25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. 1 preface it by pointing out that the last two available balance sheets of TransAustralia Airlines show that in 1962-63 the company’s operating costs and expenses rose by £.1.2 million; yet, despite this high increase in costs, it was able to increase its profits, after payment of tax, from £463,000 to £534,000. This was achieved without any increase in fares. Is it true that in the financial year just ended T.A.A. made an all-time record profit of almost £1 million, and that Ansett-A.N.A. also is expected to announce a record profit for that year? If this is so, then, in view of the fact that new and more economical Boeing 727 jets are due to go into service, why did the Minister approve of the fare increases announced by both companies, when the additional costs they say they will have to carry amount to £800,000 each? In the case of T.A.A., this is far smaller than the increase it was able to carry two years ago, without increasing fares and still making a profit.
– I received applications from both Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. and its subsidiaries on this matter of increases in fares. The Department of Civil Aviation closely examined all the facts. There has been no increase in fares since 1960. In its application T.A.A. said that it had absorbed £1 million additional costs in those four years. It is now faced with the fact (hat increases in its engineering staff, increases in the basic wage, additional air hostesses and other staff that have been employed under agreements, will increase its costs by another £800,000. It is unable to absorb this, having already absorbed £1 million in the last four years - which, I think, was a pretty good effort. 1 received a similar application from Ansett-A.N.A. After a close examination, my Department felt that the increase of 6 per cent, sought by the domestic airlines was warranted, and it has been granted.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he has seen reports of an interview given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place, Mr. Whitlam, on his return from abroad. The reports relate to an aspect of Australia’s defence structure and one report, referring to Mr. Whitlam, states - . . that he found no one in America who was prepared to give assurance that the TFX lighter bombers which Australia ordered would be flying with the R.A.A.F. in less than five years. He had spoken to Pentagon officers and aircraft manufacturers in the U.S.
This report arouses in me, as I am sure it does in all other honorable senators, a sense of unease and I would be grateful if the Minister could give me some information as to the correctness or otherwise of the matters stated in it.
– 1 have seen Press reports of statements attributed to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in respect of TFX aircraft. Quite contrary to what the Deputy Leader implies, the advice which I have from official United States Government sources is that progress on the project is on schedule. I have a firm assurance that there is no reason at all to doubt that deliveries to the Royal Australian Air Force will be made as scheduled in 1968. This is the current and up to date advice from the Pentagon and United States Air Force sources directly concerned with the project. The Deputy Leader has made a deliberate attempt to mislead the public by disparaging the project which is of prime importance to Australia’s defence. It is clear that his information is neither authentic nor reliable.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. I ask: Can the Minister inform me what independent schools in South Australia are to receive grants towards the provision of science blocks and science teaching equipment this year and the respective amounts to be paid to each such independent school?
– Mr. President, I do not know that 1 have in mind all the details necessary to enable me to reply to the question, although I have some of them in mind. We have reached a position in South Australia whore the committees which I have mentioned previously in this chamber have been set up - one for Roman Catholic schools and one for nonRoman Catholic schools. We have sent to each committee a list of the schools which have made application for assistance and we have received from the committees their recommendations as to which schools should have priority for assistance this year. With the standards committee we have inspected each school and have made offers to each school in each category. Four non-Roman Catholic schools have been offered assistance this year, three of which are Woodlands, Wilderness and Girton. The name of the fourth school escapes me for the moment. The four schools will receive an equal share of the amount of £64,000-odd which is available in South Australia for non-Roman Catholic schools. In all, seven Roman. Catholic schools will be receiving assistance varying from small amounts of equipment to larger amounts for buildings. Later today 1 will let the honorable senator have a detailed list of these schools.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. While I accept the answer given by the Minister to Senator O’Byrne concerning the need for increasing fares on Australian internal airlines, I notice the Minister said that the services taken into consideration before fares were raised included an increase in the number of air hostesses on cer:ain flights. 1 ask the Minister whether any consideration has been given to the possibility of reversing this trend by serving light meals - such as tea, coffee and biscuits - instead of hot meals on all but long (lights such as the flight to Perth?
– The honorable senator’s suggestion is a matter for the airlines themselves. Recently a new agreement was reached between the airlines and the Australian Airline Hostesses Associa tion providing for an increase in the number of hostesses on aircraft. This new provision was made because of the rather long hours the air hostesses had to work under the previous agreement. These agreements generally are a matter for the airlines and I think it wise to leave these matters to them.
– My questions are directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. (1) Was the Prime Minister serious in expressing violent opposition to education being under a central administrative council, when he said that uniformity was a serious menace to national growth and to individual growth and that be was all for variety in schools, including a variety of curricula, &c? (2) Would the Prime Minister agree with the view 1 have expressed in the Senate on many occasions that children coming to Canberra from Western Australia, Tasmania or Queensland should not be compelled to accept an educational curriculum which has been drawn up by Sydney administrators for use in schools in New South Wales? (3) If the Prime Minister does agree with me, will he take steps to set up a new education authority in Canberra completely divorced from any State administration, especially having in mind the rapid growth of the Canberra school population? (4) What is the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to the new syllabus issued by educational authorities in New South Wales relating to religious teaching in New South Wales State schools? Will this system be adopted in Canberra and, if so, will it be adopted for schools in the Northern Territory, Papua New Guinea, Norfolk Island, &c?
– I think everybody who has read what the Prime Minister was reported to have said will realise that the right honorable gentleman meant that he did not want to see a system in Australia under which there was complete uniformity as to curricula so that, at any given time, one could say that in all schools al) students were being laught the same thing from the same text books. I think this is a very right and proper and reasonable approach. One does not want that kind of uniformity in the teaching of children throughout Australia. I have not in my mind all the facets of the questions asked by the honorable senator. I think my answer to the first part indicates that the Prime Minister would not in fact agree with the views of the honorable senator as expressed in the second part of his question.
On the matter of religious leaching in schools in N.S.W., what has happened is this: The Minister for Education in N.S.W. has put forth a new method of teaching in State schools in N.S.W. under which ethics are taught as ethics and not in relation to religion. It is a matter for the State Department concerned and has nothing to do with the Commonwealth Government. I think it highly unlikely that this system would be introduced in Canberra schools although schools in the Australian Capital Territory are, to some extent, tied up with the N.S.W. Department of Education. However, whether it would or would not happen is a matter of policy and therefore is not really a proper subject for a question in the Senate.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer advise me whether an application has been received from Western Australia for longer terms of repayment of the Commonwealth loan for the Comprehensive Water Scheme? In view of the fact that when the Scheme is completed farmers in the area will be able to increase greatly their sheep carrying capacity, thus considerably increasing Australia’s export income from wool, can the Minister give me an assurance that tha Government will deal with this request urgently and in its usual sympathetic way?
– I have no doubt that the Commonwealth Government has given, and always will give, every consideration to applications from Western Australia. I have no knowledge of the application about which the honorable senator asks, but I shall find out the position from the Treasurer and advise the honorable senator as soon as I can.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has West Australian Petroleum Pty. Ltd. made application for an oil search permit in an area which includes the Monte Bello Islands? Is this the area in which Great Britain tested some atomic devices? If so, will the Government give an assurance that if the company is granted this permit, any workers employed will not be exposed to the effects of radiation? Will a proper survey of these islands be carried out before workers are allowed to proceed there?
– I have seen some mention in the Press of the possibility of a licence being applied for by Wapet in relation to the Monte Bello Islands. I do not know whether the application has or has not been made.
– The company has made the application, but the licence has not yet been granted.
– The next part of the question refers to action to see that workers and, I should imagine, everyone who goes there will not be exposed to the effects of atomic radiation. Without knowing specifically what will be done, I can say that I am sure that effective action in this regard will be taken.
– As is known, special migrants to work in the sugar industry in Queensland this season were flown to Australia, but all the migrants did not stay in the industry. To the degree that some of them stayed in the industry, this intake was advantageous. The action to be taken in the future will depend largely upon advice received, first, from the Department of Labour and National Service, and secondly, from the industry itself. Wc will then decide whether any attempt will be made to bring specialised migrant labour in for the next season.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior or the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in matters relating to education. It refers to the virtual banning of ‘‘Noddy”, “Biggies” and “Just William “ from the Canberra library. Will the Minister consider similar action in the case of fairy stories, so called, which can have an adverse effect on the child mind? I refer, for example, to “Little Red Riding Hood “, with its sadism and cannibalism, and to “ Cinderella “, with its class distinctions and anti-stepmother complexes? Does not the Minister consider that the removal of these pernicious influences in literature will provide children with training which will enable them, in their undergraduate days, to cope with “ Lolita “ and other literary masterpieces prescribed for study at the Australian National University?
– I am afraid that I am not competent to express an opinion on the question raised by Senator Tangney, for in my day “ Noddy “ was unheard of. As a matter of fact the only word that we ever heard that sounded like that was “ Neddy “. That was the era in which I was born. Speaking in general terms, I believe that the people who are dedicated to a life of library service are in the main better qualified to speak on these issues than I am, although I hasten to assure the honorable senator that governments of the day must and should accept complete responsibility for what is known as censorship. Having said that, I shall have a look at the honorable senator’s question when J see it reduced to writing and discuss it with my colleague. If 1 can supply any further information to her, I shall do so in writing.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry able to indicate when the report of the committee established to inquire into soldier settlement on King Island will be available and whether copies of it will be furnished to honorable senators?
– The report on soldier settlement on King Island which is sought by Senator Lillico will be produced by a committee established by the Tasmanian Government. As yet, as far as I know, that report has not been released. Knowing the honorable senator’s interest in this matter, I suggest to him that he might well direct his question to the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture, who may be able to give some indication as to when the report is expected to bc completed and available.
– Has the Minister for Health been requested by the Australian Medical Association to consider paying members of that body for their services as teachers in medical training schools? If so, what are the Minister’s intentions?
– No, 1 have nol been approached on the matter. Therefore, I have nothing to add.
– Has the attention of the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research been directed to a newspaper report of a statement by Professor Sir Mark Oliphant, calling for much more money to bc spent on education in Australia, and saying that only three countries spend less per head of the national income than Australia? Would the Minister care to comment on this report, particularly on the latter part of it?
– Yes, my attention was directed to this remark by Sir Mark Oliphant. I can only express the perhaps plaintive hope that he will stop saying this, because it is completely untrue. I was present on a previous occasion when Sir Mark made the same statement from a platform, and it is perhaps interesting to see how this complete misconception, based on completely misunderstood information, became disseminated in this way.
Some short time ago there was in Canberra a conference of industrialists who discussed research in industry. At that conference no less a man than Mr. McLennan, the head of the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. - I believe that he is now a knight - made this statement from the platform; attributing it to Professor Karmel. He said that Professor Karmel had said that we spent less on education than any other countries except Spain and Portugal and one other. Sir Mark was present and heard Mr. McLennan. The next time I got on a platform with Sir Mark, he said, in effect: “ According to what Mr. McLennan said, according to what Professor Karmel said, we spend less per head on education than any other country except three.” I have no doubt that from this latest meeting two or three people will go out and say, in effect: “ According to what Sir Mark Oliphant said, according to what he heard Mr. McLennan say, according to what Professor Karmel said, we spend less per head on education than any other country except three.” The odd thing about this is not only that it is not true but also that Professor Karmel never said it. ft is based on the remarks of Professor Karmel during the Buntine oration, at the end of which he said that only three countries - Spain, Greece and Portugal - had a lower rate of taxation than had Australia. He said that Australia had a great opportunity to increase her taxation and so be enabled to spend more on education. I think honorable senators will agree that that is quite different from the statement that has been disseminated and which has been attributed to Professor Karmel.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Following the increase in the cost of television viewers’ licences announced recently in the Budget, will the Postmaster-General consider giving some concession to viewers on Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia, who enjoy television reception for only four months in the year?
– I shall have to confer with the Postmaster-General on this specific point, and I speak for myself when I say that I should think it would be logical to argue that it does not matter whether the fee is £2 or £10, because a person in such an area would install a television set knowing full well that he would get a limited reception. I repeat that I do not think that the actual amount of the fee has any relevance.
– The Government takes its pound of flesh.
– It does nothing of the sort. The Government is offered what the honorable senator is pleased to refer to as a pound of flesh in return for a viewers’ licence. If the viewer decides to install a set knowing that he will get a limited reception, he has our sympathy, but that is a decision which he takes. No-one suggests that he should make a present of £6 or £8, as the case may be, to the Government.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that his comparatively recent visit to South Australia was of considerable topical interest, especially his reported reference to the establishment of a cocktail bar at the Adelaide airport? Has the Minister, through the Department of Civil Aviation, instituted negotiations with the Government of South Australia for the purpose of ironing out any difficulties that may arise from the restricted liquor trading hours that are in force in South Australia?
– Unfortunately, owing to lack of time, I was unable to confer with the Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, when I was in South Australia. However, I hope to do so at the first opportunity, with a view to bringing the Adelaide airport up to standard. I should like the honorable senator to know that it is the policy of my Department to work as closely as possible with State authorities. We live under a Federal system. I cannot make any further comment until I have had the pleasure of discussing this matter with the Premier of South Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Owing to the great hardship that will be inflicted on many age pensioners and other classes of pensioners following an increase in telephone rentals, will the Government consider granting a rental concession to pensioners?
– This matter has been before this Government and preceding governments on many occasions during Budget deliberations, but up to this point of time no relief has been granted to pensioners. They are obliged to pay the same rental as other residents in particular areas. Some rather powerful machinery difficulties present themselves in any consideration of this proposal, lt would be very difficult to segregate a particular pensioner and identify him as a person who is living on his own part time or perhaps full time. He could be living wilh relatives. All of these things would make it particularly difficult to administer such a scheme. I am not suggesting that is the sole reason why a concession has not been granted. I merely emphasise that the concession has been considered from time to time but as yet has not been conceded.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, concerns the Minister’s recent statement on potato imports from New Zealand. Could the Minister explain to the Senate the necessity for these imports? Was there a shortage in Australia of potatoes of a particular kind? What restrictions, if any, were placed on this cargo of potatoes to protect the interests of the Australian grower? Because of the necessity to import potatoes, will the Minister consult with his colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, with a view to asking the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to undertake a survey of t’he supply and demand for potatoes throughout Australia?
– The decision in relation to the importation of potatoes from New Zealand was taken on 1 5th July. It should be made known at the outset that this decision, which I took under the powers vested in the Department, was taken in collaboration, first, with the Minister for Trade and Industry, and, secondly, with Che then Acting Minister for Primary Industry. The basis of the request for the importation of potatoes was that potatoes were required which were suitable for processing. It was indicated that there would probably bc a short term shortage of this particular type of potato. After1 examination by a special committee, which has been set up to examine this problem from time to time, it was decided to allow 1,500 tons of potatoes to enter the port of Sydney with a special restriction imposed on them that they had to be used for processing. I understand that they are to bc used for making potato chips. The volume of the intake represents, I think, something like three days’ supply on the Sydney market, so it is not a very comprehensive importation, and it is to be spread over a period of five weeks. As to the last part of the question asked by Senator Drake-Brockm;in, I shall bc happy to see that some collaboration takes place between officers of my Department and officers of the Department of Primary Industry on any question on potatoes which arises in the future.
My attention has been drawn to the August 1964 edition of “Market Industries News “. The headline on the third page is: “ Potatoes will be little scarcer “. Putting that to one side for the moment, I was rather intrigued to see in the reference to potatoes and this particular decision, a very attractive photograph of former Senator Armstrong and reference to his being Minister for Customs and Excise. Mr. Armstrong is no longer in the Senate. He had a long period of service here, but I do not think he was ever Minister for Customs and Excise.
– My question, which is directed the the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, follows the reply he gave to Senator Cavanagh in respect of a concession for television viewers in Eyre Peninsula. I ask the Minister whether or not concession rates are given to radio owners in Eyre Peninsula who live in fringe areas. If so, how does he differentiate between the granting of a concession in respect of radio licences and the refusal to grant one in respect of television licences?
– I was not aware of the fact that a concession was given to those on Eyre Peninsula who hold radio licences. The only concessions 1 know of in this field are those given to pensioners. At all events, I do not think it is a good analogy to compare television with radio, for the simple reason that television has a much more confined area of reception than has radio. When you get into the fringe areas of television reception you get either a good picture or a bad picture as the case may be. As far as the extended service on radio is concerned, I think you do get at least a partial service and not a blackout, as vc understand it, in television.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior a question. Following a report of a letter written by the Minister for the Interior to the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, in which he stated that a form of self-government for the Territory was being examined by his Department, would the Minister intimate whether anything more than a city council status is being considered for Canberra? Is it a fact that, for many months, the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council has been asking the Minister for the Interior to produce an appropriate design for a Canberra flag? Is the Minister in favour of this appallingly parochial request? Is it the policy of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, either now or in the future to plan for this, the Australian national capital, to unite the people of Australia under one Australian flag, or is it the policy to turn the Australian Capital Territory into another State of the Commonwealth? Will he make a public statement of the Government’s and his policy in these matters before the Australian taxpayers are called upon to contribute still more to the worthy cause of building a national capital city of which all of us can be proud and to which we can look as a symbol of the desire of the Australian people to develop a truly national outlook?
– I can answer one of the honorable senator’s intermediate ques tions, but I think the others had better be placed on the notice paper so that the Minister for the Interior can indicate to the honorable senator his thinking on these various matters. It is true that in 1963 the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council recommended to the then Minister for the Interior, the honorable Gordon Freeth, that a design be struck for a Canberra flag. The Minister was attracted by the proposition and referred the matter to the College of Arms in London. That College has done some work on a design for a Canberra flag and I understand that, at the present time, the designs are under consideration. If the honorable senator places the other parts of the question on the notice paper I will refer them to my colleague.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has he seen a recent statement attributed to an official of the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales that it had conducted the only school in Australia to train airline pilots, but that the school closed down earlier this year because its graduates could not obtain positions with local airline companies? Bearing in mind the increase in fares announced earlier today and the envisaged expansion of aviation in Australia, what steps are being taken by Australian airline companies to recruit Australians as pilots? Will he hold discussions with the local airline companies and with Qantas, which I understand made a record profit last year, with a view to seeing whether they are prepared to guarantee graduates from this school employment as pilots?
– I do not know of the statement to which the honorable senator referred and so I cannot say whether the school closed down or not. I have not seen the statement but I would like to see it, so that I can get further information on the matter. As to what the airline companies arc doing to provide training for pilots, I can assure the honorable senator that Qantas, Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. are now undertaking a vigorous policy of increasing the training of pilots and pilot officers in Australia. The shortage of pilots which we have at present - there has been a world-wide shortage - will, 1 think, be overcome by the energy of the three companies mentioned, plus the consideration which the Department of Civil Aviation is giving to this important matter of having a sufficient flow of trained Australians into the airline services.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. What is the most serious example of waste or inefficiency in the Department of Defence which has come to the attention of the Minister since he assumed his portfolio, and what did he do about it?
– I am quite unable to recall any instance of waste or inefficiency in the Department of Defence since 1 have been appointed to this portfolio.
