a law, whether it were a federal law or a law passed by a conjunction of the States; but the attainment of the tidying-up process, the attainment of uniformity, which is the basic thesis that, I think, the honorable senator is quite properly advancing, would be gained by a uniform act by all the States better than by federal action alone, because uniform acts by the States would not only make interstate processes uniform but would also make intra-state processes uniform, so that throughout the whole of Australia we would have uniformity. Whether an action took place inside a State or whether it took place in another State the order could be enforced. There is no legal difficulty in the way of the Commonwealth Government’s passing a law to enable a court in a State to collect - in the sense in which Senator Murphy has referred to it - a maintenance order, that maintenance order having been made in another State. What would then happen would be that the person who was due to pay a maintenance order made in New South Wales, for example, would be called before a Victorian court. By virtue of a federal law that we might pass he could be forced to pay all arrears of maintenance owing under the New South Wales order. I am told that there is no question about the capacity to do that.
I am told also that in most of the orders for maintenance the original order is sought to be varied by the husband. An order having been made in New South Wales, and the husband being in Victoria, he will go before the Victorian Court and say in effect: “An order was made in New South Wales requiring me to pay £5 a week to my wife, but for the last two or three months I have been ill and unable to go to work, therefore I am in a different financial position from that in which I was when this order was made. T cannot meet the order. I am still ill and I ask the court to take that into consideration and to vary this maintenance order.” There is some doubt whether under federal law the Victorian court could be told to vary such an order or told what it should take into consideration when varying it. If all the court could do were to collect the amount fixed by the order of the first court, the effect would be that a man who was sick or unemployed would have no option but to pay the full amount owing, or go to gaol - which would do him no good, his wife no good or the country no good.
If that difficulty could be overcome - and it is a constitutional difficulty which the Attorney-General regards as being of some significance - that would be another step forward. But you could then be in the position of having a field of federal law applicable only in the case of a person outside the State in which the original order was made. There would be six different fields of State law applicable, each in a particular State, which could result in a person’s being arraigned under different conditions. If he were in another State he would be in a different position from the one he would be in if he were in the State in which the original order was made. That could lead to all sorts of anomalies. They would all be overcome if there were uniform State laws throughout the Commonwealth. Then there would be no such difficulties.
I do not believe that these maintenance orders have ever been enforceable under the parent act in the sense in which other civil judgments are enforceable. In the first debate that we had on this matter Senator Murphy referred to a definition in clause 3 - the clause which is now before us - which excludes from the definition of “ suit “ a suit for maintenance purposes. He asked whether that would have any effect on section 20 of the parent act. Section 20 of the parent act reads -
Any person in whose favour a judgment is given or made, whether before or after the commencement of this Act, in a suit by any Court of Record of any State or part of the Commonwealth, may obtain from the prothonotary or registrar or other proper officer of such Court a certificate of such judgment . . .
I think that Senator Murphy was asking whether the variation of the definition of *’ suit “ in order to exclude a maintenance suit would affect this section and would prevent maintenance orders under this section being enforced in the way that the section sets out they should be. I a that the answer to that is that under Section any maintenance order in fact can be enforced.
– Can you tell me whether that is because of the reference to courts of record?
– I gather not. I am told that there are three judgments on this matter. The honorable senator might be interested to hear the words of the judge in this connexion. There is the case of Davies v. Davies 1922, 22 New South Wales Law Reports and another case reported in 55 Queensland Law Reports. In the case of Winchcombe v. Winchcombe the judge said -
A maintenance order is not an order for the final payment of a sum of money. The order is not self-contained so that the court cannot ascertain what exact amount is owing and I think that this is a pre-requisite of execution under the Service and Execution of Process Act.
So I gather that this does not refer to courts of record. I wished to clear up that point, because it was raised earlier. As for the rest, it seems to me to be very largely a matter of judgment, rather than of law, as to whether the ends we seek can best be met by uniform law, unquestionably constitutional both intra-state and interstate, or whether they can be met - and they can be met only in a partial manner - by the passage of a federal law such as has been suggested. My own judgment - and I hope the judgment of the Senate - is that the position can best be met by concerted action. So far as a legal judgment can be applied, I can only tell the Senate the legal judgment of the Attorney-General in this matter, and indicate that it does make sense to me.
.- This matter involves not only a legal question but also, I believe, a question of very great national importance to a large section of our community. That question is the effective enforcement of maintenance orders in favour of complainants, who are women and children, against husbands who have gone interstate after a court order has been made. When I tell you, Mr. Chairman, that these women are, through an inability to enforce interstate maintenance orders, at present receiving widows’ pensions to the amount of £2,900,000 a year, the importance of the issue not only to that section of the community but also to the Treasury appears.
– Is that not mostly because husbands have not been found rather than because when they have been found the wives have been unable to enforce maintenance orders?
– I am not in possession of an analysis of the causes, but knowing as I do from my practice of the law the disposition on the part of magistrates to heed all the excuses - on which the Minister has been so fully instructed - as to why husbands should not pay, I believe that a large part of that liability accrues to the Commonwealth Treasury through ineffective enforcement of the law. Where a maintenance order is transferred interstate, a magistrate puts a woman complainant, following a judgment, in the position of having to go interstate and incur expenses which, by hypothesis, she is not able to incur, to prove that she is still in need of maintenance that has been ordered her in the original State. We have a degree of discretion exercised by interstate magistrates because of the language in which the State enforcement provisions - the reciprocal provisions in relation to which Senator Murphy made apposite reference to comment from the High Court itself - are couched. I have said that this is not merely a legal matter; it is a matter of real national importance. It is also a matter of human justice, because there is great resentment on the part of women in the community at the non-enforcement of these orders interstate and the facility with which men can escape interstate from that enforcement. This chamber, with its special representation of women, is under a duty to take a special interest in this matter.
The Minister was good enough to advert to the different situation that would arise if the federal act included a provision for interstate enforcement of maintenance orders in a particular State - say New South Wales - to which application was made to enforce a Tasmanian maintenance order. He said that if we had a federal law requiring a Tasmanian order to be executed in New South Wales, two inconsistent provisions would obtain in respect of maintenance orders in New South Wales.
That is not necessarily so. The federal law could say what enforcement was to be given to the interstate order; it would be for the New South Wales legislature, in its wisdom, to apply the laxer provisions to its own orders, if it desired to do so. But we are not interested in inconsistency, as such. We are interested, so far as we have power to legislate, in marking effective the interstate enforcement of these orders.
Senator Murphy has demonstrated that we have the power, and the Minister has conceded that there is no real doubt about the power or its ambit. He indicated later that the Attorney-General had doubt as to whether or not the State to which the judgment was sent for enforcement could vary the order, but there is no need to consider that in any way, shape or form. All the Minister’s arguments, I submit, are answered if further consideration is given to part IV. of the Service and Execution of Process Act, which is the part that we all wish to be applied to maintenance orders. I, for my part, would want it to be equipped with better teeth. Section 20 says nothing about a final order. If there is some Queensland decision that a maintenance order, because of the lack of finality, does not come within this, we want better authority than that. Section 21 (3.) protects the wandering husband to the extent that the maintenance order cannot be transferred interstate for enforcement, except by leave of New South Wales, after a lapse of twelve months from the date of the order. Section 24 prescribes that the New South Wales court to which the order is sent for enforcement has the same control and jurisdiction over the judgment as if the judgment were a New South Wales judgment. Section 25, at present, provides that the court in which the certificate has been registered, or a judge, may, on application of the defendant, order a stay of proceedings. That is all that the husband wants for his protection, if he comes along and says that he has been ill for the past three months. Further, this section already makes transferable interstate judgments of courts of petty sessions under section 22 (c), when courts of petty sessions have given a judgment for recovery civilly of a sum of money. The execution available to enforce that civil judgment in a court of petty sessions is attachment of a debt or issue of a warrant of execution to sell the goods and chattels and lands of the defendant - property process. In 1870, England abolished the penal process for recovery of debt except in certain cases, where it is a matter of fraud on the part of the defendant to continue to default.
In all jurisdictions it is common, where one seeks to enforce payment of a civil debt, except against the property of the debtor, for a judge or magistrate to hear evidence about the reasons for non-payment and, unless he is satisfied that the debtor has had means with which to pay since the date of the judgment, for him not to order the issue of any personal penal process for recovery of the amount. I should be surprised if that was not the law in every State in Australia. Therefore, whatever anxiety and solicitude we may have for the husband who has wandered interstate, who for two or three years has never thought of paying anything to satisfy a maintenance order made in the State that he has left, and who has then been found, that man is protected under Part IV. of the legislation which we want to have applied to such judgments. The court to which the maintenance order would be transferred is asked, first, to give leave in any case where a judgment is being registered more than twelve months after the date upon which it was made. The court to which it was transferred would have the same control and jurisdiction as it would have if it were its own judgment, and it would have specific leave to slay proceedings.
When personal execution of a judgment delivered by a court of petty sessions is sought interstate, I, with my British intuition, would be prepared to assert that at the present time a court has ample power to protect the defendant and is required, in the absence of fraud, not to imprison him unless there is proof of sufficient means. I should think such an examination of the situation demands that the Commonwealth legislature should give to these maintenance orders such effective interstate execution as it has the power to give - if not in substitution of the reciprocal provisions of the State laws, then by ancillary provisions. 1 realize the difficulty that would be experienced in drawing an amendment that would permit the early passage of the bill. If the Minister for the Navy will assure the committee that, if we pass the bill now, an appropriate amendment will be forthcoming in the future, as far as I am concerned the measure need not be further delayed. But I submit that the considerations which I have raised require this legislature to provide all the powers for effective execution of maintenance orders that it has the constitutional authority to confer.
.- The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) was good enough to place before the committee the reasons which no doubt had been furnished to him by the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). It is quite clear that the alteration to the definition of “ suit “ in clause 3 was designed to make it quite certain that there would be no provision in the Service and Execution of Process Act for the enforcement of maintenance or affiliation orders.
– To what part of the bill is the honorable senator referring?
– I am referring to the. definition of “ suit “ in clause 3. I claim that the exclusion of maintenance and affiliation orders from the operation of the act amounts to a clear decision by the Government not to make any provision for the enforcement of such orders. In other words, it has really sought to avoid that possibility altogether.
The Minister has indicated a desire for uniformity and has argued that that could best be achieved through the States. I point out to the honorable senator that we are dealing with only two aspects of the legislation - the service of a process, and the execution of it. In relation to maintenance and affiliation orders, the Government has gone half way in that it has provided facilities, which this bill is designed to improve, for the service of processes, but it destroys the uniformity by declining to take any action in favour of deserted wives and children for the enforcement of orders they may have obtained. It seems to me that, if the Commonwealth is concerned about uniformity, it would not go only half way in relation to maintenance orders but would, if it is argued that uniformity can best be achieved by State acts, abstain altogether. Why is the Commonwealth butting into this matter of the service of a process?
The Minister has said that the States have been conferring for eighteen months in the hope of reaching uniformity on this matter and that they expect to achieve it in June. We are now close to the end of May. So I suggest that a proper interpretation of what the Minister has said is that uniformity will be achieved within the next few weeks. He has indicated that, if the States then need Commonwealth help, it will be forthcoming. In these circumstances, why did the Government not await the conclusion of these deliberations and a full consideration of the results achieved by the States, with the Commonwealth filling any gaps which needed to be filled, before introducing a bill in relation to the main purpose for which there is no hurry at all?
The main purpose of the measure is to enable the States - that means the State governments - to collect fines interstate to supplement State budgets. I find it difficult to understand why the Government has decided to help the States to collect fines for the benefit of State revenues rather than interest itself in the full question of maintenance and affiliation orders, and why it is negating any Commonwealth action in relation to the enforcement of those orders. Having regard to the sequence of current events - the talks between State Ministers and their conference with the AttorneyGeneral - and the possibility of a decision within a few weeks, it would seem to me to be wise to postpone further consideration of the bill and to let the more important matter of the enforcement of maintenance and affiliation orders be determined by the measure. We are not asking for a complete transfer of jurisdiction by the Commonwealth in relation to maintenance matters from one State to another. The idea that the committee has in mind is that there should be uniform laws for the enforcement of orders throughout Australia. I do not think that anybody can argue that the Commonwealth has not the fullest power to act in that matter. It has been argued from this side that it has the responsibility. I support that view. So I should be quite happy - and I am sure that every member of the Opposition would be happy - if the Minister would give a firm assurance that, in the next session, the Government, after considering the position further, will legislate for the enforcement of these orders. We would rest content with that. If the Minister is not prepared to give that assurance the Opposition would not favour the passage of this bill and, in opposing it, we would not feel we were doing any grave damage in the community and holding up uniform facile laws for State governments to enforce their fines in the interim. I hope that the Minister, in the light of the discussions we have had to-day, will see the wisdom of having uniformity not merely in relation to the service of maintenance orders, but, more particularly, in the more important aspects of enforcement. This Parliament does not lack power to do that.
– I should like to deal with one or two points in reply to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). First, I think I should point out that this bill has been brought in to enable the collection in one State of fines imposed by courts in another State. This is the primary objective of this bill. Senator McKenna has described this as purely a measure to assist the State treasuries. In fact, it is far more than that. It is a measure to enable the execution in one State of a sentence, after proper juridical process, imposed in another State. It would, of course, assist State treasuries in that fines properly imposed by judicial process could be more quickly and more cheaply collected should this bill be passed. But it also would provide assistance to an individual who happened to be brought before a court in a State other than the State in which a fine had been imposed upon him. At the present moment, should he find difficulty in paying the fine, he would have to be brought back to the State in which the fine had originally been imposed. Then, even if he were acquitted, he would be left to find his way, at his own cost, back to the State in which he was apprehended. This bill would give both the State and the individual assistance in such cases.
I had not thought that this bill would attract any objections from any quarter as far as it has gone. It makes provision to enable uniform service of process in maintenance cases. The definition to which Senator McKenna has referred in clause 3 was treated in the way it is for no other purpose than to clear up a lack of uniformity which had crept into the laws governing the service of these processes as a result of a decision by the Supreme Court of Victoria. That decision was completely and utterly different from a decision of the Supreme Court of South Australia. Because of the decision by the Victorian court, this power over uniform serving of processes which has been used and exercized under federal law since the first Parliament, hitherto in a uniform way, was made nonuniform and the service of Victorian processes interstate has been affected by it. So opportunity is being taken in this bill to rectify that position and, once more, to make the service of processes as it was before the Victorian court’s decision.
This attempt at uniformity has led to a debate on a completely different matter altogether which is the actual collection of maintenance orders - things which are not dealt with under the section to which Senator Wright adverted so strongly, his arguments being devoted to the collection of ordinary civil debts. These maintenance orders have been held by the Supreme courts of both New South Wales and Queensland - Senator Wright referred to a possible Queensland decision - as not relating to ordinary civil debts but to variable amounts which must vary according to the circumstances of the man who is called upon to pay them. Senator Wright mentioned - and it is true - that we could bring in a federal law on this matter and it would be open to the New South Wales Government to apply laxer or sterner measures inside its own field. The honorable senator said that was not consistency. It is, and we are concerned to avoid inconsistency. We believe that the only way to avoid that sort of inconsistency is to have through the State parliaments an agreement for a uniform law, interstate and intra-state, throughout Australia, which will meet all the objections that we have without altering the law as it has existed before.
I cannot give a firm undertaking that, at the next session of Parliament, there will be federal legislation on this matter. It may well be that by the next session of Parliament there will be unifom legislation on the collection of maintenance orders throughout the whole of Australia which will be applicable both interstate and intra-state. In that case, what reason would there be for federal legislation, our objectives having been met? Should the States seek the assistance of federal law, the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) will assist them to the best of his ability and to the best of our legal ability to bring about that complete uniformity which I think we are now approaching. I am afraid that I cannot give the precise, definite undertaking for which the Leader of the Opposition has asked.
– Mr. Chairman, I should like to put these further matters before honorable senators. First of all, there is the question of uniformity. Let us be clear. The general field of maintenance is thought to lie with the States. I refer to maintenance and affiliation apart from matters of marriage and divorce. So it is not a matter for the responsibility of the Commonwealth Parliament. Why should the enforcement throughout the Commonwealth of the judgment of the courts of the States in respect of maintenance and affiliation depend at all on uniformity in State legislation? Why should the States have to have uniform legislation in order to. have enforcement interstate of their orders when the Constitution provides that full faith and credit shall be given throughout the Commonwealth to .the judgments of the States and this Parliament is enabled to make laws for the execution throughout the Commonwealth of the judgments of the courts of the States?
