25th Parliament · 1st Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Mr. Deputy President, I should like to draw your attention and the attention of the Senate to the fact that yesterday Sir John McLeay, Speaker of the House of Representatives, equalled the longest term of service for a Speaker. Sir John today establishes a new record term of office as Speaker. He was elected to the position of Presiding Officer of the House of Representatives on 29th August 19S6 and his period of service of eight years and 76 days yesterday equalled the record term of Sir Frederick Holder, who was the first Speaker of the House of Representatives and who held office from May 1901 until July 1909. I am sure that 1 speak for all honorable senators when I express my congratulations to Sir John, and 1 am sure it would be the desire of the Senate, Mr. Deputy President, that you convey to him the best wishes of this House.
– by leave - Mr. Deputy President, I am sure that I will be both understood and believed if I say that long tenure in an office of this Parliament is not necessarily a thing to be desired. The Senate, I am sure, will feel that that statement comes from my heart. But at the same time that consideration does not apply in relation to the Speaker, Sir John McLeay, who has now held office for a record term. On behalf of the Opposition, I congratulate him very warmly. He is the custodian of the rights of members. He has a most honorable and important office to sustain. He has done so with distinction and, according to the bush telegraph that operates so efficiently in this Parliament, he has performed his duties with satisfaction to everybody in the contesting field. We admire his geniality, his ability and his impartiality. We wish him exceedingly well. He has certainly carried on the office with distinction to himself and with very great advantage to those who sit under him.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Has the Attorney-General received complaints from migrants relative to their inability to obtain the results of lotteries alleged to be conducted by the Government of Malta? Has the Attorney-General received information relating to the sale of tickets in these lotteries in the Commonwealth? Will he examine a book of these tickets if I cause it to be made available to him?
-I am afraid I do not know the answer to the honorable senator’s question but I think I could give an undertaking that if the honorable senator made a book of tickets of this kind, available to the Attorney-General’s office his officers certainly would examine them and see what was involved.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services: In view of the huge increase in living costs, will the Minister for Social Services request the Government to bring down with the least possible delay a supplementary Budget to include amendments to the social service legislation so that pensions may be substantially increased; the means test for medical benefits may be lifted; wives’ allowances for aged and invalid pensioners may be increased; and, through the States, the necessary power may be secured to control the prices of food and other vital necessaries and to control rents? I ask this question on behalf of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation, which is eager to obtain benefits for the less fortunate aged and infirm citizens of our community.
– The honorable senator’s question obviously is loaded because of the season in which we are living at present. It clearly raises matters of policy, which it is not appropriate to discuss at question time.
Customs officers in Sydney are seeking an investigation from the Department in relation to promotions and transfers within the Sydney office of the Department?
-^ have seen the report referred to by the honorable senator.
A letter and an interim report from the Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association have been received in Canberra by the Comptroller-General of Customs and Excise, Mr. Marcusson. The interim report raises a number of questions and issues which are being examined by the Department and will be discussed with the Association at an early date.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy whether he has seen a report of the great agitation amongst residents on the North Shore and adjacent areas on the shores of Sydney Harbour following the Government’s decision to establish a submarine base at Neutral Bay? If the Government’s decision is not yet final, will the Minister consider listening to representations from local residents and from representatives of the New South Wales Government and attempt to influence the Government to establish the base at another part of Sydney Harbour or the New South Wales coast?
– Because I have had some discussion with the Minister for the Navy on this matter, I take the opportunity to answer the question rather than leave it to my colleague who represents the Minister for the Navy. I would like the honorable senator to be aware that this decision was not in any way taken lightly. It is relevant to remember that a naval establishment - a torpedo factory - already has been set up at Neutral Bay. It has been there for a number of years. A number of sites were surveyed before this decision was made. Sites at Balmoral, Watson’s Bay, Athol Bight, Garden Island, Shark Island, Woolwich Dock, Port Stephens, Botany Bay, Jervis Bay and Port Kembla were all examined. Not only was it found that for operational reasons is Neutral Bay a very desirable site, but it is also not unimportant that it was found that a base could be established there at approximately half the cost of its establishment anywhere else. I trust that what I have said indicates very clearly to the honorable senator that this decision has not been taken lightly and that the Department of the Navy examined a number of alternative sites before reaching this decision.
Minister representing the Minister for Immigration aware of opinions that certain migrants who have settled in Australia are responsible for violent industrial disturbances that have been experienced recently and that those migrants have been described as Red shock troops? Will the Minister indicate what is being done to prevent the entry into Australia of such an undesirable element?
– I presume that the honorable senator is referring to a recent Press report in relation to the industrial disturbance in plants of General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. which commenced in Victoria. I sought from the Minister for Immigration a reply to this question when the honorable senator indicated to me that he proposed to ask it. The facts of the matter are that all migrants coming to Australia from any source are subject to a thorough screening for undesirable political affiliations. A large proportion of the workers in the G.M.H. plants in Melbourne and also in the motor vehicle industry throughout Australia are post-war migrants. In fact, the dramatic development of our motor vehicle industry would not have been possible without the contribution that has been made by those migrants. Unfortunately, many of the workers in G.M.H. plants - particularly in the foundry, where the recent dispute started - are recently arrived migrants who do not yet command a good knowledge of the English language or of our industrial practices and customs. Therefore, it was easy for the people who wished to promote a strike to manipulate those migrants for their own purposes. I suggest that this situation presents a responsibility for the trade union movement to educate those migrants in the very admirable system of conciliation and arbitration that we in Australia enjoy today.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. In view of the approaching
Christmas holiday season and the urgent necessity to use every means to prevent a tragic road toll, will the PostmasterGeneral consider placing before the Australian Broadcasting Control Board the desirability of B class television stations avoiding undue emphasis on advertising, as a selling point, the speed of a car and especially its ability to dodge from lane to lane in traffic, as speed is recognised as a grave contributing factor to road accidents and fatalities?
– I am sure that we all are on common ground when we express our concern at the toll of the road. There can be no doubt that excessive speed is a very real contributing factor to that tragic situation. From my own experience in my association with the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, I am aware that, prior to the Christmas season, the Australian Road Safety Council and the State road safety councils project through the medium of broadcasting and television advertising publicity which directs attention to the need for road safety and to the questions of excessive speed and, particularly at this time when we have a campaign for the use of safety belts, the desirability of their use. It is the normal procedure to bring to the attention of the public the importance of safety on the roads. I have discussed with the PostmasterGeneral the specific question which Senator Breen poses. I can say that it is not considered appropriate that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should issue formal instructions to television stations on matters of this kind, but that such matters should properly be left to the good sense and responsibility of broadcasters and advertisers. Nevertheless, the honorable senator’s suggestion is an important one. I am aware that this type of advertising causes a lot of concern to many people who are anxious about road safety. The Postmaster-General has informed me that he will ask the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to bring to the notice of licensees, first, the desirability of avoiding in advertisements undue emphasis on speed, and secondly, any other aspect which might help to promote a public awareness of the need for road safety.
F 15903/64. - S. - f731
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Has the Minister seen the report of the Joint Coal Board, published yesterday, which refers to the methods being used by oil companies to undercut coal through the medium of residual oil? If the Minister has not seen the report, will he study it at the first opportunity? I have in mind asking him this question next week. What does the Government propose to do to resist the infiltration by oil companies of the field of sales now occupied by the coal industry?
– The honorable senator’s question raises a number of important matters, including very important policy matters to which, as I am aware, the Minister for National Development is at present directing his attention. I will draw his attention to the question asked by Senator Ormonde so that, when a decision on the matter is available, he can inform Senator Ormonde immediately.
(Question No. 255.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 335.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Postmaster-General make available to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and to Senator Hendrickson the file on the Miss Phillips case?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer -
The files of my Department in the matter contain reports from medical practitioners as well as other documents relating to claims by Miss Phillips under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act and regulations, which were submitted as confidential information in pursuance of matters within the jurisdiction of the Treasurer and the Postmaster-General. It is not the practice to table material of this nature.
(Question No. 327.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Why have peanuts produced in New Guinea and Papua been shipped to the Commonwealth for sale in competition with locally grown peanuts from the Kingaroy and Atherton Tableland districts?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has furnished the following answer -
I assume the honorable senator is asking why the Australian peanut industry is not protected against imports of peanuts produced in Papua-New Guinea. The protection at present afforded the local industry follows an inquiry in 1962 by the Tariff Board into the need for and the amount of assistance required by the local industry to meet import competition. Whilst the industry is protected against imports from countries other than Papua and New Guinea the Tariff Board found that the limited volume of imports from Papua and New Guinea relative to Australian production rendered protection unnecessary. As the honorable senator may know, the question of assistance for the local production of peanuts is again before the Tariff Board.
(Question No. 338.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 339.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice - ln view of the importance to the democratic world, will the Government heed the plea of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party that Australia give some wheat to India to help relieve the present difficulties of the Indian people?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer -
India has received most of its import requirements of wheat in recent years under the United States P.L. 480 programme. To the present time, the Indian Government has not indicated that it needs aid in the form of an outright gift of wheat from Australia. The Indian Government recently sought to buy Australian wheat on commercial terms, and the Australian Wheat Board has undertaken to supply 75,000 tons of wheat on the terms of credit sought by the Indian Government. Australia, of course, continues to provide India with aid under the Colombo Plan. The form of aid is in accordance with the preferences expressed by the Indian Government, and is normally represented by capital equipment for developmental purposes.
(Question No. 345.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers -
(Question No. 348.)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has furnished the following answers -
(Question No. 351.)
Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following answers -
The programme has two broad aspects:That of a continuing nature to assess long lived fallout of strontium 90 and caesium 137 reaching the Australian environment, diet and specific human organs and tissues from all past nuclear weapons tests, and that which can be instituted when circumstances warrant the search for, and measurement of, short lived radioactive materials - such as iodine 131 - from any more recent nuclear weapon tests. The current continuing programme of sampling and measurement involves the sampling over each month of the fallout reaching the earth’s surface, the weekly sampling of milk, the production sampling of wheat and vegetables, the annual sampling of soil and the continuous sampling of human bone tissue. The sampling is carefully designed to be representative of major population groups in Australia and is centred on Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth. Hobart and Launceston. However, sampling in these areas is supplemented by certain types of sampling in major food producing areas in the various States and in a number of remote areas in Australia to give a nation-wide coverage.
The major effort in the programme is appropriately aimed at providing information which allows of an assessment of any biological effects in man, and the National Radiation Advisory Committee appointed by the Prime Minister is kept informed of the results of measurements so that it may have under constant review the question of biological effects. Directed as they are to the calculation of fall out levels in total diet and to the measurement or estimation of levels of radioactivity in specific human organs or tissues, the sampling and measurements of fallout in the programme of the Atomic Weapons Tests Safety Committee and the X-ray and Radium Laboratory are complex. They are not meaningful if considered in isolation on a short term basis. Accordingly, it is the practice to assemble the results of the programme in detail on an annual basis and to publish them in all the scientific literature.
It is not practicable to present here results of measurements in detail in answer to the honorable senator’s question but, if he wishes it, a list of scientific references or copies of the actual scientific papers could be made available to him. The honorable senator can be assured that the information available to the Government as the result of the continuing programme for the sampling and measurement of fallout in Australia is comprehensive, reliable and in accordance with the most up-to-date scientific criteria. Even on the most pessimistic basis of assessment, possible consequences, if any, to the health of the Australian population as a result of fallout from all nuclear weapon tests conducted to date are insignificant in comparison with the normal hazards to health arising from natural background radiation unavoidably encountered in everyday life.
– On 30th October, Senator Wright asked me in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, a question without notice regarding the imposition by the British Government of a 15 per cent duty on imports. Senator Wright said that there is provision in our tariff legislation for any United Kingdom industry affected by a proposed tariff in Australia to have the tariff deferred for 90 days, so that consideration can be given to it. He then asked whether there was any reciprocal mechanism to protect Australian industries from the impositions that the Wilson Government has proposed. I advised Senator Wright that I would refer the question to the Minister for Trade and Industry for investigation and he has now provided the following information:
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects -
Butadiene and styrene butadiene synthetic rubber.
Emery stones, oilstones and whetstones.
Processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns.
Terpolymer of butyl acrylic vinyl acetate and acrylic acid (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
– by leave - I refer to General Business Order of the Day
Defence Review - Ministerial Statement - Paper - Adjourned debate from 10th November on the motion by the Minister for Defence, viz. - That the Paper be printed.
I move -
That the motion be altered from “That the Paper be printed “ to “ That the Senate take note of the Paper”.
This is purely a procedural matter. If the motion, “ That the Paper be printed “, which in this case is used only as a medium for debate, is not disposed of by the Senate, the Paper to which it refers cannot be considered by the Printing Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
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.
The Bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments of the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1964. The Bill comprises four schedules with each schedule having a different date of commencement. For the assistance of honorable senators, I shall outline the subjects covered by the Bill as they appear in each schedule. The First Schedule provides for amendments in respect of tobacco, cigars, cigarettes and television picture tubes arising out of the 1964/1965 Budget. The Second Schedule deals with tariff changes based in the main on recommendations of the Tariff Board on drawing instruments and protractors, internal combustion piston engines, pulley blocks and chain hoists, and road rollers, tractors and tractor engines etc.
New protective duties are proposed for set squares, protractors and certain other drawing instruments. These will be at a uniform level of 171 per cent. British preferential tariff and 40 per cent, most favoured nation, which is slightly less than that previously applying to school quality compasses and dividers. However, as the Tariff Board found that precision compasses and precision dividers are not manufactured in Australia, these are being admitted at non-protective rates under by-law.
For the types of internal combustion piston engines which were examined by the Board, the tariff is being simplified. The rates of duty as recommended by the Board for all of these types except outboard engine units and engines therefor is 25 per cent. British preferential tariff and 421 per cent, most favoured nation up to 60 brake horsepower, reducing gradually to free and 71 per cent, respectively as the horsepower increases above 60. On outboard motor units it is proposed to provide a British preferential duty of 15 per cent, as recommended by the Tariff Board. It is proposed, however, to introduce a most favoured nation rate of 37i per cent, by applying the general tariff to most favoured nation imports. The Government would be prepared to reduce the most favoured nation rate to the level recommended by the Board, that is, 25 per cent, depending on the result of international negotiations.
In respect of chain hoists, the Tariff Board has recommended, and the Government has adopted, increased duties for lever operated types and for manually and electrically operated spur gear types. The new duties will be 15 per cent. British preferential tariff and 25 per cent, most favoured nation on lever hoists and 271 per cent. British preferential tariff and 45 per cent, most favoured nation on spur gear types. Other types of chain hoists will be admitted at non-protective rates. On road rollers, rates of 271 per cent. British preferential tariff and 421 per cent, most favoured nation are proposed. This represents an increase of 5 per cent, in the duties on road rollers from British preferential sources. These duties will also apply to any tractor imported for use in the manufacture of a road roller.