– My question is directed to (he Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the recent disastrous floods in Western Australia and the inability of persons to obtain from private insurance companies adequate insurance against flood damage, will the Minister consider raising a national disasters fund to cover such disasters as floods, fires and typhoons, which can occur in any part of the Commonwealth? Alternatively, will the Commonwealth Government consider the establishment of a national insurance fund, to which contributions could be made, at a nominal figure, by residents in areas where such disasters arc likely to occur?
– 1 think I recall the question of a national disasters fund being raised a number of times in the Senate. If the honorable senator will place the question upon the notice paper I will get the Treasurer to tell her all the difficulties of both the approaches she proposes.
– My question is to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Just prior to 30th June did the Minister set the profit target for Trans- Australia Airlines for 1964-65 at i per cent, higher than for 1963-64? Does not the Minister con sider 7 per cent, to be a fair return on capital invested? In view of his present claim that because of additional costs the airlines will face a lean time unless there is an increase of fares, would it not have been fairer to the travelling public to have allowed the profit target to remain as it was?
– I was not the Minister for Civil Aviation before 30th June, so I cannot answer the question regarding the increased profit margin. To the best of my knowledge, there has not been any increase in the profit margin. I understand it was fixed at 7 per cent., which is a reasonable return on capital invested in any industry. The airline industry in any part of the world is a pretty lean industry, working to tight schedules and faced with great capital expenditures. One thing thai shines out above all others as far as Australia is concerned is that the two-airline policy of the Government has meant that there are no better air .services anywhere in the world. This is largely because both of our airlines are required to sec that they are profitable. Whilst airlines are reasonably profitable, public safely, the modernisation of aircraft and all that goes to make a fine air service are assured. I can assure the honorable senator that if he reads what some of the competent authorities in the world say about the Australian two-airline policy, he will see that they pay a great tribute to the policy as a means of ensuring that airlines remain profitable and safe. They describe it as one of the best airline policies in the world.
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the announcement in the Budget Speech that the Government proposes to combine the issue and the cost of radio and television licences, can the Minister explain how this will be done?
– Speaking from memory, I inform the honorable senator that as I understand the position, a householder who has a television receiver and a radio receiver will declare that they are in his possession. A licence will bc issued covering both the television receiver and the radio receiver. I am reminded by my colleague, Senator Henty, that the licence will be issued at a reduction in cost of5s. A person who has only a radio set will so declare and will pay for a listeners licence only.
– What is to happen when dates on which the licences expire are out of step?
– Administrative action will be taken to fairly simplify a method of bringing them into step so that both licences will expire on the one date. That has been taken care of, and I am assured that it is quite a simple matter.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-
General whether, in view of the recent announcement of an increase in licence fees for commercial television stations, he will give an undertaking that the licensees will not be allowed further to reduce transmission times or to reduce the Australian content of their television programmes so that they can thus offset the increase in their commercial licence fees.
– I think the honorable senator would prefer an answer to that question to come from the Postmaster-General rather than from one who represents him. Therefore I suggest that he place his question on the notice paper.
(Question No. 138.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has furnished the following replies -
Following the increase in the maximum overdraft rate, trading banks will make adjustments throughout the structure of their lending rates of interest in accordance with the agreed procedures. Whilst most overdraft rates, on existing and new loans, will rise, they will not all rise to the same extent and some will not rise at all. Preferential treatment in the matter of interest rates will continue to be extended to various classes of rural and other borrowers, not only in respect of existing borrowers but also for new borrowers in the same classes. The broad effect of these changes will be a reversal of the reductions in rates made in April 1963, when the maximum overdraft rate was reduced by1/2 per cent. per annum.
The overall increase in bank overdraft rates of interest will be less than1/2 per cent. per annum and will vary somewhat between banks. Whilst additions to banks’ incomes will tend to occur from this source, the increase in overdraft rates was only part of a general increase in bank interest rates, the final effects of which on bank incomes cannot be stated with any certainty. In particular, trading banks’ outgo will rise as a result of the higher interest rates payable on new and renewed fixed deposits which became effective on 8th April and the introduction of a shorter term fixed deposits.
(Question No. 148.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
The 1956 report referred to emanated from an independent conference of medical officers experienced in the management of leprosy, and the conference’s recommendations were not made the subject of a Council resolution. In 1963 an ad hoc committee of the Council recommended, inter alia, that “ an allowance equivalent to the Tuberculosis Allowance should be paid by the Commonwealth in respect of leprosy patients under similar conditions to those prescribed for tuberculosis “. The recommendations of this ad hoc committee were noted but were not specifically endorsed by the Council. The committee’s report was only “ accepted … as a general principle for the control of leprosy “.
(Question No. 153.)
Has the Treasurer seen the reference to Japan’s tax system published in the Japanese Official News Letter of the week commencing 20th April 1964 in which it is mentioned that the rate of corporate taxes for enterprises with small incomes is a low 33 per cent., while it is about 38 per cent. for other enterprises, and that this is one of the characteristics of the Japanese tax system which aims at assisting enterprises for the further growth of the Japanese economy?
Has the Japanese tax system any advantages which might be introduced in Australia?
– The Treasurer has furnished the following reply -
Although 1 have not seen the publication to which the honorable senator refers, I think it is interesting to compare the rates of Japanese company taxation quoted with the rates existing in Australia. Provided a private company in Australia makes a sufficient distribution of profits, the rate of Australian tax payable on the first £5,000 of its taxable income is only 25 per cent.; on the excess of income over £5,000, the rate of tax is 35 per cent. Public companies pay tax at the rate of 35 per cent. on the first £5,000 of taxable income and 40 per cent. on the excess.
The rates of Japanese corporation tax quoted by the honorable senator are, I am informed, the rates of national tux only. In addition, local taxes are payable and are calculated on the amount of income derived. In the aggregate, the Japanese taxes payable by corporations may exceed 49 per cent. of the income in excess of 3 million yen (about £3,750). The tax burden is reduced where dividends are paid, but even so the total taxes almost invariably exceed the Australian tax of 40 per cent. payable by public companies on tax able income in excess of £5,000. If the taxable income does not exceed 3 million yen, the aggregate Japanese taxes may apparently fall below 40 per cent. in some cases and this may be compared with the 35 per cent. Australian tax payable by public companies on taxable income up to £5,000.
In the case of private companies that make a sufficient distribution, the comparison is even more favorable to Australia.
From these particulars the honorable senator will see that the Australian taxation of company profits generally compares very favorably with the aggregate rates of Japanese tax.
(Question No. 164.)
asked the Minister in
Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
I have not studied the documents concerned, but 1 am informed that the results of the discussions were -
identify and study the issues to be presented to the next ministerial meeting.
(Question No. 168.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 173.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers -
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects -
Belts, Belting, Fabrics over 15 ounces per square yard and Interim Report under the General Textile reference on Fabrics over 15 ounces per square yard.
Clad Steel Strip.
Detergent Alkylates, &c.
Float Controlled Valves of the type used in Space Heaters fired by liquid fuel.
Glass Envelopes for Cathode Ray Tubes.
Natural Barium Sulphate (Barytes).
Phthalic and Alkyl Sulphonic Esters.
Transistors, Thermistors, &c.
Woven Furnishing Fabrics and Moquettes and Interim Report under the General Textile Reference on Woven Furnishing Fabrics and Moquettes.
Retirement from House of Commons.
– by leave - Sir Winston Churchill has made his last appearance in the House of Commons, after a parliamentary career that is as old as the twentieth century. Had he retained his seat until 30th November he would have completed his 64th year as a member of Parliament, for it was on that date in the year 1900 that Winston Churchill first entered Parliament as a young man of 26 years. They were 26 years that fashioned what was to become one of the most remarkable careers in parliamentary history. A professional soldier who had been a war correspondent as well, a prisoner of war and an escapee, Winston Churchill was to play roles of ever increasing greatness in the two devastating world wars that were to follow.
Of course, it was not as a soldier but as a statesman - the most noble statesman of modern times - that Sir Winston won most acclaim. He was First Lord of the Ad miralty when the Great War began and Minister for Munitions when it ended. He was First Lord of the Admiralty again when the Second World War began, and was soon to succeed to the Prime Ministership and to lead the British people through what he himself has aptly described as their finest hour. Nobody will question his achievement as a leader. As a rallying call to free people wherever they must fight in the cause of freedom, the name of Winston Churchill is already a legend.
It was in the shadow of near defeat that the people of Britain rallied under his inspiration and it was in defeat itself - political defeat - that Winston Churchill lived what was probably his own finest hour. The war in Europe was over and victory over Japan was in sight when the rumblings of political disharmony foreshadowed the death of the Churchill-Attlee Coalition Government. Under mounting political pressures, Churchill made a typical decisive move and called an immediate general election in July 1945. He was defeated, but it was without reproach that he accepted his people’s verdict and stood by as shortly afterwards others accepted the final victory that, in truth, had been so largely his. His courage and lack of bitterness in those unhappy day were characteristic of the man. The people of Britain remembered and in 1951 replaced their trust in Winston Churchill and elected him to govern.
The world has honoured Winston Churchill probably as it has honoured no other man. Twenty-five leading universities in Britain, Europe and America have awarded him honorary degrees and doctorates. More than 30 major cities throughout the world have made him an honorary freeman. A dozen others have awarded him honorary citizenship. No fewer than 19 foreign countries have given him major honours or awards, and there appears no reliable guide to the total of honours that have been heaped upon him in his own country. The honours have come not just from the English speaking world but from France, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Greece, Luxembourg, Germany and many other countries. He has won the Nobel Peace Prize for literature, the Charlemagne Prize, the Williamsburg Award, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and others lesser known. He has also won. after a magnificently long and triumphal career, a well merited and much needed rest. We all wish him years of contentment and continuing happiness.
I move -
That the Senate lakes note of the retirement from (he House of Commons of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, a Knight of the Garter, holder of the Order of Merit, Companion of Honour, after over 60 years of distinguished membership; lt takes this opportunity of recording its appreciation of his unsurpassed and splendid contribution to parliamentary democracy, and of the inspired leadership and tenacity of purpose which he brought to the free world in the period of ils greatest danger; lt sends him its gratitude, its affection and ils continuing good wishes.
– On behalf of members of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate I cordially second the motion. Winston Churchill is an extraordinary man, whose special qualifications of mind, character and courage caused him to be called to lead his nation in the grave crisis of the Second World War. He responded magnificently. He not only kept up the morale of his own people throughout the long years of war but also heartened our allies and confirmed them in the belief of final victory.
He was born in 1874, so his life has extended over 26 years of the last century and for 64 years of this one. He is now in his 90th year. In 1895 he entered the British Army and in the same year served with Spanish forces in Cuba - long before the birth of most members of this Senate. Churchill was statesman, soldier, orator, author, painter and many other things as well. He was a great upholder of parliamentary democracy and traditions. His life history is a record of almost unbelievable activity in many and varied spheres. His longevity may in part at least bc attributed to the unremitting use of his faculties. His was a life of successes and reverses. His resilience enabled him to survive them all.
It was fitting that on the eve of his retirement from politics he should have been honoured by the House of Commons at Westminster, where he had made a colourful and outstanding contribution over a period of some 60 years. It is also fitting that the Senate should mark his retirement and take the opportunity to express its admiration of and gratitude for his services in war and peace. In saying that, I am not to be taken as expressing unqualified approval of all that Sir Winston Churchill said and did. His indomitable spirit has won for him an imperishable place not merely in the history of this country but in the history of the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - In the statement which I read on behalf of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) the first person pronoun is, of course, a reference to the Prime Minister himself. Copies of the statement arc not immediately available but will be circulated as soon as they arrive. The statement is as follows -
After I returned from my overseas visit, and Parliament not being in session, I gave a long Press and television interview. It is not my purpose to repeat all that I then said - the verbatim record will be provided to members - but I do propose to say something about some of the highlights of my work. For the record, I will say at once that I propose to lay on the table of the House the text of the final communique of the Prime Ministers’ Conference.
I had intended to pay a visit to Israel. Indeed arrangements for this visit were well advanced when, by reason of illness, 1 found, with very great regret, that I had to cancel my journey to that country. I will hope to make it on a future opportunity. In the result, I had made sufficient recovery to go to the Prime Ministers’ Conference in London via Washington. It was necessary for me to leave London the day after the Prime Ministers’ Conference, in order to be back in time for important Cabinet discussions on the Budget.
Two mutters emerged from my talks in Washington. The first was that 1 was keen to discover from the Administration whether the statement I had made in this House on the A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty was one with which they agreed. T should, I think, quote the substance of what I said in the House because there had been some controversy about the position inside Australia and there had been, indeed, some misrepresentation of what the then Minister for Externa] Affairs had said on this matter. In the House on April 21, I said -
The treaty is between the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Article IV reads - “Each Party recognises that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.”
Of course this should be in accordance with constitutional processes. Very few countries go automatically into a state of war. They all have certain procedures to go through but, subject to constitutional processes, which can operate here just as much as they can anywhere else, there is a clear statement that the parties will act to meet the common danger in accordance with their constitutional processes.
The article goes on - “ Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”
Article V reads - “ For the purpose of Article IV, an armed attack on any of the Parties is deemed to include an armed attack on the metropolitan territory of any of the Parties, or on the island territories under its jurisdiction in the Pacific or on its armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the Pacific.
Those words do not produce automatic hostilities, because reference is made to constitutional processes, but they contain in the clearest terms a high level acceptance of responsibility. It is not for us to assume that any great ally of ours will avoid thatany more that we will avoid it.
There is a contract between Australia and America. It is a contract based on the utmost goodwill, the utmost good faith and unqualified friendship. Each of us will stand by it.
I was happy to find in Washington that my statement was accepted as a completely accurate interpretation and that the State Department had in fact circulated it as a, definitive statement on the point. This, I think, revealed a state of affairs eminently satisfactory to Australia. It has as I pointed out last week, been powerfully reinforced by the recent statement of President Johnson, and the terms of the resolution of both Houses of the Congress. In the second place - and I think I should report this having regard to some comments that have been made - President Johnson very promptly, at the beginning of our discussions, stated his pleasure and the pleasure of the American people at our contribution to the defence of South Vietnam. He expressed pleasure both with the content of our response and the prompt way in which we had made it.
It is sometimes thought that Australia’s efforts in these fields, being relatively small, are either of no significance or must provoke some American criticism. This is not so. The United States is the greatest power in the world. It has given enormous aid to other countries. It must occasionally feel somewhat isolated. It would be more than human if it did not occasionally feel that it was being cast for the role of the world’s gendarme with the major responsibility for keeping the peace. It is because of these things that in Washington contributions by other countries are welcomed as an identification by other countries of their world interests with those of the United Stales.
I have repeatedly said that while we rely and will continue to rely very much on the collaboration of the great powers in our own defence, that collaboration involves mutual obligations which we will at all times be prepared to honour. This is well understood. I have not been able to detect any mental reservations about the friendship of the United States for Australia or - and this is of broad importance - the determination of the United States to do all in its power to preserve the peace in South East Asia and to prevent the spread of aggressive Communism. This attitude of mind has, in fact, been illustrated by recent events.
When I went on to the Conference in London, I was quite convinced that something should be said to strengthen the position of Malaysia and to make it clear that, as a Commonwealth country, it enjoyed the support, physically or morally or both, of all the Commonwealth nations. Honorable members will be familiar with what I will call the new vocabulary. There is a strong opposition to colonialism and to imperialism and to what is now called neocolonialism. As I understand it, neocolonialism is an expression which relates to a new or derivative form of colonialism. It is, as honorable members know, an expression frequently used by the rulers of Indonesia to support their allegation that the creation first of Malaya and then of Malaysia did not represent the termination of colonial rule but represented an attempt by the former colonial power to use the new independent body and thus to deprive it of some of the attributes of complete political independence.
Considerable play has been made of the fact that the military and para-military and economic aid given to Malaysia by the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand represents some desire on the part of predominantly European nations to maintain a position of influence and thus to treat Malaysia as not fully free. This notion seemed to mc - and I believe that I will have the support of honorable members in this view - to have a somewhat dangerous quality. I therefore had a very great desire to secure in the conference some general support for Malaysia, a support which should include that of the West Indian, African and Asian members of the Commonwealth.
A great deal of discussion occurred on these matters with, at one stage, some divergence of opinion but in the long run, 1 am happy to say, a satisfactory result. There was no disagreement about the statement in the communique that “ they will maintain their efforts to reduce the areas of international disagreement with all the means within their power, while maintaining both the strength and the resolution to resist aggression from without or subversion from within “. But there was a difference of opinion as to whether, having said this, we should give some assurance to the Prime Minister of Malaysia of our sympathy and support in his efforts to preserve the independence and integrity of his country. Some thought that an expression of sympathy was enough. My own view was that it was inadequate, that one might well sympathise with people without agreeing with them or in any way backing them up. I pointed out, and so did others, that the word “support” did not necessarily connote military support or even material support, since the nature of the support to bc given would be for each member of the Commonwealth to determine.
I did my best to point out that every new African nation represented at the Conference was jealous of its own independence and would strongly resent any inter ference in it by outside people. This, indeed, had been demonstrated in the case of Kenya and Tanganyika, each of which had, after independence, been happy to receive British military aid against aggressive movements. I said as strongly as I could that what was true in the case of African countries was equally true in the case of Asian countries and that Malaysia was entitled at the very least to our strong moral support at the United Nations and around the various diplomatic posts in the world. I expressed the view that a commonwealth which was not prepared to take a public stand in favour of the political independence and territorial integrity of all its members would be a strange kind of commonwealth. From our point of view in Australia this is, of course, extremely important. We are not supporting Malaysia in the most practical terms because we have some colonialist point of view. We have not. But we do believe that we have obligations to sister members of the Commonwealth while, of course - and this may be stated quite frankly - we have some particular interest in the preservation of Malaysia having regard to the threat from Communist aggression which presses down upon us or in our direction from the north. I am happy to say that agreement was finally secured upon an expression, not only of sympathy, but of support. This was to me one of the crucial matters in this Conference. The fact that it was resolved in the manner contained in the communique, a unanimous document, is one of the facts which has enabled me to say that the Conference achieved valuable results.
It will, I hope, be remembered - and I repeatedly invited the Conference to remember it - that when Malaysia was created it secured the unanimous approval of an earlier Prime Ministers’ Conference, it secured admission to membership of the United Nations by a unanimous vote and that, later on, when it was alleged by Indonesia that the people of the Borneo territories had been ignored, a special mission set up by the Secretary-General of the United Nations had found that there was approval in those territories of what had been done.
It follows from all this - as I said to the Conference - that the validity of the existence of Malaysia cannot sensibly be challenged. The challenge to it - in other words the so-called confrontation policy of Indonesia - finds its expression in actual military aggression across the frontiers of Malaysia. This being a clear case of military aggression, the argument that there were unsettled disputes has a somewhat hollow sound. The plain fact is that Malaysia is defending itself against aggression and therefore comes plainly within the Commonwealth statement that there should be a resolution to resist aggression from without or subversion from within.
It became clear, as the Conference proceeded, that the problems of the new Commonwealth must be approached patiently and without illusions. An example of this fact is to be found in one reference in the communique. It is as follows -
They discussed the great significance of China for South and South East Asia. They also discussed the question of relations with China and of her membership of the United Nations.