Incidentally, although it does not seem to me to be of any great importance, I wish to say something about the question which the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has raised of the existence of some difference between what may be done intrastate and interstate. For what it is worth, I invite his attention to the provision of the Constitution which states that the Commonwealth shall have power to make laws with respect to the service and execution throughout the Commonwealth of the civil and criminal process. It refers to service and execution throughout the Commonwealth. The relevant section does not use the words “ outside the State in question “. It uses the words “ throughout the Commonwealth “. It is Commonwealth-wide. So if the Parliament were disposed to make uniform provision inside the particular
State it is possible that that could be done. But that does not seem to me to be of any great importance. A State can be entitled to do what it likes inside its own borders - and, indeed, that is recognized in the other provisions of this bill. We do not hear any statement that fines cannot be enforced outside a State, or that there is some great difficulty because of this problem; yet it is clear that a person is treated differently outside a State than he is inside it. He is arraigned, I think, to use the words of the Minister, in a different way outside the State than inside the State.
With respect to the Minister, this does seem to be a red herring. It is intended that this constitutional power may be exercised in respect not only of criminal process but also of civil process, and maintenance orders are a very important part of civil process. If there is some problem about the definition of “ suit “ for the purposes of section 20 it is very easy to amend the section. If the problem were final orders it would be quite easy to frame_ an amendment in order to cope with that. There is no constitutional difficulty in that regard.
I ask the Minister now whether he is prepared to say, on his advice, that there are no maintenance or affiliation orders which are at present enforceable under section 20. I can conceive of affiliation orders or orders for preliminary expenses and so forth which might be final orders in which there is a definite sum stated. No doubt other honorable senators may think of other orders in the nature of maintenance or affiliation orders which come well within the terms of section 20.
There are maintenance orders of all types. There is the original order, then there is the secondary type of order, where a person is dealt with for having failed to obey the original order. It may be that the second of these is enforceable under section 20 where the first type is not enforceable. But whatever these minor problems may be, and whatever differences of interpretation or view one may take of them, the most important thing is that here is a great constitutional power expected to be used by this Parliament - and it is not being used.
What are the answers put forward? That husbands may seek to have orders varied in the States in which they are found? Where the legislation is made by the six States you will still have the same problem. If a husband is to apply in the State where he resides to vary an order that has been made in another State, you will still have the problem of having the application heard. Presumably the wife has to be heard on the application. I can see no lessening of administrative difficulties through having the legislation made by the States. In the amended Interstate Destitute Persons Relief Act of New South Wales there is provision for variation of an order which has been made in another State, but that is not to take effect until it has been confirmed. In that kind of provision there are two processes to be gone through. I see no reason at all why the court which is enforcing the judgment of a court in another State cannot be given power to suspend execution or to partially execute judgment in the same way as it is given such power in respect of fines.
Why cannot this be done in respect of civil process as well as criminal process? If it is constitutional to suspend the execution of a fine and to provide for some partial execution in respect of fines then I can conceive no real constitutional difficulty in the court of a State saying, in answer to an application by a husband who says he is unable at present to pay an amount because he is out of work, “ Very well, we will suspend execution provided you pay so much “. Or for that matter, pay nothing at all. If there are problems of arrears to be attended to, let the husband apply for a variation back in the State that made the order. That may be done without his having to go to the State concerned. For instance, evidence can be taken on commission.
Where there is a will there, is a way, and I think a number of honorable senators would share the view that instead of the Government’s seeking to find a way it is seeking to raise all sorts of difficulties. That is not the spirit in which this matter should be approached. Whatever problems there are, let us face them and study them. Let us see if we can find a way. because ultimately a way will be . found. Nobody in this chamber will doubt that ultimately the service and execution of maintenance and affiliation orders will be done under a Commonwealth statute, and the sooner we face up to the problem the sooner it will be done.
.- I have two suggestions to put before the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). I think it would be unsatisfactory if this issue were resolved on a vote as to whether or not this clause stand part of the bill, because the Minister has argued that this reference to maintenance orders is not germane to the main purpose of the bill. He has said that this is only an ancillary provision dealing with the service provisions in order to overcome a decision that had caused some difficulty as to service. It therefore seems to me - and I throw this out for consideration by the committee - that there should be an amendment of the definition of “ suit “ so as to apply the second part of that exclusion introduced by the word “ be “ except in Part IV. That is to say that the definition of “ suit “ would then read - “ suit “ means any suit, action or original proceeding between parties or in rem, but does not include -
That is not very satisfactory, but it is the best expression of the viewpoint that has been put against the Minister in this committee. I would think our decision would be better taken on an amendment in that form, and to test the feeling of the committee I move -
Tn paragraph (b) of the definition of “ suit “ after “ (b) “ insert “ except in Part IV.”.
With the exclusion to the reference to maintenance, proceedings would be seen to apply only to the service part of the bill. An affirmative vote on this would not be an indication by the Senate that we approve of the exclusion of maintenance provisions from the enforcement of the bill, as would otherwise be the case.
The other matter I wish to raise is one for the advisers of the Minister, if we could have the information through him for honorable senators. I suggest that examination be made of that sub-paragraph (b) under the definition of “ suit “ which reads - a suit, action or proceeding under a law of a State or part of the Commonwealth that makes provision with respect to the main tenance of wives, children or other persons or wilh respect to affiliation;
It will be remembered that in the Matrimonial Causes Act we prescribed grounds of divorce and dealt with sUch ancillary matters as maintenance of children and wives who have obtained divorces. 1 want to be assured that, having committed the administration of that act to the Supreme Courts of the States, there is, if this definition goes through, ample provision to make a maintenance order obtained in the divorce jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of Tasmania enforceable against a husband who moves to New South Wales - to take a concrete example of interstate execution. I have sent for a copy of the Matrimonial Causes Act to examine it myself, but it would be unfortunate if, by an untoward definition, we threw in doubt the interstate efficacy of divorce actions in which maintenance orders for wives or children are made.
– The Opposition gave some thought to an amendment of the type proposed by Senator Wright. I agree that such an amendment would preserve so much of section 20 as now might be deemed to relate to enforcement orders.
– It would prevent this bill from cutting down the application of the Service and Execution of Process Act to maintenance orders any more than is intended.
– That is right, but now I speak on the question of intention. I agree with the honorable senator about the effect of his proposal. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who is in charge of this bill, indicated a moment ago that there were two main purposes. The first was to collect fines and, incidentally, to help individuals who otherwise would be transported back to the States where their offences occurred; the other was to provide for uniformity in regard to service. As I understand the report of a conference between honorable senators on this side of the chamber and the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), the intended effect of what was done about uniformity of service was expressly to negate all possibility of using the act for the enforcement of maintenance orders.
– That is my understanding of what went on. In those circumstances I would unquestionably support the amendment that Senator Wright has proposed, because it certainly does preserve some modicum of the possibility of enforcement of maintenance orders. But I am still exceedingly unhappy about not having the position clarified, more particularly when the Minister has indicated that the thinking of the Commonwealth and the States will be resolved within a few weeks.
– I do not think he went that far, did he?
– I took a note at the time.
– I did not gather that impression.
– I did. My impression is that he put first that the purpose of enforcement could be achieved best by uniform State acts. He indicated that the State Attorneys-General had been discussing the matter for eighteen months, that the Federal Attorney-General had participated in the discussions, and that agreement was anticipated in June.
– Was hoped for.
– I take it that that means anticipated. There is some element of anticipation in your hope. I do not think we need spend a lot of time on that, but I do know that the Minister indicated a possibility that this matter be resolved in June. The Service and Execution of Process Act is a rare one to come before this chamber, and I should think that the purpose at which the Opposition is aiming, and perhaps some Government senators as well, is to be sure that the whole question of enforcement throughout Australia of maintenance and affiliation orders will be attended to, if not by the States then by the States and the Commonwealth in conjunction, or by the Commonwealth. I reject the proposal that it can be done better by the States. I think it can be done very much better by the Commonwealth. There is no argument as to power. My own feeling is that the purposes .of the committee would be far better served if it were to report progress and ask leave to sit again. I indicate that the Opposition will support Senator Wright’s amendment and that, if it is not carried, the Opposition will move that the committee report progress and ask leave to sit again. As I feel at the moment, I think that perhaps that should bc moved in any event.
– I support what was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I have referred the committee to the speech made in this chamber on 30th April, 1963, reported at page 131 of “ Hansard “, in which the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), said -
The amendments which the bill makes to the existing provisions are, excluding formal amendments, to sections 3, IS, 16 and 16a. The purpose of the amendment to section 3 is to facilitate the service .of process for the maintenance of deserted wives and children and in affiliation proceedings. The amendment to the definition of “suit” excludes proceedings for the maintenance of wives and children from section 4 and makes it quite clear that section IS applies to such a process. The necessity for the amendment is due to the fact that it has been held in some States that a maintenance summons is a process for the service of which section 4 of the act applies and not section 15. The amendment to section IS is proposed in clause 6.
So, Mr. Chairman, that is all that is said about the intention of the bill so far as the definition of “ suit “ is concerned.
This is a bill which has been presented to the committee on the basis that it was designed to achieve a certain effect. The Minister indicated during Senator McKenna’s remarks that in fact is was not intended by the Attorney-General that this effect should be had on section 20. That must mean that its effect on section 20 was overlooked. In fact, it was never adverted to by the Minister in his second-reading speech. So here is a matter which has been put to the committee, and the effect of Senator Wright’s amendment in this regard is that the bill should be so amended by the committee as to achieve the purpose which the Minister indicated, and nothing further. If what he stated was the basis upon which this bill was introduced, then it is most proper that the committee should confine the amendment to that purpose. We have not been advanced any satisfactory reasons why this abdication, as I call it, should be made in respect of maintenance and affiliation proceedings.
I have no doubt that before the committee would be satisfied to take this step in respect of section 20 it would need a lot of matter put before it to convince it. No doubt the Minister would like to have been prepared with all sorts of arguments why this should be done in respect of section 20, but from what he has indicated it seems that the reality is that it was not done initially because it was overlooked, and that the amendment to the definition of “ suit “ in section 3 was considered only in relation to sections 4 and 15. Therefore, it is quite proper in these circumstances, and in view of the tremendous importance of maintenance of deserted wives and children and of affiliation proceeding, that the bill should be confined in the way that Senator Wright has indicated.
In regard to maintenance and affiliation, his amendment preserves the definition of suit so far as it relates to Part IV. which deals with the enforcement of civil judgments. Part IV. includes section 20, the section in which the word “ suit “ is used. His amendment would mean that if any maintenance or affiliation orders were now enforceable under Part IV. they will continue to be enforceable. I support the arguments that have been put forward by Senator McKenna, and I also support the amendment.
– As I said previously, the bill before us seeks to enable the collection of fines interstate, thereby assisting State governments and individuals. It is to clear up and make uniform theservice of processes which, at the moment, is not uniform. The suggestions which have emanated from the other side of the chamber, to the effect that the bill should be postponed, are tantamount to saying: “ We will not pass a bill which seeks to enable fines to be collected more easily interstate, and which seeks to help the State governments and to assist individuals. We will not pass a bill which would bring uniformity into the service of processes and enable maintenance orders from the State of Victoria to be served more easily. We say that something else ought to happen in the whole field of maintenance.” It seems to me that that is a completely wrong and, I should think, childish approach to this problem.
I say again that nothing was overlooked in relation to the use of the word “ suit “ and the definition of it. The definition was introduced for the sole purpose of making uniform the methods for the service of writs throughout Australia. In regard to Senator Wright’s proposed amendment of paragraph (b) of the definition of “ suit “ in proposed new section 3, this is a matter on which I think the committee might well make up its own mind. In many respects the amendment is unacceptable, but it has been placed before us.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Wright’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator G.C. McKellar.)
Majority . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16th May (vide page 542), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill relates to our own possessions in Papua in the island of New Guinea and to our east New Guinea Trust Territory. I should like to make it clear that when I refer to the people of Papua and New Guinea I shall be referring to the original inhabitants and owners of these areas. I shall distinguish other inhabitants of Papua and New Guinea as non-indigenous people. I think that with that understanding I shall be able to go ahead. There are three aspects of the bill to which I want to refer. I think that the bill is important and of great significance, first, internationally, second, nationally and thirdly from the point of view of the people of Papua and New Guinea themselves.
As to the bill’s great international significance, I point out that there are only three Trust Territories left in the world to-day - the Pacific Islands, where the United States of America is the administering authority; the Trust Territory of east New Guinea, where Australia is the administering authority; and Nauru, where again this country is the administering authority. Of course, we come under the scrutiny of the United Nations because of our subscription to the charter of that organization, which includes Chapter XI, and in particular Article 73. We have subscribed to that charter and it affects Papua, our possession, over which we have complete sovereignty and ownership. We have agreed, pursuant to our subscription to the charter, to lead the dependent people to self-government or independence and to make certain reports to the United Nations. Definitely we have bracketed our possession and our Trust Territory together. We administer them as one territory and we are leading the people of those two areas along the same road - to self-government or independence, whichever is chosen.
The bill is also important internationally because from the first of this month we, for the first time in our lives in Australia, have a common border with a very important Asian power - Indonesia. One aspect of the significance of that is that the Indonesians’ treatment of the people of West New Guinea may well determine the pace at which Australia may proceed in the economic, social and political fields in its own area of Papua and -east New Guinea. It can be expected that Indonesia will make a special effort and we may need to match it.
– You do not honestly think that Indonesia, with its resources, could do better than we could.
– I do not, in fact, know what it will do. I shall watch with great interest, but I do say that its proximity is a matter affecting us gravely in two ways. It may set the pace. I have seen suggestions that Indonesia will make West New Guinea a showpiece to gain prestige before the world. That may well be. I can only await events. I merely indicate the possibility that this will have a reaction upon our own behaviour and may well force the issue for us.
The other aspect is that in the circumstances in which Indonesia came into possession - pursuant to the settlement with the Dutch effected through the United Nations - a plebiscite of the people of West New Guinea has been agreed upon to enable them to choose their future for themselves. The direction of that choice, if it comes about, may have many repercussions for Australia. The nature of the choice may react sharply upon the thinking of the Papuans and New Guineans for whom we are responsible. Again, if the plebiscite takes place, as the Indonesians have agreed it shall, pursuant to the Dutch settlement that, too, will be a matter of the gravest international significance involving Australia. So, from all these angles, it is a matter of really great international importance.
The bill is nationally important for us because we come under the scrutiny of the Truteeship Council of the United Nations - one of the organs of the General Assembly - and ultimately our activities are reviewed in the minutest detail by this body and by the General Assembly itself. I shall deal more particularly with that presently. Our standing in the eyes of the world as to the shouldering of our responsibility for the Trust Territory - and for the Territory that is not self-governing and is part of our own possession - really determines the way in which the peoples of the world regard us. Our own ambition in Papua and New Guinea is to lead the people of those Territories, and the way we lead them, to either self-government or independence, will determine, no doubt, our relations with them in the postindependence period or the postselfdetermination period, and could have grievous consequences upon our own country in both the economic and political fields. I might say that when I refer to the political field I think that what happens could have very great significance to the security of Australia.
Thirdly, the bill is of the utmost importance to the people of Papua and New Guinea. It is a notable stepping-stone for these people, leading through representative government to self-government or independence and the ultimate goal of a national unity which would be recognized by the world. It is agreed that that is the ultimate goal.
When we consider- our two Territories - Papua and east New Guinea - we realize that there are grave difficulties of administration. The area of 93,000 square miles comprises north-east New Guinea and 600 separate islands. The climate is excessively hot. The weather is very wet. Mountains rise to something like 15,000 feet in the Trust Territory.
– Higher elsewhere.
– They are higher in West New Guinea. I think the highest mountain is in West New Guinea. Generally, the mountains on our side of the island are about 1,500 feet lower. There are vast river valleys and very swampy lowlands. The terrain presents great difficulties. Communications are difficult and only comparatively recently the people lived in separate villages, each with a separate tongue. I am told that 700 languages are spoken in the area and that all of the tribes war one with the other.