A further tariff change amends the wording of item 481 which covers embroidery and applique work. The item was inserted in the customs tariff following a Tariff Board report in 1959 on embroideries. Recently some doubts have been raised as to the legal interpretation of the item. The proposed wording will more clearly define the goods in relation to applique work. To clarify the tariff position in respect of static electric power supplies, a tariff item for such goods is now proposed. No change in the level of duties is involved.
The Third Schedule provides for alterations of duties in respect of plastic coated fibre glass yarns; and engines for outboard motor units.
On plastic coated fibre glass yarns, rates of 35 per cent. British preferential tariff and 45 per cent, most favoured nation are being imposed on the recommendation of the Tariff Board. The new duties are approximately equal to the existing combined ordinary and temporary duties.
The tariff change on engines for outboard motor units is supplementary to amendments proposed in the Third Schedule for internal combustion piston engines. Engines for outboard motor units are being made dutiable at the same rates as the complete units. The amendments proposed in the Fourth Schedule, in the main, give effect to the Government’s decisions in respect of the following Tariff Board reports - elastic and elastomeric fabrics; fish in air-tight containers; and electrical generators, motors and rotary converters.
The Tariff Board has recommended the removal of protective duties from a range of elastomeric fabrics in accordance with its finding that local production does not require assistance. Free entry is proposed under the British preferential tariff and the most favoured nation rate is being fixed at the lowest level consistent with international commitments. It is proposed to continue the present protective duties on canned tuna but to increase the duties on fish cutlets and the like and on the cheaper grades of salmon, when packed in airtight containers. However, no alteration in the rates for salmon is proposed at this stage pending the outcome of international consultations. All other fish in airtight containers will carry minimum rates of duty.
On electrical generators, motors and rotary converters, protective rates of duty at common levels of 27i per cent. British preferential tariff and 40 per cent, most favoured nation are proposed. These duties will only apply to electrical machinery below certain power ratings. Non-protective rates of free British preferential tariff and 7i per cent, otherwise are proposed for generators, motors and rotary converters above those ratings. The duties on certain generators and starting motors for motor vehicles remain unchanged. In the main the proposed duties amount to a moderate increase in the level of protection and an extension of the protected range. I invite the attention of honorable senators to the summary of tariff alterations which has been distributed. The changes involved will be found set out in some detail, showing the previous rates, the rates now proposed, and the reasons for the changes. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) 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 to amend the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1964 in respect of fish. The preferential tariff treatment now being accorded to New Zealand is being maintained. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10th November (vide page 1569), on motion by Senator Paltridge-
That the Senate take note of the following paper -
Defence Review - Ministerial Statement dated 10th November 1964.
– I move -
That the following words be added to ttaa motion - “ and opposes the Government’s proposals to conscript Australian youth for service overseas, regrets its failure to stimulate recruitment for the regular Army and condemns its delay in securing Naval and Air Forces to safeguard Australia and its territories and communications “.
On Tuesday night last the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) delivered a statement in the House of Representatives which was repeated in the Senate by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge). That is the statement we are now invited to note. At the outset, let me say that I was shocked at the audacity and the lack of frankness with which, on the eve of a Senate election, the honorable gentleman sought to bluff and deceive the people of Australia into believing that this country’s defences are in good shape. That is a piece of deception sought to be practised upon people who have no access to sources of information such as are far more readily available to us in this Parliament.
I express the hope that every person in Australia last night heard, or later read, the devastating attack made by the Federal Leader of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. Calwell, on the Government’s statement which we are now considering. That speech quite mercilessly exposed the incompetence, the deceit and the failure of the Government, and the political expediency of its present approach to the defences of this country. It was a speech, I suggest, that demands an answer at every point but I am quite certain that, as usual, it will not be answered by the Government. Of course, the foundations are already being laid for the usual pattern whereby the Government seeks to divert attention from its own faults and its own shortcomings by attacking the policy of the Labour Party and the statements made by members of the Labour Party. We have seen that occurrency time after time whenever the Government has been in distress or in difficulties.
The point I made is that today it is not the Labour Party that is on trial before the nation, lt is the Government of this country that is on trial. It has responsibility for defence and power over defence. That responsibility and that power have been clearly vested in the Government by the people of Australia. I point out, too, that it is not Labour’s policy that is under attack on this occasion and, quite frankly, neither is it open to attack as the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) acknowledged last night when he said, in the course of his speech which followed that delivered by Mr. Calwell, that Labour policy as expressed by our leader during the last election campaign was unexceptionable except in one particular.
The truth of the matter is that in the field of defence, as in so many other fields, Labour has done the thinking for this Government. Just as, during the last general election campaign, it was Labour policy that forced the Government into making some kind of show about housing, about education and about northern development, so, too, did Labour’s defence policy, then put to the people of Australia, force the Government into some show of activity. I think Senator Paltridge, who later became Minister for Defence, would not deny that he found virtue in studying that policy, because when he made his statement on 18th June last during the recess he drew quite heavily on it to stimulate recruitment. When I say that I have in mind this statement made by our leader prior to the last general election -
We propose therefore to review all Service pay rates. . .
That has been done by the Government as from 1 8th June last - to review retirement age limits and superannuation benefits for the Permanent Army.
That is a step that still needs to be taken. The inadequacy of the superannuation benefits is one of the major factors that operates to keep men out of the Service and one of the factors that prevents their retention in the Service by re-engagement after they have once entered it. In his speech Mr. Calwell went on to make the following points -
To make C.M.F. allowances tax free.
Senator Paltridge has adopted that one ;
To provide a housing scheme for married personnel in the Services.
Again in the middle of June Senator Paltridge announced a plan to provide some 3,700 houses for married personnel in the Army during the next three years. I repeat that it is not Labour’s policy that is on trial. It is not our Party that is on trial. It is the Government’s policy in relation to defence that is on trial.
I pass now to another aspect of this matter. Down all the years we have had many statements from the Government on the subject of defence. From time to time we have scare statements by the Prime Minister or the Minister for Defence of the day. That is a pattern that has been repeated without fail down the entire 15 years* life of this Government - the Government has almost to the month completed 15 years in office. The pattern began with an extensive series of statements by the Prime Minister back in 1951. As early as 7th March 1951 the Prime Minister warned the nation of the imminent danger of war. It is extraordinary how often these warnings appear on the eve of a Federal election. That pattern runs right through the various emergency scares that the Government has announced from time to time.
– That was the time of the outbreak of the Korean War.
– It is extraordinary how these announcements are made on each occasion at the time of an election. Of course, at that time the Government introduced national service training. It was to be selective national service of a compulsory nature and would solve all of the manpower problems. True, it was not full-time service; it was part-time service, but I will indicate presently just what happened in relation to that and where the scheme finished. But this happened at the time of an election. We had a double dissolution in 1951, I remind the Senate, and this scare came opportunely from the Prime Minister on 7th March 1951, along with the national service training scheme. We will find, as I will show presently, that history is repeating itself now with an election coming up for the Senate next month.
I pass now to the Prime Minister’s election policy speech in 1953 when he made the statement that has been referred to time and again that the nation had not more than three years to get ready for war - and perhaps not even that long. I think he described his estimate of three years as a liberal one. What was the outcome of the matter? Sir Frederick Shedden, the Secretary of the Department of Defence for years, in giving evidence before the Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament, in answer to questions that were put to him, indicated that when Sir Robert Menzies said in 1953 that we had three years to get ready for war, the Army and our other armed forces were not ready for mobilisation, nor were they ready at the end of the three years period selected by the Prime Minister.
– That is a misinterpretation of what Sir Frederick Shedden said.
– I will be very glad to hear Senator Wedgwood’s interpretation, but I think she will be prepared to acknowledge that there was no greater defence authority in this country than the said Sir Frederick Shedden, and that he would not lightly make comments of the nature he did unless they were justified. When a noted public servant committed himself to statements of that kind it shows how grievously he felt the failure in the Government’s performance.
I come now to the Prime Minister’s statement in October 1956 when he undertook to review defence from top to bottom. It was on that occasion that the Prime Minister drew attention to the fact that there was a shorage of ships of the appropriate kind - a situation that has not varied over the years and is still true today, all these years later. It was in that year that the Government announced with a great flourish that at last we were to get a new fighter to replace the Sabre. We were to get the FI 04 Starfighter from the United States of America. The Government announced at the same time that the Starfighter was to be manufactured in Australia. Those were two clear statements made in the Parliament to the nation. The then Minister for Defence was sent in 1956 to America to conclude arrangements for the purchase of these aircraft. He returned a month or two later - in September of that year - and announced to the amazement of the Parliament that the fighter was quite useless for Australian purposes and that our airfields were not equipped to accommodate it. The Starfighter went into the discard. I remind the Senate that that was in 1956 and today we still do not have one squadron of new fighters. We are on the point of acquiring Mirage fighters. They will be coming through for years before we are equipped adequately with them.
I indicate to the Senate the stunting that has gone on down the years with the defence programme of the nation. Defence has been made a political football to serve the political purposes of the Government rather than the needs of the nation. I come now to 1957, when the Government abolished national service training. It was abolished in terms which indicated that it had proved useless for the purposes of the Air Force and the Navy. It took the Government six years to reach that conclusion. At the same time the Government announced that there was not much military advantage in national service training for the Army. At that stage the Government cut the intake of national service trainees by two-thirds. Very soon after that the whole scheme was abandoned.
We come to a more recent date approaching the last elections. I want to refer to what happened in this place in 1963 when Senator Paltridge, who at the time was Minister for Civil Aviation, made an announcement on behalf of the Prime Minister who initiated the statement in another place. When speaking of the proposed purchase of FI IIA aircraft, Senator Paltridge had this to say -
At the same time, in case the years between now and 1967 were to see a deterioration in the international situation, the Government has been concerned that Australia should have, if necessary, additional long-range strike and reconnaissance capacity in the R.A.A.F. over the intervening years.
That is, from 1963 till 1967. During those four years, the Government wanted longrange strike and reconnaissance capacity in the Royal Australian Air Force. Senator Paltridge went on to say -
Arrangements have now been made to ensure that there will be suitable strike reconnaissance aircraft available to the R.A.A.F. until the F111A comes into operational service. Agreement has been reached with the United States that up to two squadrons of B47/RB47E aircraft will be made available to Australia, with no leasing charge to the Australian Government.
He indicated that arrangements had been made with America to train Australian personnel in the use of those aircraft. That was on 24th October 1963. I stood up in my place and congratulated the Government upon ordering new aircraft and, above all, upon providing an interim replacement for the Canberra bomber for the years between 1963 and 1967. I welcomed that decision of the Government. I expressed gratitude to the United States of America for making that badly needed replacement available to see us over the interim period.
What happened? B47 bombers were flown out to this country right at the time of the election campaign. During the election campaign they flew around Australia, confirming, in effect, by their presence, that we would have that type of bomber in the intervening period of four years. Immediately the election was over they disappeared from the scene, and the Government announced that we could not accommodate them, either. I am merely pointing out that history is repeating itself in connection with the Government’s actions with regard to all these things. The position today is that we have still got the old Canberra bomber despite what has been said by prominent spokesmen of the Government about its being outmoded many years ago.
I refer now to a speech made by Mr. Osborne, a former Minister for Air, as long ago as 31st March 1960 on this subject. He said -
The Australian built Canberra first came into service some eight years ago.
That is, it first came into service in 1952. He added -
There is no doubt in the minds of those responsible for the direction of the Air Force that the most difficult re-equipment problem we face, and probably the most important, is to find a future replacement for the Canberra.
Today, four and a half years after that statement was made, we are still without a replacement.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– I suggest that it is the Government’s responsibility. I suggest that instead of playing politics the Government should have begun replacing the Canberra. At least it should not have deceived the people by pretending to them on the eve of an election that we were to’ have these B47 bombers available to us for the next four years. That was a piece of arrant deceit, and that was the exact announcement that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) made. These things, all catch up with governments, as I shall show.
We now come to the stage where there is another election pending and, of course, we have another emergency - we shall examine that in a moment - and we have a whole flood of defence proposals before us. That, of course, is just because we are facing a Senate election. I ask the Senate: What is the grave emergency of the moment? What has emerged in the last few months that is so different?
– In the last few weeks.
– Yes, what has happened even in the last few weeks? What, in particular, has happened? Only a few weeks ago, the Defence Bill was before the Senate. Senator Paltridge put that Bill before us. It contained provision for a call-up in a defence emergency short of war. On the issue of the proclamation reserves could be called up and the Citizen Military Forces could be called up for full time service. If there is an emergency such as the Prime Minister has indicated, where is the proclamation? What does he do today to meet the emergency that he says faces us? Has he called up the Emergency Reserve? No. Has he called up the C.M.F. for full time service? No. What has he done? He has announced compulsory full time military service. To face an emergency immediately? No. Again it is something for the future. The selection is to begin in the middle of next year. It is expected to yield 4,200 raw recruits by the end of next year, and thereafter to run at the rate of some 6.900 per annum. What a farce it is to attempt to persuade the people of Australia, for political purposes, by pretending that there is an emergency, and to attempt to meet the defence manpower problem by bringing in youths of 20 years of age who, as the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) have acknowledged, will not be out of the raw recruit stage until at least six months after they begin their training. The Minister for the Army has acknowledged in the clearest terms that the most that the Government will get out of the recruits who are obliged to serve two years will be, in a relatively limited field, having regard to the technical activities of the Army these days, a period of 18 months of effective service.
– It will be lucky to get that.
– It will certainly be lucky if it gets that. At the time when the Minister for Defence put before us that Defence Bill a few weeks ago, he most carefully negatived any suggestion of conscription under the Bill.
– Under that Bill.
– I said that. The Minister most expressly negatived any suggestion of conscription when the question was put to him. The one comment in the whole of his speech - I do not quote it in precise terms although I think it is available to me - was that in war the whole nation would be conscripted. The reasonable assumption from that was that there would be no conscription unless there were war. That was the reasonable impression that might have been expected to have been gathered. So we had no word of conscription until we got closer to the emergency of an election, as Mr. Calwell made so plain. Is it not extraordinary that the one effective thing and the one sure result that the Government intends to achieve is to have a handful of raw recruits at the end of next year to put this nation in a position where it can face the grave situation with which the Prime Minister claims we are confronted.
Let me go back to the TFX bomber we are to obtain from the United States of America. When these bombers were ordered, the type was almost in the drawing board stage. The time for the first delivery has been varied in the interim from 1967 to 1968 and the indications are that still another two years will pass before we get our requirement.
– On what does the Leader of the Opposition base that?
– I base it upon statements that have been made.
– By whom? The Leader of the Opposition cannot quote an authority.
– I have not access to a specific statement on the subject at the moment.
– Then why say it?
– I have it well in my mind, and I will say that it is just as disgraceful for this Government to be waiting for a replacement for our strike reconnaissance bombers until 1968 as it would be to wait until 1970. There is no certainty as yet that the first TFX bomber will be available even in 1968. Having regard to the unreliability of the predictions and the promises of the Government in every other respect, it would not surprise me in the least if the time of delivery of the TFX bomber is much later than 1968.