This, it will be seen, conveys very little. The reason for this is that there were deep divisions of opinion and of emphasis, and that these rendered a more positive statement impossible. I must recognise that from the point of view of most of the African countries, Asia, particularly South East Asia, seems a long way off. They do not feel that Communist China presents any threat to them. When 1 presented views which are based upon the aggressive policies and activities of China in and around Laos and Vietnam, I v/as told that this was cold war talk, and that the cold war was, for purposes of a Prime Ministers’ Conference, an irrelevancy. In some quarters there even seemed to be an assumption that the cold war had been created by the West, and a failure to understand that but for the tenacity and success of the great Western powers in resisting the cold war and deterring a hot one, the Prime Ministers might have been meeting, if at all, in very different circumstances.
I mention this not by way of criticism but by way of explaining some of the atmosphere of a new Commonwealth meeting. New nations, with different histories and backgrounds and emotions, cannot be expected to fall into our inherited patterns of thought, or to see world conflict in the same light as those of us who have treaty associations and obligations and indeed special regional problems of security and survival. But 1 am not at all despondent.
The greatest value of these conferences is that we are all conscious of our special, though undefined, relationship to each other; that we exchange our experience and views with great vigour, but with personal goodwill; and that we learn something from each other.
The Conference having noted - I am sure with great satisfaction - that since the war more than 20 countries, with a total population of some 700 millions, had been brought to self-government by Great Britain, and that others will shortly be added to the list, became involved in a discussion about Southern Rhodesia. Now, we all agreed at the outset, and reaffirmed unanimously in the communique, that “ the authority and responsibility for leading the remaining colonies to independence must continue to rest with Britain “. In spite of this, and of the further fact that under the agreed Constitution of 1961, there will be an African majority of electors within a period variously estimated at from five to ten years, some of the African leaders said they wanted a discussion. It was pointed out to them that as any further negotiations must be conducted by Britain and as there were strong political views and differences in Southern Rhodesia itself, advice or instruction to Britain might well complicate a task already sufficiently delicate and difficult. In the result, it was agreed that the Southern Rhodesian problem should not be discussed in full conference, but in a closed session with restricted membership.
At the end of the Conference, it was agreed that the matter could be referred to in the communique, in the terms which I now quote -
At the same time. Prime Ministers of other Commonwealth countries expressed their views to the Prime Minister of Britain on the question of the progress of Southern Rhodesia towards independence within the Commonwealth. They welcomed the decision already announced by the British Government that, as in the case of other territories, the existence of sufficiently representative institutions would be a condition of the grant of independence to Southern Rhodesia. They also noted with approval the statement already made by the British Government that they would not recognise any unilateral declaration of independence; and the other Prime Ministers made it clear that they would be unable to recognise any such declaration.
The view was also expressed that an Independence Conference should bc convened which the leaders of all parlies in Southern Rhodesia should be free to attend. The object would bc to seek agreement on the steps by which Southern
Rhodesia might proceed to independence within the Commonwealth at the earliest practicable time on the basis of majority rule. With a view to diminishing tensions and preparing the way for such a conference, an appeal was made for the release of all the detained African leaders. The Prime Ministers called upon all leaders and their supporters to exercise moderation and to abstain from violence; and they affirmed their belief that the best interest of all sections of the population lay in developing confidence and co-operation, on the basis of tolerance, mutual understanding and justice. In this connection, they recognised the necessity for giving confidence to the minority community in Southern Rhodesia that their interests would be protected.
The Prime Minister of Britain said that he would give careful consideration to all the views expressed by other Commonwealth Prime Ministers. At the same time he emphasised that the Government of Southern Rhodesia was constitutionally responsible for the internal affairs of that territory and that the question of the granting of independence was a matter for decision by the British Parliament.
Frankness requires that I should tell the House that 1, for one, did not associate myself with this public tendering of advice - advice which might be interpreted in some quarters as instructions - to the Government of the United Kingdom, which alone, as was expressly conceded, had the power and the responsibility.
So that there may be no misunderstanding, I should make it clear that -
On the other hand. I indicated to the Conference that 1 thought it would be a dangerous precedent, and an invasion of domestic jusisdiction, for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to get into a position of sitting, as a body, to examine the affairs of other members, and pronouncing public judgments. I said that it was not difficult to foresee circumstances in which any one of us might find this intolerable.
This difference of view explains some of the language of the communique. I was, of course, not opposed to the idea of a constitutional conference about Southern Rhodesia, or the adequate representation of the African citizens. But I felt strongly that the Government of the United Kingdom should not be handicapped in its negotiations by public statements which could increase its difficulties. After all, the problem is not easy, and needs to be solved in an atmosphere of mutual understanding.
It is proper to remember that there are many thousands of settlers in Southern Rhodesia, frequently of long standing and with no other homes, strongly British in their allegiance and with legitimate rights to be protected, who will be unhappy at becoming a minority in what is now a fashionable African concept - a one party republican State.
But I am sure that most of them watching the tides of events in other former African colonies, realise that there must be an accommodation, and that in due course - and not too long a course - an accelerated movement towards adult suffrage must be completed, or the alternative accepted, of mounting internal disorder, of hostility among neighbours, and of a result finally achieved in an atmosphere of hostility, not friendship, with racial hostilities unfavorable to the continuance of European settlement and out of harmony with those interracial relationships for which the new Commonwealth has come to stand.
In the course of the general survey of world affairs with which we normally begin in Prime Ministers’ Conferences, I thought it proper to make some reference to the still current dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. This is a dispute which has considerably embittered relations between these two great countries and has led to circumstances which do not aid the presentation of a common front to common dangers. Naturally, I had nothing to say about the merits of the dispute, about which there are deep differences of opinion.
All I was concerned to say was that, if the dispute could be solved by some mutual accommodation, it would be of great advantage to all of us. In view of what has been subsequently said, I should make it quite clear that the Conference did not debate the merits or nature of these differences of opinion. But it did happen that the President of Pakistan, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, and the Minister for Finance in India, Mr. Krishnamachari who, in the absence of Mr. Shastri, most ably represented India, both made speeches of a helpful kind. We all hoped that if the atmosphere so created continued we might see a settlement. But quite clearly the problem is one for the two countries concerned.
As a meeting of Prime Ministers, we were not sitting in judgment. We thus, by implication, re-affirmed our belief, to which 1 have referred elsewhere, that we are not an arbitral body, that we do not sit in judgment and that we recognise that there are very important domestic or intraCom mon wealth problems in relation to which we should not impose our views. We had some discussion - perhaps not enough - on the importance of the problems associated with economic development in the Commonwealth. I say not enough, because I felt that rather too much of our time was devoted to the problem of Southern Rhodesia. In the result, the economic problem might have been dealt with in too general a way and without useful definition, if it had not been for the fact that the Government of the United Kingdom put forward a series of proposals. These were put forward as practical ways in which the Commonwealth could be given added vitality, meaning and purpose, as a sort of co-operative association so as to be able to help both its own members and the world at large, and thereby contribute to world peace by the raising of living standards and the achievement of economic progress. As the communique records, various proposals were advanced. They were, in a broad way, accepted in principle. The final decision was that they were to be put into study by officials in the first instance to determine how best they could be carried into effect. Some of the proposals were as follows -
I pause here to say, that, as I said in the Conference itself, it is a mistake to think of the Commonwealth as an association of rich countries. Some, indeed, are very poor. Some, like our own country, are far from poor, but are still heavily involved in the importation of capital and technical skill for our own industrial development. Great Britain alone can be described as a capital exporting country; but, as the Prime Minister of Great Britain pointed out more than once, there is a limit to what a nation with its own balance of payments problems can do. We were, therefore, not so much talking in terms of massive capital assistance as we were in terms of technical assistance, in which field so much may bc done by one for another. I return to the proposals -
This is, I think, an attractive proposition. It is quite true that nobody can attend a modern Prime Ministers Conference without realising, sometimes with a shock, that we have very different ideas about the institutions of government, and indeed, very different ideas about democracy itself. Quite a few of the newer Commonwealth nations have one-party systems in which the principle of onemanonevote becomes quite ironical. Some have different ideas on the rule of law from those which we entertain. Some have different ideas about the treatment of minorities from those which we entertain. It would, indeed, be quite impossible today to make a speech about the Commonwealth in which the point was made - as it used to be made years ago - that we all had great constitutional ideas in common; that we all believe in Parliamentary democracy, in the sovereignty of Parliament, and in the rule of law. The sober fact today is that some of us do and some of us do not. But this is not a matter about which we are to lecture each other. Indeed I have constantly opposed any idea that we are to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs. Such interference violates the most classical precepts of foreign policy; it is quite contrary to the Charier of the United Nations; and it is, in my opinion, a matter which could seriously damage intra-Commonwealth relations. For these reasons, I was very glad to find some attention directed towards the establishment of closer contacts on matters in which we have some common interest and some common desire for advancement. Examples of these are obviously to be found in the establishment of closer contacts between professional and other bodies in relation to which there is this community of interest.
Incidentally, I noticed recently that Mr. Calwell is under the impression that I lectured the Prime Ministers on the advantages of private enterprise. I can relieve his mind; no such incident occurred. Nobody has been more careful than I have been to make it clear that each member of the Commonwealth is entitled to adopt whatever system of government it likes and whatever economic principles, or policies seem best to it. I have attended the last nine Prime Ministers Conferences. In that time, there has never been a discussion on private enterprise or socialism. The proposals continue -
Here, again, there is no doubt a limit to financial aid. We know from our own experience in Australia that higher education is not cheap. Indeed the cost of university education in Australia is mounting at a most formidable rate, while we have recently received a report in relation to Papua and New Guinea which recommends further developments in those territories.
Yet there still remains a field of aid which we all thought should be explored. It may well be that Australia can aid some other Commonwealth country or countries by providing expert advice in the universities field; by the provision of visiting professors, lecturers or administrators. For similar purposes, we must continue to receive in our own universities students from other countries and particularly from Commonwealth countries with whom we have such a special association and such close engagements. The next proposal was -
This, I venture to say, is of prime importance. That wise man, the Prime Minister of Nigeria, who presides over the destinies of the largest of the African nations, has more than once said to me that the great shortage in all these countries is a shortage of competent administrators. Here, I think, we can help each other a good deal. The Government of the United Kingdom had in mind the establishment of some special teaching or training body in London or in connection with some university. I by no means reject this idea, but I do feel that in the long run the best training in administration that can be given to people from other Commonwealth countries is that they should be, so to speak, fitted into the public service of a more experienced nation so that they may learn something of the rules and practice of administration and something of the mental and moral attitudes which distinguish an advanced civil service in a politically advanced country. The last proposal I wish to mention was -
This idea fits into what I was saying earlier about professional bodies. Such a conference would do good, because the problems not only of personal medicine but of public health are of immense importance, more particularly in new nations where medical services may be scanty and the problems of public health extremely complex.
These various proposals, and there were others, the nature of which is broadly stated in the communique, must be converted from vague expressions of principle into practical schemes. Our officials will willingly contribute to this result. If, in some or all of these matters, an effective result is achieved, we will, I think, have done a great deal to put substance into a Commonwealth relationship, the nature of which has so changed in recent years, and to counter the scepticism which is frequently expressed as to the capacity of the new Commonwealth to endure.
The proposal for a Commonwealth Secretariat is of course not a new one. It had, over a period of years, been put forward in general by Mr. Curtin and myself and others. On this occasion, the idea was first mentioned in the meeting by some of the African Prime Ministers. The suggestion was that there should be established in London “ a central clearing house “. In the first instance, it was suggested that it should prepare documents on trade aid and development and could circulate information on these matters to all the members of the Commonwealth. Then, by way of further or alternative suggestion, it was proposed that the Secretariat might assist in the preparations for the meetings of Prime Ministers in the sense of receiving and circulating papers. I myself drew attention to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the small and useful secretariat which it has. I felt that a Secretariat for the Commonwealth on the Parliamentary Association model might encourage members to put forward papers and proposals for circulation, information and consideration in advance of Prime Ministers’ meetings
After general debate amongst the Prime Ministers, it was decided to ask an official committee to go into the proposal further and to report back to the Prime Ministers on what functions a Commonwealth Secretariat should perform. The view I stated was and is that the task of the Secretariat should be to pool and co-ordinate and disseminate information of a factual kind. There should be no question of a policy or executive role. As the examination proceeds, there may well be considerable differences of opinion as to what a Secretariat should do. .Some may wish to have something resembling the office and functions of the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, with considerable executive significance. We must, I put to the House, be astute to avoid constituting the Commonwealth as a sort of committee of the United Nations, with resolutions and votes. If we are to achieve and maintain a special significance, it will be by preserving rite informality of our association and the basic independence which each Commonwealth country brings to the conference table.
It was at all times important that this Conference should produce constructive results and thus contribute to the future of the Commonwealth. I think that T should, therefore, pay a tribute to the invaluable work of the Chairman. Sir Alec DouglasHome exhibited at ad stages great tact and fairness and admirable flexibility of mind, a broad wisdom and a complete knowledge of the subjects under discussion. Without these elements. I would have doubted more than once whether the Conference would have a satisfactory conclusion. It is proper, therefore, that T should say that what were sometimes acute differences of viewpoint were in a large measure reconciled and that in the result there was a general feeling that the new Commonwealth had a great usefulness and could make a powerful contribution to human destiny.
I present the following paper -
Meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, 1964 - Final Communique dated 15lh July 1964 - and move -
Thai the Senate lake note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar) - I have received a letter from Senator Anderson resigning his office as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, Senator Marriott be appointed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– 1 move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments to the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1964. The Bill comprises nine Schedules with each Schedule having a different date of commencement. For the assistance of honorable senators, I will outline the subjects covered by the Bill as they appear in each Schedule.
The First Schedule provides for reductions in duty on tea and cocoa beans and shells, in accordance with concessions granted by Australia at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva earlier this year. The tariff changes in the other Schedules are based on recommendations arising out of reports by the Tariff Board and a Special Advisory Authority.
The Second Schedule provides for changes which give effect to the Government’s decision following receipt of the Tariff Board’s report on polyvinyl choride products. The temporary duties imposed in July 1962 on some products covered by this report have been removed. On curtains and tablecloths made from polyvinyl chloride film the ordinary protective duties have been increased to 321 per cent, under the British preferential tariff and 50 per cent, under the most favoured nation tariff. On tablecloths of polyvinyl chloride supported by textile fabric, customs duties equal to the existing combined rates of ordinary customs and primage duties will apply. The Third Schedule proposes increased protective duties of 30 per cent. British preferential tariff and 40 per cent, most favoured nation on imports of phosphoric acid derivatives competing with local production. In the case of trisodium orthophosphate, a sliding scale of duty has also been imposed to cope with a wide disparity in overseas export prices. As organic derivatives are not now locally manufactured, the duties have been reduced to the lowest level consistent wilh international commitments.
The Fourth Schedule provides for an increased duty of ls. per £ on imports of shrimps and prawns from both British preferential and most favoured nation sources. The protection afforded by this rate is approximately at the level enjoyed by the industry prior to the removal of sales tax last year. Free entry is proposed for dictating machines and tape decks qualifying for admission under the British preferential tariff with a rate of 7) per cent, ad valorem for other importations. On tape recorders, the most favoured nation rate has been reduced to 45 per cent, ad valorem, which the Board considers should provide adequate protection. Also included in the Fourth Schedule are proposed changes in accordance with recommendations by the Tariff Board on polyethylene. These provide for new duties on low density polyethylene, based on a most favoured nation rate of 7d. per lb. and incorporating a sliding scale which will operate when the free on board price of imports falls below 17d. per lb. At all f.o.b. prices below 24d. per lb. the new duties are lower than the former combined ordinary and temporary duties.
The Fifth Schedule provides for tariff changes based on recommendations of the Tariff Board on - aluminium foil, aluminium ingots, precision ground ball bearings, bobby pins of ferrous metal, and tinsmiths’ snips or shears. On aluminium foil, duties of 17i per cent. British preferential tariff and 25 per cent, most favoured nation have been proposed. This level of duty is considered by the Board to provide adequate protection for both foil producers and convenors. Unwrought aluminium and unwrought aluminium alloys now become dutiable at non-protective rates similar to those already applying to aluminium waste and scrap. The import restrictions applying to these products will continue up to and including 2nd January 1965. This is the date of expiry of the Commonwealth’s undertaking given to Comalco Industries Pty. Ltd. at the time of the sale of the former Australian Aluminium Production Commission’s factory to that company.
Precision ground steel ball bearings will now become dutiable at protective rates of 27 per cent. British preferential tariff and 37* per cent, most favoured nation in lieu of the quantitative import restrictions which previously applied. On bobby pins, a British preferential tariff rate of 20 per cent, is provided, with the most favoured nation tariff rate set at 30 per cent, which is the minimum level consistent with international commitments. On tinsnips, protection is being provided for local manufacturers at rates of 25 per cent. British preferential tariff and 32i per cent most favoured nation. The Fifth Schedule also proposes temporary duties on certain heat resisting glassware for cooking purposes and on certain glass tumblers and the like. The temporary duties are in accordance with the recommendation of a Special Advisory Authority and will apply only until the industry has been examined by the Tariff Board and the Government has considered its report. <
Schedule Six provides for tariff changes in regard to sewing machines, fluorocarbons, and shipbuilding. On sewing machines there has been no change in the level of duties except that the most favoured nation duty on heads for domestic type treadle or hand sewing machines has been reduced by 5 per cent, to the non-protective level of 7i per cent, now applying to similar beads for electric sewing machines. Local production of fluorocarbons is being assisted by new protective duties of 10 per cent. British preferential tariff and 20 per cent, most favoured nation.
On ships the changes proposed follow the Government’s acceptance, in principle, of the recommendations of the Tariff Board, for continued assistance to the shipbuilding industry. The present subsidy on vessels built in Australia for the Australian coastal trade, or for use on Australian inland waters, will be continued on vessels over 500 tons gross and will be expended to cover vessels over 200 tons gross and not exceeding 500 tons gross, which are built in Australia in existing recognised shipyards. Protective duties of 30 per cent. British preferential tariff and 40 per cent, most favoured nation are proposed for vessels not exceeding 200 tons gross and duties of 30 per cent. British preferential tariff and 42i per cent, most favoured nation for vessels imported for temporary operation in Australia. In the latter case, however, the duties may be refunded in the event of the vessels being re-exported within the stipulated period.
In the Seventh Schedule, the proposed changes follow recommendations made by the Tariff Board on phthalic esters, certain alkyl sulphonic esters, and replacement ignition coils, 6 volt or 12 volt rating, for motor vehicles. T;,é duties on phthalic esters imported from most favoured nation sources will become 30 per cent, ad valorem or £45 per ton, whichever is the higher, and the British preferential rate will provide for a preferential margin of 12i per cent, ad valorem. Duties will be reduced to a minimum on certain alkyl sulphonic esters not produced in. Australia. The new duties on automotive ignition coils imported for replacement purposes will be 45 per cent, ad valorem under the British preferential tariff and 55 per cent, ad valorem when from most favoured nation sources. The duty changes involved international negotiations and are complementary to increased duties already enacted in respect of other automotive electrical equipment. The alternative fixed rates are removed from high negative temperature cofficient resistors, also known as thermistors, and the goods are made dutiable at protective rates of 27t per cent, ad valorem British preferential tariff and 45 per cent, ad valorem intermediate tariff. The duties on transistors and other semi-conductor devices remain, however, at their former level.