The Territory is not self-sufficient economically and relies heavily upon Australia for finance. It is said the economy depends upon three trees - the coconut, the cocoa and the coffee tree. That is probably true. The economy is largely agricultural. During the early history there was very little activity on the part of Australia. Such Australian activity as there was, was largely generated by missionaries who were the forerunners in bringing education to the area, and later by a very small but devoted band of young Australians who began the work of opening up and exploring the Territory. I should like to say something in detail later about that work, which was halted by the war. Until then there was no great progress socially, economically or politically. In fact, the little that was done was a process of teasing out the bounds of the problems with which this country was faced, rather than making any approach to their solution.
I come to the post-war period 1945-49, for which the Labour Government was responsible. Labour made provision in the 1949 legislation for native village councils - advisory councils on native affairs, with native representation. It passed legislation to establish a legislative council and granted some representation to the people of Papua and New Guinea. It welded the two areas under one administration. On the council there were, I think, 29 members, of whom three were to be non-official members, representative of the Papuan and New Guinea people. So, although the council did not provide good representation or representative representation, it did acknowledge the principle of native representation for the first time. The bill also established the Australian School of Pacific Administration and, unquestionably, what was done between 1945 and 1949 laid the foundations for the social, economic and political development of the Territory ever since. On that point, I should like to refer to the report of the United Nations mission.
– The Foot report.
– Yes. Sir Hugh Foot was chairman. I use the term for convenience. Paragraph 120 states -
While Australia undertook the administration of Papua in 1906 and first occupied New Guinea in 1914 - with civil administration of New Guinea taking over from the military administration iri 1921 under Mandate from the League of Nations - the main task undertaken by the administration between the two World Wars was to open up the country. Very little was done either to provide social services or schemes of economic progress and political advance. Penetration and exploration of the Highlands, where nearly half the population lives, did not start until the nineteen thirties. The beginnings of education and health services were made by the missions. Economic development was largely limited to Australians taking over the operating the estates’ established during the German regime.
Paragraph 121 reads -
The mam effort for improved administration, education and development dates only from 1945. Almost all that has been achieved has been achieved in little more than a decade and a half. For all practical purposes the administration started from scratch in 1945.
In the next paragraph the Foot mission pays great tribute to the way Australia tackled the task in the fifteen years from 1945. It states -
Australia tackled this new task wilh courage and enterprise and drive, and soon produced remarkable results. IV went to work with a will.
The mission then paid tribute to the young men to whom I referred before.
– It is a very fine tribute.
– It is worth quoting. The report reads -
Perhaps the finest examples of Australian effort were in the Patrol Posts where young men created order and carried a message of progress and new hope to people living in the most undeveloped conditions in the world. Again typical of Australian enterprise was the way in which airstrips were built on spurs of the precipitous mountains and extensive bush air services were provided by young pilots who cheerfully and daily faced sudden danger. The planning and direction of the whole administration came largely from Canberra, but the thrust and momentum came from the mcn in the district who walked their districts and built roads, stations, schools and aid posts. Behind the initial effort came towns, bigger schools, training centres, large new hospitals some of them costing a million pounds each, and agricultural centres and demonstration farms, all coming into existence at an increasing pace. It has been a decade and a half of expansion and construction. It was the stage of preparation, the laying of the foundations, a period of straightforward and satisfying progress.
In the political sphere progress has been less rapid.
I shall come back to the political aspect of the matter presently. That adequately describes what has taken place in the Territory, but in confirmation of what was said then let me refer to the Budget expenditures on these areas. I looked up the Budget figures for 1939-40 and found that for the whole of the Australian territories £2,000,000 was made available. For Papua, only £48,960 was made available for the year and for east New Guinea only £10,190. No provision whatever was made for capital works and services.
– Did you say £2,000,000 for the whole area?
– For all the Territories of Australia, including Norfolk Island and the rest.
– How much for Papua and New Guinea?
– For Papua, £48,960, and for east New Guinea, £10,190. That was in the immediate pre-war period.
– It was mainly patrol activity at that time.
– That is the very point that I am making. One could not claim that a contribution was being made at that stage to social, economic or political progress. It shows how very dead the position was apart from the activities of missionaries and patrols. From 1948 to 1960, appropriations for the two territories grew from £4,000,000 per annum to £15,000,000 per annum. In 1961-62 £17,300,000 was allocated and for the current year £20,000,000 has been earmarked, plus £1,000,000 on our own Budget. So Australia is providing £21,000,000 this year. I was impressed by what our representative before the United Nations Trusteeship Council said recently, as reported in the “ United Nations Review” for October, 1962. Mr. Dudley McCarthy was reported as follows: -
In the circumstances the special representative believed that no other administering authority had put in so much money and effort without any prospect of material gain.
I subscribe to that view quite enthusiastically. Now let us come to recent years.
We have seen an absolute upsurge of nationalism in many of the newly emerging countries of the world. They see that our Territory administration is subjected to the closest examination and criticism from time to time. I want to mention the significance of the sequence of events from 1961 onwards. In 1961 the Trusteeship Council appointed a mission to visit New Guinea in 1962. Next was the appointment of a select committee of the Legislative Council for Papua and New
Guinea on 9th March, 1962. Then, in April and May last year, the Foot mission visited the Territory. The report of the mission was made to the Trusteeship Council on 21st June last. The first interim report of the select committee of the Legislative Council was made on 11th October last, and its second interim report was made on 26th February, 1963. Those dates and that sequence of events have in my mind a significance. They lead me to the conclusion that pressure from the United Nations Trusteeship Council was at least a big factor in the very great activity that led to the legislation that is now before us.
– There is no doubt about that.
– I wondered whether it was contested. I affirmed that to test whether it was. In what I have to say on this bill I propose to confine myself almost exclusively to the political development of the Territory.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Just prior to the suspension of the sitting I had indicated, after some preliminary remarks, that I would confine myself almost exclusively to the political implications of this measure. In doing so, I do not want it to be thought that I do not advert to the importance of our providing simultaneously for social services, health and communications and, above all, of addressing ourselves to making a viable economy for New Guinea. The report of the Foot mission indicated that economic difficulties probably constituted the biggest single obstacle to selfdetermination or independence in the area.
In my earlier remarks I adverted to the tremendous activity that had occurred in the Territory at the instance of the Government after the appointment of the visiting mission was announced in 1961. That leads me to ask the Senate to direct its attention to a United Nations Trusteeship Council document entitled “Working Paper prepared by the Secretariat “. It is a document of 32 pages. If anybody has been under the impression that Australia could get away with any activity in the Territory not being noticed by the Trusteeship Council, that person would get a rude shock if he picked up this document and examined it. He would find that every activity and omission by Australia in the Territory has been literally placed under the microscope. This document was dated 29th June, 1962. The activity to which I have just referred was so great that on 13th July, 1962, only about a fortnight later, the same secretariat prepared a further working paper to bring the earlier one up to date. The second document was based upon activities which the secretariat had learned about as proceeding on the part of Australia in the interim period. These documents form an amazing record of all the activity that was generated by the Government from 1961 onwards. The second document comprises some eight pages, and it is literally packed with a record of proposals.
– By whom was it prepared?
– It was prepared by the secretariat of the Trusteeship Council from information that was made available to it by Mr. Dudley McCarthy, our representative on the Trusteeship Council. This second paper amended the working paper that had been presented only a fortnight before.
– Did they regard us as delegates under direction or did they regard us as being honorable trustees?
– If the honorable senator is speaking of the secretariat, I would say that it regarded us as honorable trustees. From my perusal of the documents, I should say that they were presented to the Trusteeship Council in most objective form. I have nothing to take exception to in the way the secretariat informed the Trusteeship Council. I do not know whether every honorable senator has looked through this supplementary document, which was presented only fourteen days after the first one and which was designed to make amendments to the original document at the appropriate places, but I should like to give to the Senate some indication of its contents. The feature to which I direct particular attention is that for almost all the objectives and activities that are set out a target date is set. There is a target date for the various social, educational and economic advancements.
– Is that the spirit of the trusteeship as envisaged by the United Nations?
– I do not know what the honorable senator means.
– I mean, to set and to dictate a target date to the trustees.
– A target date has been called for at all levels.
– We are an independent government with responsibility as a trustee. J should have thought that as a nation we would have been afforded a measure of discretion.
– I do not think that discretion is eliminated, but when all is said and done we are trustees of one portion of the Territory and are wholly responsible and completely accountable to the Trusteeship Council for that portion.
– And for the other portion we are not in any way responsible?
– I think so. If the honorable senator refers to article 73 of the United Nations Charter, he will find that we have accepted a responsibility in respect of dependent people who have not yet attained self-government to lead them to self-government or independence. Although wc own Papua, in relation to its people we have a completely contractual obligation.
– Yes, we have a contractual obligation; but we have no trust responsibility in respect of Papua.
– I do not know just what the honorable senator has in mind in regard to contractual obligation, but I should say the same degree of honour would bind our country in relation to that as with respect to the strictly trust territory.
– We have the same degree of honour, yes, but not supervised obligation.
– From a coldly legal viewpoint, no; but 1 submit that Australia is treating both areas as though they were both trust territories. They have been under the one administration, and every opportunity has been given to the United Nations and its visiting missions to look at both areas. We make reports on both areas and we deal with them, not from a strictly technical and legal viewpoint, but as though the whole area was a trust area.
– They are separate reports, are they not?
– Yes, they are quite separate. The Foot mission, acknowledging the legality of the mission, did not report on Papua. It concentrated on the trust territory, but it drew attention to the fact that both areas were administered together.
When I say that we should remember that the Trusteeship Council literally puts Australia and her activities under the microscope, I am not speaking derogatorily of the council. The council has a duty to know what goes on just as we have a duty to inform it. I am merely paying a tribute to the objectivity and completeness of the work of the council’s secretariat. Frankly, I admire the work it did in preparing the 32-page document to which I adverted mainly to direct attention to the tremendous changes that were made soon afterwards. I thought that Senator Wright might have been pleased to hear me, in that way, pay a tribute to the activity of his Government rather than to lead me into an argument upon the technicalities associated with the administration of trust territories as against other territories. I should like the Senate to bear with me while I indicate the targets of achievement within the next five years that are set out under the heading “ Economic Advancement “. Some sixteen matters are set out. They include land development, production, agricultural extension, livestock in Papua-New Guinea, fisheries, forests, communications and public works. All these relate to activity of very recent date.
Under the heading “ Social Advancement” there are seven matters, many with sub-divisions and, again, targets have been set within five years. A date has been given. These matters cover labour, public health and educational advancement, and a target of five years is set in that respect. Right through, till we come to the question of political advancement, there are target dates; but no target date is attempted for political advancement. That is the significant exception; and that is the primary purpose of my leading into those documents. I am not going to deal at this stage with the question of a target date for the Territory in the matter of self-government. I shall come back to that.
I want to return to the Foot mission report and to refer briefly to its three main recommendations which appear at page 42 of the report. The first of these recommendations was that we should find and train political leaders. The second was that we should undertake a full review of the economy of the Territory with the assistance of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The third recommendation was that we should go ahead in developing representative democratic government at the centre. It is significant that the Commonwealth Government has put all these matters in train. The International Bank is operative in the matter of its survey. I express the personal view that I would hope it might be prepared to take a financial interest, on behalf of the United Nations, through the Trusteeship Council because there is a heavy burden on Australia without advantage to this country. The implementation of the three recommendations is well under way. With regard to the economic survey, the Foot mission commented upon our administration in these terms in paragraph 136 at page 44 of its report -
The Administration has carried out a series of separate studies of different aspects of prevailing economic problems, and what is now required, in our opinion, is a general review of these problems leading to a settlement of priorities so that the economic endeavours of the Administration and the people should be not diffused, sporadic and unco-ordinated, but drawn together in the form of a balanced development effort for a period of years ahead.
I shall not deal with the educational and the economic aspects any further at the moment. I should like to refer the Senate to page 30 of the October issue of the “ United Nations Review “ where the chairman. Sir Hugh Foot, is reported in the following terms: -
S’ir Hugh Foot knew there were faint-hearted people who believed the people of New Guinea were not ready for such an advance-
He was speaking of a political advance - and that the difficulties there were too great. He begged such people to think again, and added: “All my working life I have been concerned with preparing and working out new constitutions in new countries, sometimes with some of the people illiterate. I am convinced that the people of New Guinea are capable of choosing those whom they wish to represent and to speak for them.” Sir Hugh emphasized, however, that time was important. Delay, the mission believed, would be the greatest mistake of all.
I think I have already told the Senate that I had an opportunity to have an hour’s talk with Sir Hugh at the United Nations in New
York. He then made it perfectly clear to me that in the Foot report self-government was not being advocated at the moment by the mission at all, nor recommended to the Trusteeship Council; that the right of veto by the Administrator and by the GovernorGeneral was not interfered with. There was no thought on the part of the mission or the Trusteeship Council of interfering with the element of financial control. Those matters were not even touched upon. Sir Hugh put it that what the mission aimed at at the moment was self-expression through representation, and not selfgovernment. That is clearly the position.
I should like, now, to deal with the movement of the mission’s report through the Trusteeship Council and to refer to the “ United Nations Review “ of October, 1962. At pages 33 and 34 there is a full statement of the recommendations by the council on New Guinea. They really repeat all that the mission has said and I think it might be useful if this document were to be incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– Could you tell us the substance of it first? What issue is that?
– This is the issue of October, 1962, and I am referring to pages 33 and 34. Very briefly, they confirm positively the proposal for 100 members for the new parliamentary body, direct election, a common roll and adult suffrage. They define the target date as 31st December, 1963. They ask for an extension of the municipal activities and they direct attention to the fact that the Australian representatives had indicated that a decision would be made by Australia by July, 1963, on establishing regional municipal councils. I should like the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge), when he replies, to indicate what has been done to honour that undertaking to have an aggregation of municipalities for various purposes. I should like to give Senator Wright a very rapid summary of this. The report states that local government councils should be given fuller powers. It deals with the recruiting of personnel for activity in the administration. It states that a full review of the economy should be completed by 31st December. It refers to a single system of land holding. I would say that the recommendations would not be news to anybody who had looked at the mission’s report. The report in its final paragraph urged - the administering authority to establish, in the light of the United Nations Charter, the trusteeship agreement and the General Assembly’s 1960 declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples, and in consultation with the representative organs of public opinion in the territory, realistic target dates reflecting the sense of urgency for the rapid and planned advance of the territory in all aspects of its political life.
That is relevant to what I was saying to the effect that Australia has not attempted to put any target date before the Trusteeship Council. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) as reported at page 1076 of “ Hansard “, of 7th May, in the course of the second-reading speech, ran a course which was very adverse to the proposal for a target date.
– He was strongly opposed to the idea.
– He expressed himself in these exact words -
There is a tendency in some quarters to proceed from the assumption that there is a demand for more speed to the conclusion that we should therefore fix 1970 or some other date for selfgovernment. That seems to us to be an unrealistic approach to a complex task and the Government rejects it; and i inform the House categorically that the Government is not planning withdrawal by that or any other date and has not sanctioned any planning of that kind at any level of administration.
– Hear, hear!
– I do not agree with the honorable senator’s “ hear, hear! “ to that. 1 note that the Minister for Civil Aviation in this place took a blue pencil and cut the speech of the Minister for Territories almost in two.
– But I did not take that particular view out of the speech.
– My impression is that that was entirely dropped.
– If you have that impression I shall correct it when I reply.
– Thank you. I think that phrase was dropped. If it is there, I make no further comment than that I wish it were not; I regret that the blue pencil did not go through that. Because after all, we live in a world we do not control. Wc live in a world that makes its mind up from intense nationalism.
– As a government, we insist on governing so long as we have the position of trustee. When that is withdrawn, others can take over.
– One must have regard, as a matter of practical administration, to what are the factors in the situation. The result without any doubt has pointed out the dangers of being too late and lagging behind. I say it is impolitic in every degree to put an emphatic negation of the request of the Trusteeship Council, of the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly and of the General Assembly itself in its resolution of 20th December last, in which it urged the setting of a date. I could understand an apology and an explanation of the reasons why you cannot be specific in fixing a date, but I think that utter rejection of requests at these levels is far too dogmatic and is likely to stir up opposition to this country.