I turn now to the Mirage fighter. Will the Minister for Defence state when the Royal Australian Air Force is to be equipped with these fighters? We are told that we have begun to assemble them in Australia. I invite the Minister to tell us how many we have and when we will have the number we have ordered - 100 Mirage fighters - and for which we have bargained. In what year will our requirements of these aircraft be fulfilled?
During the debate on the Estimates last year, Senator Gorton, who was then Minister for the Navy, informed the Senate that we were to have four Oberon class submarines. An order has been placed, he said. The first was to be delivered in 1966, another in 1967, a third in 1968 and a fourth in 1969. Somehow in all its defence proposals, this Government has a capacity for having the performance of its plans postponed for years ahead. At present we have not a submarine of our own.
Then we come to the Charles F. Adams class destroyers which we are told are the latest thing in destroyers. According to the Government, the first of these is to be delivered in May 1965. We are to get another destroyer six months later and a third in 1967. We are told that we are to have an escort maintenance ship to accompany the fleet and to execute repairs at sea. When are we to get that vessel? I ask that question now in 1964. We are to get it in 1967.
Looking at the situation of the Royal Australian Navy still further, I refer to the unfortunate disaster which took place this year when H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ sank the destroyer H.M.A.S. “Voyager”. A review of the circumstances surrounding this disaster was conducted by a royal commission and it showed what I call the gravest dereliction of duty on the part of the Minister for the Navy of the day and the Naval Board. Following the report of the royal commission, the Naval Board addressed its mind to the causes of the disaster. It came to light with 11 proposals, but 82 men had to die before the Naval Board did what should have been done down the years. The Opposition regards the administration of the Navy at the top level - and by that I mean at the ministerial level and the Naval Board level - as deplorable and culpable. We could comment further that the whole atmosphere of an institution like the Navy runs from the top level down to the lowest rating and if there are inefficiency, muddle and confusion at the top they unquestionably run down through it all.
Imagine having to wait for a disaster like the sinking of the “ Voyager “ before the Naval Board decided that in future staff officers of the Navy would look over every ship after a refit. Fancy having to wait for such a disaster before the Naval Board decided that in future Naval officers without experience of serving with each other in ships of which they had had little experience would be accompanied by staff officers. Why were not these things done in relationto the “Melbourne” and the “Voyager”’? The Naval Board has now made new regulations which common sense would dictate should have operated at all times. It has been decided now that instead of stowing life belts away in some locked compartment in a ship they must be placed along gangways and ways of escape. This is a practice that has been followed always in every merchant vessel throughout the world. The Naval Board has decided now to make sure that practical instruction is given to ratings in the methods used in inflating rafts. Altogether there were 11 matters that badly needed attention. Now we are getting a spate of promises from the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence.
I turn now to the Prime Minister’s statement on defence which was delivered to the Parliament this week. In the course of that statement, the right honorable gentleman spoke about what was to happen to the Navy. Referring to the Gannet and Sea Venom aircraft, he said that they were - . . approaching the end of their service life and becoming difficult and uneconomical to maintain. . . .
They are the aircraft that operate from our aircraft carrier, H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “. The Prime Minister indicated that it had been decided to replace these aircraft with 14 S2E Tracker anti-submarine aircraft but the Prime Minister did not say when we were to get them. I ask the Minister for Defence, or somebody on his behalf, to tell the Senate when we are to get these aircraft. The Prime Minister’s statement on the Gannet and Sea Venom aircraft was a plain acknowledgment of the truth of what I have said about the outmoded nature of our equipment. Through the Prime Minister, the Government has acknowledged that the Gannet and Sea Venom aircraft are approaching the end of their service life and becoming difficult and uneconomical to maintain.
The one aircraft carrier that we have has been relegated to an anti-submarine role alone and is to have an extensive refit to cost £10 million. I invite the Government to tell the Senate how long that will take. On what are our helicopters and our antisubmarine aircraft to perch while that refit is being undertaken? How long will the ship be out of commission? Will it be two years? Is there any thought or suggestion of having it replaced in the interim? The mobility of an anti-submarine force is its chief characteristic and function and the one vessel from which aircraft can operate with the Royal Australian Navy is to go for an extensive refit. The mere size of the financial commitment - £10 million - indicates that this refit will take a long time.
– What will the Government do with the ship when the refit is finished?
– Probably what is done with other vessels - scrap it.
– Treat it as the Government treated the “ Hobart “.
– Yes. We remember what happened to the “Hobart” in particular. We shall also, according to the Prime Minister, modernise two Daring class destroyers by providing them with Ikara. The estimated cost of modernising them - the implication is that they are not modern at the moment - is £13 million. Not one word is said as to how long that work will take and as to whether there is to be any replacement for those destroyers while they are undergoing refit. There is a lack of frankness on the part of the Government in not at once telling the people how long the refits will take and what is to happen while we are deprived of these destroyers.
We are to have two minesweepers in addition to those that were obtained in 1962. Despite the state of emergency which, we are told, confronts Australia, these minesweepers, too, will not be available until 1968. It is rather interesting to hear of the wide range of naval projects that are now proposed. They include support facilities for the Charles F. Adams destroyers, a missile firing range, development of a submarine base, submarine support facilities and a submarine rescue vessel, replacement of harbour support craft and fleet boats, and modernisation of Wessex helicopters. Just what is involved in the modernisation of those helicopters? Earlier in the Prime Minister’s statement, we were told that “ Melbourne “ was converted to an antisubmarine role with the acquisition of 27 modern Wessex helicopters in 1963. Now, in 1964, those aircraft have to be modernised. I invite the Government to tell the people just what is involved in that work and why all the things that I have just listed were not done before.
In his statement the Prime Minister indicates that the Neptune aircraft carrying submarine detection and tracking equipment is now coming to the end of its useful operational life. In the statement there is a confession time and time again of inappropriateness, of exhaustion and of wearing out. Why did the Government wait until things reached this stage before doing something about them? When will we get the Lockheed Orion aircraft which are to replace the outmoded Neptunes? Ten Lockheed Orions will be obtained, we are told. I see that the Prime Minister did. in fact, indicate when we shall get them. He said -
It has been decided to re-arm the squadron in 1968 with Lockheed Orion aircraft which have outstanding performance in the location and destruction of enemy submarines.
In the intervening four years we shall have to carry on, of course, with the equipment which is coming to the end of its useful operational life.
I would like at this stage to quote what my leader, Mr. Calwell, had to say yesterday. He said -
The Prime Minister is obliged to sustain the crisis atmosphere he tried to manufacture on Tuesday night last for another three weeks - the three weeks to Sth December. But the defence proposal which he claims to justify, by stating that a crisis exists now, will not take physical shape for another three years . . . The Government’s sole excuse, and then it would be only a partial excuse, would be that the country was now faced with a totally new, unforeseen unexpected situation - a situation which was not anticipated and which could not have been anticipated. But this is not the case.
The Prime Minister’s statement about the current situation in South East Asia is couched in the broadest terms. On the facts which he has produced, he says nothing which could not have been said six months ago. It is not the situation which has changed; it is the Government’s attitude to the situation which has changed. 1 suggest, and I firmly believe that the change of attitude, or seeming change of attitude, is the result, not of a re-appraisal of events abroad, but of the realisation that its Senate majority is now endangered.
I support every word of that. The brief passages that I have read from the lengthy statement made simultaneously by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence show that in relation to item after item there is a confession of the inadequacy of our defences. That has been the story for the last 15 years.
I pass to the question of manpower. In May 1962, as I pointed out during the debate on the Defence Bill quite recently new targets were set by the Government for the numbers in our armed forces for the three years from 1st July 1962 to 1st July 1965. At 30th June last, with one year to go, the recruitment is well short of the targets. The armed forces still need 15,469 personnel, but there is no hope of getting them at the rate at which the Government has been proceeding. The Australian Regular Army needs 4,502 men in order to reach the target figure of 28,000, and 7,495 are needed to achieve the target for the Citizen Military Forces. In the two years since the target was fixed, the number of personnel in the Citizen Military Forces has fallen bv 2,500. That shows the extent of the failure of the Government in recruiting. I agree with my leader that voluntary recruiting for the Army has not failed. The slow rate of enlistment is because the Government of this country has failed to convince our youth that there is a real danger and has failed to give them real leadership. Probably the biggest factor operating against recruiting is that this Government, for 15 years, has cried wolf so often that the youth of Australia does not trust it, does not listen to it and does not believe it any more. I refuse to believe that if there were an emergency the youth of Australia would not, as hitherto, spring to its aid. I believe that that would happen. The type of things that I have been describing - one alarm after another, one failure after another to redeem promises, bombers under order flying around Australia and then disappearing into the limbo of forgotten things - are responsible for the failure of recruiting.
Quite recently a statement was made by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) - I have a copy of it which was circulated to my office, by his courtesy - in which he dealt with the subject of recruitment. In particular, he dealt with compulsory military training. I invite the Senate to bear with me while I read some of the important things that he had to say. He was addressing the National Congress of the Returned Servicemen’s League at its opening session on 26th October. One would expect that he would know intimately what the manpower requirements of the Army were. Dr. Forbes said that he had given more attention to this problem than to any other since he had been Minister for the Army. Then he said -
T could perhaps say, however, that we have not introduced conscription up to this point in time because our military advisers-
I ask the Senate particularly to note the phrase “military advisers”, because I find it occurs also in the Prime Minister’s speech. have indicated in the clearest and most unmistakable terms that it is not the most effective way of creating the Army we need to meet the situation we face. I stress that this is military advice.
This speech was made within the last three weeks. He continued -
The reasons for rejecting conscription have nothing whatever to do with the political consequences of its introduction or its cost.
Although it has been stated many times before, it is perhaps worth mentioning briefly the purely military disadvantages of conscription. First, even a scheme which provides for a two-year period of service does not provide the people we most need, that is experienced officers and N.C.O.’s and specialists. These are the people we are short of now. The deficiency would be even greater if conscription were introduced.
These remarks were made by the Minister only 17 days ago. He continued -
Secondly, it is wasteful in the sense that you only get about 18 months service out of each person you train compared with 5i years service for most Regulars, lt is worth noting that as a result of conscription, the U.S. has the equivalent of 11 divisions in the “pipe-line” training or in transit at any one time. This is to support an Army of 16 front-line divisions.
Thirdly, conscription would have a marked effect on the efficiency and availability of the field force. This is partly because scarce officers and N.C.O.’s would be required to train conscripts and partly because of the frequent turn-over in the personnel of field force units which contained conscripts. I should point out that it is for reasons like this that the British abandoned their scheme.
I hasten to emphasise that all this means is that an Army composed entirely of long-term volunteers is a better one than one based on a mixture of volunteers and conscripts. This, of course, as you would readily appreciate, is not the only fact which has to be taken into account.
– And this was said not three weeks ago.
– Seventeen days ago, in fact. The Minister continued -
Against such a conclusion, you have to set the size of the Army you require to meet the strategic situation at any particular time. If you cannot get volunteers, you have to ask yourself whether it is better to have an under strength volunteer Army or one which, despite the difficulties created, has been brought up to strength by conscription. This will depend on a careful weighing of all the factors in the light of the strategic situation at any particular point in time. I can assure you that this sort of assessment is continuously undertaken by the Government.
I do not wish to quote the whole of the Minister’s speech. The last portion I shall quote is this -
Many people seem to be of the opinion that conscription would solve all our problems. I think I have said enough already to indicate clearly and unmistakably that it would not. The need for longterm Regulars, of people prepared to make the Army a career, would be greater, not smaller, if conscription were introduced. Unless the proportion of long-term Regulars to conscripts is high enough, the Army could be rendered largely ineffective. What is the use of an Army, however large, unless it is capable of meeting the situations we are likely to face?
I believe that Dr. Forbes, the Minister for the Army, was telling the truth when he said just 17 days ago that the military advisers had indicated in the clearest and most unmistakable terms the most effective way of creating the Army we need to meet the situation we face.
– Does the honorable senator believe that is correct?
– I believe Dr. Forbes was telling the truth when he said that. If the honorable senator wants to suggest that Dr. Forbes was suffering from delusions, let him stand up presently and say so.
– Does the honorable senator believe it?
– I do believe it. I am interested in knowing who are the military advisers to whom the Minister referred. Clearly it might include the three Services. Obviously the representatives of the Navy and the Air Force would not argue that the Army should have conscripts, because neither of those Services will touch them. Conscripts are of no use to them. It is not proposed that conscripts should enter the Navy and the Air Force, so those Services would not presume to advise the Army to have them. It may be for the whole three Services combined to submit this advice against conscription, lt is completely certain that at least those persons in charge of the Army - the Army chiefs and the Minister - are firmly of the opinion that conscription of the type the Government is now introducing is a failure before it begins.
The Prime Minister also referred to military advisers. He used the same term. When I heard the Prime Minister’s speech I was left with the impression that he had stated that the proposals the Government was putting were backed by the military advisers. I have not found that to be the case upon a close examination of the speech. Let me read the Prime Minister’s precise words, and it may be seen why I gained that impression. He said -
For some months the Department of Defence and the Service and Supply Departments, in close collaboration with the Chiefs of Staff Committee, have been making a complete re-assessment of our defence needs and programme . . . The Government has exhaustively studied the reports placed before it and has consulted closely with its professional military advisers.
I have already indicated that Dr. Forbes, the Minister for the Army, stated that the Army Chiefs were completely against conscription. I have demonstrated that neither the Air Force nor the Navy Chiefs would be in favour of it. They, too, have completely rejected it. On that evidence it is completely clear that the Cabinet made up its mind - that is the Menzies Government made up its mind - on this matter against the advice of the Service Chiefs. I ask: Who is the political strategist who threw aside that advice and decided to adopt conscription? Why was the advice of the Chiefs of the three Services rejected?
– What about the combined Chiefs?
– I am referring to the three of them. Does the honorable senator suggest that the Navy or Air Force Chiefs would interfere in the recommendations of the Army Chief in matters concerning the Army? Dr. Forbes told us what those recommendations were, so that it is completely clear that, despite the attitude of the Chiefs of the three Services, as I have demonstrated, the Government has decided to introduce conscription, and with no other thought, I submit, than to see whether on the eve of an election it could distract attention from its failures in the primary matter of its responsibility for defence, and in the further thought that it might split the Labour Party on this issue. It is a controversial issue. But the second purpose of the Government has not been fulfilled, because the Parliamentary Labour Party at every level was unanimous in its rejection of this purely political scheme, demonstrably unbacked by proper advice, on the case I have put.
– That is wrong.
– Then let the Minister correct me. I have put before the Senate quite plainly the grounds on which I base my conclusion. It is open to the Minister to stand up in due course and to put me right on that point, if he can.
As I come to the end of my allotted time, I say that the first duty of any government of the Commonwealth is, to the limit of our resources and having regard to the foreseeable risks, to provide the nation with adequate defences. That has not happened. In a letter that the Minister was good enough to send to me during the week, he told me that, since 1949, 32 statements have been made on defence - on new policies and new proposals. I noted that one omission from that list of statements was the statement made by the Prime Minister on the decisions made bv the Naval Board as a result of the “Voyager” tragedy.