The proposed changes in the Ninth Schedule are based on recommendations of the Tariff Board on barium sulphate, detergent alkylates, conveyor belting and fabrics over 15 ounces per square yard, and furnishing fabrics. In the case of natural barium sulphate, Australian production is to be assisted by increasing the existing level of protective duties to £4 per ton for goods from most favoured nation sources, with a preferential margin of 10s. per ton. On detergent alkylates and on sulphonic acids which are suitable for use in the manufacture of detergents, new protective duties of 10 per cent, ad valorem under British preferential tariff and 27i per cent, ad valorem most favoured nation are proposed to protect the local manufacture of these products. Temporary duties of 20 per cent, ad valorem which applied to reinforced conveyor belts and belting pending receipt and consideration of the Tariff Board’s report are removed and fabric-reinforced goods are made dutiable at rates of 35 per cent, ad valorem under the British preferential tariff and 45 per cent, ad valorem from other countries. Metal-reinforced rubber belts and belting become dutiable at rates of free British preferential tariff and Ti per cent, ad valorem otherwise, as the Tariff Board found that Australian production of these goods can compete against imports without tariff assistance. Temporary duties are removed from cotton fabrics of the types used in reinforcing conveyor belting and replaced by duties of 50 per cent, ad valorem or 3s. per lb. whichever is the higher, under the British preferential tariff, with rates a further 10 per cent, higher on imports from most favoured nation sources. Protection accorded Australian production of furnishing fabrics is being continued at the level of the former combined ordinary and temporary duties, but will again be reviewed by the Tariff Board in the near future, in conjunction with other inquiries being conducted by the Board on similar fabrics used for other purposes.
I invite the attention of honorable senators to the summaries of tariff alterations which have been distributed. The changes
Involved will be found set out in some detail, including the previous rates, those now proposed, and the reasons for the changes. 1 commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes an amendment of the Second Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1964. This action is complementary to that being taken in the Seventh Schedule of Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1964. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
This Bill proposes a number of amendments to the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933- 1964. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1964. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes an amendment to the Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) 1936-1964. This action is complementary to that being taken in the First Schedule to Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1964. I commend the bill to honorable able senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 11th August (vide page 24), on the following paper presented by Senator Gorton -
Incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin - Statement by the Minister for External Affairs, dated 11th August 1964.
And on the motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the paper be printed.
– The matter now before the Senate is related to the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) in the House of Representatives on 11th August, which was repeated on his behalf by his representative in the Senate. The statement is confined, almost entirely, to the incidents that took place in the Gulf of Tonkin earlier this month. But those events, of course, cannot be seen except against a very much wider background. I propose to put them in perspective against the whole position in South East Asia as I see it, including in that term our own country, Australia.
I think it came as a shock to everybody in this country to find that the incidents, occurring as they did with such rapidity, very nearly brought the world to the brink of war - war not only in this area but likely to lead to world war on a very large scale. It is as well to realise that a seemingly relatively insignificant incident can lead to such great and tremendous results. As I see it, the incidents, though relatively in small compass, are nevertheless a most important part of the power struggle with aggressive Chinese Communism. I do not propose to develop that theme at this stage. I intend to return to it later.
Approaching the matter in the broadest way, I want to put before the Senate the policy of the Opposition in relation to South East Asia. The Australian Labour Policy’s Federal Platform, Constitution and Rules as brought up to the minute, are readily available for anybody to peruse. There appears to be a great deal of ignorance as to their contents.
– They were not disclosed publicly.
– They were, and they are immediately available. They were disclosed publicly at the time of their making and they are available to any member of the community who is interested enough to approach our Federal Secretariat and perhaps pay some small sum for them - a sum running into some pence I think; I am not sure what the figure is. I am glad to inform honorable Government senators that our Platform, Constitution and Rules are a public document available to anybody. The mere fact that Government supporters are ignorant of that point again shows the need to draw their particular attention to what the policy is. After the preamble the document points out why Labour believes in upholding the Commonwealth of Nations. Secondly, it provides that we are to give unswerving and paramount loyalty to the United Nations. I have paraphrased our policy on both those points. I will read the next one in full. Labour believes that -
Co-operation with the United States - and I pause to say that co-operation is both a continuing and an expanding process; it is not a static one - in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian
Oceans is of crucial importance and must be maintained, subject to the understanding that Australia must remain free to order its policies in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I take it that there is no objection to that plank of Labour’s platform?
Finally, Labour believes that -
Australia has a moral duty to co-operate in the development of the South East Asian area to strengthen the fabric of peace and freedom and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, and to promote economic well being and development.
I take it there is no objection to that. Again, Labour believes that -
Australia must take the initiative for the maintenance of peace and good relations between itself and its neighbours and in the whole South-East Asia area.
I pass on to a consideration of the treaties that Australia enjoys. Under the heading of “A.N.Z.U.S. Treaty” it is stated-
Labour believes that the defensive alliance with the United States of America and New Zealand, referred to as A.N.Z.U.S. is essential and must continue.
Referring to S.E.A.T.O., the view is expressed that this organisation is ineffective, but that we should not withdraw from it until adequate arrangements are made in accordance with another decision that provides for Australia taking the initiative to seek new treaties as follows -
Coming back to S.E.A.T.O., the proposal is that that Treaty should stand until it is replaced by treaties of the type to which I have just referred.
I put it very simply to the Senate that those arc the lines of policy espoused and announced by the Australian Labour Party. I shall be very interested to know whether anybody on the Government side who enters this debate will be critical of them.
– Or tell us what is the Government’s policy.
– That would be of interest too. That policy has been obscured in many particulars.
As a part of the baseI propose to lay for the views I express, I turn to the Geneva conference of July 1954, when 14 powers attended to the question of what was formerly French Indo-China. Resolutions were put through in relation to Laos,
Cambodia and Vietnam. The former state of Vietnam was divided into two, the northern portion being Communist controlled and South Vietnam being non-Communist. I wish to make it quite clear that South Vietnam never signed any of the arrangements relating to the conclusions of the Geneva treaty; nor did the United States of America. But on the same day as the various resolutions were passed in July 1954, the United States of America made a Declaration on the subject. I shall read that Declaration in full, lt was -
The Government of the United States of America
Declares with regard to the aforesaid Agreements and paragraphs that (i) it will refrain from the threat or the use of force to disturb them in accordance with Article 2 (Section 4) of the Charter of the United Nations dealing wilh the obligation of members to refrain in their international relations from I lie threat or use of force: and (ii) it would view any renewal of the aggression in violation of the aforesaid Agreements with grave concern and as seriously threatening international peace and security.
In conned ion wilh the statement in me Declaration concerning free elections in Vietnam, my Government wishes to make clear ils position which it has expressed in a Declaration made in Washingtun on July 29, 1954 as follows -
In the case of nations now divided against their will, we shall continue io seek to achieve unity through free elections, supervised by iiic United Nations to ensure that they arc conducted fairly.
The Declaration continues -
Wilh respect 10 iiic statement made by the Representative of (he Stale of Vietnam, the United States reiterates ils traditional position that peoples are entitled to determine their own future and that il will not join in an arrangement which would hinder this. Nothing in its declaration just made is intended to or docs indicate any departure from this traditional position.
We share the hope thai the agreement will permit Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to play their part in full independence and sovereignty, in the peaceful community of nations, and will enable the peoples of that area to determine their own future.
There are set out in the documents before mc the agreement made on the cessation of hostilities in each of the three countries to which I have just made reference.
– That was 10 years ago.
– Yes, almost to the day. I think the Agreement was reached on 21st July 1954, so the tenth anniversary has only recently concluded.
– Was that long before the division of Vietnam?
– No. I am referring to the agreement which, in fact, led to the division of Vietnam into two parts. Very soon after the making of that agreement - perhaps a little less than two months - there was proclaimed at Manila, on 8th September, the Treaty that we know now as the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. The Senate is well aware that there are eight members of that treaty organisation - Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United Slates of America. I propose to refer briefly to some of the principles of the Treaty. In Article 111 the eight parties -
Undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to co-operate with one another in the further development of economic measures, including technical assistance, designed both to promote economic progress and social well-being and io further Iiic individual and collective efforts of governments towards these ends.
Those are a set of purely peaceful objectives. Article IV dealt with aggression, and under it each party recognised that aggression by means of armed attack in. the treaty, area against any of the parties would endanger its own peace and safety, and agreed thai it would in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with ils constitutional processes. I wish to add two things. That particular provision of resisting armed attack is made, not only in favour of the eight signatory powers, but also in favour of any state or territory which the parties by unanimous agreement might hereafter designate. Paragraph 3 of Article IV provides - ll is understood that no action on the territory of any stale designated by unanimous agreement under paragraph I of this article or on any territory so designated shall be taken except al the invitation or with the consent of the government concerned.
I should qualify what I said about Article IV by reference to what is stated at the end of the Treaty, where there is reference to the “ Understanding of the United States of America “. The statement reads -
The United States of America in executing the present Treaty does so with the understanding thai its recognition of the effect of aggression and armed attack and its agreement with reference thereto in Article IV, paragraph 1, apply only to Communist aggression but affirms that in the event of other aggression or armed attack it will consult under Article IV, paragraph 2.
So America has entered into this Treaty on the understanding that its obligations arise only in respect of Communist aggression. All other signatories agree that armed attack from any quarter is a matter that affects the security of each and every one of them and that they will act together in accordance with their constitutional processes.
At the same time as that Treaty was signed - it was signed by R. G. Casey for Australia - there was also signed a protocol on 8th September 1954, the effect of which is unanimously to designate the three states, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, as territories which are entitled to the benefit of the Treaty provision in Article IV, paragraph 1 . So already and right from the outset there was designation of those three powers, the former French Indo-China, as bodies the securing of which from armed aggression was of concern to the eight signatories of the Treaty. When there is a request from any one of those States for assistance against armed aggression or for economic help, the action that is taken is taken pursuant to a Treaty to which we and others are signatories. Once the request is made it becomes a matter not only of a Treaty obligation but also of honour to act pursuant to the Treaty that is as I see it.
In relation to what is going on under S.E.A.T.O. in the area of South East Asia, I should like to point out that the signatories are not merely acting alone. As to what is now happening in South East Asia, America has supported the request of the South Vietnam authorities to some 35 nations that they come to her assistance. Many of them have already complied with the request. America is quite openly using its influence to persuade those which have not yet come in to help to do so as soon as they can. The help that is being given relates to medical assistance, technical assistance, and the provision of goods and services of every conceivable kind. There is very little direct military assistance.
It is rather interesting to note that those who are co-operating and who are not member of the Treaty include Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan. It is true that in many cases the assistance is purely token, but even token assistance when a nation is confronted with subversion and disruption on the grand scale that we see in South Vietnam is of great importance to the administration of the country and in giving hope to the people who are torn in the conflict that is taking place within their borders.
I want to pass from there and say a few words on the whole position in South East Asia. As I see it, omitting for the moment the confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia, there would be little trouble but for the aggressive nature of Communist China that is displayed not merely in words but also in action. The Chinese have, without doubt, advocated the overthrow of nonCommunist States by force, by war, by revolution, by every means at their disposal. On that point, it is interesting to note that the Chinese are in conflict with the other great Communist state, Russia. The Chinese most openly advocate war and revolution. That would be enough to cause us very great concern. We turn to look at their actions. I need not remind the Senate of their activities in Tibet when they overran that country, the violation of the Chinese borders with India, the deep penetration into Indian territory, and the great concern this penetration gave to the Nehru administration that had hoped to preserve a position of true neutrality, the Indians being obliged to accept aid from the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Commonwealth countries like Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
– And Russia.
– Thank you. That is correct. The line up is very interesting but it is significant that India has not entered into mutual defence treaties with any of those countries. The Indians recognise that they are up against a mighty power, a ruthless power, and that despite their population of 600 million they have to meet power of that nature with equal power or greater power. It is for that reason that they have turned for assistance to the countries I have indicated. I am happy to say that the help was forthcoming. One has only to look generally throughout former French IndoChina to see the activities, stimulated from outside - from Communist China - of the Communist Parties in those States, that are at the base of all disruption, to find again that the massing of enormous forces, conducting manoeuvres from time to time just to the north of former French Indo-China, constitutes a threat to the viability of all those new and emerging nations. A study of events in the three States shows the completely disruptive part that is played by the Communist Party in each State. It is a tragic position, without a doubt.
So one sees great power abused for the purpose that I have indicated. There can be only one answer to it, as India found, namely, to match it with an equal power or a greater power. In those circumstances the United States of America is in the area. It has deployed enormous naval and aerial forces throughout the Indian Ocean and along the western Pacific. At very short notice, as we saw recently in the Gulf of Tonkin, America can concentrate huge forces in a particular area. The presence of that great power with all its resources is one of the facts that has prevented further aggression and the possibility of a complete conflagration throughout this part of the world, leading to world conflict.
So I face up to the position that the trouble there is aggressive Communist activity in one form or another. suggest that that has to be contained in the interests not only of South East Asia and India but also of places like Malaysia, because if IndoChina falls to the Communists, Malaysia will fall, and in turn Indonesia and Australia. So when the U.S.A. affirms that the preservation of the three countries that I have mentioned, with undiminished sovereignty, is vital not only to her interests but also to the peace of the world, I find that my mind goes along with what is said. I repeat what I have said here on quite a number of occasions. As I see the situation, Australia’s future security rests primarily upon the power and the will of the U.S. to assure our position in this part o” the world. I repeat that we should bc grateful to the U.S. for what she has done and what she is doing.
I make the comment in passing that Australia is not an insignificant ally of the great United Slates of America, despite the apparent inadequacy of our defences. As shown during the last war, we arc a granary; we are rich in the raw materials that are required for the prosecution of war. Since the last war wc have developed industrially; we could make a far greater industrial contribution today than we could then. Throughout the last war the industrial potential of this country was developed apace and we have reaped the benefit of that advance in the succeeding years. Our industrial organisation certainly could be geared now to quite a powerful effort. Strategically, Australia is a base for any activities in this area. We have been wealthy enough to stand on our own feet financially vis a vis the great United States. So we arc able to talk to America, not from a position of equality in relation to power and strength but at least from one of dignity and with a ready sense of nationhood without any admixture of undue pride. 1 have found that the U.S.A. does not expect her allies to agree with all that she does. At Washington I voiced criticisms to top Administration officials about various acts, one at least of which I thought gravely concerned the future of Australia. No resentment was displayed. There was even acceptance and acknowledgment, lt is inevitable that the United States, with activities all over the world, will bc misunderstood and misrepresented and that she will become inured to criticism. The fact that the Australian Labour Party undertakes to co-operate - it has done so magnificently over the years, right from the time that the American forces were invited to Australia during the recent world war - docs not mean that it is not to have its own views about the policies that could best be pursued in this area or in any other part of the world.
Al this stage I come more particularly to South Vietnam. One cannot but feel saddened and sorry for the people of that benighted area. After years of French rule, the country was overrun by the Japanese in 1941. When the French came back, they were resisted. The South Vietnamese won their independence through the Geneva treaties of 1954 to which I have referred. The history of the matter is excellently set out in a lecture by Mr. Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State in the United States of America, before the Economic Club of New York on 22nd April 1963. Mr. Rusk devoted a whole speech to the activities of South Vietnam. He pointed out that the South Vietnamese were without experience in administration and parliamentary democracy but that from 1954 onwards they have stood as a new nation. They have had on their hands the tremendous problem caused by the influx of a million refugees who left North Vietnam to escape Communist rule. That imposed on the South
Vietnamese a colossal problem of resettlement. Upon their attainment of nationhood, the South Vietnamese found their country disorganised, lacking in educational, health and social facilities of every kind and bothered by a Communist Party which was reasonably active but not nearly as active as it became in 1959.
Mr. Rusk pointed out that for five years after 1954 South Vietnam achieved tremendous success in providing educational and health facilities. He said that between 1956 and 1960 enrolment in the elementary schools rose from 400,000 to H million, that the country was producing enough rice to resume exports on a rising scale, and electric power had been doubled. He added -
The Communists were not completely eliminated - especially along the land and sea frontiers, where they could be supplied - but most of South Vietnam became, for a period, safe for travel.
In other words, up to 1959 or thereabouts there was a great prospect of the country coming under the control of good political and economic development. Throughout that period four national elections were held in South Vietnam. So it is clear that there was a strong movement towards a constitutional system, resting, as Mr. Rusk said, upon popular consent. He concluded that part of his address with these words -
The overriding unfinished business is to achieve public safety in order that the country can resume its march towards peace and prosperity.
In 1959, when the South Vietnamese economy was outstripping that of North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese sponsored what was called a front for the liberation of South Vietnam. That front enlisted the aid of non-Communists in South Vietnam. Some helped for reasons which concerned the need for non-corrupt, democratic government and that type of thing; others helped because they wanted health facilities, and social facilities much more quickly. As a result of the setting up of a tremendous number of strong points throughout the country, members of the Vietcong won positions on each of the village committees. They were in a position (o have demanded more, but they were satisfied to have two out of five. They exercised coercion on others through terror, intimidation and even killing.
We have the extraordinary spectacle in parts of South Vietnam, particularly in the south around the vital Mekong Delta, of locals, and peasants in particular, paying taxes to both the Vietcong and the Government of the country. That is an unheard of thing elsewhere. There has been a disruption of bridges. The Vietcong does not want the movement towards democracy to proceed. Its members destroy schools and kill teachers, they prevent the various health improvements from being made to work and generally they keep the place in a simmer. This has caused a most difficult situation. I refer honorable senators to an article which appeared in the “ Australian “ of Saturday, 15th August last, under the heading: “ U.S. is Losing the Battle of the Villages “. This brilliant article was written by a gentleman named Peter Smark, who represented the “ Australian “ in the area. Speaking of the people of the Mekong Delta, he pointed out that he found that a great proportion of the Vietcong geurrillas and their supporters were not Communists. He said -
The Communists are able to use their nationalism-
That is, the nationalism of these nonCommunists - buttressed by tactics of intense propaganda and discriminating use of terror, to push the people into revolution.
He continued -
The Communists have been able to persuade the majority of people in the Mekong delta, the rice bowl of the country, that the South Vietnam Government and ils American supporters are the successors of the French as colonial rulers.
He went on to say -
To the man in the ricefield it is not a matter of choice between Communism and freedom. No one has taught him to think like a foreign minister.
The choice is cloaked on both sides. The Communists operate through an organisation called the Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam.
The leaders of this Front include prominent Buddist figures, leaders of minority groups, and a profusion of different political and religious creeds. The Front is dominated of course by the Communists, but the man in the ricefield cannot know this clearly.
Of each village Front committee of five, perhaps two are Communists in the real ideological sense. Others are men who have been taught or forced to hate the Government and Americans.
If the villager chooses to reject these people, his alternative is to choose the Government. But the shining ideal of freedom has little resemblance to the image o£ government that tha villager secs.