– Would you argue that we should accept the United Nations recommendations in the context in which you speak, even if we thought it was wrong?
– It all depends on what reasons you have for thinking you are right. One cannot answer that question as a broad proposition. One must face the facts of the situation.
– You are arguing that, we should accept the recommendations because the United Nations made them.
– No, I have not said that. I have indicated that the United Nations desires and requests, publicly expressed, are entitled to a great deal of consideration and we should meet them if we can. If we cannot meet them we should have very clear reasons why we should not meet them. I shall examine the position to see whether we have got those clear reasons. I know that the Minister has given some of the reasons in his second-reading speech. One of them is that the Territorians - the people of Papua and New Guinea ‘ themselves - do not want to press on at the pace the Opposition would want to see or the General Assembly of the United Nations would like to see. I refer to pages 4 and 5 of the report of the select committee of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea, approved by the council itself, on this very point. The people up there put this as one of their very best arguments - and it is probably their main argument. I shall read paragraph 9 at page 4 of the report. I concede that this report was drawn up and presented after they were aware of the contents of the Foot committee’s report. I think it fitting that I should read the whole paragraph. It reads -
With one exception, all of the people interviewed wished to see an increase in the number of Members on the Council, on the ground that the present electorates were too large to allow the necessary contact between Members and their electors. Non-indigenes also favoured greater representation of indigenes because of their population majority. On the other hand there was a definite feeling against too large a membership and only four favoured a Council of 100 representatives, the main reasons given being that such a Council would be irresponsible, too unwieldy to be of any great educative value and full of talk instead of work; that at the moment there were probably not 100 indigenes capable of successfully carrying out duties as Legislative Councillors and that a Council with so many members would be unnecessarily costly. Attempts by your Committee to modify this attitude were of no avail. The indigenous Members of your Committee are of the opinion that a Council of 100 is associated in the people’s minds with self government which the people appear to fear and say they do not want at this stage.
The committee makes it completely clear that the fear of approximately 100 representatives specified by the Foot committee and approved by the Trusteeship Council of the General Assembly is based upon a fear which is obviously baseless, because they are not being offered self-government. I repeat, it is based on a baseless fear. It is not enough for the New Guineans and Papuans to say, “ We do not want 100 representatives, because that really means self-government “. It really means nothing of the kind. At none of the levels I have mentioned has self-government been proposed up to now, and therefore their fear of having 100 representatives, because that might mean self-government, is completely baseless.
– Why do you say it is not self-government?
– If it were selfgovernment there would be no veto. There would be no control of their financial affairs by the Commonwealth.
– Is not the veto the thing your colleagues in another place vehemently tore down?
– In this bill? No, not in any way at all. They sought to impose a limit on the time within which it could be exercised by the Administrator; that and nothing else. There was no attack on the veto. Therefore, I say that tha Government is completely wrong in adverting to an opinion that the committee itself acknowledges is based on a fear which is so obviously groundless. If the Government presents as its main reason the opinion expressed by the Papuans and the people ofNew Guinea themselves, quite obviously it is not a reason that is well based.
– Do you acknowledge then, on the part of the Governor-General, the right in his own discretion to withhold assent to any ordinance?
– All I have affirmed is that at this stage the Opposition is not contesting it.
– At this stage?
– Of course, it is one of the steps towards self-government, and what we are concerned about at this stage is self-expression and the right to develop representatives - and the more there are the more people you have qualified to move on to a form of truly representative government. On the question of whether the number is available, the Foot committee is completely confident that there are people articulate and thoughtful enough to discharge the functions. There are more than 100 of them. That is confirmed by my colleagues who have spent a great deal of time in New Guinea. That justifies the comment that was made by Carlos Salamanca of Bolivia, one of the members of the mission who came out with Sir Hugh Foot to whom reference is made in the October, 1962, issue of the “United Nations Review “. Mr. Salamanca’s comment on the position was reported as follows: -
Mr. Salamanca agreed that the administration had moved too slowly.
He was speaking of the political development of the Territory.
It had been too respectful of the people’s reluctance to go forward. Consequently the mission was urging the administering authority to accelerate political advancement in accordance with the obligation it had undertaken. lt is quite clear that there .are people in New Guinea who think 100 are required. Four of them have said so. They are the four who perhaps lead their people in thought; the people who have developed revolutionary tendencies. The important thing in the view of the Opposition is for this Government not to wait until there is pressure by the people to take the next step, but always to be in front of them - not too far, but always in front - and to be preparing the way for the next step. My view is that the Government should, as is perfectly proper, have regard to the expressed views of the people of Papua and New Guinea, so far as they can be ascertained, but should not lean heavily upon them and disregard completely the whole weight of world opinion in this matter.
– Even if it is wrong?
– I did not say that; do not put those words into my mouth, please.
– I am not putting words into your mouth.
– I do not say that. I should like to refer to the Foot report on the same point, and I quote from paragraph 128, where the same kind of thing that Carlos Salamanca said is repeated by the whole committee -
Yet, while these opportunities open up, we find in some quarters a tendency not to urge the need, for progress and speed and initiative but rather a tendency to emphasize the remaining difficulties and disadvantages. There is sometimes an impetus on what should not be done rather than on what should be done. Sometimes it has appeared that the drive of the first decade and a half may be lost, that the spirit of pioneering enterprise may be slackening, that there is a section amongst Australians and New Guineans too who doubt the declared objective and wish to take refuge in a negative or defensive attitude. We think that that would be the gravest error. We strongly believe that to fail to go forward with increasing momentum now would be to jeopardize all the results of the good work of past years.
I subscribe firmly to that, as did the United Nations.
In the little time left to me I should like to say something about what we of the
Opposition propose. 1 refer, first, to the present composition of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea. It has 37 members, comprising the Administrator, fourteen officers, twelve elected persons, of whom six are elected by the people of Papua and New Guinea, and ten appointees, of whom not less than five must be people of Papua and New Guinea. So, of the 37, eleven are people of Papua and New Guinea. Under the bill the Government proposes that the Administrator will drop out of the House of Assembly and that there will be ten officials, 44 people of Papua and New Guinea elected on the common roll, and ten non-indigenous persons elected on the common roll by ail electors. This makes a total of 64, of whom 44 will be people of Papua and New Guinea. That is a decided advancement. But the Trusteeship Council and the United Nations General Assembly asked that there be approximately 100, of whom only five should be officers.
The Opposition proposes, for many reasons which will be developed in the committee stages rather than now, that there should be 88 persons elected by electors on a common roll from among the people of Papua and New Guinea, and ten non-indigenous persons elected by all the people, indigenous and non-indigenous. Thus there would be a total of 98, of whom 88 would be people of Papua and New Guinea. We propose that the election on a common roll of the ten non-indigenous people should be reviewed before the next succeeding election. We believe that that proposal will approximate the ideas of the United Nations, and that it will give a true representative character to the new House of Assembly, while giving a say to Australians and people of other races as well.
– Do you want no official appointees?
– That is so; no official appointees at all. In other words we propose that the House would be composed of representatives.
– Elected representatives?
– Elected on a common roll, unquestionably.
– And with no gerrymandering, either!
– I think one of the great features of this proposal would be that it would help meet the desire of the United Nations to have members truly representative of their people. With the difficulties of terrain that I indicated earlier to-day and only 44 elected members to represent the people of Papua and New Guinea, they have far too big a task, in our view, and the more people of that area who are trained in representative Government, the better, because one day we may be really hurried up to hand over.
I have mentioned some of the factors that are impending upon us. The other main objective we have is in relation to the Administrator’s Council. At present the council comprises the Administrator, three official members of the Legislative Council and three other members, none to be officials and two to be elected members who may or may not be people of Papua and New Guinea. The bill proposes to improve that. It provides that the Council shall comprise the Administrator, three official members of the House of Assembly and seven elected members, the whole ten to be appointed on the nomination of the Administrator. He will select them. We object to that and say the council should consist of the Administrator and ten members of the House of Assembly to be elected by the House of Assembly. Those members, of course, may all be people of Papua and New Guinea, although I should not think they would be. It is completely clear from all the reports and assessments in this matter that the people of Papua and New Guinea have a very warm feeling for the Australians in their area. They want many of them elected. They want their help at all stages, and I think it not unlikely that the Australians would be a majority of the ten under the proposal that we put.
We think the Government’s proposals are good. We think they are a very distinct improvement on the existing position; but we are equally confident that they do not go far enough to meet the requirements of the United Nations or - and this is the more important aspect - to meet the needs of the people of Papua and New Guinea. I repeat that the Government has to be out in front; not waiting for the formation of a desire for political advancement. Such a desire will not come evenly. There will be people who want far greater pace, and they will be the ones who will be articulate. I am not suggesting that the Government should bow its head completely to these people, but it must have an eye upon their emergence. The Government should keep just a little bit ahead of the forces that will generate with extreme rapidity in this area once the concept of nationhood and independence takes root. This concept is now in its very early stages; it could blossom overnight, as we have seen in other countries, into raging revolution. I do not think that that is forecast, but we need to have safeguards against it. Such a happening will depend upon the wisdom and the speed with which we are prepared to lead these people on their path.
I should like now to advert to the position of the non-indigenous people of the Territory. They are highly regarded, and I think the great majority have made a very substantial contribution to the welfare of the people of Papua and New Guinea and will continue to do so. How they will fare when self-government comes, at whatever date it comes, will depend on the way we have led our people in the interim to the control of their own affairs. It will depend largely on how we in this Parliament set the pace, and determine the atmosphere. I think the greatest protection for the nonindigenous people when self-government comes ultimately will be that this Government is not dragging along at the pace set by the people of Papua and New Guinea, but is out in front leading them and eagerly indicating by its actions that it wants them to have self-government at the earliest time consistent with their own welfare and safety. That is the primary consideration.
There are many other matters of importance with which we shall deal at the committee stage. I have reserved comment for that stage on the main issues involving the Administrator’s Council and the House of Assembly. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the Senate. I wish merely to add a few sentences. I indicate that the Opposition will not oppose the motion for the second reading of the bill. The bill is an improvement on the position at the moment, but at the committee stage we shall undoubtedly make an attempt to improve it still further. I do not think our amendments will be misunderstood as being put forward otherwise than in a genuine desire to co-operate with the Government in what I regard as the common task of helping these dependent people, in the safest and the quickest way, to attain what presently will be their burning ambition.
I beg the Government to look at our amendments in that light and in that spirit. I pay a tribute to the Government for its enormous activity down the last ten or fifteen years, and particularly for the speed it has generated recently. That is all to the good, but it is not reflected in the Government’s approach to the political development of the Territory. The Government and the Opposition have one common interest in this matter. We differ about methods and the speed with which the reforms should be attained. In our belief, we are rendering a service to Australia and to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in pressing the points I have indicated.
.- I think it is well that this Parliament of the Commonwealth should attempt to attain a national outlook on this bill and, if possible, to overlook party differences. The bill, in very practical terms, confronts the Commonwealth for the first time with an external problem of nationhood to its near north. We are dealing with a bill which seeks to amend the constitution of the land mass nearest to our north and inhabited by some 2,000,000 people. It is a territory which is divided into two parts, one of which we hold on trust. The other part is a Crown possession. Both are united from an administrative point of view. As our Government looks upon the position, no distinction is made so far as our sense of purpose is concerned. I think that purpose can be stated by saying that our interest in New Guinea is to make it secure - that is the first task - and to develop it and create opportunities for the prosperity of its peoples so that in due time they may attain the degree of self-government for which they wish to accept responsibility and management.
Ever since Australia has been associated with New Guinea it has declared no other purpose. The speech made by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), in introducing this bill, is one of the stirring speeches on the records of this Parliament, from the point of view of the thoughtful and clear exposition that he made of the purpose of this nation vis-a-vis the people of the Territory. That purpose is solely to develop the Territory for the people and to nurture them to a stage at which selfgovernment will be their responsibility, at the same time providing adequate protection against exposing them as a prey to a nation which might not be so favorably disposed towards them.
– Following longstanding British tradition.
– I ask Senator O’Byrne to bear with me. I shall listen to his contribution at a later stage. I am in earnest on this matter because I see, impinging on this subject, elements which vitally concern not only the development of the people of the Territory, but also their security. If there is an element of truth in that idea, surely nobody in this Parliament is prepared to treat the issue lightly. If we have differing opinions let us state them definitely, because when we deal with the security of this country in a real sense we have precious responsibilities to discharge.
I wish to commence my comments on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea by reminding you, Mr. President, that the Foot report placed on record a statement to the effect that in the post-war period Australia had addressed itself to the responsibility of trusteeship of the Territory and had soon produced remarkable results. The report stated that Australia had gone to work with a will, and it instanced the establishment of patrol posts, airstrips and so on. The report went on to state -
Behind the initial effort came towns, bigger schools, training centres, large new hospitals, some of them costing a million pounds each, and large agricultural centres and demonstration farms, all coming into existence at an increasing pace. It has been a decade and a half of expansion and construction, It was the stage of preparation, the laying of the foundations, a period of straightforward and satisfying progress.
Let us take into account not merely the passage I have read, but also the other parts of the report which pay tribute to the goodwill that has been earned by Australian governmental activity, emanating from the people of Papua. The report pays tribute to the loyalty that is felt, in a national sense, by those people for the Australian nation. It emphasizes in many instances the enthusiastic loyalty to Australia as a nation. Whilst we might expect criticism from the United Nations, perhaps the least we might expect, having regard to the loyalty I have mentioned, is understanding and respectful co-operation for a trustee which has earned such a record.
It is the essence of trusteeship of that kind that the trustee be accorded the right, according to its judgment in the field of government, to establish in the Territory the type of government appropriate to its development. As between nations, there should be no semblance of the kind of sentiment which one of the people of Papua recently expressed to me. The Australian people will understand what I mean when I say that there should be no semblance of the Trusteeship Council keeping on Australia’s back. Honorable service earns the right to reasonable respect. I maintain that our creditable record in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea should persuade the representatives of the governments assembled in the United Nations that the discretion of the Australian Government may be trusted to pursue a proper course.
We have before us a bill that retains the Administrator as the link with the Crown, and as the executor, but no longer retains him as president of the legislature. The proposal - which is the kernel of this bill - is to create a legislature for the Territory consisting of 44 elected members elected by voters on a common roll of the people of the Territory, ten non-indigenes from reserved electorates, elected by the people of the same common roll, and ten official appointees. It has been assumed by all who have written on the subject that in a legislature so constituted, where each member has one vote, out of the total membership the 44 who have been elected by voters on the common roll will be in the majority. There are to be ten official members and also ten non-indigenes elected for reserved electorates by voters on the common roll. It behoves us all to examine the proposed constitution of the House of Assembly from the point of view of the essential issues that at present appertain in this Territory.
The first of those issues is, I believe: How does the proposal measure up to a consideration of the security of the Australian mainland? The second is: How does it measure up to a consideration of the security and development of the people of the Territory. I emphasize that it is a question of security of the Territory, which affects not only the Australian mainland but also the people of the Territory themselves.
With regard to the security of the Australian mainland, our frontier is now established on the 141st parallel of longitude. An act of confrontation has been made, as recently as 1st May, by a nation whose goodwill we seek, whose existence we respect and in whose aspirations for the development of these people we earnestly join. But, Mr. President, as responsible representatives of those who elected us to this Parliament, whose first duty is to safeguard the security of their families and fortunes, we cannot forget that within the last two years the leader of Indonesia promised us that the issue between the Indonesians and Holland would never be solved by hostilities. We must remember, too, that within the last twelve months armed paratroops have been dropped into West New Guinea and armed activities have been undertaken against that territory. We are bound to say, Mr. President, that that weakens our confidence in what, I think, was an all-time record in contemptuous statements which was made a few days after 1st May by Soekarno - that he had no further territorial ambitions. That statement is the re-echo of the most despicable international statement of our time - the similar statement by Hitler about Poland.
We must remember, too, that 15,000 troops have been landed in West Irian. Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes, with his particular knowledge of this area, says that the number is 30,000. It behoves every one to be completely mindful of the necessity to maintain the 141st parallel secure. Among several passages in the speech of Mr. Paul Hasluck which filled me with spirit was one that I hope will be repeated in this Parliament until there is. no doubt of its meaning. He said -
It is our firm intention to defend the freedom of choice and respect the wishes of those dependent on us.