Quite obviously, the Government desires to forget all about that. But 32 defence statements have been made in 15 years. I repeat what I have said on many occasions in this place: If words were men and armaments, Australia would be the best defended nation in the world. I do not overlook for a moment the value of our treaties, especially those with the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and our other allies. Without them, having regard to the state of the defences of Australia itself, we just would not be able to sleep at night. Heaven help us if we have to rely on the defences that the Menzies Government has provided for us over the past 15 years and particularly at this time.
I was very interested to see how the Prime Minister’s defence statement was regarded by one of our neighbours. A statement made by a spokesman for the Indonesian Embassy at Canberra on the day following the statement was reported as follows -
The spokesman said any evaluation of the Prime Minister’s speech last night had to include the political element. “ In an election campaign anything can happen,” he said.
Of course, he smells, sees and points to the completely political content of this defence statement which is directed, not so much at providing for the defences of Australia as at winning the forthcoming election. That is the whole purpose of this stunt that we are discussing now. The Government has been proceeding in the matter of defence as though it had the firmest assurances from every potential aggressor that he would give us at least five years notice of a war. We certainly would need that under this Government.
I put on record the fact that in war, if Labour had the power as well as the responsibility, we would marshal both the human and the physical resources of the nation as efficiently and as successfully as we did throughout the whole of the Second World War. We certainly would not shirk that responsibility. I have said quite enough to show that the dithering and procrastination of this Government, which occur on every major issue before the nation, are reflected through the whole of the defence programme. The real thing that is wrong with this country is that it is the Government itself that is outmoded; it is the
Government itself that is worn out; and it is the Government itself that needs to be modernised, replaced or scrapped.
– The Senate should be reminded that today it is taking the responsibility of endorsing or disputing the national defence policy announced by the Government which has the authority to govern this country. We have listened to Senator McKenna giving the second edition of the thoroughly politically expedient speech to which Mr. Calwell gave expression last night in another place. But the second edition did not have the fire, the spirit, the lightness of phrase, or, I am bound to say, the reason that was in the carefully written speech that Mr. Calwell read. I am bound to discuss this matter with a solemn sense of duty, broadly based, I hope, on the national interest. If we do not rise to the realisation that this issue demands of us a judgment which ignores party politics and electoral interests, we fail. In order to indicate the degree to which Senator McKenna wallowed in those considerations, let me take two points.
First of all, he summoned some synthetic heat and said that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) makes scare statements, creates an atmosphere of crisis and postulates that there is an emergency. Then in the very next paragraph of his speech, Senator McKenna put forward a prattling argument that the people should know that many of these giant defence construction measures will not be completed for 18 months, two years or three years. On one hand, the Labour Party breathes the suggestion that reference to the development of a crisis is mere scare imagery to delude the electorate. On the other hand, the Party is so utterly lacking in realism and judgment in respect of preparation for armed conflict that it thinks that an aircraft carrier can be re-converted in six months.
– Who said that?
– That is the implication
– Say what was said; never mind about the implication.
– I will quote exactly what was said. There was the criticism that aircraft will not be available until 1 968, and then the false information was given - on challenge this could not be supported - that a statement had been made that the aircraft would not be available until 1970. After that Senator McKenna said that it is just as disgraceful that they will not be available until 1968 as it would be if they would not bc available until 1970. 1 deplore completely the weakness of reasoning by a man who, I hope, gave some continuing and earnest consideration to the problems of national defence before standing up to speak this morning and, first, suggesting that the idea of emergency is unreal and imaginary and then expecting the people to be persuaded that, because some of these defence weapons and defence preparations will not be available or completed until the end of the three year period that the Prime Minister’s defence statement covers, the Government has neglected defence.
Mr. Deputy President, 1 take another aspect Of the argument of Senator McKenna. He referred to the statement of the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) who, some three weeks ago in Hobart, as the Leader of the Opposition read, made a statement to the effect that the Service chiefs had advised that conscription was not the most efficient way of assembling an Army.
No doubt Dr. Forbes spoke with a good deal of understanding and on information which was satisfactory to him. But the fact is, I am assured, that the advice of the defence chiefs is that in the present situation, to get even the numbers that this programme demands and to increase the number of personnel in the Army from 22,750 to 37,500, or an effective increase from 22,750 to 33,000 in the time that the strategic assessment suggests is necessary, the method of compulsory service is advisable. Let it be understood by the country that that is the position that is to be challenged. Let it be understood also that these proposals-
– Who are the honorable senator’s advisers?
– 1 do not make a statement to the country on a matter of such importance as this without direct assurance that my statement is based upon the advice given to the Cabinet itself.
– Has Dr. Forbes been sabotaged? The Government should sack either the defence chiefs or Dr. Forbes.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - -Order Opposition senators will have the opportunity later to reply to Senator Wright.
– Our political system is such that the defence advisers do not come into this debate. I take the political responsibility of making that statement. I want it to be understood that the advice of the defence chiefs goes to the Government of the day for its considered judgment, and the Prime Minister announces the national policy. In this instance, it is supported by the fact that a large and resolute section of Government supporters has been giving continuous consideration to this matter, in direct consultation with heads of the Services, over the last three months. The proposals are fully supported by the members who sit behind the Government, after taking care to consider them.
Having said that by way of criticism of the politicising of the Leader of the Opposition on this subject, I suggest that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, by way of commentary on Mr. Calwell’s speech of which Senator McKenna’s was a second edition, put the situation rather well in its leading article. It said that Mr. Calwell’s speech was one of the best and most effective political speeches he had made. I made a similar comment to one of Mr. Calwell’s supporters in the gallery at the end of his speech, but I endorse the newspaper’s appraisal as a better expression of my judgment. It reads -
All Australians concerned with the safety of their country will regret that he did so. Mr. Calwell had a clear choice. He could, accepting the fact that the country stands in grave danger, acknowledge that its defence was an urgent matter above party politics. He could, on the other hand, exploit the weaknesses of the Government’s past record in defence for immediate party political ends.
In the event, he took the baser course.
– That is not what the honorable senator said last night.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– Honorable senators are discussing the issue of national defence. The defence statement that we are either endorsing or disputing concerns a proposal to increase defence expenditure in 1965 to £370 million, in 1966 to £421 million, and in 1967 to £429 million. The statement also contains a proposal to increase the size of the Army from approximately 22,000 personnel to an effective 33,000 personnel, with actual personnel of 37,500, to increase the number of Navy personnel from, in round figures, 13,000 to 17,000, and the number of Air Force personnel, again in round figures, from 17,000 to 21,000.
– We do not oppose that.
– Honorable senators opposite say they do not oppose this. What are they doing? The Opposition has made it abundantly clear that it is using every political artifice and descending to duplicity to induce people to lose their confidence in the proposal that these works should be carried out, that these armaments should be supplied, and that these men should be recruited for compulsory service in the national defence. Honorable senators opposite have not confined themselves to. disputing only that part of the statement which deals with compulsory national service.
– Yes, we have.
– I will come to that in a moment. It is the fundamental basis of Labour’s approach which needs to be understood. I do not approach endorsement of the expenditure of this money or the use of these men for war purposes with other than a very heavy heart. The waste that is involved and the dreadfulness of the means of settling disputes appalls us. Therefore, we should examine the suggestion made by the Opposition that the international facts do not warrant this step in national defence, and that the wrong methods are being adopted to achieve national defence.
Senator McKenna argued that to say that the strategic position internationally is deteriorating, is scaremongering. We have listened to the suggestion that the fomenting of this idea is simply for electoral purposes. Yet, there are behind the honorable senator some bona fide persons whose hearts burn to think that this is the issue. They are in the minority. They are allowing their leaders to speak for them and to put forward the contention that the risk of national danger does not in reality and as a matter of stern, sober challenge, warrant these steps. I believe that we as a Parliament are bound to say that the present international situation, as it has deteriorated in the Pacific, does warrant a programme that requires not a crisis, not a declaration of war or complete mobilisation of the Services, but a properly studied programme of strengthening our defences to meet the challenge if the situation should deteriorate into war in the foreseeable future - that is to say, in the period for which this programme has been announced.
The fact is that any member of this Parliament who appreciates the situation to our north and in the Pacific where we live and where our nation has its existence ought to take firm resolution and solidly support these measures. This is a situation in which the defence vote simply must be increased and the armed forces simply must be strengthened. Why? Because a serious threat has arisen as a result of the increasing weakness of Malaysia. What is our interest in Malaysia? The situation now is no longer one in which any political party in this country will advocate the withdrawal of Australian defence units from Malaysia? There are about -2,000 Australan personnel in that peninsula and its environs, and they are thought of very highly there. Indeed, their worth is out of all proportion to their numbers.
We are not defending Malaysia just to keep it in existence, and. for no other reason, although, having been freely created and having its independence endorsed by the United Nations, and as a member of the Commonwealth, it is entitled to our friendly support. We find in Malaysia that which divides Communist China from Indonesia and that which affords to Australia a front line of defence against any development of Communist China from the north or against other hostile elements. We find that both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party of Great Britain are committed without qualification to the programme of support. Britain is spending £li million each week there on its armed services alone. Britain is maintaining an infinitely greater number of troops in that area than we are.
– We are committed to it too.
– I know that Senator Ormonde says that, but I wish the whole of his party would say it. I pause for a reply. There being none, I remind isis party that the United States of America, after hesitating a little, has for the past six or eight months revealed itself as resolute in unity to defend Malaysia. That being our cardinal proposition, is it not registered in the mind of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) that there is a growing weakness evident in Vietnam?
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had said that our defence strategy was supported by the AngloAmerican alliance, and that Great Britain, Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia are all in complete agreement that the first barrier against Communism in South East Asia is Malaysia. Everybody who has a concern for the welfare of this nation should understand that the recent events in South East Asia have aggravated the danger to Australia, and have imperilled our cause in that area. In support of this statement 1 need mention only the Tonkin Gulf episode, the recent destruction of American bombers by the North Vietnamese and the frequent changes that have occurred in the Vietnamese Government. All these events cast their long shadows southwards and cause concern. A collapse in that area would pose a terrific threat to the security of Malaysia from the north.
What about the south? Has the threat from the south to Malaysia increased in recent weeks? We have done all we can to persuade the Indonesian people that wc in Australia wish to live in peace with them. Our policy gives them terrific opportunities to fulfil their aspirations if they can only sec the advantages of reciprocal trade and reciprocal understanding with this country. But Indonesia is spending three-quarters of its revenue on defence, and Dr. Sukarno has never dissociated that defence expenditure from his vehement threats to crush Malaysia. Furthermore, we should remember that before Malaysia was established Dr. Sukarno had no opposition to its foundation. But the Communist Party in Indonesia, now in the ascendant and presenting a threat to the very existence of the government of that country, did preach the crush Malaysia doc trine 12 months before Sukarno ever adopted the cause. Are there other events to cause us concern? There are in Malaysia the guerrilla activities, the landings of armed men by parachute and finally - every Australian should harken to this - the first contact by Australian troops with the invaders from Indonesia, which has taken place within the last few weeks.
I ask the people and the Senate: Do those events square up with the suggestion from the Leader of the Opposition that to call the country’s attention to this growing threat is warmongering, and that those incidents have been conjured up simply as an election issue? What sort of an election is this in a country such as Australia? Why is it suggested that the proposal to increase defence expenditure enhances any political party’s electoral chances in this country? The suggestion can be made on only one basis, and that is that the thinking elements in this country are already in advance of the Government in understanding the apprehension that these events create. Do honorable senators really think that conviction and confidence are inspired when Senator McKenna quotes the journal of the Indonesian Embassy to support his interpretation of this Government’s proposals? He is attempting to make the people believe that the Government’s move is a political effort rather than a move, inspired by genuine concern, to adapt its defence preparations to the growing danger? I believe that it is one’s inescapable duty to support firmly proposals that will ensure adequate defence preparations in terms of armaments and men.
I turn now to the calling up of men for military service. It is said, Mr. Deputy President, that we should retain the volunteer system of recruiting men for our Army. I think the figures show that, in the present circumstances, voluntary recruitment will not muster the necessary number of men for the Army, even to bring its strength up to the modest total of 37,000 men, in the time envisaged by the Government. I have the greatest admiration for the volunteer tradition. It is wonderful, but it has been unfair. Few men and women in Australia will fail to recognise that the men of this country will accept their obligations when called up for duty, if the obligations are fairly distributed.
Are we to retain behind the Australian coastline men who are called up in this way, or are we to have them ready to fight abroad if need be? This question has only to be stated in relation to the two world wars that most of us have witnessed. It would be completely horrible to think that any responsible section of Australian opinion would take the view that our defence effort is not to extend outside Australia unless only those who volunteer will be sent abroad. Whether alone or in conjunction with our allies, the effectiveness of defence increases tenfold when action can be taken abroad if need be. If we in this country relegated ourselves to a garrison situation, we would lose the confidence of our allies and be annihilated. I heard a lot of tin pot nonsense in another place last night to the effect that we, a nation of fewer than 11 million people, can provide adequate defence against possible invaders by taking measures within our own borders.
– Who said that?
– Two or three Labour speakers in the other place said it. We then ask whether this obligation for service abroad should be accepted in peace time, Mr. Deputy President. No more is there a long and gloomy twilight between peace and war, followed by the night that begins on the declaration of war. In these times, war comes upon us with a suddenness that can be counted in minutes, and with terrifying power. The idea that we should wait for a formal declaration of war before imposing on our men an obligation to be prepared for service abroad is outdated.
In 1916, Australia held a referendum on this subject. I thought then, and still think, that it is most discreditable for any government to seek to escape its responsibility by neglecting, of its own decision, to fill the ranks of fighting men when they become thinned, with a single battalion holding almost a divisional front, and by failing to send reinforcements raised by the exercise of all the authority at its command. Today, we have grown into a stature of nationhood in which, I think, we shall not resort to a referendum. The Government accepts the responsibility for the decision which it has announced. The Government has made that decision, knowing that it has to face the judgement of the people at the forthcoming Senate elections. If any honorable senator can tell me that conscription is attractive to any democratic peace-loving people such as Australians, unless they are convinced that the danger is real, then I know nothing at all about this country’s affairs. In my judgment, these proposals are completely necessary. I think that anything else would fail the nation’s defence. I believe that the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition is designed to defeat the effectiveness of the nation’s defence and that therefore it should be defeated.
.- Before I commence my speech I want to answer an interjection which was made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) when the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) was speaking. Senator McKenna stated that the TFX bombers would not arrive in Australia complete until 1970. The Leader of the Government asked Senator McKenna on what authority he. had said that. At the time Senator McKenna did not have the information with him. During the suspension of the sitting he furnished me with the information. I preface it by referring to a statement which the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made on 24th October 1963 regarding the Royal Australian Air Force. Amongst other things, he said -
Twenty-two prototype and development aircraft are scheduled for delivery to the United States in 1965 and we are told that we will secure our first deliveries in 1967.
The following article appeared in the “Canberra Times” of 26th June 1964 under the heading “New Bombers Not Ready Before 1969 “-
The R.A.A.F. probably would not have an operational squadron of FI 1 1A supersonic jet bombers before 1969-70, the secretary of the Department of Air, Mr. A. B. Mcfarlane, said today.