That seems to me, on all that I have read and all that I have heard of this position, particularly in the Mekong delta, to be a pretty accurate and condensed statement of what is going on in that area.
We have from the head of state in South Vietnam the statement that there arc 150,000 active Communists in South Vict nam, 34,000 of whom, he says, are regulars. The article in the “ Australian “, to which 1 have referred, goes on to say that many of these Communists are not known as such, that there are spies everywhere, and that moves on the part of the Government are anticipated. The writer of this article records what happened only last week when 100 helicopters were used to move many battalions to an area where it was understood there was a great Communist concentration. When the battalions arrived there they found plenty of fortifications, tunnels and one thing and another, but no Communists. The Communists had been advised of this move in advance.
I mention these facts to indicate the terrific difficulty in combating Communists who arc of the same nation and the same race as the people of the Government, who look like them, talk like them and move freely amongst them and can obscure their purpose until they need show it. That is a terrific force to fight. The same experience was had in Malaysia where it took eight long, weary years to drive out a relatively few terrorists. There is no suggestion that this job of attending to the Vietcong in South Vietnam can be done in a hurry. That was recognised by Mr. Dean Rusk in the course of the speech to which I have referred. It is worth while to quote the following brief passage from that speech -
Wo cannot promise, or expect, a quick: victory there. The enemy is elusive and determined, and relatively small numbers can disrupt the normal processes of a going society.
He continued -
But there is a good basis for encouragement. The Vietnamese are on their way to success and need our help; not just our material help - they need that - but our sympathetic understanding and comradeship. I can understand the discontent which surrounds any important task still unfinished. ] cannot understand anyone who would quit, withhold our resources, abandon a brave people to those who ‘are out to bury us and every other free and independent nation. That we cannot and will not do.
In the same speech he also clearly defined the role of the United States of America in Vietnam as follows -
Our role in South Vietnam is a limited and supporting role. We provide technical, logistical, training, and advisory assistance. We have no combat units as such in South Vietnam, although many of our military personnel - and some civilians - come under fire in combat situations and wc have suffered some casualties.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was dealing with the difficulties of coping with the turmoil in South Vietnam. To what I have said I add the fact that South Vietnam shares a common border with both Laos and Cambodia. This border is used by the Communists - as well as the road from North Vietnam - to bring supplies and munitions into South Vietnam. So there is, in fact, an approach from three sides. In addition, there is the fact that a revolutionary government took over late last year following the assassination of the then president of South Vietnam. One of the unfortunate effects of that change has been to cause disunity in the nonCommunist ranks throughout Vietnam and this is not a factor which helps to weld the country together.
The revolutionary government is in complete control. At the moment it had declared a state of emergency and there is no present talk of elections to be held throughout the newly formed nation. I think that, on that point, the Senate will recall that the Minister, in the course of his speech, indicated that there was no current alternative to military activity to find a solution to the trouble in South Vietnam. Not only do I not share that opinion, but it is also an opinion which is not shared by the Secretary of State in the United States of America nor by the Minister for Defence in the United States of America. The Secretary of State - I am going back to the speech to which I referred a while ago made in April 1963 - had this to say -
As the Communist attack is political, and economic as well as military, so is the response. The Government of Vietnam - and we - attach the greatest importance to the civic action side of the strategic hamlet programme.
Mr. Rusk has reaffirmed that view in the last few weeks. Again, Mr. McNamara, the Minister for Defence, in delivering the Forrestal memorial lecture at the Forrestal
Memorial Awards dinner in Washington on 24th March 1964 made two specific references to the same matter, when he said -
Clearly the disciplined leadership, direction and support from North Vietnam is a critical factor in the strength of the Vietcong movement. But the large indigenous support that the Vietcong receives means that the solutions must be as political and economic as military. Indeed, there can be no such thing as a purely “ military “ solution to the war in South Vietnam.
He said further -
We have learned that in Vietnam, political and economic progress are the tine qua non of military success, and that military security is equally a prerequisite of internal progress. Our future joint efforts with the Vietnamese are going to apply these lessons. 1 find those authorities backing the view I put in disagreement with the Minister when he pointed to the practicability of only a military solution in the current situation.
– I should not think that to be so.
– I am not quoting him verbatim, but the effort of what he said was that there was no current alternative to a military solution. I believe I am quite correct in quoting him in that way although I have not the document before me at the moment. The view of the Opposition is that all three matters must proceed together. The forces fighting the Vietcong in South Vietnam will lose the battle for the minds of men unless, once they have given protection to the citizens of the place, they also move along with political, social and agrarian reforms. These things have to go forward simultaneously. You cannot concentrate on a military solution and ignore the other factors, or, indeed, the non-Communist forces will lose the battle for the minds of the people in that area. We can only hope that the views expressed by Dean Rusk and Mr. McNamara. who are the chief officers of the American administration, will prevail.
We think it worthwhile to try any solution. We favour the reconvening of the Geneva Conference of 14 natrons which, at least, found a viable solution back in 1954 - a conference at which mainland China was represented. If such a conference does no more than make known to the world the forces that are operating in South East Asia, a vast amount of good will be done, because it will surely enlist the support of people everywhere who have any ideals of freedom and justice and democracy. If it does no more than that - to make known clearly what goes onto will be worthwhile, because one of the greatest difficulties in overcoming evil is to make it possible for the people to understand it and know about it. Part of every war, in the state of the world today, should be the propaganda side of the picture. One wins with propaganda nearly as much as with guns because the conflict which rages - 1 repeat - is as much a conflict for the minds, hearts and wills of men as anything else. 1 wish that the United Nations Organisation was strong enough to set up - as it was intended that it should - a police force adequate for the maintenance of international agreements. We all well understand that with the veto operating in the Security Council and with some dissident members of United Nations Organisation declining to make their proper contribution, it has not been practicable to do this. But there are instances in what happened in the Congo and the intervention in Cyprus which show that slowly and not without some measure of success the United Nations are moving along the road to that desideratum of establishing an international police force which can ensure that international agreements are observed. Part of the work of such a force, I suggest, would be the propaganda of which I spoke only a moment ago.
I will not depart from this subject without referring specifically to the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin on 2nd August and 4th August. We know that an American aircraft carrier was sunk by the Vietcong in Saigon Harbour on 3rd May of this year. We know that two torpedo boats attacked one American destroyer in non-territorial waters on 2nd August and that some half dozen torpedo boats, under cover of night, attacked two destroyers on the night of 4th August. We know that the United States of America, after issuing a warning before the attack, proceeded to demolish the torpedo boat bases and to destroy some torpedo boats. One can regret the violence, but. what else could a nation do but what America, did under those circumstances? It had to do what it did if it wished to have any respect before the world: Its first duty was to protect its own personnel and to show Communist China that it was not perpared to back down from a test but, rather than do this, would have a showdown.
It may well bc that these seemingly irresponsible attacks by the torpedo boats from North Vietnam were merely a probing of American determination, to see how far she could be pushed. If that were the reason - I do not profess to know and can only guess - the North Vietnamese have their answer, and the fear that we had that there would be an immediate and massive retaliation on the part of China has happily not been realised. So far there has been a happy outcome and, much as one regrets the need for violence of any sort, one cannot help thinking that perhaps the action that was taken may be the means of saving many lives in the South East Asian area. I merely indicate that America did what she had to do and what I would hope our own Government would do if our ships in world waters were attacked in similar circumstances. I hope we would protect our own personnel and serve notice that we were not prepared to lie down under attacks of that nature.
I note that Mr. Chase, the American Under-Secretary for Defence, indicated quite recently that the destroyers had been patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin for a year or thereabouts but that they now would be withdrawn temporarily. I think that is part of the restraint - the relative restraint - that the United States of America showed in the circumstances. It indicated very plainly that its retaliation would bc limited, but fitting. America made it completely plain from the beginning that she sought no wider war, and in compliance with her duty under the United Nations Charter promptly reported to the United Nations Security Council what had transpired. There was a meeting of the Security Council, but no conclusion was reached. The proceedings were adjourned indefinitely, wilh suggestions that North Vietnam might attend, that South Vietnam might bc heard and that Communist China might be heard. The matter is in abeyance, but, fortunately, what might have been the beginning of world conflict seems to have passed over in relative calm and steadiness. J hope it remains there.
When one surveys not only this part of the world but the rest of the world where there is turmoil, one could be pardoned for wishing thai he could take some of the people who guide and are responsible for that turmoil - it is always human beings who make the trouble - put them in an astronaut’s capsule and transport them around the world a few times at a great height, until they learned just how puny are their ambitions, how little their outlook and how the peoples of the world are really close neighbours. They might then develop some spirit of tolerance towards the nations of the world and perhaps develop some humility. If one is in an aeroplane above one’s home, where usually one worries about the garden and one thing and another, one realises, looking down from a height of only a few thousand feet, just how little his occupation is when he addresses himself to that subject and glances at the rest of the world. It might adjust the perspective of some human beings if they had the experience of which I speak.
One of my colleagues, Senator Bishop, only today said to me: “ One cannot possibly have a vacuum in South Vietnam “. That is the one outstanding factor in this situation. If all help from the various nations is withdrawn from South Vietnam, South Vietnam will undoubtedly fall to the North, and that means it will be under Communist control and that Laos and Cambodia will stand for no time at all. I say that the finding of a solution will take much money, much effort and infinite patience, but it is unquestionably worthwhile. For us and the other signatories of the South East Asia Treaty, this is a matter of honouring a treaty obligation; it is a matter of national honour accordingly, but above all it is a paramount matter of Australian self interest to be assured that South East Asia does not go Communist.
I am saddened that our friends the Indonesians, who at the initiative of Australia won their freedom through the United Nations, should be aggressors against a Commonwealth country. There are people alive today in both Holland and Indonesia who but for that action would not be living today. I regret to see our friends the Indonesians as aggressors against Malaysia. Their anniversary was oh Monday and I hoped they would rethink the position. I am happy to see that, disregarding our own Prime Minister’s advice not to have any more summit meetings, the Tunku Abdul Rahman has initiated, through the Philippines, a further conference, which the President of the Philippines recently announced will take place in the immediate future. It will be at the official level to begin. Indonesia has accepted the offer, imposing, as I understand it, only one condition - that there should be a clear agenda prepared in advance for that occasion.
I hope that the action taken in the United States Senate quite recently to pass a resolution by an overwhelming majority to refuse all further military and economic aid to Indonesia will not be approved in the Congress and that it will not become law. It would be one way of throwing Indonesia into the Russian orbit, and that is not the answer. I hope that some good will come out of the next series of conferences that are to take place. We can wish the conferences well and hope for a good result. One of the proposals advanced by the Philippines that may well have a chance of acceptance is that there be an Afro-Asian conciliation commission to try to reconcile the differences between Indonesia and Malaysia. It would be the happiest of all solutions if that could be done - if they could resolve the matter amongst themselves with the aid of their African and other Asian friends. If that were settled, I can see no reason why Indonesia should fear her neighbours thereafter. Indonesia is worried about British bases immediately to the north and projecting into her territory, about ourselves and New Zealand to the south, and about the great naval and air forces of America in her vicinity. Indonesia claims to feel surrounded. From the viewpoint of my party, we are prepared to make a non-aggression pact with Indonesia. I cannot see why, if the other nations in the vicinity have the same idea and if they are joined by great powers like Britain and the United States of America, the end of this should not be a’ situation where Indonesia’s territorial integrity is guaranteed by us all and she enters into mutual pacts with the other territories in her immediate vicinity. This, as a possibility, might be worth exploring. What I suggest involves the ending of the present inroads into Malaysian territory by the Indonesians - intrusion which is officially sponsored and acknowledged by Indonesia herself.
I conclude with a brief and passing reference to Laos. I am happy to note that the three parties in dispute - the rights, the lefts and those in the middle of the road - are to meet in Paris, I think this week, in an endeavour to form a composite government and to assure stability in that area. We of the Labour Party certainly wish that meeting well. We believe in contending parties getting together in the conference room, because it is only out of a mutual understanding of each other’s position that ultimately understanding will come. But conflicting parties should not stand at arm’s length. The situation worsens. In the privacy of these conferences perhaps somebody swollen with pride may climb off his high horse and may be joined by another person. Consultation and conciliation are of the essence, in the view that the Labour Party takes.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! The Leader of the Opposition’s time has expired.
– Before offering my views in this debate I would like to comment on the very useful speech that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has made. I think that the Senate is indebted to him for the research he carried out into the history of events in Vietnam. It seemed to me that he showed as near to a bipartisan approach to problems of international affairs as I have seen in the Senate in the fourteen years I have been here. It will do all of us good to read his speech when it appears in “ Hansard “ as his approach, although I did not agree with everything he said, seemed to me to be the proper approach to a matter of great importance to this nation.
We are discussing this evening certain incidents that took place in the waters off Vietnam. Let us assume for a moment that these were unwarlike incidents. They would still be of great importance to Australia because incidents that occur in Vietnam take place nearer to Darwin than the capital city in which my friend Senator Wright lives; in other words, Vietnam is nearer to Darwin than is Hobart and events occurring in Vietnam, from a geographical point of view, are of great urgency to Australia and should be of great concern.
Looked at another way, the position is that Saigon in South Vietnam is nearer to Darwin than is Perth to Brisbane and there are no sea or land barriers to modern methods of air travel, lt is of no concern that there are no normal trade routes between Darwin and Vietnam because any air space will serve in these times as a passage between two places. From another point of view 200 million people live closer to the north-west of Australia than do the two million people who live in Melbourne. Another way I look at it is that these 200 million people live nearer to Australia than to the trouble spot we are discussing tonight. A conflagration started in Vietnam could spread very quickly amongst hundreds of millions of people in a part of the world closer to Australia than is Perth to Brisbane.
T see the situation as one requiring the most urgent consideration of the Senate. I am grateful to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) for presenting a paper to the Parliament on 11th August. The circumstances surrounding the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin can be summarised very shortly. On 2nd August 1964 the United States vessel “ Maddox “ when 30 miles off Vietnam shores was the subject of a deliberate daylight attack by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats. The “ Maddox “ returned their fire and damaged the attacking torpedo boats.
President Johnson of the United States of America gave notice that another destroyer would join the “ Maddox “ and that air cover would be supplied. He gave orders for the “ Maddox “ and the other destroyer and the air cover to retaliate if further attacked. Two days later the “ Maddox “ and the other destroyer when 60 miles offshore were attacked at night by a number of North Vietnamese vessels. Two of the attacking vessels were sunk and two were damaged. President Johnson, having given adequate warning that further action would take place if more attacks were made, allowed the United States air and naval forces to move into the coast. Twenty-five torpedo boats and certain oil installations were destroyed. Events of world importance followed.
President Johnson immediately reported the matter to the Security Council of the United Nations. I believe that the Council has not been able to proceed very far with its investigations or to take any action. It is quite important that the United States Congress met and supported the President’s actions. A joint resolution of the Congress was passed on 7th August. The resolution, couched in somewhat legal phraseology, is worthy to be placed in the records of the Senate. I think it sets out the position very clearly and accurately in these recitals -
Whereas, naval units of the Communist regime in Vietnam, in violation of the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of international law, have deliberately and repeatedly attacked United Slates naval vessels lawfully present in international waters, and have thereby created a serious threat to international peace;
Whereas, these attacks are part of a deliberate and systematic campaign of aggression that the Communist regime in North Vietnam has been waging against its neighbours and the nations joined within the collective defence of their freedom;
Whereas, the United Stales is assisting the peoples of South East Asia to protect their freedom and has no territorial, military or political ambitions in that area, but desires only that these peoples should be left in peace to work out their own destinies in their own way;
The resolution of Congress states that the United States regards as vital to its national interest the maintenance of international peace and security in South East Asia. In conclusion it states -
Consonant with the Constitution and the Charter of the United Nations and in accordance with its obligations under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, the United States is, therefore prepared as the President determines, to take all necessary steps, including the use of armed force, to assist any member or protocol state of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty requesting assistance in defence of its freedom.
That is the legal basis for the action of the U.S.A. It is also the legal basis for our interest and action in the matter. I would like to say a word or two about the general situation in South East Asia as I see it and views I formed during a journey I was privileged to make to six countries in South East Asia last year. From that visit I have been able to form some conclusions and the fundamental conclusion I formed - and I believe Senators Maher and O’Byrne and maybe Senator Drury who were my colleagues on that journey could well have come to the same conclusion - was that every country in South East Asia was looking behind it to see what Mainland China was up to.
When we were in Burma, we were able to discuss the situation with a very high ranking Indian who was able to tell us just what was going on with regard to the recent attack made by Mainland China on
India. When we were in Burma, we learned that, having a common boundary with Mainland China in the north, Burma thought that possibly it had a boundary accord with China but it was not terribly sure. The great worry confronting Burma was infiltration over its northern border. At that time there was some opinion in Burma that at the appropriate moment, Communist China would use the great Irrawaddy Valley and the Port of Rangoon as a jumping off point for Africa. The visit to Africa last year and early this year of Mr. Chou En-lai, the Premier of China, clearly indicated to me that he was down there on an exercise of fishing in troubled waters. So it is evident that India and Burma are most anxious about Communist China.
We then came to Thailand, a peace loving country, and it may interest the Senate to know that one of the great problems in north and north east Thailand is the infiltration of Communist Chinese through Laos into Thailand. At this point of time, the Australian Government is assisting Thailand with Australian personnel. Road.builders from the Snowy Mountains area with heavy road-moving equipment, are constructing feeder roads in north east Thailand so that the legitimate Government of Thailand, with headquarters in Bangkok, can exercise its normal and proper functions over the area especially at the times when the rivers come down in flood. Thus normal control, commerce and schooling of children can continue and the infiltrators can be rounded up and prevented from operating against the Government and the people of Thailand. From discussions we had, we were made aware of the problems facing Laos and Cambodia because of the infiltration of these Communists.
In Hong Kong one gets the impression that the British colony there could well be living on borrowed time. Communist China virtually controls the water supply and all the high ground around this important British colony.
Fighting appears to be going on almost daily by means of bombardment between Mainland China and the offshore island of Quemoy attached politically to Formosa. There is a running war there and the Nationalist Chinese h: ve . their eyes on
Communist China. One was also conscious that in Singapore, now part of Malaysia, the whole question of the mainland Chinese and their insurrectionist attitude is causing the legitimate Government of Singapore a good deal of concern. In discussions we had when in Malaya, now part of Malaysia, we were made aware of the terrorist activities of Chinese Communists.
Throughout South East Asia, from India to the south of Malaysia, this problem is found. So I think it was quite important for the entire area that the U.S. took this strong stand. As I hope I have been able to show, the action taken was in full accord with international law, the obligations of members of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the A.N.Z.U.S. pact. After hearing the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), I believe he is also of that opinion.
The statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) is very carefully worded and I submit that it leaves us in no doubt that the correct approach was taken by the United States of America. I thought the Leader of the Opposition raised an interesting question when he referred to portion of the Minister’s statement. I will repeat it and offer my views on the meaning of these words. The Minister said -
In the face of events, the Australian Government is convinced that, whatever possibilities the future may hold for a genuine settlement in the region, there is no current alternative to the effort of assisting in South Vietnam to preserve ils independence and there is no current alternative to using force as necessary to check the southward thrust of militant Asian Communism.