When he says that it is our firm intention to defend the freedom of choice of the people of our Territory of Papua and New Guinea he is saying that it is our firm intention to defend inviolate the 141st parallel. Does any one think that the people of the Territory are not anxious and concerned about the significance of the activities in West New Guinea over the last twelve months? During the brief period in which I moved within the Territory in the last few weeks I detected a sense of anxiety in every individual I consulted. These people are nearer to the 141st parallel than we are, but we would be mistaken to-day to rely upon distance as providing additional security. The people of the Territory depend upon Australia to provide their security because they know that therein lies their opportunity for self-development and ultimately self-government and selfsupport.
In view of these aspects of the matter, unlike the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate who says that the bill does not go far enough, 1 believe that the bill goes too far. I believe that in this respect it is premature and ill-advised. I say that, in the full realization that I have a responsibility to form a judgment, and I have not neglected to give all the care I can to the forming of that judgment. I will be interested, of course, in contrary opinions that may be expressed. Unlike the constitution of the Parliament of which we are members, the constitution of this proposed assembly does not restrict it to any particular powers. There are no enumerated placita of power pertaining to this legislature. Its power to legislate is for the peace, order and good government of the Territory. To create a legislature, of which the majority consists in 44 people of the Territory, when we are told responsibly by the select committee of the Legislative Council of New Guinea that there are probably not 100 indigenes capable of successfully carrying out the duties of legislative councillors, is to my way of thinking an act of unreason. It is unreasonable to entrust the legislative power to a majority consisting of those people who, I should think, do not themselves make any claim at the present stage to be fitted for acceptance of the responsibility.
Under vigorous persuasion - perhaps from the four revolutionaries to whom Senator McKenna referred - they might pass a measure which put Australian development under a handicap and the Australian Government on the edge of power, and which attempted to define a line of development for these people inconsistent with the ideas of this Parliament. If the GovernorGeneral of our Commonwealth assented to such a proposal by the territorial legislature, our right to go on with, first, the defence of the country, and, secondly, its development, would suffer from a severe handicap and not have a de jure footing. In all the civilized world - the Western world, particularly - lawfulness in national transactions has been the chief safeguard against international dislocation and disruption of peace. To create a legal vacuum in that Territory or to create a situation inconsistent with the purposes of development and defence entertained here in this Parliament would be, to my way of thinking, to expose the Territory and its people to the risk - possibly aggravated by their own leaders - of becoming a prey to others who might claim a right to interfere equal to the right left to us by the act of the legislature of New Guinea.
I put this proposition before the Senate with a great degree of concern, but I am bound to maintain it, so that the Senate will give consideration to it. It is proposed that we entrust the legislative authority of this Territory to a Parliament constituted of 44 members elected on a common roll, when the Legislative Council itself tells us there are probably not 100 indigenes capable of successfully carrying out the duties of legislative councillors. The Foot committee held meetings with the people of the Territory and encountered expressions of opinion, such as that which is mentioned in paragraph 69, in these words -
At Wewak self-government was one of the main topics of discussion and all people agreed that New Guinea was not ready for it. They felt that more education and economic development were needed to prepare them for this.
I have selected that one example. There are ‘ many more expressions of opinion to the same effect, and I believe that any impartial observer would come to the conclusion that such statements record the attitude of the people, their own consciousness that they are not ready, and their own disposition not to accept the responsibility for self-government. ls this the self-government that is proposed? It would create autonomy in the Territorial legislature, except insofar as the legislation from that legislature could be vetoed. I am not forgetting that in the principal act it is specified that many important matters are the subject of a reserve consent. The Administrator, under section 52 of the act, is required to reserve for the Governor-General’s pleasure ordinances dealing with land, naval, military and air force matters, arms, ammunition and explosives, immigration and emigration, &c. That is not a restriction of the power of the legislature. It is an indication of the employment - I say with pride and with no stigma on the system - of one of the mechanisms which began with colonialism, namely, reserving the territorial legislation for the consent of the Crown. As these communities grow in the tradition of British democracy, the Crown feels bound to accord to the people’s expressed will and, in deference, to use with the greatest restraint any power to withhold assent. It is for that reason that it is untimely, in the month of May, 1963, which is the month of confrontation on the 141st parallel, to create the possibility ere long of a legislative vacuum in the Territory as a result of which, thereafter we would have to move without the advantage of a de jure jurisdiction and have to rely upon the effectual control that we were able to exercise. That possibility exposes the people of the Territory to a grave risk that is self-induced and which, on our part, is inexcusable. It exposes us also to grave risk.
In regard to the proposed constitution, I wish only to say a word or two about the reserved electorates. We have the authority of the select committee of the Territory legislature for saying that the people whom it consulted during its inquiry throughout New Guinea strongly urged the inclusion of an Australian element in the legislature. The idea which has presented itself to those who have promoted the proposed constitution is to have reserved seats. An alternative which might have been employed but for the nostalgia that is entertained and which has flowed from the characteristic colonial development of the last century would have been a bi-cameral legislature. Some, of the farseeing Australian States - Tasmania is one of them - maintain an upper house which is elected on a different franchise from that of the House of Assembly. By maintaining a deliberative house which is divorced from party politics you have a balancing within the constitution. But that idea has not been recommended by the United Nations or by the select committee of the Legislative Council of the Territory. So, in order to obtain the desired balance, the idea has been conceived of having reserved seats. People who are on the common roll, having voted for 44 ordinary seats, will have a second vote at the same election to elect non-indigenes, to use the phrase of the moment. I refer to the Crown’s right of veto and the idea of having reserved seats only to point out that many people are attacking the proposal before the ink is dry upon the act that will constitute the new legislature. My prophecy is that only a few years will have elapsed before the proposed institution will be required to disappear so the people of the Territory may have a legislature of which they are solely without qualification in control.
Let me make it quite clear that I hold fast to the policy that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has proclaimed as being obtained in the bill - to ensure the security and development of the people of the Territory by guiding them along certain lines of social, economic and political advancement. I hope it is our earnest wish that when these people are ready to do so, they will take control of their affairs and that all the guidance we have given and the interest we have taken in the development of their country will prove to have been a tremendous investment in national goodwill.
What are the alternative possibilities for this Territory. Will there be a new nation in New Guinea within a certain target date as part of a plan such as that emphasized by Senator McKenna? I should say such an idea is absurd. To do that would expose the Territory as a prey to the most perfidious neighbour that could intrude upon its welfare. I have heard it suggested that there should be a federation of the Territory and other Pacific territories round about. I do not think that suggestion has any future. I have heard it said - indeed, such a statement was given wide publicity in the territorial press a month ago as being the view of Senator Turnbull - that the Territory should become a seventh State of Australia. That is a very short-sighted outlook. It betokens complete misunderstanding of the situation, if for only three very obvious reasons. First, I believe it would be a complete abuse of the trust upon which we hold the Territory. Secondly, it is entirely inconsistent with the free intercourse that is guaranteed between the States and which would be guaranteed with this area as a seventh State under section 92 of the Constitution. Then, I believe that at least half a century and probably a century will elapse before the economy of the Territory is in any way comparable with that of mainland Australia and before it can be encompassed within the uniform external tariff, which was one of the prime purposes in combining the States to form a Commonwealth. So I see no future in that suggestion.
An equally unreasonable proposal which emanated from the same honorable senator last week was the suggestion that, if we do not intend to annex the Territory, we should cease to bestow money upon it. I hope that the whole of this Parliament will disavow any such policy. It has been one of the proud boasts of any parliament that has had entrusted to it in this age the development of an undeveloped territory that it has bestowed money for the purpose, as has been mentioned in the Foot report, of creating towns and establishing bigger schools, training centres, large new hospitals some of which have cost £1,000,000 each, agricultural centres and demonstration farms. All those projects cost money. Each of them conduces significantly to the development of these people. Is it not to our national interest, Mr. Deputy President, to ensure that when these people attain independence they shall have engrained in them a conviction that the best friend they have in the world is their near neighbour to the south - Aus tralia? If we want to adopt a materialistic outlook, the best investment we can make is to ensure the development of international goodwill, the harvest of which we will reap in due time when these people attain self-government.
Although it may be uncharacteristic of me to do so, may I conclude by paying one or two special tributes to the people who have so creditably developed this Government’s policy in relation to New Guineain the post-war era. I have an abiding conviction that we owe a lot to the present Administrator, Sir Donald Cleland. I am firmly convinced that the praise bestowed upon the Administration in New Guinea was well deserved. Let us always be mindful of the fact that the progress that has been achieved can be guaranteed only if the purpose before the Administration is the ensuring of the future well-being of the people of the Territory. An administration cannot work successfully if to-morrow or three years hence or seven years hence it is to be said that there is no longer any use for it in the Territory. I pay tribute, too, to the Australians who have gone into that country to settle it and use their efforts in the development of the economy. They are still responsible for earning 85 per cent, of the economic yield of the Territory. Their withdrawal at this stage, either summarily with no compensation or at an early date with diminished compensation and dwarfed assets, would be a disaster that would dislocate the uniform development of the country.
I pay tribute to the guiding hand of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) and all his work. His speech on this bill in the House of Representatives, to my way of thinking, is one of the passages in “ Hansard “ which one can read with spirit. He said -
It is our firm intention to defend the freedom of choice and respect the wishes of those dependent upon us. I feel sure that the members of this chamber, all of them being elected representatives, will also agree that preparation for self-government means not only producing qualified members of Parliament but also producing a qualified electorate.
The Minister also said -
I inform the House categorically that the Government is not planning withdrawal by that - -
He was referring to 1970 - or any other date and has not sanctioned any planning of that kind at any level of administration.
He finished in simple terms. I hope that Senator Dittmer who is interjecting will pause a moment and that these words will sink into his understanding. The Minister said at the end of his speech, in relation to political change -
Political change without social progress is like getting a new bucket for a dry well.
The only other thing I wish to say is that I find stimulating the study of this subject as expressed, I think, by the members of the School of Pacific Studies of the Australian National University in a little booklet entitled, “ The Independence of Papua and New Guinea - What are the Prerequisites? “ Sir John Crawford, giving the concluding address in this series of lectures, emphasizes, as 1 see it, that it is unreal to talk about self-government or self-determination in a political sense until the people who accept the responsibilities of self-government are themselves, in an economic sense, selfsupporting. That, to me, seems to be good sense. I refrain from making long quotations from these studies. But an analysis of this booklet from the School of Pacific Studies of the Australian National University has convinced me that, in the interest of security, it is premature to hand over the right to legislate for this Territory to a legislature of which the majority will consist of native members elected on a common roll. I think that that will be detrimental to the future development of the Territory in the sense that any inconsistency between the policy carried out by the territorial legislature and the policy of this Parliament will weaken the economic support that our Government has guaranteed to continue to give to the Territory until it attains what has been termed “ economic viability “ and can exist upon its own efforts. For those reasons, Mr. Deputy President, I have misgivings with regard to the prematureness of the bill; but its genuine spirit in following the course of giving these people the right of self-determination, I warmly support.
.- Mr. Deputy President, while Senator McKenna was speaking a while ago I heard him mention that a certain portion of the speech made by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in another place had been excised from the speech made to the Senate by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). It happened that I had a copy of the relevant issue of . “ Hansard “ at the time. I was able to examine his speech and I found that what Senator McKenna said was correct. I shall read exactly what the Minister for Territories said in another place. At page 1076 of “ Hansard “ he is reported as follows: -
There is a tendency in some quarters to proceed from the assumption that there is a demand for more speed to the conclusion that we should therefore fix 1970 or some other date for selfgovernment. That seems to us to be an unrealistic approach to a complex task and the Government rejects it; and I inform the House categorically that the Government is not planning withdrawal by that or any other date and has not sanctioned any planning of that kind at any level of administration.
The words I have read do not appear in the second-reading speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation in this chamber. However, there are more important things to be considered, so I shall leave that matter.
We are discussing the provisions of a bill which, a few years ago, would not have any interest whatever in this Senate. But because of the changed circumstances, near at hand and in other parts of the world, the provisions of this bill are important, lt is proposed to increase the number of members of the Legislative Council of New Guinea from 37 to 64. The position which has been occupied in the Council by the Administrator will cease to exist. In his place there will be, either elected or appointed, a speaker. The number of elected members will be increased from 12 to 54; and I admit that that is a big increase in the elected membership. Of the 54 to be elected, 44 are to be elected on a common roll of open electorates and 10 on a common roll of reserved electorates. I am not going into the difference between open electorates and reserved electorates now, because I have other important things to discuss.
The term of office is to be increased from three to four years, and the name of the council is to be changed from the Legislative Council to the House of Assembly. If we read the Minister’s second-reading speech and examine the bill, what do we find? It is a simple bill but, knowing what has happened in other countries - the changes that have taken place, the actions of certain people and the reports they have furnished to certain authorities - we realize why the Government is doing something to establish selfgovernment in New Guinea.
The authority that has operated up there for a number of years - the Legislative Council - has always possessed the semblance of a government and a parliament. But the members of the Legislative Council have never had the authority or the political power that is exercised in a true parliament. They have never been able to make policy. They have never been able to make free decisions. The Territory of Papua and New Guinea has been governed, in fact, by the Commonwealth Government from Canberra. The overall policy has been laid down by the Commonwealth Government and a certain amount of administrative work has been done in the Territory. But the Legislative Council has never functioned as a parliament at all, to my way of thinking. I wait with interest to see what progress will be made in this new assembly.
I have before me a rather interesting document called the Papua Act 1905. Before that year the Territory was known as British New Guinea. A portion of British New Guinea was set aside and was termed Papua. It is interesting to note that great care was taken to set out in the preamble to the act not to include any part of the then polony of Queensland in the area that was to be called Papua, and to observe that provision was made in it for the establishment of a legislative council and an executive council. It has never been clear to me what functions those two councils performed and what authority they had in relation to the government of Papua. But time has passed and there have, been changes, although Papua is still a sovereign possession of the Commonwealth Government.
Throwing my mind back to what has happened since 1945 in certain countries, and knowing this act was in operation from 1906 at the latest, I wonder why the common language in New Guinea - pidgin English - has been tolerated for so long. I think it is scandalous, and everything possible should be done to extirpate it completely.
– They are doing it now.
– They are doing something, but pidgin English is still used in the plantations and elsewhere. There is an understanding that everything possible should be done to extirpate pidgin English, but the best is not being done.
I would say that the greatest handicap against any political and economic improvement in the Territory is the existing educational system. Very little is being done to improve it. I am not saying that the Commonwealth Government is not taking action to have the situation corrected, but from our viewpoint it is not satisfactory. The situation is worse than is generally realized. There are probably 750,000 children of what we in Australia would term school age in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Approximately 185,000 are attending primary schools and about 2,288 are attending secondary schools. There is one tertiary student. That is a very sad picture. If you want improvement you must have what we call compulsory education and facilities must be provided if it is possible. I know the conditions and it might not be physically possible, but we should provide educational facilities so that all the children of the Territory may go to school.
We have operating in the Commonwealth what is known as the Colombo Plan. We bring bright students from Asiatic countries to Australia. They are allowed to attend our universities. They are educated to occupy professional positions in their own countries. But what have we done for the indigenes of Papua and New Guinea? We have done practically nothing. I think it was last year that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said there were three university students from the Territory in Australia. I take it that apart from those three, none have ever come here. So, on the one hand, we are prepared to help the students from the Asiatic countries. Under the Colombo plan, they can be brought here and provided with all the educational facilities we have for our own bright students. But the indigenes of the Territory are not encouraged to come here. Evidently it is not possible for the Commonwealth Government to educate them to matriculation standard in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and, because of that, students from the Territory are not
I know the real difficulties that exist. I remember that about ten years ago a bill was passed relating to the Legislative Council in New Guinea, and at that time I advocated the appointment of more indigenes to the Public Service in New Guinea so that they could get a more practical knowledge of administrative work. You cannot have a government functioning properly unless you have a skilled public service. I have been told that the most skilled public service in the world is the British Civil Service. A Minister of the Crown there can merely tell his secretary what policy is and he need not go back for six months to see the secretary. He knows that everything he has told him will be carried out efficiently. From certain experience I have had I would say that my information on the British Civil Service is fairly accurate. In Papua and New Guinea we have a public service. I am not going to say it is inefficient, but I know that it will be difficult for the Administrator to recruit competent and highly efficient public servants. I know of the difficulties that would present themselves in having the indigenes trained as public servants. Nevertheless, it has to be done. The difficulties have to be faced and overcome because, if there is to be self-government in Papua and New Guinea, its public service must consist to the extent of 90 per cent., of indigenes. You cannot have a white public service with indigenes forming the government, if that is the ideal of self-government at the moment.