He was speaking on his return from a 10-day visit to Washington and the aircraft factories where the American nuclear bomber is being developed.
Mr. McFarlane said that the R.A.A.F. would not “ phase out “ its Canberra jet bombers until 1970.
– We have never said anything different.
– The Minister says one thing one time and another thing at another time. He should face up to the position. It was easy for him to say something when the documentary proof was not available. But it is here now. The Minister should not wait until everyone else has spoken and then hit. That is his usual form.
– I learned it from the honorable senator.
Senator KENNELLY__ The Minister did not because he has not got the guts.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– If the Minister wants to be tough, that is all right with me. The article in the “ Canberra Times “ also stated -
The new Minister for Defence, Senator Paltridge, said lust week that the Government expected to take delivery of the first Fi IIA bombers in 1968.
Mr, McFarlane said that another squadron could not become fully operational for at least another 18 months after that.
The article is here, if the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) wants to look al it. All 1 want to say to Senator Wright about his speech is this: I leave his speech to his own conscience. He understands why 1 say that.
This is the seventeenth major defence review in 15 years. It is the fifth in the last two years. In fact, it works out at a major review about every four or five months. Docs the Government take one review off the printing press and put another on? If words were men and guns in the Army, if words were bombers and fighters in the Air Force, if words were aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines in the Navy, our defences would make the defences of the United Slates look small. But we have only words. The Government is pretty good with words, but let us have something more than words. During the 15 years that it has been in office, we have never reached a stage of preparedness that would enable us to defend ourselves, and we are not ready now. Nor will we be ready with the proposals for the Army, Air Force and Navy made in this review until 1970, and this is November 1964. We hear much about a potential enemy. In 1953 we were told that within three years someone would strike at us, and the Prime Minister said that this was a liberal estimate. The implication was that we had plenty of .time. What is the position today? As I said, if this were only a matter of words, we would not be here today debating defence because the nation would have the defence that it wants. One could well be doubtful whether all the proposals in this review will be completed by 1970. The Government proposes to spend £10 million on refitting H.M.A.S. “Melbourne”. It is fair to say that this work will take at least a couple of years. I do not think there would be any argument about that estimate. Why does not the Government do as the nation wants it to do and buy an aircraft carrier?
– From the same place as it is buying other vessels. I believe that the people will stand by any government in this country if they are satisfied that the money is being spent wisely for the defence of Australia. 1 admit that politics is a tough game.
– An Essex class carrier, built during the last war, would be available in the United States of America. They are the only aircraft carriers available.
– I plead ignorance of any knowledge as to the worth of an aircraft carrier. I asked someone whom I thought had some knowledge and he said that the cost would be £50 million.
– No, £100 million.
– If I had wanted any knowledge of the Army, possibly I would have gone to Senator Mattner. I went to a person whom I thought would have some knowledge of naval matters because of his great interest and work in naval affairs. He said the cost would be £50 million and that it would be £70 million if the aeroplanes were bought with it. The Government proposes to spend £10 million on “Melbourne”. We know what it did when it spent £2 million or more on “ Hobart “.
– It spent £3 million.
– Yes. Then “ Hobart “ never went to sea. It was put into mothballs after that.
– Then the Government sold it to the Japanese.
– That is so. It was a pretty sorry experience.
– This is an aircraft carrier.
– I ask my good friend, Senator Mattner, to let me make my speech in my own way. I will get through it and I will leave him alone when he speaks, unless he says something that is most repugnant to my views. Politics is a tough game, but we should forget politics altogether when we are dealing with certain matters. We must protect this nation and the people in it. That is the only consideration. When I go through the statement of the Prime Minister on defence, I come to a remarkable passage. If this is not inciting one nation to attack another, I want to know what it means. The Prime Minister said -
If Indonesian attacks continue, Malaysia may find it intolerable to confine defensive measures to the guarding of Malaysia’s shores and jungles against Indonesian intrusion.
No-one here or anywhere else can condone what Indonesia has done. It is wrong and it should stop. But should a Prime Minister use words that more or less incite one nation to invade another? Whatever the Prime Minister’s views may be, I am first and foremost concerned about our troops. Our troops are in this area. What does the Prime Minister’s statement mean? Is it meant to incite Malaysia? Have we to go into Indonesia?
– Does this mean that we are not to criticise Indonesia’s action?
– I did not say that. I said that no-one in this Parliament or outside it should for one moment condone what Indonesia has done. But that is a different matter from the Prime Minister of one nation inciting a friendly nation to attack another nation. Does the Government contend that that is wise in the interests of our people? The Government plans to conscript our youth for active service in unnamed overseas countries. We have no treaty obligations to some of the countries that may be concerned. The Government’s action in this respect has reached such depths, that one can have only loathing and contempt for it. I hope to show that . this whole business of conscription for overseas service is nothing more than a contemptible political stunt.
Now let us have a look at the evidence. A few weeks ago in this chamber we considered a Defence Bill for the reorganisation of the three Services. It introduced an emergency force in each Service. Persons who joined these forces could be sent anywhere at any time! This changed the whole outlook of the citizen forces. Those who were already in the citizen forces were given the right to contract out if they did not want to remain under the new conditions. Those who remained could be sent anywhere if the Governor-General declared the existence of an emergency which warranted Australian troops going to certain places. In this review the Prime Minister has referred to the existence of an emergency but the Governor-General has not, under the Defence Act, declared the existence of an emergency which would permit the Government to send volunteers wherever it wanted to send them, irrespective of whether it was to a country that had a treaty with us or a country that had not. If the emergency is so great, why does the Government not take that action rather than do what it proposes to do? When we were considering that Bill, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate on more than one occasion interjected - it is recorded in “Hansard” at page 1247 - and obtained from the Minister for Defence, who is the Leader of . the Government in the Senate, a statement that as far as that Bill was concerned there was no conscription. The Senate should remember that that Bill re-organised not only the Army but also the Navy and the Air Force - the whole of the defence forces. If that was the position a fortnight ago, what has changed? The only thing that the Government can suggest - the position really has not changed - is that there has been another raid on Malaysia by 50 or 60 Indonesians. Our forces were on the spot. Does this create the great emergency that we hear so much about? No-one can say for a moment that within the past 14 or 15 days - make it 20- there has been such a great deterioration in the international situation, so far as it affects the safety of this nation, as would cause this conscription issue to rise again. Surely the Government and its advisers could not have thought that the Indonesians would stop this wrong doing? Can the Govern? ment produce proof that Indonesia will increase its activities which as I say are totally wrong? No. That is just one of those things conjured up in the minds of the Government, and let us not forget it.
As. the Leader of the Labour Party, Mr. Calwell, said in another place last night, these reviews have been submitted to the Parliament with a regularity that makes them commonplace, but the most remarkable feature is that they nearly always come out a very short time before an election for one House or the other, or for both. Therefore, one is quite entitled to say that this is nothing more than a political stunt, and I shall go on to prove it. Senator McKenna referred to a statement by the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) on 26th October - not last year, but 17 days ago. He said - we have not introduced conscription . . . because our military advisers have indicated in the clearest and most unmistakable terms that it is not the most effective way of creating the Army we need to meet the situation we face.
The Government has to explain that away. When I interjected to the Minister for Defence: “You said the same thing in August”, he said: “ But that was in August “. He is very lucky that he did not say it last week, because when the big boss talks I know what the Minister says. He said this in August in Perth, and so he might have some grounds for saying that the position changed between August and 13 th November, but the Government will find it pretty hard to explain why the Minister for the Army - surely he is the responsible Minister, because conscription will apply only to that one Service - said that his military advisers had told him that it should not be done. In how many reviews have we read the expression “ acting on the advice of our advisers “?
The Prime Minister said in the latest review that the reason we could not get recruits was that there was practically no unemployment and the economy was prosperous. 1 am not disputing that unemployment is extremely low; let us all hope that it remains so. I am not disputing that there is prosperity, but for the masses of the people it is a two wage packet economy, with husbands and wives working. The Prime Minister said that we could not get recruits because conditions were so good. Let us look at the position. At 30th June 1960, when the unemployed totalled 47,200, there were 21,400 men in the permanent Army and 47,700 in the permanent forces. In 1963, when the number of unemployed had almost doubled to 81,400, the number in the permanent Army had increased to 22,600 and in the permanent forces to 50,100. When the unemployed totalled 111,600 in 1961 there were 20,400 in the permanent Army and 46,700 in the permanent forces. These figures discount one of the claims of the Prime Minister. As I have not quoted the figures in sequence, and as there are only four or five lines of figures, with the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate them in “ Hansard “ -
An examination of “ Defence Report 1964 “ at page 58 shows quite clearly that the Government’s view that the attractions of civilian employment are the main bar to the increase in the numbers of our permanent forces is wrong; quite apart from the fact that it must be insulting to those at present in the forces.
The new defence programme is a Government stunt. Let us look at another stunt which the Government put over before the last election. This was adverted to be Senator McKenna. I refer, of course, to the decision on the TFX bomber. The late Mr. Townley was sent post haste to America in connection with this matter, and we all know what happened. We have been told that we may get some of these bombers in 1968 and some in 1969. The United States Secretary for Air - and he should know, because it is his job and such officials are not incompetent - has stated that we should get the bombers in 1969 or 1970. The B47 was to be a stopgap bomber. On the eve of the last election B47s were brought to Australia and flown over all Australian capital cities; but as soon as the election was over they became as scarce, if I may so describe the situation, as flies in my city in winter. They flew away. Honorable senators opposite have not the facts to back their claim that this was not a political stunt. My main concern about this is that we were supposed to have a stopgap bomber. I sincerely hope that the American Government was not a party to the deception; I could not imagine it would be. In view of what the Prime Minister said, I think he owes our American friends an apology. He should say to them, “ I did not mean to put you in”. The ordinary man in the street should know that this was a stunt.
Now let us examine the situation regarding conscription for overseas service. This again is nothing but a political stunt. Evidence of this is the fact that the Government is already turning away volunteers from the permanent defence forces. It could obtain from volunteers the number necessary to perform the functions which the conscripts will be forced to carry out. What are the facts? On 21st May 1964 Senator McClelland asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) the following question -
The question was answered a few weeks ago as follows -
Of those rejected, 10 per cent, were rejected by the Royal Australian Navy, 12 per cent, by the Australian Military Forces and 13 per cent, by the Royal Australian Air Force on medical grounds. The Navy rejected 3,078 volunteers for reasons other than medical or educational. Some failed to follow up their applications, others withdrew their applications, others failed to report, others had unsatisfactory civil records, and others were below the required training potential. Of those who volunteered for the various Services, the Navy rejected 50 per cent., the Army 27 per cent, and the Air Force 38 per cent, on educational grounds.
Let me sum up the position. Of the 8,057 men who applied to join the Navy, 2.034 only were accepted., Of .the 11,079 who applied to join the .Army, 2,839 only were accepted. Of the 5,796 who applied to join the Air Force, 1,605 only were accepted. One wonders what educational grounds keep so many volunteers out of the Services. Will the Government accept them as conscripts? Will they be given the same stern educational test when conscription is introduced? In view of these facts one wonders whether the Government really wants the men whom it is seeking.
I have asked what qualifications are required. I hope someone on the Government side will be able to tell me. Are the men in my own State required to have the Intermediate Certificate? Are they required to have the Leaving Certificate? Will the Government go further and require even higher educational qualifications? In view of the number of volunteers who have been rejected, one really wonders what the Government wants. No-one would quarrel with a rejection on medical grounds, but what about the men who have been rejected for other reasons? If a person applied to join the Navy, the Army or the Air Force and was rejected, and if the Services were so keen to get recruits, one would think that there would be some follow up of the applicants who must have occupied some portion of an official’s time when they made their first attempt to enlist.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) came into this matter by replying to a question that is recorded in “Hansard” of 22nd September 1964. The question is in these terms -
Since the pay increases granted in June last, how many enlisted personnel have -
What were the figures for the corresponding period last year?
The reply to the question clearly indicates that there was an increase in re-enlistment in the Services following the pay increases. Only last night when the various repatriation bills were being discussed in this chamber the question was asked whether pay and other amenities could be made more attractive if - it were so essential - I do not say that it is not - to encourage men to . join the Services. That is quite common in outside industry. Certainly there are awards, but everyone knows to what extent the ordinary employer abides by the awards if he has difficulty in getting, lay, a carpenter or a plumber. The employer is interested only in bodies.
If the Government gets the men it wants - I believe that we should have them but only if they volunteer - what will it do? Are the conscripts to be kept apart from the volunteers? The conscripts will not come in until the second half of next year and I do not know when the experts will tell the Government that they are sufficiently trained to be sent to Malaysia or anywhere else. What will happen when some of the troops in Malaysia are volunteers and some of them are conscripts. All honorable members no doubt recollect the distasteful name, chocko, that was used during the last war. The Government’s proposal on this occasion will cause more trouble.
As I said earlier, if the Government wants men in Malaysia now all it needs do is request the Governor-General to declare a state of emergency; nothing else. If this were done the C.M.F., which consists of volunteers, could be sent without any difficulty.
– The honorable senator does not mind the C.M.F. going.
– I never mind any person going to fight if he volunteers to go.
– The honorable senator will hide behind the volunteers?
– I will not hide any more than the honorable senator will. The Prime Minister used the word “ emergency “ in his statement. He nearly makes me cry when I read it. All he need do is apply the provisions in the existing legislation which no doubt has been proclaimed. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate has told us, the Act contains no provision for conscription. I see that he nods his head.
– That is right.
– And so much has happened within the last 10 or 20 days! Let him tell the Senate what has happened to cause the Government’s action.
– The writs have been issued.
– That could be the reason. All I say is this: There is no fear about what either political party will do when war is declared. There has never been, any doubt about that. The only trouble is that when war is declared the people do not want a Liberal Government because they know full well that the country is safer in other hands. That has been proved. But there is no fear of what will be done in defence of this nation.
The Government has seen fit to conscript certain people. It is always telling us how we should bring our defence forces and our equipment and so on into line with those of the United States. I believe that is a sensible idea because it appears, from a practical point of view, that if there is danger we will not be without, friends, particularly in view of the A.N.Z.U.S. and other Treaties. The required number of our own boys will be called up. The required number of naturalised boys will be called up. But what about the others - the unnaturalised boys - who will not be called up and who will take the jobs that our boys leave?
I know that the Government will say that it will solve this problem by an act of Parliament which will provide that young men who have done their training will get back their jobs. But why does not the Government follow the United States in this? I do not want the Government to call up our young men, but if it intends to do so why not follow the United States system? Is anything wrong with that? It is true that Britain does not follow that system but in the United States all young men, irrespective of whether they are naturalised, must do their training. Why will the Australian Government leave out the young men who are not naturalised? It is not my purpose to throw a spanner in the works in respect of those who are naturalised and those who are not, but this is a serious matter. We are discussing a world situation which could mean the spilling of blood and, when all is said and done, he is not a bad fellow who will protect his own.