That is where the emphasis is on the use of force. I repeat - - to check the southward thrust of militant Asian Communism.
I think I have been able to show, from my observations and discussions 1 had when in that area, that every nation is concerned about this southward thrust of militant Asian Communism. Then Mr. Hasluck went on to say -
Our own defence measures and such aid as we have been able to give to neighbouring States are influenced by this realisation. It is our hope that the restrained but determined actions of the United States will have a strong deterrent effect on the aggressor and lead to second thoughts by those who seek peace only by crushing free nations.
I think Senator McKenna made quite an interesting point when he referred to the propaganda value of what are virtually good works. The Australian nation has done a lot to uplift the people of South Vietnam, but it is not much good pouring money and effort into these areas if ruthless attackers from the north - infiltrators, whether they come down the Mekong River or whatever way they come - are there purely with the object of destroying peace and the productive enterprises of the people, most of whom are peasants, ricegrowers and so on. I think it is essential to put the bush fire out first, and that is the exercise that is envisaged by the action of the United States.
When there has been opportunity, the Australian Government has not been slow in lending aid. I understand that the report on Colombo Plan operations to 31st December 1963 shows that up to that date technical assistance and capital aid worth £2,330,000 had been given to South Vietnam. The report discloses some interesting specific items. Australia has provided assistance towards the establishment of a modern dairy industry in South Vietnam. It has provided teachers and equipment for breeding livestock and poultry, lt has provided also radio receiving equipment worth £83,000; road rollers and tractors for municipal works worth £103,000; railway carriages worth £443,000; 1.0 diesel buses worth £79,000; and sulphate of ammonia worth £253,000. This is apart from Australia’s efforts in other areas of South East Asia. The items 1 have just mentioned represent some of the aid that has been given already.
J think that Australia’s stand in this matter by being the first nation to acknowledge that it stood beside the United States in the action that that country took, by providing aid to increase production, by providing personnel to train the South Vietnamese army - which is there on the spot in tens of thousands to resist this aggression - and by the recent move in providing Caribou aircraft and additional instructors, shows that Australia is taking a stand in the interests of peace in the area. I should like to conclude on that note. I think that what Australia has done is creditable and that it is of importance to the Senate that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) should have made the statement that he did make so that this matter could be fully considered by the Senate.
– In the contribution that I wish to make to the debate I hope to avoid covering ground that has already been covered by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). Senator McKenna, the Senate will recall, outlined the incidents that were, I suppose, in the main responsible for the statement which the Senate is now debating. The honorable senator outlined the attitude of the Opposition to the whole question of South East Asia. He stated, in broad terms, the policies of the Australian Labour Party on defence and foreign affairs, and there is no need for me to traverse that ground.
The things which I wish to introduce into the debate tonight are of a somewhat different character, and I hope that they will exercise the minds in some way not only of honorable senators on the Government side but also of those on this side of the chamber. It is interesting to consider just why this discussion is taking place of events in South East Asia and of defence generally. The genesis of the debate was a ministerial statement in the other place and a motion that the House take note of a paper on the incidents in the Gulf of Tonkin. Those incidents have been outlined and, as I have said, it is not my intention to go over the whole situation again.
I followed the debate in another place very closely. Not only did I. read the “ Hansard “ reports of the debate very carefully, but also I had the opportunity of actually sitting in the chamber and listening to the various speakers put their views. I was appalled at the attitude of some Government supporters and their demeanour when speaking about Opposition speakers in the House of Representatives. There were the usual cries of derision and the usual suggestions of Communist affiliation or sympathy because contending points of view were put forward. All this, of course, is designed to cover up the real issues and to take us on courses which we ought not to be travelling at all. I think we ought to face up to the real issues in this matter.
A number of arguments were raised in another place and a number of debating points were taken by Government supporters on the alleged lack of uniformity in the views expressed by speakers representing the Australian Labour Party.
– And raised by the Press also.
– And by the Press, of course. The suggestion seems to be that because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) expressed one view and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) expressed a view that might have been slightly different, and because another member expressed another view on the same matter, that was an outrageous situation and they should not have differing views. 1 point out that the Labour Party has certain broad policies on the questions of South East Asia, defence and international affairs generally, but that inside those broad policies members of the Labour Party have contending views. I hope I will never see the day when we become mere robots, each and every one of us getting up and simply expressing the views of the previous speaker. Is that the kind of thing that permeates Government thinking in the field of international affairs? Is there any member on the Government side who thinks that that constitutes perfect party harmony in these matters?
As I said, I was appalled at the approach to what I consider to be the very grave situation that we are considering in this chamber tonight. I hope that we will get away from the sort of thinking to which I have referred and get down to the real issues we have to discuss. I want to make it perfectly clear that it is my opinion - this opinion is not only shared by members of the Opposition but also has been widely canvassed by the Press - that a special session of the Federal Parliament should have been called during the parliamentary recess for the purpose of considering properly, and in the proper atmosphere, the whole spectrum of international affairs, particularly in relation to South East Asia, and the vital question of the defence of Australia.
If you, Sir, as President of the Senate, wished to limit this discussion, you could bring us to the point where we could do no more than relate the whole of our speeches to matters concerned wilh the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin You, of course, would not do that, but you would be perfectly within your rights, according to the Standing Orders of this chamber, if you said that every speaker had to direct his remarks specifically to that matter.
The point I want to make is that the situation in Vietnam has been festering for some considerable time. We know that the position in South East Asia has not just overnight become a problem to Australia. We do know that in the last two months there has been a very rapid deterioration in the situation to a degree that has exercised the minds of many people in this country and caused a great deal of concern to every thinking Australian. I want to stress that I believe that a debate of this character is just a hit and miss, piecemeal attempt to discuss something that ought not to be considered against the background of the Budget. The debate should not be a mere supplement to the Budget itself. It ought to have been the concern of the Government to call the Parliament together on the understanding that we had a serious matter to discuss, that we were not limited as to time, as we are on this occasion, and that we could seek and get information that as members of Parliament we are entitled to have. Perhaps the people of Australia would then have a greater appreciation of this Government’s role and of Australia’s position generally in the troubled pattern of world events today, particularly in South East Asia.
During the parliamentary recess, we missed a golden opportunity to do something along those lines. We shall leave this discussion tonight or tomorrow. If the debate is revived tomorrow, we shall have two hours at the most for it. Many honorable senators who want to say something about this matter will, as a consequence, be shut out. It may be said that there is nothing to prevent them from raising the matter in the Budget debate. Of course there is not, except that whatever remarks we make on defence and South East Asia during the” Budget debate will be lost in a mass of other matters with which we must deal in a consideration of the Budget. It may be said also that we can discuss the matter when we are dealing with the estimates of expenditure which relate to defence. Again, however, there is a limitation on the matters to which we may refer under that heading. They would be discussed against the pattern and structure of the estimates of expenditure and the real essence of a debate of this kind would be lost.
We should not be in this position. As we all know, there is a sense of gravity and urgency in the minds of everyone about what might happen today, tomorrow, next week or next month in the trouble spots of South East Asia. We shall be leaving the subject in an unfinished debate - that is the only way of putting it - and there will be a feeling of insecurity because nobody is quite sure of just what the Government’s attitude is towards this matter, just what our position is in respect of defence, and just what Australia’s future intentions are if South East Asia should suddenly burst into flames, as it could well do. I stress that point, because I feel quite strongly about it.
I want to come back to the matter of members of the Australian Labour Party having contending points of view on questions of defence and foreign policy. Is this wrong? I do not think it is. As I said, we agree on broad issues, but we do have differing thoughts about some of the minor aspects of aims and objectives, and how these will be achieved. The position in South East Asia is not something about which anybody can afford to be too sure. It is easy for Government supporters to say: “ We concur wholeheartedly, to a man, with the decision made by Cabinet and our parliamentary leaders “. If that constitutes a useful contribution to the Government of this country, all I can say is that I have an entirely different opinion. If Government supporters accept that point of view, they have a machine tool policy, with everybody thinking exactly alike, and the margin of error reduced to one thousandth of an inch. If there is anything wrong with the policy, not one man is wrong; all are wrong. They should not bask smugly in the thought of the harmony that supposedly exists in the Government ranks. There is not harmony, but stagnation, if there are no contending points of view. If there is any man on the Government side who is not prepared to confess that he is troubled about some statements that have been made on a ministerial or Cabinet level about the situa tion confronting Australia and South East Asia today, all I can say is that the Government and Australia have reached a point of danger.
From the contributions made by Government speakers in this debate and in another place, one would think that there was no room for confusion or misunderstanding about what was happening in South East Asia and that everything was perfectly, obviously and abundantly clear. We do not think that this is the position. I shall give the Senate some idea of what the people at large think about this matter, ft is important that we have a look at some of these things. I have before me an extract from the “Daily Telegraph” of 14th August, which contains an opinion by a correspondent who writes for the London “ Times “. It reads -
Some observers were beginning to regard the Malaysian Federation as a “ disastrous experiment “, the Times defence correspondent said today. “ It is hard now to find much enthusiasm for it anywhere in South East Asia”, he wrote. The correspondent, who recently returned from Borneo, expressed these views in the second of a series of articles on the Malaysia campaign. He said the war between Malaysian security forces and Indonesian insurgents was one that could never be won. … It will be many years before the Malaysian Army will bc strong enough to defend the country unaided.
With that point of view, Douglas Wilkie, who is a well known foreign correspondent, disagrees. I put this forward as one of those issues in regard to which not only those persons who are not following closely the pattern of events in South East Asia are confused. In addition, people who have a very good opportunity to observe what is going on in these trouble spots cannot agree with one another. Yet the Government says that it has reached complete and absolute harmony in respect of its attitude to South East Asia and that there is no ground for misunderstanding and no possibility of worry. As a further example of how confused thinking has become on the whole pattern of events, I refer to another extract from the “Daily Telegraph” of 14th August, headed “ R.S.L. told S.E.A.T.O. a Paper Tiger “. It reads -
The S.E.A.T.O. Pact was a “paper tiger”, a speaker at the N.S.W. Congress of the R.S.L. said today. The Congress, at Anzac House, decided to seek a Federal Government investigation of S.E.A.T.O. effectiveness. It will ask the Government to investigate the necessity of forming a new military alliance. The alliance would cons of three Asian and Pacific nations backed by an American guarantee, such as N.A.T.O. enjoyed in Europe.
The article goes on to deal with the question of China. Does the Government agree with the suggestion that S.E.A.T.O. is a paper tiger? If it does not, we have yet another indication of the confusion that exists in the minds of the public, of people who are close to the scene of things and people who are not so close. That brings us back to the point where, as 1 said at the commencement of my speech, it is hopeless and stupid for anyone to say that he is certain we are right in relation to what is happening in South East Asia, and in Vietnam in particular. When anyone rises and says that he feels that he is absolutely right on this matter, he is being too silly for words.
I have before me an editorial which was published in the Melbourne “Herald” on Monday, 17th August, and which reflects somewhat on the integrity of the present rulers of South Vietnam. It reads -
By the votes of SO members of a military council, (he people of war-torn South Vietnam today find themselves living once more under dictatorship. It may prove less reactionary and corrupt than the regime of the late President Ngo Dinh Diem, and the alternative of democracy as we know it may be unattainable at present. But ruled by an army junta seems unlikely to give the lift to public morale that South Vietnam heeds.
Is anybody on the Government benches prepared to say that that editorial is utterly wrong or that it is partly wrong?
– Or that it is Communist inspired.
– Or that it is Communist inspired, as the honorable senator has suggested. It is so much nonsense to suggest that anybody who disagrees with one’s contentions, beliefs or decisions must of necessity be at the best a fool or at the worst a Communist. That kind of thinking must be discarded if we are to get anywhere in our parliamentary life. I come now to an article which appeared in the “ Sunday Mirror”, I want to make it clear that the words I shall read are the words of the “ Sunday Mirror “. I do not appreciate the way in which the newspaper describes the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck); I do not think it is funny. But this is what the article states -
Small moustache bristling martially, striving to appear taller than his S ft. 8 in., Australia’s new Minister for External Affairs, Paul Mccrna [Caedwalla Hasluck, trumpeted: “There is no current alternative to using force as necessary to check the southward thrust of Communism “.
As I have said, I want to dissociate myself from what I regard as being the unnecessary, slighting remarks of the newspaper in relation to the Minister; but I want to return to the point that has been raised by Senator McKenna and Senator Laught in relation to the Minister’s statement that there is no current alternative to the use of force in Vietnam. Conceivably the Minister did not mean that in the absolute and fullest sense. Indeed, if one reads the “ Hansard “ report of the debate in the House of Representatives, one notes that the Minister, in reply, said that he had been misunderstood and in fact misquoted in regard to that statement. Nevertheless, a Minister has a duty to make sure that he does not say something which can be misinterpreted.
– One cannot always avoid that.
– That is so. But if a member of the Opposition makes a slip of the tongue or is quoted as saying something that he did not mean, supporters of the Government do not lose any opportunity to make capital out of it. To do that is not good.
– It is politics.
– It is politics. Nevertheless, although I admit that we all can be wrong and can make mistakes, it is encumbent upon a Minister to be wrong as little as possible.
– It was not the Minister who was wrong; it was the report.
– I am not sure about that. I think there was some ambiguity about the statement which lent itself to misrepresentation or misquotation. I do not fully accept the view that the Minister was entirely blameless. At least I want to place on record the situation as I see it.
Now I come to an article which appeared in the Adelaide “ News “ which adopts an entirely different attitude in relation to some of the problems confronting us. lt is an attitude with which I find myself in agreement. It is not often I say that in regard to newspapers. It states -
With the long, dark shadow of Vietnam cast round the globe, there could be no more appropriate moment for the reassembling of the Australian Parliament than this week.
The world has just survived yet another journey to the brink but since it was undertaken this time in our sphere of influence, it was of momentous import to this country.
So the nation’s eyes this week arc riveted on two mcn - the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, and the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Paul Hasluck.
Since the last session, both mcn have made extensive tours abroad. Between them they have spent hours talking to the most important leaders in the West.
They have had access, presumably, to the best intelligence available.
They have been able to weigh most carefully the dangers of South East Asia, Australia’s defence posture and ils treaty responsibilities.
In the present Budget they have asked Australian taxpayers to fmd tens of millions of pounds for a defence re-organisation.
Before the next Budget, they may well ask for tens of millions more.
Indeed, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has already forecast such a request. The article continues -
Now, more than at any other point in our recent history, is the time for them both to address the Parliament and the nation on exactly where we arc going and how.
In short, they should fish - or cut bait.
They need to delineate in most explicit terms the dangers confronting Australia, the nature and severity of the threat to its security, what is being done to meet it and finally the nation’s obligations to - and its protection from - its treaty partners.
Further on it states -
Most of all, the nation will be looking for leadership based on frankness and reality.
That is what we are not getting. It continues -
After last week, it will not be in a mood to digest the pap served up last month by the Minister for Defence, Senator Shane Paltridge, who declared Australia’s armed forces were stronger and better prepared than ever before in peacetime.
They may be stronger than, say, before World War II, but that is only relative. Anything is better than peashooters and broomsticks.
The vital question is: Are the armed forces strong and prepared to meet the dangers of today?
Very few Australians will be reassured that they arc.
By 1970, when - with some luck - we should have TFX strike aircraft, guided missile destroyers and submarines, wc may be set.
The Government has so far gambled heavily that we have time to shore up our defences. After last week, the gamble looks a bad debt.
In the past parliamentary addresses, Sir Garfield Barwick, the former External Affairs Minister, usually delivered thoughtful and nonalarming broad outlines of policy.
A repeat from Mr. Hasluck will nol sit well in the present emergency.
In the meantime, the Government could do worse than study carefully the radio appeal by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Calwell, at the weekend.
The Labour Party, dating back to its nationsaving determination to hold New Guinea for Australia after World War I, and its historic turn to America in World War IX (over Conservative objections), has a right to a good hearing from the nation.
Mr. Calwell called for the twin objectives of increased expenditure on defence and foreign aid.
Mr. Calwell is in very good company with such a plea - notably among Americans.
I read almost the whole of that article, Madam Acting Deputy President, because I thought it was important, lt exhibits the temper of the times and the thoughts that are running through the minds of the Australian people. There is a feeling of uncertainty in this country which I think has largely been brought about by the fact that not only are the people not being taken into confidence by the Government in relation to some of the grave things that are happening almost at the very shores of Australia but, worse still, by the fact that the Parliament itself is not being informed about some of those things. It is only when pressure is applied or when some incident of such a grave nature, as happened recently in the Gulf of Tonkin, occurs that we are given any information of this character at all. In the meantime we just go merrily along with government by the Executive. I may be doing honorable senators on the Government side an injustice, but I believe that some top level decisions that could involve this country in war are being made not even with the consent of and after deliberation by Government supporters. These decisions are being made at Cabinet level. Perhaps the supporters of the Government are faced with a fait accompli after the decisions have been made. I believe that that is the true situation. If honorable senators on the Government side think that is good policy, I do not.
On this question of information, I want to draw the attention of honorable senators to a reference in a publication issued by the Australian Institute of Political Science. It was edited by Mr. John Wilkes and contains contributions by Sir Garfield Barwick, Mr. Roger Hilsman, Dr. T. B. Millar, Professor R. I. Downing and Dr. B. D.
Beddie. The title of the publication is “ Australia’s Defence and Foreign Policy “. I recommend it to honorable senators because it contains the considered viewpoints of people who have devoted a lifetime of study to some of the problems that are confronting us today. 1 do not want to take up a great deal of time because I think there are other speakers who wish to contribute to this debate, but I propose to make some observations regarding a statement by Mr. H. B. Gullett. I quote the following passage from “ Australia’s Defence and Foreign Policy “-
From an experience of ten years inside the Parliament and further years of closely studying defence debates, Mr. H. B. Gullett considered Dr. Millar’s exposition outstanding. The weakness disclosed is tragic since Australians can and will respond to calls upon them if the call is clear and urgent - but at no stage since the Second World War has there been clear exposition and clear direction. Defence policy is for government and demands the exercise of judgment and the enunciation of principles not by the military but by our civil representatives in the Parliament and the Government. Their lack of definition and control have allowed decisions to fall into the hands of professional experts in the Service Departments and others such as Treasury and External Affairs.
Is it true that the Government has abdicated its responsibility in the field of defence to the experts in the Service departments, or is it untrue? Is what Mr. Gullett said right or wrong? If it is right, I think it is time that there was some re-thinking by the Government. It should consider whether the position has reached the stage where acceptance of its responsibilities becomes an urgent and demanding matter. If what Mr. Gullett said is wrong, some information should be given to the Senate by those who are in a position to know that it is wrong.