There are now, I think, fourteen government departments in Papua and New Guinea, although they merely perform administrative functions. The administration is divided, for the purpose of efficiency and for the purpose of costs and things like that, into a number of departments. One department deals with civil affairs, which is an essential part of the administration. Another department deals with public health. I shall indicate in a moment or two some of the disadvantages suffered by the indigenes in the Territories because of the lack of public health measures. I have been to New Guinea and have looked at the public hygiene facilities at some of the native villages and working places. There is nothing more frightful in the world than what can be witnessed there. It is frightening and shocking.
Then there is the Department of Native Affairs which, I should imagine, would have its hands full. The Treasury is another. Unless indigenes are highly trained in financial matters they will never be able to have self-government. It will be an impossibility. Other departments deal with law, education, agriculture, stock and fisheries. I have examined the functions of these departments and it seems that they are there merely to carry out the policy laid down by the Commonwealth Government; to see that the budget proposals are strictly observed and that the allotted expenditure is not exceeded. They look after the funds that are there; but I should like to know what is being done to train these people in a proper way to assume self-government.
I listened to previous speakers, some of whom quoted from reports furnished to the United Nations, and probably to the Government of Australia. I do not take any notice of those reports; I would not waste my time quoting one line from them.
I think it is a shocking state of affairs that the United Nations should send committees to our Territories and then tell us what we should do and when we should do it. When Australia was given New Guinea in trust no committees were appointed by the United Nations to come out here and to say, “ Here is a blueprint. Will you follow that blueprint? “ Not at all. No committee has come out here and said, “ What you really require is more capital so that you can develop this Territory “. Yet as time has advanced and improvements have been made, committees drawing high expenses from the United Nations have had the effrontery to come out here, make detailed examinations of conditions in the Territory, and then write to the United Nations pointing out what should be done towards giving the inhabitants self-government.
I read yesterday that the United Nations is finding itself in financial difficulties. If it is wasting money elsewhere as it is in sending missions to Papua and New Guinea, I can well understand that it is now short of funds. No member of this chamber can convince me that we could not elect “ a Senate select committee to go to New
Guinea and discover the same things that these other committees have found. How easy it is for anybody to go there, learn all these things, and then say do something else, “ Do this; we will lay down the blueprint for you “.
– But, senator, your leader in his speech cited members of the United Nations mission as the purveyors of all wisdom.
– I do not care who has been quoting the reports;I am pointing out that they are ridiculous.
– I could not agree with you more.
– This report is ridiculous and I resent every line of it. One has to get down to common sense when considering the question of self-government. We are dealing with natives who have been at the bottom of the abyss for years. They have known no other life, and suddenly we are given charge of them in trust. We try to do our best. Our task is to give them self-government that will be worth having. What does the charter of the United Nations say about self-government? We are not in conflict with this at all. This charter has not been quoted to-night, but I propose to cite a part relevant to this topic. Article 73 states -
Members ofthe United Nations which have or assume responsibility for the administration of territories whose people have not yet attained a full measure of self-government recognize the principle that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are paramount, and accept as a sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost, within the system of international peace and security established by the present Charter, the well-being of the inhabitants of these territories, and, to this end:
to ensure, with due respect for the culture of the peoples concerned, their political, economic, social and educational advancement, their just treatment, and their protection against abuses;
to develop self-government, to take due account of the political aspirations of the peoples, and to assist them in the progressive development of their free political institutions, according to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and their varying stages of advancement;
I go back to the introductory words of the last paragraph - to develop self-government.
I submit that everything that has been done in Papua and New Guinea since 1945 has been towards the development of selfgovernment. I recall that when 1 first went to New Guinea even the hospitals and morgues were not fly-proofed. I am sure that that situation has been remedied since. I mention that merely to show that conditions have improved over the last fifteen years. In that time in the Territory there has been a change. There are new schools. I should say in regard to the sum that is spent annually on the Territory - this year it is about £20,600,000- that I believe that every Australian is willing to have the amount increased because of the work that is being done there. If you make just a brief review of the countries that have been granted self-government you find that they were in a category quite different from that of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. We all believe in the principle of self-government. I think every intelligent person in the world believes in selfgovernment. There is no argument about that. The main feature of our civilization between 1945 and the present time has been the number of countries which have been allowed to gain control of their destinies. A review of the situation shows that nineteen countries which formerly were dependencies of Britain elected their own governments within that period. Their total area amounted to 4,250,000 square miles and their total population to 654,000,000. Of course, their number included India. The review also shows that 21 countries which formerly were dependencies of France elected or established their own governments for the first time after the end of World War II. The total area of those 21 countries was 5,000,000 square miles, and their total population was 81,000,000.
The review also discloses that little Belgium had two dependencies which became self-governing. They were the Congo and Burundi. Their total area was 926,000 square miles, and the combined population was 19,000,000. The Netherlands yielded to Indonesia 735,000 square miles of territory which was inhabited by 90,000,000 people. New Zealand assisted Western Samoa, with its comparatively small territory of 1,135 square miles, to provide governmentally for the 80,000 inhabitants.
Stated briefly, the facts are that, in 46 countries, 850,000,000 people have gained the right to govern themselves since 1945. The urge for self-government is coming, of course, from the United Nations. Some of the countries which have been granted selfgovernment have found themselves immediately in an unholy mess and have not been able, with the passage of time, to extricate themselves. I possess some common sense, and I do not want a similar state of affairs to arise in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. That must be avoided.
What are the main qualifications for a country to be self-governing? We cannot just say to a territory, Mr. Acting Deputy President, “ Well, the United Nations has told us that you should have selfgovernment, and we are therefore passing over the territory to you “. It is not as easy as that, if we are to have any consideration at all for the welfare of the indigenes. They must be able to do the things that we are doing in Australia. For instance, there must be tradesmen to go out and cut the timber, to process it and to make it suitable for the construction of houses. There must be tradesmen to build the houses and the other buildings that are necessary in a civilized community. There must be many other building tradesmen, such as bricklayers and plasterers. Roads must be constructed. There must be communications. I imagine that one of the greatest difficulties in the way of administration in the Territory is the lack of communications. That lack will be accentuated when the indigenes have the right to govern themselves, having regard to the pidgin English which they speak. In Australia it is possible to communicate with the population as a whole very readily. Our 10,600,000 people may be informed of a matter in, say, ten minutes. The newspapers circulate in every State, and in every hamlet and town. In the Territory, however, the position is entirely different. Communication facilities are so poor that it might take months for a representative of the people to convey to his fellow indigenes a decision that had been made.
Nutritional foods must be made available to the people on a large scale. Are the people of the Territory being trained at present to provide the foods that are needed there? I recognize that that could be done under guidance and that the people could do so as employees, but they have to be taken out of that groove. Co-operative farming activities must be established. The people of the Territory should be encouraged to farm in a co-operative way and to engage in co-operative trading generally, because that is the only way in which they can be successful in that field. I come to the health services in the Territory. I understand that at the present time there is one doctor for every 20,000 indigenes and one nurse for every 8,000. Supposing that the United Nations insisted on the Commonwealth passing the Territory over to the indigenes by 1970. Let us assume that the Commonwealth said: “ We wash our hands of the whole thing. You can take it over.” What health services could the people of the Territory provide? I know that the services at the moment are totally inadequate. There must be a big improvement in health services and more hospitals must be provided. That should be undertaken progressively, according to the finances available.
My idea of self-government for the Territory is that it should concern not only the indigenes but also other people who have born there. I think they are entitled to help govern the Territory. If we were to confine the government of the Territory to such people, they would be incapable of providing the essential medical and other services. There are those who say: “ The people of the Territory are entitled to selfgovernment and they should be granted it. It is their right. Never mind if we sacrifice the welfare they now enjoy. Never mind if we sacrifice totally the welfare that might otherwise be provided until they were capable of governing themselves. We will sacrifice everything so that they may have self-government.” To my way of thinking, that is plain nonsense. If we proceed steadily and not let the indigenes of the Territory suffer any hardships, and if we do our best for them, we shall reach a stage when we will be able to say with honour and with pride: “ It is all yours. Go ahead and do your best with it.”
– We have listened to-night to three very thoughtful and informed speeches on this all-absorbing topic. This demonstrates clearly to me that the Opposition substantially agrees with the Government in relation to this measure. In fact, in principle, the Opposition agrees entirely with the Government. That is a circumstance which should give pride to all of us. Here, we have a monumental national bill in respect of which both the Government and the Opposition are in substantial agreement. The differences that exist relate to matters of emphasis, and I shall deal with them in due course in my speech. I think that Senator McKenna’s remarks may properly be construed as meaning that the difference between the Opposition and the Government on this bill relates to the time factor as mu:h as anything. I think I am quoting him correctly when I say that he argued that the Labour Party concurred with the views of the United Nations as set forth in the Foot report, and also considered the needs of the people of New Guinea in arriving at its view as to the time factor. I point out in passing that Senator McKenna’s argument is not necessarily logical. I do not think he established it correctly, because he did not show that the views of the United Nations coincided, in fact, with the needs of the people. I quite agree that if the needs of the people and the views of the United Nations coincided we would be rather loath to dissent from those views; but I do not think that Senator McKenna quite made his point that the Foot report, in any respect at all, went along with the needs of the people of New Guinea. The Foot report did not investigate in detail the actual needs of the people. I shall develop that argument as I go along.
The bill is another stage only - and I emphasize this point - in the great work of endeavouring to achieve several things for this great area of land to the north of Australia. In the first place, it endeavours to advance national unity among the varying peoples and varying cultures of New Guinea. In the second place it endeavours to do more than that, by attempting to implement, by stages, self-government for the area. More importantly still, it attempts to do a third thing by stages. It attempts to implement the principles of democratic self-government among these people. I invite the Senate to consider the distinction between selfgovernment, which exists in many parts of the world, and democratic self-government which observes the rule of law and principles of individual liberty, which we are trying to inculcate into the peoples of New Guinea at the sam<” time as we develop their sense of national unity.
Many countries have national unity, but they have not democratic self-government. They have various forms of tyranny, some of them copied, unfortunately, from western civilization. 1 draw a very important distinction between national unity and democratic self-government. So far as these primitive people are concerned our problem is two-fold. Not only must we try to bring them, in due course, to the stage of selfdetermination by democratic selfgovernment but we must also aim at inculcating into them many other democratic processes that follow from democratic selfgovernment, including an appreciation of the rule of law, without which democracy cannot function properly. Finally, we must give them an appreciation of national unity or nationalism. All these things are important.
I might digress for a moment on this subject of national unity or nationalism. I do not think that we should ever forget that we are endeavouring to impose upon a primitive race our ideas of national unity and nationalism. Those two qualities are products of western civilization, just as we are. They certainly are not an evolution of eastern culture, and we must be very careful when we talk about nationalism and national unity to the people of New Guinea because these are western concepts. Whilst we agree, and no doubt the various populations of New Guinea agree, that the people there would like this form of nationalism, at all stages we should be conscious that it is a western civilized culture we are endeavouring to impose.
I often wonder whether we have not permitted other primitive people, in Africa and Asia, to absorb some wrong and unfortunate values that we sometimes demonstrate and which are associated with our concept of nationalism. I often wonder, too, whether the new African states that have been set up with the western concept of nationalism have not overlooked the most vital factor of all in relation to this nationalism - namely, that without a proper democratic form of government nationalism can become as fearsome a tyranny as any other form of tyranny, lt is quite obvious that we could have done more in Africa to train the primitive peoples there so that they would have an understanding of democracy instead of inciting them, perhaps, into quick decisions in relation to the achievement of national unity without a proper conception of the other elements that are so vital to the proper working of national unity.
In the context in which I now speak I turn to New Guinea, because I wish to quote the Foot committee report against the background of what I have said. Whilst I appreciate what has been said in the Foot report - and in many respects it is a very good report - I add that it is noteworthy that the emphasis in the Foot report is on the need for national unity. Of course, one does not quarrel with that sentiment. It is a perfectly good one, but 1 do not think the report goes far enough. In the closing paragraph dealing with national unity this is what it said -
A new flag and a new anthem and possibly a new form of common citizenship would all help in that cause.
That is, the cause of national unity. The paragraph continues -
These are the outward symbols of unity. Much more important is the need to take every possible step - in the schools particularly - to encourage a spirit of national unity and enthusiasm, and thus to overcome the disadvantages of physical barriers and isolated population groups and the wide variety of different languages. We believe, moreover, that the most effective means of achieving this allimportant purpose will be firstly to press on with the teaching of English throughout both territories and secondly to improve communications between the different districts and thirdly - and most important - to create a central House of Representatives, as we have recommended, in which all the people of both territories will be directly and democratically represented.
I do not think that anybody quarrels with those principles, but that is only a part of the story. It does not attempt to answer or even to suggest the whole problem. There are good things in the report, but I think that the committee missed the bus. I have read the report carefully and it appears - although I may be wrong - that the word “ democracy “ is used only once, and that is in the passage that I have cited. There is nothing in the report about the importance of teaching these primitive peoples a love of the principles of personal liberty or the rule of law. In fact, neither personal liberty nor the rule of law is mentioned in the report.
I am somewhat surprised that the report neglected to make any reference to the principles of self-determination. Whilst not quarrelling with the report on its recommendations in relation to national unity, I must say that surely there is much more in the achievement of a nation than mere national unity. If there is not, we might find a repetition of the spectacle of the Congo, or even Ghana, where Her Majesty’s Opposition is now under lock and key. Ghana has achieved national unity and even self-government but, with great respect to the Ghanaians, they have not achieved democratic self-government. There is no respect in that country for the rule of law. These elements, so complementary to the achievement of a national unity, have been neglected in the Foot report. It would have been most desirable if the report had said that the most important and the most difficult of all the tasks of the Administration was to educate the people in the basic principles of democracy, some understanding of the rule of law, and the principles of individual liberty, to ensure that when national unity and self-government were achieved the new nation would not be subjected to the tyranny, brutality, mass injustice, murder and bloodshed, which are being seen in Africa and parts of Asia, in furtherance of what are called the principles of nationalism.
This I make my first point in regard to the bill, which goes further than to aim at national unity, so favoured by the Foot report. It goes not only towards the achievement of a form of nationalism for the people of New Guinea but also towards the achievement of self-government and the principles of democratic selfgovernment. It is to be commended in that respect. The Foot report goes on to deal with the creation of a house of representatives. It refers to the political problems associated with New Guinea and, in paragraph 123, makes this rather extraordinary suggestion -
In the political sphere progress has been less rapid.
Immediately before this passage, it refers to the rate of progress in other forms of activity. If I were a sensitive Australian, I would be offended at that but, of course, in politics one loses that degree of sensitivity. Political progress in New Guinea has been very rapid. If one is merely aiming at the achievement of a national form of self-government without any of the elements to which I have referred, one could claim that progress has been somewhat slow. But if one associates with national unity the attainment of the other ideals to which I have referred, and which are attainable, progress has been very rapid.
The Foot report recommends that there be a house of 100 representatives. This is rather astonishing. Why is a figure of 100 postulated? lt is a capricious figure, I suggest. Perhaps a worse feature is that the report suggests that this house be imposed upon a primitive and unsuspecting people without consulting them. 1 am very glad that the Government did not accept the report in that respect. I agree with Senator McKenna’s statement that probably the Foot report accelerated the Government’s consideration of this matter, but it certainly did not stampede the Government into accepting the recommendations in the report. The Government, in effect, said, “ No, this is hardly in accordance wilh the spirit of democracy that we think the United Nations envisages. We shall consult the people.” As is well known, that consultation was made through the medium of a select committee - a very desirable thing in certain parliaments - which came down very heavily in favour of something quite different from a house of representatives such as was recommended by the Foot report.