I return to the note on which I commenced. If words would defend this country, no-one either inside this Parliament or anywhere else could say one word against the Government. If words were munitions and men in khaki; if words were naval men in ships; if words were planes and men in air force blue, no country, certainly no country our size, could ever point a finger at us because our strength would be so great.
– Today we are discussing a matter of vital importance to Australia. When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) speak they do so for their Party and their words are carefully chosen. They must accept any criticism that is levelled at their Party because of the things they say in this place. Senator Kennelly said that sending national service trainees overseas is a contemptible political stunt.
– Is that all he said?
– Could the honorable senator have said anything worse? Could anything worse be said by a responsible member of Parliament? He said that all we have had are words, words, words; that we want something more than words. Well, here are proposals in front of him. We had words, words, words from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but he had neither the courage nor the conviction to support any of these proposals that would help to defend Australia. This is what the country will know. Senator Kennelly had neither the courage nor the conviction, nor did he have the welfare of the people of Australia sufficiently at heart, to say: “ Although we have had words, words, words in the past, here at last is. something to which I can give my support so that the families of this country may be adequately defended.” What did he say? He said that this was a dirty and contemptible stunt. Will that defend Australia? 1. nsk: Is he prepared always to hide behind volunteers? What is wrong with compulsory service to defend Australia? Is the Opposition against it? The whole theme of Senator Kennelly’s speech was that we should wait until the enemy comes to our shores before we lift a hand to defend Australia. Every member of the Opposition who is against these proposals is virtually telling the women and children of this country that the Labour Party would let the enemy come to our shores before lifting a hand to defend Australia.
– You are mad.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator will withdraw that expression.
– I withdraw it.
– Senator Cant claimed that our .soldiers were armed with bows and arrows. Nothing he could say could insult our men serving overseas more than his remarks today, but nobody takes any notice of him. I suggest that he should see for himself whether our troops are armed with bows and arrows. His claim shows just how little one so clever can know.
– In 1940 our soldiers did not have even bows and arrows; they had broomsticks. Deny that.
– I would be delighted to give the honorable senator one or two facts. I suppose the greatest wartime disaster that we ever experienced occurred during the term of a Labour government. Senator Hendrickson claimed that when the Menzies Government was in power during the last war our men were dying in thousands in the islands of the Pacific.
– Of course they were.
– The Japanese did not enter the war until long after the Menzies Government had gone out of office. Anybody who died in the islands died during the term of a Labour government.
– But the Menzies Government sent them to the islands without anything with which to defend themselves.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I have been very lenient with Senator Hendrickson. His interjections will cease.
– Let me give the Opposition some facts. I have with me a dossier that might be useful if I am provoked to use it. Let me return to some of the criticisms levelled by the Opposition. So far all we have had from the Opposition has been criticism. The Opposition has delved into the past and has criticised everything that the Menzies Government is alleged to have done, but neither Senator Kennelly nor Senator McKenna has put forward one suggestion as to how we should defend Australia.
– It is the Government’s responsibility; let the Government accept it.
– All right. The only concrete reference by Senator McKenna to ways of defending this country was his reference to the B47 aircraft. He was in favour of accepting the B47, but what did Mr. Calwell say about the B47 last night? He said that the Americans are bulldozing this aircraft into rubbish. This is the aircraft which Senator McKenna was so anxious to get for Australia.
– It is the aircraft the Government brought out here.
– Senator Kennelly cannot have it both ways. Does he deny that his leader is another place said that the Americans were bulldozing these aircraft?
– No, but they would be better than nothing. The Government has nothing.
– I refute that. If Senator Hendrickson is so jaundiced and so un-Australian as to want to encourage the Communist boys, let him repeat that statement outside the Parliament.
This matter must be considered from a national viewpoint. The Government is not wholly responsible for the defence of this country. The Parliament must accept its share of responsibility. All governments are responsible to the will of Parliament. The will of this Parliament is the will of the Australian people. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are in the majority and accordingly they express the majority view of Parliament. I believe our views represent the will of the people in these dramatically changing times. It is because of these dramatically changing times that the papers the subject of this debate are before us. If the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy think, as they claim, that there is no national danger at present, let them travel a little overseas. Let them visit some of those countries in which there is turmoil. Let them take the scales from their eyes and see the facts.
We are responsible members of Parliament. Surely we see the necessity to defend this country. We cannot hide from the truth because somebody says there is no danger. Must we be so blind to the facts? Are we worthy of a place in this House? Senators from both sides of the chamber should get together on this matter of defence in the interests of the Senate and of providing Australia with the defence that the Opposition claims we need and which we on this side say we will have. That is the proposition before us. It is not pea shooting. All I have heard from the Opposition has been criticism, criticism, criticism. I have not heard one constructive suggestion. The Opposition says it is not its responsibility to defend anything. Are honorable senators opposite so dull? I doubt it. Surely they have some ideas. Let us hear them.
– The Government pinched them all.
– If we pinched them why is the Opposition condemning them? Honorable senators opposite are attacking our proposals from beginning to end. They cannot have it both ways. This Senate is to blame if we have not advocated adequate defence measures. We have to take our responsibility for that. One of the functions of the Senate should be to see to it that Australia is adequately defended. I am delighted that a senator is Minister for Defence. This is a matter of great importance to the Senate. This is the first time that a member of the Senate has been Minister for Defence.
– No. We had Sir
– Then it is the first time for some years. I thank Senator Hendrickson for the correction. The present Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), with his war experience and great knowledge of civic affairs, is well equipped to carry out our wishes with despatch and to leave the Government in no doubt as to what the Senate desires to be done. It is because we have the Minister for Defence in this chamber that many of the views that have been expressed here have been brought under notice in the correct quarters with the result that these proposals are before us now. If the Opposition were sincere, it would both support and welcome them. Both Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly denied that there was any national danger either within: or without Australia.
– That is what the Prime Minister said.
– I repeat that both Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly said that we are in no real danger. The Leader of the Opposition reviewed past happenings by offering destructive and unsupported criticism. Surely he is able to offer some concrete suggestion as to what should be done. Senator McKenna referred to the B47 bombers. His leader in another place told us what was happening to them - that they were being bulldozed into scrap in the United States of America. Senator McKenna criticised national service, but he did not compare what is proposed now with what was done some years ago.
– This is conscription.
– The honorable senator calls it conscription. 1 call it national service. The Opposition believes in compulsory unionism to protect the rights and jobs or workers.
– We do nothing of the kind.
– Then let the honorable senator tell his followers that he does not believe in compulsory unionism. He is not game to tell them that. If it is good enough to have compulsory unionism, if it is right that every man in every occupation should be a unionist, then it is equally right for every Australian to do his share in defending his kith and kin and his country.
– Ask members of the Opposition how many of them are financial unionists.
– I do not want to associate anyone else with what I am saying. I am only stating my own view. I have never wavered from the opinion that we should have national serviced - call it conscription if you like. Even in 1916 and 1917 when we had votes in France, I supported it.
– The soldiers voted against conscription.
– I did not say they did not. I thank the honorable senator again for helping me.
– You might have voted for it, but we voted against it.
– All right. I voted for it, and I will stand up and tell everybody that I voted for it. I wanted to avoid the unfair, horrible slurs and implications that were hurled at people who did not go - the kind of slurs and insinuations that we heard on the last, occasion. That kind of thing is not fair to the. people who did not go to the war and the introduction of com pulsory service will protect the ordinary man in the street from being looked upon as a kind of leper.
– Or a second class citizen.
– Or a second class citizen. I believe that all the old volunteers do not want to see slurs cast at these people. What did annoy us during the 1914-18 war was that the so called statesmen who came to France, saw what was happening, and knew how important it was that the volunteers should have support, came back to Australia and hid behind the skirls of a referendum. Honorable senators opposite say that what we propose is a political stunt simply because there is to be a Senate election. If the members of the Labour Party are so terribly anxious to get back to the Treasury bench, if they are so terribly anxious to assume a bit of responsibility, they now have the chance. I commend the Government for its proposals. I am in favour of compulsory national service. It is the fairest and most equitable system that has ever been evolved.
Again I ask the Opposition: Can wc get aeroplanes simply by plucking them out of the air? On the subject of bombers, the following article from the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 26th June 1964 should be of interest to honorable senators -
Nen’ Bomber in Service Ry End of 1968.
The R.A.A.F.’s new supersonic bomber, the Fill A, would be in squadron service before the end of 1968, the year the first of the bombers was to be delivered from the U.S.
The article continues -
The permanent head of the Department of Air, Mr. A. B. McFarlane, said this in Canberra today on his arrival from a ten-day visit to the U.S.
Reports that the bomber would not go into service till 18 months after delivery were incorrect, he said.
I could quote many more such articles, but my time is running out. 1 am interested in this question of the aircraft . carrier, to which Senator Kennelly referred. I suppose Senator Kennelly recognises that to build or buy an aircraft carrier would cost an enormous amount of money. We must consider the strategic justification for our expenditure. We must take into account certain factors. For instance, we must take info account our present defence arrangements with our allies. We must look at how they propose to defend us. We have to consider the threat presented by potential enemies. We can assess those things by making a close examination of all relevant intelligence available to us. We have also to consider the ability of the forces available to us to deal with any threat that might confront Australia. All our plans have to be integrated with those of our allies. Consideration was given to whether we should build an aircraft carrier in Australia. It was decided that this was impracticable. For Senator Kennelly’s information, I point out that to have an aircraft carrier built overseas would cost £100 million, without the aircraft, and that it would take at least five years to build.
The conversion to modern standards of the only American Essex class carrier available would cost £60 million. An investigation has shown that if this carrier were modernised and equipped with aircraft the total cost would be about £150 million. That would be the cost for one carrier only. It would be only a reconditioned ship more than 20 years old when the conversion was completed. Substantial additional expenditure would then be necessary to obtain a suitable number of escorts for the carrier and apart from the initial cost there would be the annual charges for maintenance and the cost of additional power. Yet that is the sort of proposition we have heard from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He asked why we did not get an aircraft carrier from the United States of America. There is the answer. One can go through the other defence proposals of the Opposition similarly and find an answer that knocks the validity out of all of them.
The geographical position of Australia is the determining factor in our defence plans. What will our neighbours do or what might they do? These are the relevant questions. What will China do? We remember how the Nationalist Government fell in China. There are dedicated Communists now inside China and it is their devotion to their ideology that is so important today. What has altered the whole situation there recently? We have very little knowledge of our near neighbours and their philosophy, but only the other day Communist China exploded an atomic bomb. Surely an idea of the possible effects of that event has seeped through to the minds of the Opposition? Recently I returned from a visit to the 17th Parallel in Korea, Laos and Vietnam. It is all very well for the Opposition to say that our friends in Vietnam should do this and that but with China breathing down their necks and brooding over them they are in a very difficult situation. All China’s ideological aims are towards conformity.
– What rot.
– My learned friend says: “What rot.” Those within China and close to it who do not conform have very sad prospects. Senator Wright referred to an event in South Vietnam. Why did it happen?
– Because they are starving.
– I give that the lie direct.
– Don’t talk rot.
– I am not talking nonsense but stating a fact. I have been there and I know that the economic position of the South Vietnamese is far better than that of any other country in that area.
– Talk sense.
– I am not talking nonsense. The honorable senator cannot take it. He is so purblind and prejudiced that he cannot believe the truth. Recently a number of United States aircraft were destroyed in Vietnam. Opposition senators should not say that there was laxity on the part of the Americans because they do not believe in conscription. The only Americans in South Vietnam are volunteers. They have no army of their own to protect their installations. That is left to the Vietnamese. I know that Senator Hendrickson is patriotic and that he has a sound knowledge of military matters, but he must understand why it was possible for the insurgents to get within 2,000 yards of the American air base in Vietnam and blow it up with 2,000 bombs. There must have been a great deal of connivance with the insurgent forces.
It is a mistake to visualise these Vietcong boys as little fellows running around in black shirts. Those in South Vietnam are the most dedicated people in the world. Do not think they are not well equipped. They are equipped with the most modern conventional weapons. China has the most modern conventional weapons of any nation in the world. The Chinese went into India and they were seen to have the most modern weapons. Surely Senator Hendrickson knows that.
– What rot.
– Unfortunately the facts cannot be wiped off the slate as easily as that. All these guerrillas in Vietnam have modern conventional weapons and they are organised into a formidable military and political force. There are 30,000 professional rebel soldiers well trained and armed and dedicated to the Communist cause in South Vietnam.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– I have been there.
– Did the honorable senator ask them?
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Deputy President. Could I seek your protection for my colleague, Senator Mattner, from these continual interjections?
The ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Senator Wood). - Order! There is no point of order involved but I ask honorable senators to preserve order.
– I thank Senator Cormack but the interjections do not really disturb me. They simply underline the facts which cannot be challenged successfully. I should know better than to take notice of the interjections. They are part of the tactics of honorable senators who are unable to cope with the arguments in a debate. What I have said is factual. Let us pause and think what would happen if the Americans moved out of South Vietnam. Laos would go. Cambodia would go. We would have a new problem in Malaysia. Then there is Indonesia and there is one thought in that connection that I want to leave with honorable senators. The Communists can be trusted to do as they say and the latest Indonesian maps depict Australia as Indonesian territory - not only West New Guinea and East New Guinea but Australia itself. The Communists never lie. They can be trusted to carry out their proposals.
– Ask Senator Hannan whether he agrees with that.
– The Communists never lie as to their intentions to take over the world. They have said that they will take over Australia. Nobody has ever heard me say one word for or against the Communists but what worries me following my visits to South-East Asia, is the way in which the Communists are making inroads with their cells. I did not believe it until I saw it myself. I shudder when I think that within Australia we have Communists who are prepared to sell this country. That worries me. I wonder what would happen if a landing occurred now - and these landings that Indonesia is carrying out cannot just be wiped off. Would the Communists within this country tura against us? The Communists are sprinkled throughout our trade unions, particularly the most important ones such as the transport and waterfront unions. That is a real threat to Australia and the sooner we wake up to it the better. I have much pleasure in supporting the motion that the paper be printed.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, we have been enjoying an address by Senator Mattner. He ranged over many fields but did not come to grips with the quintessence of this situation, or of the document which is under discussion. The quintessence of the matter is this: Despite the fact that Australian youths have offered themselves for voluntary service to the tune of 23,000 volunteers, the Government has rejected three-quarters of them and has selected only 6,000. Now the Government tells tha nation that a state of emergency exists, that it cannot get Australian youths io volunteer, and that therefore it proposes to. bring in conscription.
I say that there is no nation which will say that it is good policy to have an army of conscripts, when volunteer forces are available. It has always been the right of every individual in this nation to say that he will serve. Never in a state of emergency or in wartime has Australian manhood, womanhood or youth let this country down. Now the disgraceful position arises that the Government, after 15 years in power, during which it has neglected the defence of this country, shamefully places before the Parliament a statement that a state of emergency exists. The statement is not explained. The Government, having received four times as great a number of volunteers as it requires, says that it is going to conscript youth into the Services. The Govern- ment does not plan total conscription. It says that nobody will avoid the call up but only one person in 30 will come under this plan. Their fate will be decided by drawing from a hat. The one who is selected will be almost insulted in that he had to be conscripted into the forces of Australia. Of every 30 young men, 29 will go free. One man will be selected.