I think that I have gone at least part of the way in demonstrating that there is a deplorable lack of information, which is hindering the work of both Houses of the Parliament at the present time, in the vital fields of defence and foreign affairs. To my knowledge, in the last few years we have not had one considered statement which has set out and explained clearly and concisely to this Parliament the state of Australia’s defences at the present time. If such a statement has been made, 1 was not here at the time. From time to time when Ministers are questioned about defence they grudgingly give an explanation in respect of something which may come within the control of their particular department, whether it be the Department of the Navy, the Department of Air or the Department of the Army. Nevertheless, as far as I can recall, there has not been a considered and full statement in respect of Australia’s defence needs, the current position, and what is needed to fill the gaps that may exist in the effective defence policy of this country. I think the time has arrived when such a statement should be made. It should not be made during a Budget debate when people are waiting for benefits to which they are justifiably entitled. It should not be made in a piecemeal way, with the discussion commencing at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and then being conveniently forgotten at about midnight or continued for two hours on the following day. If it takes a week, a fortnight or a month, let us get down to such a discussion, so that we may understand where this country is going. We, as an Opposition, are entitled to be told about such things. If I may be excused for saying so, honorable senators on the Government side are perhaps more entitled to be told about them, but I am doubtful whether they are told. The decisions are made at Cabinet level.
If I want to find out the state of our defences at the present time, lacking the information that I ought to have as a member of the Parliament and not having been told, as I ought to be told, by the people who are in a position to tell me, the only thing I can do is accept what I read in the Press or what I read in publications, such as the one to which I have referred. It is interesting to note what the writers have to say about the state of Australia’s defences. I am not suggesting that what they say is right. I just do not know. I shall read what they write to see whether or not I think it is correct. The statement, to which I am about to refer, was made by Dr. Millar who is Reader in the Department of International Relations at the Australian National University. People who have occupied leading positions in the fields of defence in this country have praised Dr. Millar for his contribution, so it is obvious that the statements he makes are not idle ones. He had this to say about our air position -
We currently have, in the R.A.A.F., four squadrons (some 60 operational aircraft) of Avon Sabre fighters fitted with sidewinder air-to-air missiles - quite a formidable weapon - but the aircraft, while suitable for ground support, is obsolescent in many respects. Two of these squadrons are located at Butterworth, Malaya, with a “ contingent “ at Ubon in eastern Thailand. The other two squadrons are based on Williamtown, near Newcastle. We have three squadrons (about 24 operational aircraft at any one time) of obsolete Canberra bombers, one squadron at Butterworth and two al Amberley, near Brisbane. We are getting on loan, if we need them, “ up to two squadrons “ of an obsolescent American bomber, the B47, which has in the main a better performance than the Canberras (e.g. can lake far greater bomb load). We have two squadrons (about 20 operational aircraft) of maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine Neptune aircraft, hall: being P2V5s (obsolescent) and the remainder P2V7s. We have a squadron (say tcn operational aircraft) of capacious Hercules C130 transports, and two squadrons of that trusty old warhorse, the Dakota. We have some 12 Bell Iroquois helicopters for search and rescue work, or for army co-operation. We also have a “ squadron “ of surface-to-air Bloodhound Mk 1 guided missiles located at Williamtown. On order we have: (1) 100 French Mirage III supersonic fighterstop class machines - which will be supplied direct and by part Australian production al the average rate of about 23 a year commencing later this year; (2) 18 Caribou MK 1 (short take-off and landing) transport aircraft, to supplement the Dakotas, due to be delivered during the first half of this year; (3) 24 (two squadrons) of the F-I11A or TFX strike reconnaissance aircraft, delivery to begin in 1967, or thereabouts; and (4) a further 12 Iroquois helicopters.
The article goes on to quote, ad infinitum, a number of things connected with the defence of this country, but I will not bore the Senate by going further. I wanted only to make the point that I have to read a book in order to find out our position in regard to air power in this country. It is not good reading for anybody concerned with the defence of Australia. I want to put this point without in any way criticising the Government’s decision to purchase the French Mirage fighter: I do not know whether the Government has given this matter any thought but, if it is intended that any military operations we might undertake in South East Asia will be carried out in conjunction with the United States of America, in accordance with the treaty which exists between Australia and the United States of America, has there been any consideration by the Government of an integration of weapons with the United States?
Although everybody knows that the French aircraft arc splendid machines, there is a possibility that they may not always be available to this country. We find France making some strange decisions and doing some strange things these days. I do not know whether the Government has given any thought to the question of integration on this basis, lt may well have done so, but whatever its thoughts are in regard to this matter they have not been communicated to members of the Opposition. I want to conclude on this note: 1 do not want members of the Government to think that in the contribution which 1 have made to the debate tonight there was any attack on the Government or its policies in South East Asia. I do not want members of the Government to think that there is in my mind any hostility in relation to the things 1 have put before the Senate tonight. But I feel strongly about the question of a proper understanding and appraisal of where we are going. I think it is time that we. on this side of the chamber, did not talk in academic terms of what we think should be done. The time has arrived when we have a right to demand this knowledge in order fully to inform the people whom we represent in this Parliament. It is because I feel strongly about these matters that I may have used terms which would give offence to members of the Government. There was no intention on my part to do that. But if I have spoken in strong enough terms to break through that feeling which I believe exists in the ranks of the Government - this laissez faire idea that we should wait until incidents occur and then look at our defence and deal with the matter on a piecemeal basis - I may have done some good. In conclusion, I ask that when the Minister replies to the debate some of the information that is so lacking about these most important things be communicated to the Senate.
– As one who listened with a great deal of interest to a debate similar to this in the House of Representatives last week it is rather refreshing to hear the note of - may I say - condemnation that the Opposition is using tonight regarding what transpired last week in the House of
Representatives. It is indeed refreshing and 1 think it is due to the fact that, since that debate in the other House eventuated, the Labour Party has had time to reassess its approach to defence matters. I think honorable senators opposite have found that the attitude which was adopted by the Opposition in the House of Representatives was anathema to the great Australian public. Here tonight - I hope the Opposition is sincere - we have heard Senator McKenna leading for the Government, if I may put it in that way, on this vital question. We have had from Senator Toohey a rather reasoned approach to this matter. It is very interesting to hear the Opposition talking about defence because, in the debate on every Budget which has been brought down since 1949, honorable senators opposite have opposed defence expenditure and have wanted it cut down.
– That is absolutely wrong.
– How eagerly honorable senators opposite forget. 1 will go a step further and ask honorable senators opposite: If you became the Government would you sack every defence chief that we have in Australia?
– We have queried the wisdom of your spending.
– I suppose you experts, over yonder, would sack every defence chief we have in Australia because you say that what this Government has done by way of defence is wrong. From whom do you suggest the Government should receive its advice? From whom do you suggest you would receive advice if you became the Government? Would it be from the present defence chiefs or nol? I suggest that you would follow exactly the same line as the present Government has followed. I have not heard one honorable senator opposite yet put up any proposition as to what the Opposition would do by way of defence. I have heard a great deal of what you did in the last war. I have heard how you invited America here. That is true and the only thing I regret is that many of the statements emanating from the other side of the chamber do not do the Opposition any great credit, because honorable senators opposite are prepared to kick and abuse the saviours of this country - their saviour - America.
– That is not so.
– I will go a step further and give you the facts and figures in a few moments. Dealing with the matter at present before the Senate, I was fortunate to be one of the party of six members of this Commonwealth Parliament that toured South East Asia recently under th; leadership of the Honorable F. Chaney, Minister for the Navy. Among the countries that we visited were South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. I think each and every member of the party would express appreciation to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) for that opportunity of seeing for ourselves the conditions in South East Asia. The success of the visit - in my opinion it was a successful visit - was the result of the excellent arrangements made by the officers and staff of the Department of External Affairs. Our leader, the Honorable F. Chaney, proved an excellent ambassador for Australia. I believe also that the individual members of the party left a deep impression on the people in these areas that Australia was their friend and wished to be a good neighbour. Wherever we went the symbol of the kangaroo was regarded as a token of goodwill and friendship. !n whatever way this visit may have excited the thinking of individual members, it impressed on each and every one of us that the efforts of the Commonwealth Parliament should be devoted towards ensuring the survival of the Australian nation.
During the past two ears I have had an excellent opportunity of visiting many countries and meeting people charged with the duties of governing those countries. I have had the opportunity of sitting in this chamber and listening to the cut and thrust of debates, trying to see the path that lies ahead. These experiences have given me a perception sometimes of what the Opposition thinks of our national security. To me it appears as though the Opposition will not and does not wish to see that what is happening in South East Asia in particular directly concerns our safety in Australia. It appears that the Opposition persists in the naive, abstract policy of holding itself apart and of regarding itself as a spectator, as it were, of events that are happening on our very doorstep.
The paper we are discussing tonight refers to a situation in which a war is being waged.
This war is being waged in a manner different from any other war that has been waged up to the present. One man has said that the war in South East Asia is a real and horrible war. People do not know who may be their friend or who may be their enemy, because both friend and enemy are people of similar race and colour. I was delighted to hear Senator McKenna say who he thought were the enemies of peace in this part of the world. That was the first time that I had heard from the Opposition such a forthright statement. 1 hope to quote some of his remarks, lt is not the loss of life which is occurring in these countries - and that is an awful affair - that is the real tragedy. Men, women and children are being slain, which is awful, but the real tragedy is that these people are being slain because they dare to stand up for the freedom of the individual. The Opposition has much to say about the freedom of the individual. America and Australia have been invited to come to the aid of the people of South Vietnam and to assist in preserving the democratic way of life, but when that aid is being given, the members of the Opposition in another place condemn it.
Let us pause for a moment to consider what America is doing. America has been blamed for giving military aid to South Vietnam. I do not agree with that attitude at all. Her aid to South Vietnam and to other countries is not only military aid. America seeks to give to the freedom loving South Vietnamese people the opportunity to gain land reforms, to enjoy health services and to have free elections. Is the Labour Party against this? I thought these would be the very things it would praise and get right behind the Government in providing. However, after hearing and reading the debates in another place, I believe that the Labour Party is not concerned at all with the benefits that America and Australia are endeavouring to give nol only to the South Vietnamese but to Laotians, Cambodians and the people of Thailand. I had hoped - il seems to have been a vain hope - that the Australian Labour Party would have stood four square behind the Government and shown to the world, and particularly to the Australian people, that it, too, realises that the security of Australia is at stake.
Labour members know that the Vietcongs or Communists raid, plunder and murder the people of South Vietnam. Senator McKenna told us about the southward march of the Vietcongs from North Vietnam and of the infiltration that goes on by land and sea. Whether or not infiltrators come from Cambodia, I know not. The members of our delegation heard and were told many things, but we could not gain actual proof. We do know, and we found evidence wherever we went, that the Vietcongs or Communists - whatever you call them - are a most disruptive element, harassing and endeavouring to destroy South Vietnam. I repeat that Labour members know that the Vietcongs or Communists raid, plunder and murder the people of South Vietnam. Moreover, they believe, and broadcast and disseminate their views, that whatever the enemies of democracy do, their actions are justified. This is something I cannot understand or tolerate that what the Communists do seems to be justified.
The Opposition has talked glibly of the Geneva conference, of the 17th parallel and of a demilitarised zone, but have these things contained the Vietcongs? Have the Vietcongs abided by those decisions? Had they done so, there would be no war in South Vietnam, but plainly, as the Leader of the Opposition said tonight, those things have not contained them. So what is the use of talking of having another Geneva conference if one side will not abide by the provisions of an agreement? Surely Labour is not going to support that? The answer is: “ No “. The Vietcongs can enter South Vietnam and kill Americans and Australians with impunity, but if the Americans or Australians seek to protect their nationals, then, in the words of Mr. L. R. Johnson in another place, they are unleashing a barrage of death dealing destruction. Surely on reflection Mr. Johnson will see how far away he is from the truth.
– I do not think you have quoted him fully in the context of the expression.
– Have you read what Mr. Johnson had to say?
– I have read all of his speech.
– I cannot quote the page number at the moment, but he said that they unleashed a barrage of destruction.
– I was only saying that you have to read the whole of his speech.
– I wrote down his words. He said: “ They unleashed a barrage of death-dealing destruction “. Surely everyone will agree that the Americans did the only possible thing - as Senator McKenna said tonight - after the unprovoked attack upon their ships. Does the Labour Party condemn it? If so it means that the United States would have to get out of that area. It would have to withdraw.
Let us pause for a moment and think of what would happen to the safety of Australia if America were to withdraw from the area. Is any member of the Opposition prepared to say that America should withdraw or that she had no right to defend herself? If the Vietcong and the Communists can deal out slaughter and destruction have we to sit down and take it and not reply? What does the Opposition suggest? What has all the noise been from the Opposition? Does it suggest that America was wrong and that it unleashed a deathdealing barrage? An Australian visiting this area must say: “Thank goodness the Americans are here “. Over the past few years the United States has given more aid throughout the world than has any other nation. I am agraid that America may not have received any gratitude, but that is not unusual.
I shall repeat what members of the Opposition said in 1942-43 when the Americans came to our aid, when Labour, then in office, asked for American conscripts to come here to save Australia and the Labour Government was not prepared to send our men beyond the 17th parallel. Labour depended upon volunteers. Labour preached the awful canard that Australia was left defenceless and spoke loudly of what it had done. If you claim credit for successes when you came into power in 1941 you must also take some of the blame for the reverses of that time.
I shall digress for a moment because I have heard Senator Hendrickson say that under the Menzies Government thousands of our men were dying in the islands of the Pacific. Yet Japan had not entered the war at that time.
– Who said that?
– You did and I can quote it from “ Hansard “. Japan had not come into the war when the Menzies Government had gone from office and the Curtin Government had come into office.
– When it deserted the country, you mean.
– That is untrue and you know it.
– No, it is not.
– It is untrue and you know it. Never was a more cowardly word said.
– It deserted the country.
– It did not desert the country. Our divisions in Egypt saved Australia. If you had not had the divisions raised by the Menzies Government where would you have gone? You said: “ We will sit in Australia and allow the enemy to come into this country before we lift a hand to defend it “.
– What about the Brisbane Line?
– I am delighted that you have brought that up. It is another canard. Let me tell you that some of the people in your great Australian party had dugouts in the Blue Mountains when the Japanese came into the war.
– Where did you have your dugout, Senator?
– In New Guinea. There is a difference in locality. Let us forget all this nonsense about what you did and what you did not do. What you did not do was far worse than what you did.
– We saved Australia.
– I like that. Never have you tried to pull a greater bluff than that. One of these days I will produce a few dossiers and tell you some things of interest even though it is so long after the war. However, as we are not dealing with that subject now I will proceed with the matter before the House. In the course of his speech the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) said -
What must be done on the ground is to determine to prevent the transition of a bad economic and political situation into disorder. That is the essence of the problem and success depends upon its solution.
Dr. Cairns was referring to a statement by Lieutenant-General James M. Gavin in 1962. In answer to that, Senator Laught tonight gave facts and figures of what had been done in an endeavour to bring about the very thing that Dr. Cairns believes should be done. It has been stressed that America is vitally concerned that the South Vietnamese should have the opportunity to be given land reform. America is endeavouring to give to the South Vietnamese the best health services it is possible to give and is striving towards giving them the opportunity to hold free elections. On four occasions free elections were held in South Vietnam but the activities of the Vietcong and the Communists have so disrupted South Vietnam that free elections are not possible at the present time.
In deciding what to do the Government has to rely upon information it receives from its officers abroad. These officers - and I am speaking particularly of the Department of External Affairs - speak the language of the people and mix with them. Many of them have been there for years and understand the situation. I would think that the information they pass on to the Government would be the best that, can be gathered.
The Opposition has criticised what the Government is doing in Vietnam. Let us suppose that the Opposition became the Government. Would it then accept the opinions of its officers in the Department of External Affairs? Would it accept the information supplied to it, as the Government, by officers of the Department of Trade and members of the military forces? Our military forces are in Vietnam in an advisory capacity only because that is what our ally requested. Is it wrong that the South Vietnamese should try to protect themselves? Is it wrong for them to ask Australia to supply men who can assist them to put the best possible military defence system into operation? These military advisers are a fine band of young men of whom Australia can be justly proud. We can be proud also of their commanding officer, Colonel Serong. I cannot see any reason for criticism. I cannot see how any proper criticism can be levelled at the Government for sending those military advisers to South Vietnam.
The Opposition asks what the Government is doing and how much it is spending. May I infer from those questions (hat if the Opposition were in power it would send more men to South Vietnam? May I infer that the Opposition would send more mili tary equipment to South Vietnam and give it more aid? I ask the Opposition: Would you? I do not know what the Opposition would do, but I would ask some member on the Opposition side to state in no uncertain terms what he would do if he had the power. I would be pleased to hear him say, if ‘he dared, that he would withdraw the Australian instructors and all the assistance that Australia has given to these people.
I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) as he propounded the case for the Australian Labour Party and I repeat that to my mind he was leading for the Government. I hope that his view will permeate through the Labour Party and that he will not be chastised by people outside, the Labour parliamentary wing - those 36 persons outside it who more or less give the parliamentary wing its riding instructions.
I revert to the aid that Australia is giving to South Vietnam, not only in a military sense but also by way of other material things, lt is pleasing to see that the workshops Australia has provided are appreciated by the Government of South Vietnam. I believe we can be justly proud of the fact that there have been no strings attached to the aid we have given. It is useless for nations (o send millions of pounds worth of equipment to these places, particularly road making and earth moving equipment or transport, unless satisfactory repair shops are available. I would like to see Australia send more mechanics and skilled tradesmen into those areas, not only to South Vietnam but also to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand so that equipment which is lying idle for the want of repairs can be put to good use. The medical aid we have given to maintain the health of the people has been received with gratitude.
Senator Laught mentioned some of the road building activities in Thailand for which we are responsible. That aid has been condemned by the Government’s opponents because they say it is purely military work. But many of these roads are being constructed so that people will be able to get their produce to a market. These roads give them access to markets which they have never enjoyed. One realises how important it is that these roads should be built when one sees villagers subsisting on what they grow. They depend on it to feed and clothe themselves because they have been excluded from markets.
Surveying this country from the air one sees that it is dominated by mountain ranges. There is the mighty Mekong River, with all its tributaries. There are vast areas of paddy fields tilled by agriculturists whose plots of land are not very big. Yet the people produce sufficient rice for themselves and have an export surplus. Turning to the north, we find that the people living under the rule of the Vietcong or Communists are not nearly so well provided with food and their subsistence is not nearly as good as that of the South Vietnamese.
When we see this, we ask ourselves: “ What have the Communists got to offer? “ Suppose the Communists took South Vietnam, what would the fate of the people be in that country? Would they be allowed free elections? Would their health be improved? Would their standard of living be raised? We were told that after the Communists had taken villages it was apparent that they were not the great saviours they professed to be. We were told that Communist rule was very harsh. The Communists exacted a great deal from the villagers in those areas by way of taxes and other commitments.
I want to refer again to the question I posed earlier. Suppose the U.S.A. were to withdraw from South East Asia - and believe me this could be a possibility. Many American mothers and fathers are asking - and with good reason - just why their sons are being killed and maimed in defence of South East Asia. American taxpayers are asking why so much is being spent on Vietnam when it could be used, perhaps, to better advantage in the United States. I mention these facts because in conversation we have heard the question asked: “ What would happen if America were to withdraw? “ Then the Communists would be ever so much closer to Australia. I shudder to think what would happen if that occurred. Looking at the position dispassionately, I believe that we have time to form a strong alliance with America. I do not want Australia to become another State of America, but I do wish it to become an equal partner with America. I know that that might sound wrong to some people, but having had some slight experience in two wars, and although
I was brought up to, know what the British Empire meant to the world, I still say that we should form such an alliance. Let us face the facts of the world today.