Senator McKenna took exception to the constitution of the proposed House of Assembly, favouring something different again from the Foot report. Having postulated his theory in regard to a proper House of Assembly for the New Guinea people, he gave no reason why his house should be preferred to ours or to what the Foot report recommended. It is quite clear that the select committee had a good look at that committee’s report. The Government has included in this bill the exact recommendations of the select committee, which I think are very relevant. There are several reasons why the proposed House of Assembly should be as the bill suggests. The select committee stated that there was a definite feeling against too large a membership. Only four of the persons questioned favoured a council of 100 representatives, the main reason being that such a council would be irresponsible and unwieldy. Finally - this reason must be looked at and answered by the Opposition - the committee said that there were probably not 100 indigenes in the whole of New Guinea who were capable of sitting in the House of Assembly.
In this context, I merely refer to the volume of evidence that was given. The select committee took evidence on nineteen days and conducted 119 interviews, involving 463 men and women. I suggest that it is rather important for the Opposition to reflect upon the fact that only four of those 463 men and women advocated a house of 100 representatives. The other 459 persons preferred a smaller body. It is also noteworthy that of those 463 men and women only 23 were Europeans. Four were Chinese and four were of mixed race, the others being indigenous New Guinea people. In addition to the 463 men and women who were interrogated, 1,662 people were present at the interviews. Although not individually examined, they would have been able, the report states, to express views contrary to those expressed by the witnesses if they had felt so inclined. It will be seen that the Government has a very strong volume of evidence to support its contention that the House of Assembly should be constituted as suggested in the bill. With great respect. I suggest that there is no evidence in either the Foot report or the case presented by the Leader of the Opposition to rebut the evidence of the select committee or the proposals contained in the measure now before the House.
There is one other aspect of the Foot report with which I shall deal. I refer to the subject of defence. Although it is not of importance in relation to the bill it is of very great importance generally and was very ably referred to by Senator Wright. The Foot report does not mention the principles of self-determination or say by whom and how the area is to be defended when national unity is achieved. I do not think we need to labour in this place or anywhere else the importance of commencing to train these primitive people in some of the principles of defence. If in the course of time New Guinea becomes a selfgoverning democracy, she will automatically assume responsibility to defend herself. Although, as we all know - I know it personally and have great pride in saying so- the New Guinea man is a magnificent fighter, particularly in the jungle, he has to be trained, equipped and armed. This Government should consider whether. in view of the circumstances that appertain in this area and the changes that have occurred over the last year or two, it is not absolutely essential to form now a strong, effective and efficient fighting arm of New Guinea people. It would have been within the bounds of the Foot mission to mention this matter. It is of interest - perhaps only passing interest - to note that the matter was completely ignored.
I now wish to make my fourth and final point. I suggest we should not forget, as we frequently do when we discuss such measures, that the introduction of this bill is not an isolated act. The proposals contained in this measure should not be taken out of the. context of what already has been done in the Territory. This measure is only part of a pattern that has been unfolding since 1945 in relation to democratic self-government and the achievement of national unity. I am quite prepared to congratulate the Labour Government for introducing the policy that has since been pursued. I understand that the first legislation for the setting up of a legislative council at the central governmental level was introduced in 1949.’ However, it was not proclaimed until 1951. Then for the first time in history the people of New Guinea - many of them did not know it - had a legislative body of 29 members, three of whom were required to be indigenous people. They were all appointees.
It is well known to honorable senators that the next stage was reached with the 1960 legislation, which increased the size of the legislative body to 37 members and adopted the very important innovation of providing for elected members. The new body of 37 members included twelve indigenous people of whom six had to be elected. There were also six electees from among the non-indigenous people. So there we had the beginning, even though only the beginning, of a democratic parliament in New Guinea. Now the third stage at the central governmental level has been reached.
But that is not the whole story. The facts I have outlined do not by any means give an adequate picture of what is happening in New Guinea at the political level in accordance with the policies of this Government. I think probably an even more important political innovation was the establishment in 1950 of the village councils. Although I have repeated it several times, I return to my original remark that selfgovernment is not the sole objective of this Government. Its objective is democratic self-government. There is a big difference between the two, particularly in relation to primitive peoples. The Government established the essential bases of democratic selfgovernment by setting up local government councils at the village level. In 1950 there was not one such council, but we should be very proud of the fact that by 1962 78 had been formed and 2,270 councillors were representing approximately 750,000 people.
– Which party introduced the idea of having village councils?
– I am quite happy to admit that the Australian Labour Party introduced the idea. But it did not actually implement that idea. It was not implemented until 1950. My point in mentioning the village councils is to emphasize that they provided the foundation for the principles of democracy to be taught to these primitive peoples. With great respect to the Foot mission, one does not teach the principles of democracy to a house of representatives of 100 members, or any other number, merely by electing those persons to a parliament. For some years now this process has been going on not only at the village level but also at the district level. That is because provincial administration is imposed on a village administration. Here again, we have the spectacle of the indigenous peoples being encouraged to accept appointment not only to village councils but also to district councils.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I was pointing out that here we have the spectacle of democracy being taught to people at village level and at district level. I should think that, in twelve years, we have gone a very long way in establishing some consciousness of how a democracy, according to western civilization, works. We have established that in the minds of a few people who twenty years ago, perhaps, had never seen a white man. Not only have we achieved a large measure of success in regard to this aspect of the problem but we have done it peaceably, without any blood being spilt. New Guinea, to-day, is one of the few peaceable countries in the world where the building up of the status of under-privileged races, living alongside privileged races, has not precipitated bloodshed, murder, mass injustice and social problems of all sorts. That is something of which I think we in this country should be proud.
Sir Hugh Foot very properly pointed out where he thought we were weakest in regard to the legislation of the Territory. But I think we could likewise point out to Sir Hugh Foot that many of his ideas have ended in complete and utter failure and a great deal of blood being spilt in the process. So, as I interjected when Senator McKenna was speaking, I feel that we should not be too anxious blindly to follow the report of the United Nations if we believe that that report is not right in regard to the problems ahead of us. I think we would be quite wrong in insisting that we should accept the report merely because it happens to be a report of the United Nations. Good gracious! It is the report of only four people, one of whom is a specialist, of course, in relation to the problems of Africa; but he has not the record of success that we have in New Guinea. The other gentlemen concerned have no record of success in relation to this matter. The mere fact that their report has received the approbation of the United Nations does not necessarily make it a wise report or a good report. I have endeavoured to show where it is lacking in very material particulars. It is largely lacking with reference to the principles of self-determination. It makes no reference to the importance of inculcating principles of democracy in a race - principles upon which self-government alone can be founded.
The development of New Guinea has been the work of a government which has only the welfare of the indigenous people at heart. I think we are moving towards a multi-racial society in New Guinea, but we are moving also towards a democracy. At the same time, we are achieving nationhood. Finally, we are doing it peaceably, without bloodshed and with the goodwill of the people concerned. Here I pay a personal tribute to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who has exhibited at all times outstanding administrative ability in difficult circumstances. He has been the epitome of tolerance to all sections of the community. At the same time, he has been firm and understanding. But, above all, he has been a most dedicated Minister in achieving his ideals. I support the bill very enthusiastically because I know that it is in very good hands.
– I propose to make a few pertinent remarks in relation to the Territory under discussion and the bill which is now before honorable senators. As a preliminary, I should like to pay a tribute to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) who introduced this bill in another place and who has shown sincere appreciation of Australia’s responsibility for the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea. Sometimes one gets weary of hearing such terms as indigenes, aborigines, natives, Papuans and New Guineans. There seems to be a wrong impression concerning the derivation of those words; and sometimes I think it might do honorable senators, and honorable members in another place, good to realize the significance of terms which they use so carelessly and indifferently. However, I pay a tribute to the Minister for Territories for his sincere interest in the people who dwell in Papua and New Guinea. I do not refer only to the socalled indigenous people - the natives, as Government supporters so frequently term them. What I admire most about the Minister is that he has been able to achieve some measure of success despite the conservative approach of his associates, not only in Cabinet but also among the backbenchers of the Government parties.
Senator Vincent can correct me if I am wrong, but 1 understood him to say that the United Nations had not made a wise report. Whether that report was wise or unwise, the United Nations has an influence in world affairs to-day. The Government has hastened too slowly. Of course, that is not unusual with the Government because it cannot even look after its own people within the boundaries of Australia. It hesitates. It does not know where it is going. It has no plan for this nation.
– You cannot make a speech without saying something like that.
– I cannot make a speech without telling the truth.
– He cannot make a speech; let us leave it at that.
– If honorable senators opposite would interject without interrupting each other, I would be able to answer each of them. Sir Hugh Foot is a man of extraordinary colonial experience. He is probably the most distinguished man in the United Kingdom colonial service. He is particularly interested in the welfare of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea and also in the Australians who have settled there and made such an excellent contribution to development there. But irrespective of his point of view, and irrespective of whether the Afro-Asian bloc and the United Nations are wrong in their assessment of the situation, the Government cannot neglect world opinion.
Nevertheless, this Government and its predecessors since 1949 have been terrified to go ahead. On 11th October, 1960 - before the 1961 general elections when the Government got such a fright - the Government was told that it would have to face up to the rights of these people and accept the establishment of a common roll. Since then a report on the Territory has been tendered to the people of the world and the Government has decided to accept the common roll. Senator Vincent talked about democratic government and the 100 qualified indigenes referred to by the Foot commission. Study that aspect reasonably and. dispassionately and you must admit that if one-third or one-fifth of the 100 failed to absorb the lessons of democratic control there would be still 66 or 80 who would have absorbed those lessons.
This bill is a travesty of democratic justice. It is practically worthless from the point of view of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea. It gives them practically no real authority. Why is the Government so distrustful? Why does it not entrust these people with a measure of authority and a chance to absorb the lessons of democracy so that they can learn how to use their new House of Assembly? For some reason, the Government wants to retain control. It is not game enough to admit that it still wants to crush these people, but that is what it will do under the terms of this bill. Let me compare section 52 of the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1960 with this bill. This section relates to ordinances that may be disallowed and there is no difference at all with the provisions of the bill. Section 52 of the principal act states -
The Administrator shall reserve for the GovernorGeneral’s pleasure-
It is notable that this does not apply to the Administrator himself, and incidentally I pay a tribute to him for the interest he has shown in the welfare of the natives - an Ordinance of any of the following descriptions, namely: -
In the bill, the word “ natives “ has been deleted in some cases, and recently the Government made provision for the consumption of intoxicating liquor by the native people. But, in effect, all the provisions in that section of the act are in the new bill. Consequently, I wonder what will be the authority of the House of Assembly. The Government claims that it will be teaching the people of Papua and New Guinea the lessons of democratic control and parliamentary procedure, but it does not propose to give them even the right to have a cabinet. It retains the offensive term “ Administrator’s Advisory Council “ - a body on which the people of the Territory have no real say. They cannot determine anything of importance.
I know that the Government has made increased grants each year for the development of the Territory. The allocation has increased by approximately £2,000,000 to £2,500,000 a year. It is estimated that within a few years the vote will rise to £35,000,000 a year. But What will be the procedure when the people of the Territory achieve self-government, as it is called? Do not forget that self-government and independence are not identical. The people may seek independence. What does this Government intend to do if by some fortuitous circumstance, whether by the support of Communist preferences or otherwise, it should unhappily continue in office? Will it continue to support the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Does it regard the area as strategically valuable? Will it accept a measure of social and economic responsibility?
Papua was entrusted to us on the suggestion of the then Premier of Queensland, Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, in 1908, and Dr. McGregor was transferred from Fiji to take charge of the Territory as a protectorate. As was the custom at that time, the major powers of Europe were seeking lands overseas. They were not entitled to it but they grabbed what they could. It was an era of exploitation. The Dutch, the Germans and the French were looking for territory. So the British Government annexed Papua. Subsequently, after the First World War, under the charter of the League of Nations we took over German territories in that area, including portion of New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville. Later we received our trusteeship from the United Nations. But actually little was done in that Territory until after World War II. when a Labour government was in power. The fundamentals were developed by a Labour Government. After that Government had1 done an extraordinarily efficient job in the conduct of the war, it saw fit to devote its attention to the rights of the people of Papua and New Guinea. It recognized its responsibility and gave recognition to the service rendered by many of the people in that Territory. It saw fit to establish local government authorities and district councils. It introduced labour laws and established a native affairs organization.
The legislation to establish a legislative council was brought in by a government lead by the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), but the ground for that legislation had already been laid. Since I have been in this chamber I have not heard a tribute paid to the great work done by the Labour Government, nor have I heard of such a tribute being paid in the other place. The present Government has, on every occasion, claimed credit for what has been achieved, but that is not anything unusual for an anti-Labour government. I say without risk of contradiction or challenge that this Government would not be game to change Labour legislation because it fears the ire of the electors, and if there is one thing that is dear to the hearts of Government supporters and to which their minds are wedded, it is control of the Treasury benches. They will do everything possible to retain that control.
– Don’t you desire to do the same?
– Only in the interests of the people, and not if the Government is doing the job properly.
– We would act in a more refined way.
– And we would do things in a much more competent way, too.
– You still desire to be in office, do you not?
– Naturally, in the interests of the people and in the interests of the nation. If we had not made the appropriate suggestions in recent years, nothing would have been done to develop the northern part of Australia. It was only under constant pressure from us that anything was done. Nor can I say that what was done was necessarily in accordance with our desires or in accordance with our sense of national responsibility.
– Are you criticizing the Government for doing it so well?
– It has not done so extraordinarily well.
– But it has carried out your policy, according to you.
– In a bad way.
– The pattern was laid by a Labour Government, but the present Government has not gone far enough or fast enough. Sir Hugh Foot and his associates on the United Nations mission said that. I have read the report and I know what tributes were paid. That mission was not begrudging in the praise it bestowed on the Australian Government, but at the same time it did recognize that there were fundamental requirements which had not been met by the Government, and which the Government is still not prepared to meet.
– Will you answer me one thing? What is the vision of Sir Hugh Foot and his mission in relation to the Territory? Do they visualize a European country, or have they considered the wishes of the natives?
– In very simple terms, the mission asked the Government of Australia to establish a common roll with a view to having by April, 1964, an elected assembly of 100 members. Is that clear enough for you?
– But do the people really want it?
– That mission saw just as many people as the select committee did, and it had a dispassionate approach. The select committee originally comprised six members, but later had seven. Some qf them may have had a vested interest in their investigation. The members were extraordinarily good types and I take not one iota of credit from any of them, but most of them had lived in the Territory a long time and would know quite a bit about it. Three members were indigenes. But the visiting mission was a dispassionate group making an independent assessment of this area, part of which had been under Australian control for only part of the 80 years that it had been a British territory. The remaining part has been under Australia’s control for 40 years.
– Tell me-
– Let me tell this part of the story in my own way. I will answer your questions as you pose them. They are not particularly difficult questions, and they provide me with an opportunity to recount the real story to acquaint you and your associates with the facts. The visiting mission saw the Territory through the eyes of the outsider. This Government is claiming credit to which it is not basically entitled. For example, it is not entitled to credit for the devotional approach of the men and women who have gone to that Territory, not only in government departments but as missionaries of all religious denominations, and have done an excellent job. As I mentioned previously, 90 per cent, of the school children in Papua and New Guinea are taught by missionaries. Of the 750,000 children of school age, only about 200,000 are receiving any form of education. But what does the Government do about this? It hands out threepences to the natives and shirks its real responsibility. The Foot mission was not ignorant of the work of the missionaries. It paid a tribute to the extraordinary qualities of the men and women who had devoted most, if not all, of their lives to the Territory. The people of Papua and New Guinea are not particularly happy with this Government and its immediate predecessors as far back as 10th December, 1949.
– Its immediate predecessor was a Labour Government.
– I stopped at 10th December, 1949, and I would not be telling the truth if I went back beyond that date. In the Territory are men who have devoted their whole lives to service. Such a man is Ian Downs who has had an extraordinary career. Another is George Greathead. Also, the Leahys have given a lifetime of service. They all recognize a responsibility to the natives and accept that responsibility, but they are distrustful of an anti-Labour government. That became apparent when Ian Downs said, a few years ago, “Why isn’t the Government honest? Why doesn’t it come out and say that it will nationalize the lands and enterprises owned by Australians and by the indigenous people? “
– Ian Downs took up land as a private entrepreneur.