Let us examine the sanity of this proposal. Let us consider the ratio of rejects from our volunteers for the Services. Of 23,000 volunteers we find that 6,300 are selected. Almost three-quarters are rejected. What a ridiculous thing to happen in a state of emergency. If the Government proposes to continue that line of thinking it will keep pulling names out of the hat and apparently one man in every 30 will be suitable. The Government cannot say that the young men of Australia it proposes to conscript are going to be any more acceptable to serve this country than those who volunteered; so out of every 30 names that are drawn out of the hat there will be one acceptable to the Government - that is if we consider the previous ratio. The Government, has decided that in a state of emergency names will be pulled out of a hat to make a conscript of one man in 30. The scheme is ridiculous when we analyse it from that point alone, leaving aside political considerations.
Let us consider what has been done by this Government in respect of defence. The Government has never been restricted by this Parliament in relation to expenditure on defence. If defence expenditure is criticised at all it is to the effect that the expenditure is inefficient and the results appalling to the Opposition and the people of Australia. The Government has received everything it has asked for. At times it was criticised because it did not use defence expenditure in fields that were vital to this country. One of those fields was the training and equipping of our young men so that they would not be sent into action unprepared, inefficiently trained, whether as conscripts or volunteers, and made gun fodder for the want of training. That is what the Government has to answer for. That is why there is a state of emergency. Our Australian youths have willingly offered themselves for training at the rate of four times as many as the Government said it needed. Yet the Government would not take them and train them, not only for the protection of this nation, but for their own protection when they get into action. The Government has rejected them - and on what grounds? It did not reject them because they were not good citizens and because they were physically unfit, but because of the educational standard which it thought they should have. The Navy has rejected 8,000 volunteers and has found only 2,000 satisfactory. The Government does not want conscription in that case because it has neither the boats nor the equipment. Let us consider the Army. There were 11,000 applications and only 2,800 were acceptable. There were 27 per cent, rejected oh account of education - not that they were physically unfit. The Government wants to conscript youth although it could well have more volunteers than it needs.
– This is not true.
– It is true. The honorable senator can deny it, but I have the figures and they are good enough for me. There were 23,000 volunteers in’ this country and 6,300 were accepted for the Services.
– The rest were not up to standard, and the honorable senator knows it.
– The percentage of rejects for the Royal Australian Air Force was 38 per cent. There were 5,700 volunteers and 1,600 were acceptable. The Government says that it wants to conscript the youth of this country to serve overseas, when there is a volunteer record such as this. It is not that volunteers are not available. The fact is that the Government has not been able to equip them, nor has it been prepared to provide the expenditure to train them and put them in a suitable position to serve this country.
– That is a false statement.
– That is a fact and it is an indictment of the Government: It is an insult to the youths who volunteer if the Government considers that only one in four of them is good enough. We should analyse the position from the point of view of sanity. It is a horrible position that one young man out of 30 is to be conscripted when, if an emergency arose, he would go willingly to serve his country.
– He can go into th* C.M.F.
– The honorable senator may yell, but he knows what it means. Over the last five years the Government has spent £1,000 million on defence and the only thing we have got that is not obsolete is the young Australian volunteer who has been offering himself for service. After Senator Paltridge took over as Minister for Defence he went to Western Australia and was challenged strongly on the question of. bases in that State. He was asked about the installation of a dock there but he said that it was not necessary as Western Australia was well defended. He said: “What we want is a mobile striking force and a nucleus of trained people who would be quickly on the spot. We will never have to be involved in a major conflict. We will be engaged only in sporadic outbursts of small-
– Brushfire wars.
– The honorable senator may call them that, if he wishes, but he cannot deny that what I am saying is correct. I think the expression used was “ isolated outbreaks “, but it could have been “ brushfire wars “. The Government assembled a mobile- force, all right inasmuch as the force is moving now to the scrap heap as obsolete. It is mobile and moving fast in that direction. But the Government did not raise a trained nucleus. It is proving by its own statements that such a force is not available.
Government supporters have in the past dented that national service training is necessary. Since the Government came into office there have been 27 reviews of defence, and on each occasion until the last we were told that we were adequately defended. It was said that everything possible was being done. Those statements were made with regularity because the Opposition had almost reached screaming point in saying that sufficient was not being done and that our defences were in a parlous condition. In May of this year I asked Senator Paltridge whether he had noted the statement of one of the heads of the Army that recruiting was not raising the required numbers. Senator Paltridge said that the position Was quite satisfactory to the Government, but it is not satisfactory to mc. The Minister tried to make it appear that no action was necessary in respect of recruitment. Now comes the time when we require conscription because it was not possible by recruiting to obtain sufficient numbers. The Minister responsible for the defence of this country, irrespective of the statements that are placed before the Senate, cannot give us the specific information we seek. What is the position in relation to the TFX bombers? There should be no argument on this subject, but a report in the “Canberra Times” of 26th June 1964 quoted Mr. A. B. McFarlane, Secretary of the Department of Air, in this way -
Mr. McFarlane said the R.A.A.F. would not “ phase out V its Canberra jet bombers until 1970. The new Minister for Defence, Senator Paltridge, said last week that the Government expected to take delivery of the first Fill A bombers in 196S.
Mr. McFarlane said that another squadron could not become fully operational for at least another 18 months after that.
That time would be needed for R.A.A.F. personnel to master the technical weapons system and scientific apparatus which would come with the new bombers.
– Where is the Minister for Defence?
– The Minister is out of the chamber. I have read out the report of a statement that is unchallengeable and unanswerable. I shall now quote to honorable senators the policy of the Opposition in relation to defence, as stated at the Federal Conference of the Australian Labour Party at Perth in 1963 -
Australia’s National policy must be to ensure her territorial security, the security of her overseas trade and her development as an independent but co-operative nation.
The nation’s defence must be so arranged that the intention and ability of Australia to defend itself is clear beyond all doubt to our own people, to our allies and to any potential aggressor.
The development by negotiation of a regional defence system of United Nations member States within the South East Asian and Indian subcontinental areas for mutual defence, consistent with the requirements of the United Nations Charter and not inconsistent with the general provisions of Australia’s existing defence treaty commitments.
So we recognise to the full, Australia’s treaty commitments: The policy statement continued -
Labor’s defence and foreign policies are based on the conviction that war can and must be prevented and Australia has a ‘ part to play in ils prevention. Australia demands the right to consultation in the great decisions of peace and war.
The present decision on conscription is such a great decision -
Labour will honour and support Australia’s Treaties and Defence alliances.
Provision of voluntary defence forces (a) properly equipped and provided with modern weapons of war-
That is the policy we have been pushing for the last decade, and although the Government has assured us many times of the adequacy of our defences they are still inadequate. Our policy statement continued - (i?) capable of great mobility within Australia and its environs, (c) having sufficient range and strike power to deter aggressors and (d) capable of being. used as part of United Nations forces for the maintenance of peace.
Provision of citizen military forces which can be rapidly mobilised in lime of war.
That is the policy of the Australian Labour Party. Honorable senators opposite have asked what our policy is. Had Labour been in office in the last decade we would have accomplished the aims that I have just read to the Senate. The Government has made an admission that it has failed to provide a proper defence of Australia in a practical manner. The Air Force has obsolete equipment and the Navy is in a deplorable condition, as was exposed by the Royal Commission which was recently conducted. Our aircraft carrier is to be overhauled at a cost of £10 million and will be out of commission for at least several years. In that time no aircraft carrier will be available to the Navy. The Government has told us that there is no place from where it can obtain another aircraft carrier. Probably it has not searched for one. Again we find there is a difference of opinion between the Government and the responsible people in the Navy. I shall read to the Senate a report which appeared in the “ West Australian “ of 13th November 1964. It states- - Navy Minister Chaney told the House of Representatives today that the aircraft-carrier “Melbourne” would not undergo its refit till
The refit could not begin immediately because some equipment had to be ordered well ahead of delivery.
But the S2E tracker aircraft with which it would be equipped would be ordered immediately and were expected to be available before the refit on the carrier started.
While the 18-month refit was in progress, the aircraft would be stationed at Nowra, but could be moved around Australia and used as land-based planes.
In Brisbane, Rear-Admiral O. H. Becher, Flag Officer Commanding the R.A.N., said today that the. Fleet Air Arm would be confined to Nowra during the £10,000,000 refit.
The strength of the Fleet Air Arm is to be concentrated at Nowra - ground based. The Government has the arrant impudence to raise in this House the question of what happened to the American planes in Vietnam. They were caught on the ground, immobilised without support, and attacked by a force equipped only with near-obsolete weapons, by people who, the Government says, are our enemies. Yet that same dangerous position is to exist in this country.
I have stated many facts that the Government has been unable to answer. One fact is that despite the willingness of volunteers the Government is to introduce conscription by a method of drawing names out of a hat, to raise a force which it has been stated by the Minister should be available for use in a state of emergency. By the vote of both the House of Representatives and the Senate the Government was given the right quite recently to mobilise every citizen in Australia in time of war, or of real emergency, to serve in the defence of Australia. The Government does not offer a planned defence.
– By the time they were mobilised the war would be over.
– That was the argument used by the Liberal Party when John Curtin tookover the leadership of this country after it was deserted by the Leader of the Liberal Party and his Cabinet. The Liberal Party supporters said then that Australia could not be mobilised for defence. But for the breathing space that the Labour Government was given when it took over, Australia would have been in a parlous condition.
The crux of this matter is that the Government says that this country will be defended adequately if one in every 30 boys under 21 years of age can be conscripted. That is really the only thing for which the Government is asking on this occasion.. But even the Government does not believe that, ft is a lie. Even if the Government is given the right to conscript boys, that will not make one bit of difference to the position. These boys were available as volunteers.. The boy who will be chosen by ballot or by draw out of a hat - the one boy in every 30 - and who then is likely to be rejected, should first have been given the right to say: “ You have got me. May I volunteer?” It is quite likely that in those circumstances most boys would volunteer.
What has the Government done to reestablish the Australian aircraft industry, which was found to be necessary and vital during the Second World War? The journal, “ Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft “-the best authority in the world - tells us that Sweden is making the bombers that we require at half of the cost of the bombers that we are purchasing. If we purchased bombers from Sweden, how would they be kept in the air? The Government says that Australia is not capable of producing bombers, but we have produced bombers before. What is the Government doing about using Australian shipyards to build and service naval and supply vessels? Only a little while ago the Minister for Defence said that it was quite useless to talk about establishing a naval base in Western Australia. Thousands .of American submarines were serviced in that State during the Second World War on a hush-hush basis. At that time it was said that, strategically, Western Australia was probably one of the best places in which to establish a naval base. But the Government says that such a base is not necessary. All the Government wants to do is conscript one boy in every 30, who is a juvenile under the law and who is quite able and willing to be a volunteer.
What has the Government done about the manufacture in Australia of modern small arms, ordnance and mobile equipment? It has done nothing, The Small Arms Factory in Lithgow is crying out for orders, but the Government is reducing its staff. Is not the work of that factory essential? The present is not a time of emergency if it is not essential. Australia is competent to do these things but the Government, in its lethargy, apart from thinking of the physical taking of a body, does nothing about them. These and other matters which are so essential in modern war have received no attention; or, if they have received attention, no report of that has been made to the Parliament or to the Australian people.
The Government should be doing something about the development of adequate protection for the civil population against atomic and biological warfare through our own intensive investigation and consultation with our allies. Until quite recently, our civil defence organisation was a laughing stock. Perhaps it still is. We are told that if ever there has been a time when we in Australia have been in danger of being devastated, that time may be now. But the Government is silent on this matter, which is just as vital to the defence of this country as the conscription of a body of fine Australian youths who would be prepared to volunteer to defend this country.
The young Australian man or woman does not want to be a conscript. Australian youths have never failed this country when they have been told properly, clearly and honestly that an emergency exists and that they are required to serve. The Government has not put the position to them properly, clearly and honestly on this occasion. Threequarters of the people who have enlisted have been rejected. The Government definitely has to explain why those people have been rejected before it says: “ We want to conscript one boy in every 30 for service overseas “. We want to hear explanations from the Government on these vital matters. I believe that we are justified in seeking such explanations.
The history of the Labour Party in matters of the defence of Australia is clear enough. In two world wars the Labour Party bore the burden when it took over responsibility, after the abdication of the Liberal Party, the Nationalist Party, or whatever its name was at the time, and prosecuted the hostilities to a successful conclusion.
There will be no doubt where Labour stands on this subject on any occasion when there is a challenge to this country. The emergency that has occurred in the last few days is that the public and the Press have become fully aware of how deficient this Government has been in providing for the defence of this country and, therefore, the Government has had to pluck something out of the air to divert the attention of the people from the real deficiencies of Australia’s defence position. The Government has done this by introducing conscription.’
This has occupied the attention of the mothers and fathers of the lads who are to be called up. The boys themselves are asking: “ Will I be conscripted?” Parents are saying: “Is it our boy who will be called up?” The Government says that it will choose the boys by drawing from a hat. The fact is that any boy who is drawn may be one of the 75 per cent, of those who have volunteered and have been rejected. It is possible that one in every four who is selected by the draw from a hat will be unacceptable to the Government. It is hypocrisy for the Government to say that, because of the voluntary enlistment figures at this stage, it has to conscript young men for service.
If the defence planning of this country were as it should be, and as the Labour Party desires it should be, the young men of this country would be trained and disciplined in this regard. They would at least have knowledge of the arms that they would have to handle and would know the best way to protect themselves if ever they were called upon to give service to this country. Any government which does not ensure that that is so is recreant to its duty to the nation. This Government has not done that. Until very recently it has said that that form of training would be too expensive and is not expedient, and that Australia should have a strong mobile striking force. We have not got one. It has said that there should be a nucleus of trained personnel who would be able to control the mobilisation of the people of this country in times of need. We have not got those trained personnel. Our servicemen do not have sufficient knowledge even of the arms that have been ordered from overseas. In respect of the aircraft which have been ordered, the Chief of the Air Staff has said that personnel will have to be trained in the use of the scientific equipment associated with them, and that that training will take 18 months.
What is going to happen under this present defence policy? There will be a nucleus consisting of conscripted boys, although it could be provided by volunteers. We need a force which will stay in this country and defend it. The Government says that the threat to our security was never nearer home than it is at present. There is not one senator in this chamber who does not. realise the terrible agony that was suffered by John Curtin when liehad to tell Great Britain that the 9th Division had to come home from the Middle East. History tells of the great need that we had for those men. There was nobody here to defend us. It is all right for Senator Mattner to interject and for my friend, Senator Cormack, to hold up that piece of paper and say that the Government at that time sent “ chocos “ into New Guinea, with our people hiding behind them. Those infants - that is what they were, God rest them - went into that territory and gave their lives, not as conscripts but as young men defending this country, while the manhood of Australia was fighting as storm troops in every theatre of war overseas. John Curtin decided to bring the 9th Division back from the Middle East, but some of the supporters of the present Government made statements to the Press about this recall. A censorship had to be placed on the Press to stop the newspapers from publishing information about it. Had this not been done, our enemies would have known of our moves. Only one boat containing members of our 9th Division did not return here. It was diverted to Java and the soldiers eventually became prisoners of war. That was the position in those days. That action had to be taken for the defence of Australia.