No matter how willing Great Britain might be to come to our aid, she would be precluded in many ways now from giving us the support which once upon a time we believed it was possible for her to give us to safeguard our security. We must face the fact - I think we all agree on this - that America is our natural ally today. We must have a defence system with America which would embrace Australia because, so far as America is concerned, Australia is the only sure and safe base from which it can work in this part of the world. I have always believed that if there is to bc a war, we should fight it somewhere else than in our own country. I do not want to see any hostile force put foot in Australia.
– Your Government was prepared to give Australia to an enemy in 1941.
– That is absolutely untrue, and you know it.
– Your generals said so.
– The Opposition is opposed to our sending military forces into South Vietnam. Does it want to sit here in Australia and wait for an enemy to arrive? That is what it is saying, in effect. We should form this alliance with America, because this country is a bastion of American strength. I know that what I am about to say will not please the Labour Party, but if America wishes to invest £500 million or £1,000 million in Australia I say that she should be allowed to do so. I would be mighty glad to see that, because, putting the worst construction on the position, if that capital were invested in Australia the Americans would follow their money to ensure that it was safe, and Australia would be safe too.
Senator Toohey said a great deal about our defence preparations. I think that time is being granted to us. What is the right equipment for us to have? This is one of the problems that worries each and every one of us. Senator Toohey mentioned the Air Force. I suppose that he realises as well as T do that fighting aircraft become obsolete very quickly. T suppose he realises also that Australia has not the resources to experiment in the manufacture of fighters and that he would agree with me when I say that we have to depend upon the recommendations of our air chiefs and those who know what is required. I suppose he recognises that it is very expensive to equip an air force. J am glad that he believes that we should have more defence. We in Australia will have to spend more money on defence and we will have to see that we get value for the money that we spend. 1 believe it is the duty of each one of us, if we can, to assist the Government to obtain the right equipment and to provide the right kind of training. Otherwise Australia could be in a precarious position. We must be prepared to sacrifice much so that the young people of today will not have to go through the sufferings of a third world war. 1 do not think that a third world war would be fought with atomic weapons; perhaps it would be fought with conventional weapons.
– That would not solve any problems; it would only create more.
– I agree with the honorable senator on that. However, we cannot afford to be undefended.
Let us go back one step. I have said that I do not think that a third world war would be fought with atomic weapons. I have an idea that, critical as is the position in South Vietnam and South East Asia generally, there is a more critical spot in the world today. I refer to Israel. We should pause to ponder the position of Israel. If Israel fell, we would have a mighty conflict to contend with. What is happening in the Mediterranean? What is happening in Egypt? What is happening in the Arab States?
– You tell us. Do not ask questions.
– I never thought you were so naive; you astound me. You are so naive you do not even know what is happening in the Middle East or what is likely to happen. The preservation of Israel - she is ringed around with many enemies - is, to my way of thinking, one of the most important things in the world. In my” opinion, Israel is even more important to the world than is South East Asia. 1 do not want honorable senators to get the impression that I believe that, as far as Australia is concerned, the South East Asian situation is a happy one. 1 realise the dire straits that we would be in if South East Asia were to fall to the Communists, but at the same time Australia is not the only country in the world. This part of the world is not the only part that is in danger. 1 repeat that Israel is one of the danger spots of the world. I had intended to quote Mr. Johnson on America’s defence against the Vietcong attack. What I have said about a death dealing barrage is practically word for word.
Again I extend to the Minister for External Affairs my thanks as a member of the party which had an opportunity of seeing the conditions existing in South East Asia. Our visit was brief but we had every opportunity to meet and talk with people and to see for ourselves what was happening. We saw how the efforts of Australia, apart from its military aid which, as the Opposition has stated, is quite small, were appreciated. We are holding out to the people hope that in time they will enjoy their freedom. We saw some of the work that Australians were doing. We saw the aid given in water conservation. We saw mechanical aid, and the mechanics who are teaching know-how. I hope that Australia will continue her efforts to aid and succour those people and that America will remain there, not only to protect South Vietnam from the incursions of the Communists but also to provide millions of dollars in aid to support and maintain the freedom loving people of the area.
– I have a great deal of respect, as all honorable senators have, for Senator Mattner both for his seniority and for his gallantry, which is recognised by all of us, but in his enthusiasm for the statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) which is now under discussion he has permitted himself some inaccurate observations on, and has let loose a whole barrage of invective against, what he considers to be Opposition policy. Although I do not want to devote the whole of my time to answering him in detail, one or two of his statements do call for a prompt and effective reply. Early in his remarks he said that the Australian Labour Party had for 10 years opposed expenditure on defence. I say quite categorically that there is no substance whatever in that allegation. Year after year we have made the point that whilst we do not seek a reduction in defence expenditure we are seriously concerned, as Australians representing half of the Australian electorate, about what happens to the money that is spent on defence. As the Leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Calwell, said in the 1963 Federal election campaign -
The defence policies of the Menzies Government have been marked by waste, confusion, indecision, inactivity and procrastination.
Mr. Calwell’s allegations have been documented in detail on many occasions and indeed tonight Senator Toohey has examined with some particularity deficiencies in defence. The relevance of defence matters, of course, to this debate is that this Government spends a great deal of time striking postures in international affairs without having the wherewithal to back up its apparently strong policies. That is the fundamental inconsistency in the Government’s approach to matters of defence and international affairs. It barks loudly. It makes a lot of noise about how Australia is in the forefront of international effort, and yet it leaves us comparatively defenceless.
I am not going to reply to Senator Mattner by reciting facts which may be appropriate on other occasions concerning what Labour did for the defence of Australia when in office. He has been treated to some mild interjection during the course of his address. I stand on the position that the Australian Labour Party is second to no other party in its desire to keep this country strong and free, and in its belief that the defence of Australia must be so arranged that our intention to defend ourselves to the limits of our ability is made clear beyond doubt to friend and potential adversary alike. That is a simple and incontrovertible statement.
The second matter on which I want to take issue with Senator Mattner is the suggestion that in some ways members of the Opposition are adopting an antiAmerican position when they venture to enter critically into a debate which is of very great consequence to Australia’s future. What we on the Opposition side are doing is to seek new initiatives and fresh approaches to our problems in international affairs. We resent being stigmatised as in some way anti-American, and reject the suggestion entirely.
– Anti-United Stales, not anti-American.
– Well, “anti-United States”, I think, is the correct term, but “ anti-American “ is the term used in the Press. When we lay emphasis on particular aspects of this problem we are saying no more and no less than is being said by liberal minded people in the United States itself. 1 propose to document that proposition by some citations from notable Americans, persons whose general objectivity as commentators is beyond reproach, and senior mcn in the United States Administration. I do want to say something in support of the general statement that was made by Senator Toohey, in relation to differences that appear among friends as to the proper approach to matters of high moment such as international affairs. I venture to think that he put this finger on something very real when he protested against the illiberal atmosphere in which we in Australia conduct discussion of these important matters. In this country the climate is in some respects less conducive to free and untrammelled discussion of these mighty events than it is in other countries, including the United States. I was particularly struck by a statement that came yesterday from the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the United States, the very respected and distinguished Senator William Fulbright after whom the great Fulbright scholarship scheme is named. In Washington just two days ago Senator Fulbright dealt with some of Hie extremist views on international affairs that have been voiced over recent months by Senator Barry Goldwater, the alternative President of the United States. He said that Senator Goldwater was living in an oversimplified world of cowboys and Indians. Senator Fulbright criticised the concept of “ total victory over Communism “ which Goldwater espoused with considerable ferocity until this week, when he began to move rather rapidly from the right towards the centre. The report of Senator Fulbright’s comments adds -
What the Republican nominee is getting at is that sooner or later one side or the other is going to have to bite dust.
Why? Anybody who has seen a good old Gary Cooper movie knows why. “ Whoever heard of cowboys co-existing with Indians”, Mr. Fulbright said.
It is that kind of over-simplification of these vast issues that frustrates effective discussion. In the first speech I made in this chamber I said, in the course of some comments about international affairs, that there was a regrettable tendency to divide people into goodies and baddies and that the moment one tried to maintain some kind of balanced outlook on such problems one was accused of being on the side of the baddies.
The events which gave rise to the statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), which we are now discussing, took place just two weeks ago. The smoko has cleared somewhat and we are now in a better position than we were at the moment of crisis to make a rational and balanced judgment. We are better able to see the significance of the events in relation to the total picture in South East Asia, and in particular in South Vietnam. It is plain enough that the action which was taken by the President of the United States was what he has described as being “ fitting and limited action “. Simultaneously with that assessment, we can say that the subsequent response from the Communist side, from the North Vietnamese side, was also limited and cautious. I think the best evidence of this was the assessment given by Mr. William Bundy, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, in Washington yesterday. He said that the only Communist military response to the action of the United States against North Vietnamese motor torpedo boat bases had been the movement of some obsolete jet fighter aircraft from China into North Vietnam. He added -
The President has made it quite clear that we seek no wider war.
The first general conclusion that we can draw from the events of a fortnight ago is that on both sides there is a kind of tentative understanding - it is not explicit; it may not even be implicit - that there is to be no wider war. The vast majority of people in Australia as elsewhere will no doubt find a great deal of relief and satisfaction in the fact that the President of the United States expressed himself in such moderate terms when making his statement on this action, lt is plain that right in the forefront of the
President’s thinking has been the proposition that he seeks no wider war.
By contrast, I have found in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs little realisation of the wider problems that lie behind the immediate military confrontation. I believe that basically there is a real difference between the approach which the Government makes to this problem and that which we of the Opposition make. Fundamentally, it is a question of where the right emphasis lies. Is the crisis to be solved by military methods alone or is the total situation such that a solution can be found only at the level of political, social and economic action, with a recognition of the fact that great social and economic issues lie behind the immediate military position? It was John Foster Dulles who, after the fateful events at Dienbienphu in 1954 which led to the signing of the Geneva agreements, finally came face to face with the proposition - almost by surprise: - that the Western allies must recognise that resistance to Communism requires popular support.
A great deal has been said and written over the past decade about the extent to which the Western military effort - the resistance that has come from the South Vietnamese side of the complex - has really been based upon popular support. I confess to experiencing a great deal of disappointment at the fact that so early in the regime of General Khanh we have come face to face wilh a military dictatorship, behind which apparently we are expected to throw our uncritical support. That is a proposition to which it is difficult to assent with any enthusiasm. We can understand the whole complex of interests that is involved in the Vietnamese conflict and in the total situation in South East Asia; but when we find - I remind the Senate that Senator Toohey quoted last night’s editorial on this point in the Melbourne “ Herald “ - that one of the earliest acts of the new military council has been to suppress the Press so that there is even censorship of the fact that there is censorship, we are entitled to be critical. It is difficult to see what kind of justification the Khanh Government can have for cutting itself off from access to the people and from popular support. In the view that we in the Labour Party have put forward and which we continue to advance in relation to the total situation in South East Asia, we come up against the proposition that to fight Communism one must fight not only with weapons but also with ideas. That has been made quite clear by Francois Sully, the Saigon correspondent of the noted American weekly magazine “ Newsweek “. In the issue of 10th August, the following report appears -
The major reason for Khanh’s lack of success in this critical area … is that the general, for all his good qualities, has signally failed to give an ideological meaning to the antiCommunist struggle. “ Let us not forget “, says one Saigon intellectual, “ that we are not waging war against a bunch of pirates but rather against a well trained people indoctrinated in the art of war of liberation h la Mao Tse-tung. They have weapons and doctrine. We have only weapons. . . . “ What Khanh must do, in short, is defeat the Communists and achieve a social revolution at one and the same time.”
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity wilh the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I will delay the Senate for only a short time. The matter I want to discuss is the recently announced increase in air fares, lt was announced in the Press today that as from midnight last night air fares in Australia had been increased by 6 per cent. One has to ask oneself whether an increase of this nature is justified. If we look at the facts, we find that in 1963 Trans-Australia Airlines showed a profit of £554,134, and it is anticipated that the profit will be much greater this year. Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. - and, of course, that includes a group of companies - showed a profit of £1,268,743 in 1963. Not all of that profit, of course, was related to air traffic but if we consider the number of passengers carried by the two airlines, we find that T.A.A. carried 1,235,660 and Ansett-A.N.A. 1,492,339. On the basis of these figures it is reasonable to assume that Ansett-A.N.A.’s profit was at least equal to, if not greater than, T.A.A.’s profit. It has to be remembered that Ansett-A.N.A. pays little, if any, laxation. By various means - not illegal means, but means that are provided within the income tax and social services legislation - it is able to avoid the payment of taxation.
The growth of air traffic up to 7th December 1963 was 12.5 per cent, and it is expected that with the new pure jets coming into service, the growth factor will be very much greater. It was also stated in the Press that the increase in air fares was not related in any way to the introduction of pure jets into the internal runs in Australia but was related to the recent rise in costs. It would be interesting to note what allowances have been made for the growth of air traffic, particularly as this increase will be fairly steep on the longer routes. Of course, I refer particularly to the route that I travel and that many other people travel from Western Australia to the eastern States. For a start, people from Western Australia are subjected to the worst service in Australia. We have to put up with the slowest aircraft, the DC6B’s, and with the prevailing westerly winds in the winter time, these aircraft are frequently delayed en route to Perth. They are frequently delayed by mechanical trouble as well.
On 9th August an aircraft scheduled to leave Sydney for Perth was delayed with mechanical trouble in Sydney for seven hours. It was due to arrive in Adelaide at 2 p.m., but arrived there at 9.40 p.m. On three occasions it left the airport terminal and went out onto the tarmac. On each occasion it returned to the terminal. At 12.44 a.m. the flight was abandoned and the passengers were taken to Adelaide hotels. They had been waiting at the airport terminal for between 10 and 1 1 hours for this aircraft to take off, but it did not take off and they were taken to Adelaide hotels for the night.
On 12th August, on the same scheduled flight, an aircraft that was due to leave Adelaide for Perth at 3 p.m. did not leave until 3 a.m. and arrived in Perth at 6.30 a.m. on 13th August. Last Monday morning a DC6B aircraft left the Perth airport, and when the time came to serve breakfast to the passengers who were on board it was found that the heaters were not working, and the hostesses were unable to serve breakfast. This is the type of service for which the people are being asked to pay an extra 6 per cent, in fares. If this is the kind of service that the airlines intend to give, I pose the question whether the increased air fares are justified.
I have no doubt that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) will replythat the mechanical delays were in the interests of safety. It is true that unsafe aircraft should not be in the air. I think one is entitled to ask whether there are sufficient aircraft to maintain the schedules that arc provided, and whether there are spare aircraft to lake over when scheduled aircraft arc delayed for long periods. It would be logical to assume that if an aircraft were to bc delayed seven hours at Sydney before leaving for Perth, an alternative aircraft could bc provided for the flight.
On Sunday, 9th August, a flight from Melbourne to Launceston and Hobart was cancelled. People who were booked to leave Melbourne airport at 6.40 p.m. for Launceston and Hobart were told that the flight had been abandoned and that they would hi’e to wait until 7.40 p.m. for another flight. Subsequently it was found that the 7.40 p.m. aircraft was booked out by tourists, and the people from the abandoned flight were unable to leave Melbourne airport until 9.40 p.m. These are not isolated delays. They are delays that are occurring practically every day on some flight or other within the internal services of Australia. I think that if air fares are to be increased the people should be able to expect a much more efficient service. They are entitled to have much better aircraft. I should think that Australia is three or four years behind the times with the introduction of pure jet aircraft on the services. On behalf of the people who have to put up with the type of service that is provided, I protest about these things that are happening continually within the air services in Australia.
– Senator Cant has raised the matter of airline services within Australia. I am sure I can say on behalf of all airlines that they regret the fact that there are occasions when mechanical breakdowns occur. This sort of thing happens to every type of mechanical machinery, and it happens to every airline in the world. The honorable senator said I would say it was better for the aircraft to be on the ground than to have mechanical troubles develop in the air, and, from the safety point of view, that is natural. That is the answer I give him and it is the common sense answer. I therefore cannot understand what he is moaning about. He would have some real cause for complaint if these breakdowns happened while the aircraft were in the air.
The honorable senator raised the question of the rise in air fares. I gave the Senate some information on this matter today and, as appears in the Press, Trans-Australia Airlines stated that over the last four years - I think they have done a very good job in doing so - the’y have absorbed over £1 million of increased costs without having to increase fares at all. Because of the efficiency of the airline and the increased passenger traffic they have absorbed that extra cost. That is a job well done, but as one airline announced, this year there has been increased expenditure owing to the increased basic wage, the increased engineering award, and increases in staff, such as hostesses. Nobody would complain about that, because the hostesses were being overworked. In the case of one airline these increased costs will amount to over £800,000 in the coming year and it could not possibly face that increase without an increase in fares. The airlines have supplied all the facts and figures to the Department of Civil Aviation and they have been meticulously checked. The Department agrees that the estimate of costs is founded on fact. The Department is satisfied that it is impossible for the airline itself to find £800,000, and it therefore has to have these increased fares, as do all the domestic airlines in Australia.
– You mentioned one airline only.
– I mentioned all the airlines.
– You mentioned one. What about the others?
– I said that all the domestic airlines of Australia have made this application for an increase in fares and all their costs have been checked. I used the instance of Trans-Australia Airlines because
I feel they have done a particularly good job. In fact, all the major airlines have done so. The figures were made public this morning by the chairman of TransAustralia Airlines. The other major airline has had exactly the same increase in costs as has Trans-Australia Airlines, but I used Trans-Australia Airlines as an example. I thought honorable senators opposite would appreciate my giving that example because they are rather susceptible to any credit which can be paid to Trans-Australia Airlines. 1 know it is annoying to the public to have delays and I can assure honorable senators that the airlines, which live by selling service, are perturbed when delays occur.
I will bring Senator Cant’s complaint to the attention of the airlines and see whether we can possibly improve the position. I understand that when the new aircraft are in the air in October the Boeing 727’s will be scheduled to run to Perth and I am sure they will give a much better service to Western Australia. It is a long haul over there. I, personally, prefer the DC6B, which is a lot more comfortable and provides more leg room. A lot of people prefer to travel by the DC6B because, although it is a little slower, it is more comfortable. I hope that we will be able to give a better service to Western Australia when the Boeing 727’s come into service. I think it is fair to say that the present is a transition period. The new aircraft will be here in the next six weeks or two months and some of the older aircraft have seen long service and arc perhaps past their most useful stage. The honorable senator’s criticism is therefore perhaps a bit unfair at this stage. I think that within the next six weeks or two months he can look forward to a better service to Western Australia. I will bring this matter to the attention of the airlines and see whether we can avoid these mechanical breakdowns. I am certain that the honorable senator values his own skin sufficiently to wish to have aircraft on the ground and not in the air when breakdowns occur.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 August 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640818_senate_25_s26/>.