– I do not think any one could justifiably deride Ian Downs and the service he has given to the Territory.
– I would be the last to criticize him; I know him quite well.
– All the people I have mentioned have criticized not only the present Menzies Government but also its immediate predecessors because of their callous indifference to their trust. What are we to do with these people in the Territory if we are not prepared to entrust them with a measure of real responsibility?
The amendments proposed by the Australian Labour Party in another place were simple, but the Government even rejected the proposal that the title of the House of Assembly be changed to “House of Representatives “. The Government wishes to have 44 elected representatives, and we wish to have 88 indigenous representatives, plus another ten representatives to be elected on a measure of franchise.- Surely the indigenous people could be entrusted with real responsibility to that degree. But the Government is not prepared to do so. How does it propose to face the people of the world? It should not forget that the march is on and has been on for some years. The Labour Party has suggested repeatedly to the Government that it should face the real issue in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I am not saying that these people are ready or prepared to govern themselves. Any one who knows the story and who is acquainted with the position there-
– Did you say they are not ready?
– I did not say that. If the honorable senator will wait, he will hear me tell my story in my usual inimitable way. The point is that we are living in changing circumstances. This is a new world. Since the last war, the world will not wait for particular nations to decide whether colonies, protectorates or any other form of dependencies are ready for selfgovernment. The world says they must have it. Is the Government satisfied, in its selfishness, that the Territory is of no strategic value to this country? The Government is not prepared to accept the social and economic responsibility it owes to people who, for many years, were exploited terrifically by a number of firms, such as Burns Philp and Company Limited, W. R. Carpenter and Company Limited and Colyer Watson (New Guinea) Limited, and also by a number of German firms in another area of New Guinea. Perhaps that was the custom, and perhaps coloured people, had they been in control of the white people, would have adopted similar procedures and practices. But it cannot be denied that these people have been exploited.
The firms I have named have done really nothing for the area. The men who have made a real contribution have been the Australians who have gone into the government service, and the people who have settled there. I do not mean the old planters. I refer to the planters who have been interested in the rights of the people and have accepted responsibility for them. They still do so. This Government will not accept any responsibility for those people and will not admit that they have rights. If, in the process of time, the occasion arises when they have to leave the Territory in which they have spent twenty, 30 or more years, and to bring their children down here and find a new way of life, what does the Government propose to do? It will not even recognize its responsibility to people in the government service.
– Why do you think they may have to leave?
– What do you think might happen in the process of time?
– I am asking why you think they may leave.
– In the process of time, because of the hatred which you people will engender through your slowness in giving them a sense of national pride and inculcating in them a sense of national reresponsibility, they may drive the Australians out. Do not fall for the story, which some one told me, that there is no hatred and no bitterness between the clans. There are more than 500 clans in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and they speak more than 500 dialects. Integration is not going to be easy. That is why I plead for a policy of “ the sooner the better “. As the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said on a certain occasion, it would be better to leave the Territory too soon than too late.
This is an occasion on which the Government should have recognized its failures and mistakes of the past and taken a gamble. It still has the right of veto in that the ordinances of the Territory are tied up. Even the elected assembly will have no real responsibility. I do not say that the Government is not game to do these things. Perhaps it is not a question of gameness, because I think that most Government supporters are gamblers. The reason for the Government’s attitude is probably due to the fact that it is too conservative. It hesitates to give these people their rights as individuals. In fact, I think it hates to do so. The people of the Territory are human beings. Despite the attitude of mind of individual supporters of the Government parties, they will not be able to deny the people of the Territory their rights indefinitely.
The indigenous people whose opinions the select committee obtained were all older men. One of them, when interviewed here in Australia not so long ago, told us just what Australia should do. I do not intend to quote his words because they have been repeated many times. Most of the people of the Territory are not opposed to Australia, but in the process of time they may develop and nurture in their hearts a hatred of Australians. The man I have mentioned told the Australian people, through the medium of television, the degree of responsibility that should be entrusted to the socalled indigenous people. Most of us think in terms of the older people in the Territory who have been associated with Australians all their lives and who have achieved a measure of materia] success. Some of them also have achieved a measure of fame by being elected or appointed to the Legislative Council. I suppose they have no fear that they will fail to be elected to the House of Assembly; but irrespective of the tolerance and wisdom of the older men, the younger men may not be so patient. I commend that thought to the Government, lt might think also in terms of the increasing facilities for education and the instrusion of Communist agents. My party suggested as recently as two weeks ago, after investigation, that they are in the Territory. Every one knows their purpose. They are there to inculcate in the people of the Territory a national urge, a feeling of antagonism and a spirit of aggressiveness, not to the Soviet bloc or to the Communist ideology, but to the Australians who have been in the Territory for so long. That is why I say the Government must pay due regard to the older, and as it would term them, wiser men. At the same time it cannot afford lo neglect the younger men who are coming on. They may not be so patient. After all, among these people there will arise those who will demand a right to their place in the sun. Irrespective of whether the Government says that the Territory cannot survive economically it is not always wisdom that prevails. These people will say that they are entitled to their place in the sun, that they can survive and that they have been promised this and given an assurance of that. Gratitude will not come into it. That is why I say to the Government that it has to face up to this problem with a sense of reality and responsibility, and do something for these people.
What does it matter whether there are 44 or 88 ordinary elected members in the House of Assembly? Some one has said that you could not obtain 100 people with a measure of responsibility to make them fit for election. Do not let us be unrealistic. It is of no use our thinking that New Guinea is a tropical paradise. New Guinea, New Ireland and Bougainville are all in the tropics and we must realize the conditions that exist there. The terrain is difficult. There are precipitous slopes and the soil is subject to leaching. There is not a river of any real value that can take a boat with a draught greater than 6 to 8 feet. The river deltas are mostly swamps and the amount of arable land is comparatively small. There may be some good arable land on the eastern highlands, in the Markham Valley and the Gazelle Peninsula of New Britain. The land in New Ireland is worthless. There is only one commercial timber stand, which is controlled by Commonwealth-New Guinea Timbers Limited. No other commercial timber stand is to be found. There are no mining deposits of any real economic value. We must think, too, of the difficulty of transport, the cost of constructing roads and so on. Against this background nearly 2,000,000 people have to be served, yet the Government suggests that 44 representatives can do the job. It is not even fair or honest!
The Government will not, either in this chamber or the other place, tell us what it proposes to give these members by way of remuneration or by way of privileges and rights. It should realize that the country is subject to monsoonal rains, that the conditions of transport are difficult and that the changing seasons will make it very difficult for these 44 men to do their job. I ask the Government to have another look at this bill when the amendments come before the chamber during the committee stage. In the other place Government supporters did attempt to point out the disabilities under which the elected members would labour.
– The Government might think differently in the morning.
– Do you suggest that it might think differently after having heard me?
– That will be a change. I have uttered words of wisdom before, but the Government has never heeded them. I gave the Government advice on 11th October, 1960. If the Government had listened to me then it would not be in the jamb it is in at present.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Mackellar). - Order! The honorable senator must get back to the bill.
– With all due respect I recognize that I have a responsibility to honorable senators, and I am exercising that responsibility not to individual senators but collectively to all. Others have . been allowed to stray on occasions.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! I am asking the honorable senator not to stray.
– I will observe your ruling, Mr. Deputy President. In fact, I have never departed from it. Why does not the Government accept the position and recognize it? How offensive and illogical must the proposal for an Administrator’s Advisory Council be to these people! By creating it in the way proposed the Government will vitiate the one principle that was worth while. The Government is claiming to establish an elected assembly of 44 elected indigenous people with the addition of ten other than indigenous people elected by voters on the common roll, and ten official representatives. It had the hide, the temerity and the political insufferability to attempt even to put the Administrator in the chair of the proposed body. It was only when saner counsels prevailed - and this was exceptional - that it agreed that a speaker would be elected from among the members of the House of Assembly. But the Government has refused any real authority to the House of Assembly.
At the commencement of my speech I pointed out that there is no real difference from the point of view of responsibility between this bill and the measures introduced in 1949 and 1960. I would be pleased to hear Government supporters tell me just what authority these members will have. What are they going to do? How are they going to serve their people? What rights will they have? What facilities will be available to them? What remuneration will be afforded them? We are waiting to hear answers to those important questions.
Those answers are important when you are seeking to establish a form of democratic government. The Government claims to be desirous of inculcating in these people a sense of democracy and a sense of responsibility to the people who elect them. The members-to-be are entitled to know in advance what their conditions will be. Is the Government going to consult- I hesitate to use the word “stooge” - some one subservient to the Government among the so-called indigenous people to tell it what they would expect by way of remuneration, by way of privileges, transport facilities and so on? Is the Government going to allow the representatives in the House of Assembly to determine these matters? An interesting position could arise if the decision were left to the members of the House of Assembly. It would consist of 44 so-called indigenous people in addition to ten other than indigenes elected by voters on the common roll, and ten official members. If the ten elected nonindigenous members were to gang up with the ten official members surely they would be able to influence a sufficient number of the 44 to persuade them to accept what was wanted by the Administrator.
When the set-up is closely analysed one must realize that it is just a facade because of a demand made to the Government to do something before the eyes of the world. That is why the Government has brought in this bill. It is not desirous of extending any rights to the people of New Guinea but is simply endeavouring, in the smallest possible way, to meet the demands of world opinion. Surely the Government is not going to accept the responsibility for having Australia dubbed the last colonial power. As a distinguished delegate to the last session of the United Nations you, Mr. Deputy President, must appreciate the odium that attaches to certain powers that possess colonies in Africa. Surely we are not going to be left trailing along in their company!
We must face up to our responsibility. This Government is not facing up to it. We must realize that the Territory has a difficult future. I cannot see it surviving economically on its own resources. Even under the republic of Indonesia, West Irian cannot progress, unless the republic is prepared to vote a large measure of its internal revenue towards the development of the newly acquired area. Economically, West Irian cannot survive alone. It is in a little worse position than Papua, our own Territory. I have tried to give in some detail the economic story in relation to the better part of the area entrusted to us under the United Nations trusteeship agreement, the former Mandated Territory of New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville. There can be no sound economic future for the Territory under present scientific and engineering conditions. Unless something extraordinary is revealed in the future, we shall always have a responsibility towards the Territory, but the Government has not stated the measure of responsibility that it will be prepared to accept when the Territory achieves selfgovernment, as the Government hopes it will. The Government has not defined what it desires for the Territory or what it is prepared to provide. We do not know whether it envisages self-government within the ambit of the Australian nation, or independence. I express no opinion as to what is likely to be the outcome.
The Government has not set a target date. We know the difficulties associated with the setting of target dates, but we know what the world is demanding. Even the Dutch, with their callous indifference to the area entrusted to them, were prepared to spend liberally over the past ten years on what has become West Irian. They knew that it was passing out of their control but they did at least do something in the field of education. Their view differed from my view. Their idea was to hand over control to an elite in 1970, but an elite has not always proved satisfactory for the welfare of the people as a whole. However, the Dutch had a target at which they were aiming. They arranged for boys and girls and men and women of the area to go to the University of the Netherlands. We talk about these people being able to govern themselves and perhaps become independent. Yet to-day, in 1963, under this so-called benign Government and its immediate predecessors, only three of the indigenous people have attended Australian universities, one studying agricultural science, another science, and the third law. There was talk about a university college, but only after extraordinary agitation on the part of the Labour Party as recently as twelve or eighteen months ago. How many high schools and technical colleges are in the Territory? The Government talks of these people being able to govern themselves, but it has not faced up to its responsibilities. >
There must be a crash programme, not only in education but also in health and political development. Even now, the Government is not facing up to the provision of a crash programme in political development. Why does it not do this? Is there any particular reason? Surely it is not the result of ignorance. Is it because of intolerance or conservatism? I should not think that it was because of downright laziness. I do not think the Government is lazy, as it is so eager to hold on to office. I do not think that the members of Cabinet and other Government supporters are lazy. I think that they just do not realize what they should be doing for this Territory and its indigenous people. No one seems to know why they do not act. Perhaps even they do not know.
There is only one solution, namely, acceptance of the amendments to be proposed by the Labour Party. Some Labour amendments have already been accepted in the other place. A measure of wisdom was exercised there. It is not too late for this conservative Government to accept the further amendments that will be proposed. There is nothing offensive in them. They display a measure of political reality and realism. They show a sense of responsibility to a country whose people served us particularly well in the last war, people to whom we have a responsibility in the eyes of the world. Surely it is not too late for the Government to recognize that in this bill there is little of value to the people of the Territory.
The report of the select committee, I say with due deference, certainly does enunciate principles, but it is lacking in detail. However, on it the Government is prepared to hang its political hat. Why did the committee not take twelve months to prepare a really detailed report giving reasons why this is the cause that should be espoused? I am somewhat suspicious as to whether the findings are justified. I am not impugning the honesty or decrying the integrity of any of the committee members, but very often circumstances determine decisions. I wonder whether the committee got down to bedrock on the exact position.
We realize the difficulties. There are 500 or more clans, with separate dialects or languages, one clan not understanding the dialect of another. In the circumstances, it is very difficult to know how a report in such simple terms could be tendered to the Parliament and how, on that report, could be based a bill to bring political justice to the people. It is no wonder that the bill does not show any sign of appreciation of the political rights of the people. It does not pay due regard to their entitlements.
It exhibits no signs of gratitude for the extraordinarily worth-while services rendered by 80 to 90 per cent, of the people of those islands in the last war. It pays no regard to the Australians who have gone up there and who not necessarily have sacrificed their lives but have devoted their time to the welfare of these people. Surely we on this side of the chamber are entitled to quarrel with the bill. It has many features which we think are unsatisfactory. Perhaps we shall be able to deal with them more particularly at the committee stage.
The bill contains many clauses, but it represents little improvement upon the last legislation that was passed. Certainly it is designed to increase the number of elected representatives and it accepts our suggestion about the establishment of a common roll. But it still deprives these people of the right to control their own destiny. The Government has reserved to itself the right of veto, but surely it could have left the government of these people in the hands of the House of Assembly. All that this Government has done has been to say, “ We will now accede to the suggestion made by the Foot mission “. I met Sir Hugh Foot in New York, as did Senator McKenna. I do not know whether I had an inferior method of approach to or a smaller degree of familiarity with him, but I did speak to him and found him to be quite informative.
I repeat my earlier statement that the bill represents very little improvement on the existing legislation. The Government has not faced up to the world’s demands. The era of colonialism has finished, and irrespective of whether these people will be ready for self-government in four, five or ten years, or even not for 50 or 80 years, we must face up to current demands. Even anthropologists cannot agree, about when the people of the Territory will be able to look after themselves. No one knows whether, when the people of New Guinea obtain self-government or independence, the Chimbus will attack the Sepiks or whether the Kukukukus or the Tolais will run amok. They do so comparatively frequently, and they will continue to do so. But neither this Government nor any of its immediate predecessors has accepted the responsibility that has fallen upon it. lust what proportion of these people have learned to live with one another? It has often been said that these people are illiterate. Let us be quite clear in our own minds that illiteracy is not necessarily identical with ignorance.
– We know that.
– In case such an inference could be drawn from my remarks, let me say for the edification of honorable senators that I am neither illiterate or ignorant. I sympathize with these people in New Guinea. I have heard conservative gentlemen on the other side of this chamber and those of similar political ilk in another place refer to them as being illiterate. But there are many ways in which they can show us what ought to be done, as they did during the last war. Many Australian soldiers and airmen were grateful to them for the knowledge they imparted, even though they were illiterate. Many of our ex-servicemen have expressed their appreciation of what was done by the people of New Guinea, and some have seen fit to return and pay tribute to them for their extraordinary help in those dark and difficult days during which nobody knows what might have happened but for that help.
This Government has a real responsibility in 1963 to face up to the situation realistically. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has done some good for New Guinea, but he has not done a tremendous amount. Perhaps that is because he has been frustrated by his Cabinet associates and in a smaller measure by the back benchers of his own party and its associated party. Let the Government admit that it has made mistakes in the past.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– If honorable senators were to ponder upon the end results of history, they would realize that but for the annexation of Papua by the McIlwraith Government at the end of the last century they would have been deprived of the opportunity to listen to the long and involuted speech that has just been delivered by Senator Dittmer. Having said that, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 11.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 May 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630521_senate_24_s23/>.