What is happening now? Our young men are to be conscripted and possibly sent overseas. We have sent our people overseas before; they were not conscripted. Let us never be misled again. The defence of this country should be in the hands of the citizens of Australia, not in the hands of some youths of 20 years of age - infants in the eyes of the law - who are conscripted into service. This action is not going to make for the defence of this country. This country will be defended properly when every youth has been trained not only to defend Australia but also to defend himself in the event of having to face an enemy. We will not be able to provide a defence for Australia by conscription - by picking out of a hat the name of one youth in every 30. I believe that the Government realises this, but wishes to confuse the Australian people and to convince them that its defence proposals are adequate. Wc of the Labour Party know that they are not.
There is only one way in which Australia can be defended with the numbers and the resources available to us. If Australia is in real danger, if we are in peril or there is an emergency, the Parliament should be called together and should decide to mobilise all our manpower and resources. The Parliament must be prepared to ask everyone to serve the nation. I am confident that 98 per cent, of Australian citizens will support me when I say that if it is necessary for volunteers to fight outside Australia, we will not be short of them. But if Australia is in real peril, our defence lies in the hands of every citizen, and the duty of the Government would be to mobilize every section of the community.
War these days is not only for the boy who goes into the field carrying a rifle; the troops must have supplies of food and ammunition and we must have the means to maintain our lines of supply. But of those matters the Government has said nothing. lt has created a’ state of emergency, but the only new proposal that it has advanced in order to meet the situation is the conscription of one infant in law of each 30 in Australia. The Government is satisfied that that will meet the situation; but I remind the Government that there is more to do than that. If there is a real state of emergency the Government must ensure that its servicemen are properly equipped to meet an attack and are able to look after themselves in action.
– That is what we are trying to do.
– The Government will hot be able to do that by calling up one man in 30. It has been rejecting three-quarters of the volunteers. The argument that has been advanced by honorable senators opposite is hollow, invalid and cruel. I hope that it will not deceive the people. The Press has more or less awakened to what is happening.
– The honorable senator is on his own.
– If I am on my own it is because I am one at least who will say straight out that the Government is abusing its privilege in this Parliament when its supporters say that we cannot recruit sufficient volunteers and must resort to conscription. As I have said, the Government has rejected three out of every four volun teers. If some of the recruits have been lacking in education, let the Government take stock of that. I remind the Senate that every boy who enters the Services does so on promises made in the Press, over the air and on television that he will be educated. He is told that when he leaves the Army he will be an educated man and will be equipped to resume his civilian life. Yet volunteers are rejected because they are not educated.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Before I speak to the paper I want to refer to a low political trick which was used here today by Senator Kennelly. He knew as well as all other honorable senators that when he said that Senator Paltridge had no guts - that was his word - he could not have been more wrong. Senator Paltridge may have some faults but that is not one of them. He has probably more political guts than the rest of us put together. Senator Kennelly omitted to say that if the Minister had spoken, he would have been confined to the amendment and that if he had moved just outside the area encompassed by the amendment, he would have closed the debate, in which case none of us could have spoken. I think that is really what Senator Kennelly wanted because I believe that the Labour Party does not relish the role that it has to take in this debate. I believe that honorable senators opposite would like the debate to be closed now.
– If the honorable senator looks at the list of those who are to speak he might change his views.
– I will be very interested to hear them as the days go on. Last night the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) made three statements at the conclusion of his remarks. I think those statements must have been a wonderful comfort to our enemies. If they had been made in a time of war, and without privilege, they could well have been treasonable. Mr. Calwell said - we are emphatically not in a position to meet any serious emergency. We are not in a position .to meet any serious threat to our nation. We are not in a position to honour any of our international obligations.
We are already meeting our obligations in Malaysia and Vietnam, but this man would have the people of Australia, and the people overseas who might be looked upon as our enemies, believe that we are completely and utterly defenceless. That is not true and the Opposition knows that as well as I do.
– There are not many of them over there at present.
– I do not mind that. The statement on defence that was made by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) in this Senate was one of the most important statements ever made in this place. According to our information, the Australian people believe that the contents of the statement were correct and that it was highly desirable that the statement should have been made at this point of time.
– How does the honorable senator know?
– 1 have the same avenues of information, probably, as Senator Cavanagh has. I can read the Press. In the States of Western Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales, when gallup polls were taken of the young men concerned with this question, it gladdened my heart, and probably everybody elses, to learn that there was not one young man who would be eligible for call-up who did not say in effect: “Yes, 1 think this is a good thing; 1 will be in it “. This is very heartening. Senator Cavanagh is attempting to interject. I will deal with him in a minute. I remind the Senate that 1 speak as a father of four sons, two of whom will be eligible for call-up during the period under review. I am therefore quite entitled to speak on this matter.
It is clear to me that the situation in Vietnam has deteriorated alarmingly, despite what may be said by honorable senators on the other side, particularly since the Americans lost So many of their aircraft as a result of the invasion of North Vietnamese troops which infiltrated into South Vietnam. The position in Indonesia has also deteriorated. Australians are fighting Indonesians at this point of time. In my opinion, Indonesia is definitely carrying on completely unjustified armed aggression against her neighbour Malaysia with the intention of destroying that country - a country which has committed no acts of aggression against Indonesia. Malaysia is a friendly nation with no territorial ambitions whatever. When the plebiscite was taken and one country indicated that it did not want to become part of the Federation, Malaysia said, in effect: “That is quite all right. You can stay out.”
If Indonesia is successful in its aggression against the territory of Borneo it is my opinion that it will extend its efforts to other territories. Just how long can Malaysia remain on the defensive in this case? How long can she put up with these deliberate armed attacks on her soil? If she retaliates, what is our position as a friendly nation that has certain commitments to her? We have said to Malaysia: “ If you are attacked from without, or if you are subverted from within by the Communists, we will come to your assistance”. If Malaysia is attacked we would be involved in what I consider would be a Korean type of war.
It is because of this deteriorating situation that the Government has brought forward these proposals. The preservation of a strong Malaysia is absolutely vital to Australia’s defence. With the worsening situation in Vietnam it becomes so much more important for us to be prepared. If Vietnam goes I have not much faith in what might happen in Cambodia, a country that has already aligned itself in the United Nations with those countries that say that Red China should be recognised. Thailand would be next to go, and then Malaysia would bo the last country to stand between us and naked Communist aggression. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that, despite what Dr. Sukarno says, he has his eyes on Papua and East New Guinea, and probably Timor too. I consider that he is a desperate man who believes that he has nothing to lose by pursuing his aggressive actions. He is like all megalomaniac dictators: When they see that their time is running out, they are prepared to resort to stupid and desperate actions. Because they are at the end of their tether, they do not count the cost to humanity. They consider that that does not matter.
For these reasons, Australia must do more. If my view is correct, we must do more and we must pay more if we want national security. We shall never get it on the cheap. Here, I should like to quote a passage from the statement made in this chamber on behalf of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) by the Minister for Defence, for I consider that that statement puts the situation much better than I could put it. This is the passage - we are with Malaysia for several good reasons. Malaysia is a well governed and friendly Commonwealth country, and as such is entitled to our support. Malaysia is a non-Communist nation, and is willing at all times to resist the Reds:-
We went to Malaysia’s assistance and gave help in eradicating the Communists there. Yet our friends on the opposite side of the Parliament, year after year, at conferences of the Australian Labour Party, stated that we should withdraw our troops from Malaya. Referring to Malaysia, the passage from the statement continues - it is monstrous that she should be the subject of unprovoked aggression from the south.
I think it is understood by every sensible, thinking Australian that we cannot, within the limits of our resources of both manpower and money, hope to defend Australia. 1 was as appalled as was Senator Wright last evening to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) in another place. I may not quote the “ Hansard “ report, because the debate is still current, but I shall recite some of his remarks from memory. He said that we could not trust the Americans or have any faith that they would come to our aid. Indeed, he said that we could not rely on anybody coming to help us and that we must defend ourselves in Australia. We are a nation of fewer than 11 million people and our coastline extends for more than 12,000 miles. How can we be expected to defend ourselves without placing some reliance on our friends and allies with whom we have entered into pacts and treaties? It is stupid to say that we are capable of defending ourselves on our own and that we must do so.
– The member of the other place whom the honorable senator mentioned said that United States troops who came here during the last war were refugees.
– Yes. However, I do not wish to drag that into this debate. I believe that some of the speeches made by Opposition members in the other place last evening were deplorable. Remarks made by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) were low. Indeed, the part played by the Opposition in the debate in the other House was frightful.
We must rely on our friends and allies in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and in the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America, which is commonly known as A.N.Z.U.S. If we look for assistance from our allies in S.E.A.T.O. and A.N.Z.U.S., we must make an adequate and realistic contribution to our own defence if we are to deserve that assistance. Our effort must compare favorably with that of our allies. Our expenditure on defence in the three years from 1965-66 to 1967-68 inclusive will average £407 million a year. I consider this to be a pretty good effort by a nation of fewer than 11 million people. It is an effort of which I think, we can be proud.
I wonder whether the Australian people realise, when our defence programme is criticised, that we have partners with whom we have entered into agreements. I have never heard it suggested by anybody that we have not lived up to the requirements set for us by those partners. I cast my mind back to a time when, in my view, we were perhaps slipping a little and when Mr. Dean Rusk came to this country. In no time, a quick review of our defence programme was made and expenditure was increased by, I think, £40 million a. year. I have never heard criticism to the effect that we have not lived up to the commitments that our friends and our allies expect of us.
I turn now to the number of trained men in this country. I am convinced that many people do not realise the number of people in Australia who have received basic training since 1950. The Ministerial statement on defence shows that the present strength of the regular forces is 52,000 men. There are 1,000 Pacific Islanders in the Pacific Islands Regiment. There are 27,630 men in the Citizen Military Forces; 5,115 in the Citizen Naval Forces; and 868 in the Citizen Air Forces. That makes a total of 86,613 trained men. We intend to increase the forces by another 22,950 men which, together with the increase of 7,500 men in the C.M.F., gives a total, in round figures, of 110,000. I venture to say that the increase in the strength of the C.M.F. will be much higher than is anticipated. I am sure of that. The proposed increases, including the extra of 2,400 men in the Pacific Islands Regiment, will give us a total of about 120,000 trained personnel. That is not an insignificant number.
Then we have to consider the number of national servicemen who received basic training between 1951 and 1960. I am not saying that they have been trained as fighting troops, but they have received basic training. Almost a quarter of a million national servicemen received that basic training. Then we have the officers in the reserve. I am one of those officers. You might look at me and say: “ What use would you be in time of an emergency?” I would not be of much use as a fighting man, but I would be of a lot of use for training and administrative purposes. I could do a job. There are 20,000 officers in the reserve. There are a further 20,000 officers who are not in the reserve but who, in time of emergency, could be called upon, and their services would be readily available. We must also remember that between 1950 and 1964, 120,000 school cadets, received basic training.
Taking the number of men who have received full service training, the number of men who have received basic training, and the number of men in the reserve forces, we reach a figure of approximately 605,000. If we take the strength of an army division, as we old boys knew it in the last war, as being 15,000 men, and we use that as a unit of measure, we have the equivalent of 40 divisions of men who have received some form of military training. In a time of national emergency we would not be as flatfooted as the Opposition would have the people of Australia believe. Mr. Calwell said that we can do nothing, that we are defenceless, that we cannot live up to any of our obligations.
– It is treason.
– If it was said in time of war I would consider it treason. I think that Mr. Calwell’s statement must have been a very great comfort to the people whom we consider to be our enemies.
– It made headlines in Peking.
– I bet it did, too. It has been said in this chamber that the proposals contained in the defence review are an election stunt. On 5th December the electors of Australia will say whether they consider that the action taken by the Government is an election stunt or whether it is warranted because of the situation which faces Australia at the present time. The Opposition says, in effect, that although the forthcoming election is only a Senate election, it is the alternative Government. As long as I have been taking an interest in politics, the Australian Labour Party has always said that it is the only party that knows anything about defence and that it is the only party capable of running a war. Let us have a look at what sort of a team Labour would make if it was in office and trying to run this country during a war.
– That was said twice before in two wars.
– Just wait. I am sure there will be some interesting reactions to the statements I will read. It was said earlier that we do nothing about defence. In referring to statements by members of the Australian Labour Party, I will not go too far back. Dr. Evatt, in his policy speech in 1955, said-
Labour would not require the huge annual expenditure at present appropriated for defence.
In other words, he said that we were spending too much. When he was asked how he would finance the series of election promises he had made, he said that there would be an estimated saving from the defence vote of £40 million. He would take this money from defence to pay for the election promises he had made. Mr. Calwell, in his radio broadcast in Melbourne on 24th November 1957 - that is not very long ago - said -
It would have been far better if some of the defence grant had been spent on universities and secondary and technical schools. . . .
This was said by the present Leader of the Opposition. I say with respect that we all know Mr. Calwell has a driving obsession and fixation about sending troops away from Australia. He opposed his own leader, John Curtin, tooth and nail on this issue. He even raised points of order when this subject was being debated in the House of Representatives. He is now running true to form. 1 do not blame him for speaking as he does, if these are his opinions, but I think the Australian public should know what has been said. Does he honestly believe that we can sit here at home waiting until the enemy arrives in the country and then do all the things that we should be doing before the enemy gets here? Of course we cannot. The sensible thing to do is to light the enemy as far away from this country as we can. This is a basic instinct. We do not let a robber come into our homes; we stop him in our front yards if we know he is a robber. In “ Hansard “ of 11th October 1960, Mr. Uren is reported as having said -
This Government should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to work for peace. It should devote the money to peaceful uses, such as the Colombo Plan.
This is the important point; he added -
It should disarm and contribute to the work of the United Nations.
– Who said that?
– Mr. Uren said it in the other House on 11th October 1960.
– Was he serious?
– It was recorded in “ Hansard “. He was not in bad company, because on the same day Mr. Pollard is reported in “ Hansard “ as having said -
All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations.
He should talk to the people of Tibet, India and Vietnam. He would then find out what would happen to us if we had only a police force and waited for help from the United Nations. Again on 11th October 1960 - this was a field day - Mr. Bryant is reported in “Hansard” as having said -
Honorable members opposite are the scaremongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north.
So we do not defend ourselves. He also said -
In fact, we say those hordes will never come.
A day later, according to the “ Hansard “ report, Dr. J. F. Cairns had this to say -
My point is that we should prepare ourselves to supply troops to the United Nations and that it is the only justification that Australia has for supplying any troops anywhere at any time.
I repeat: What would happen to Australia if we had to wait for assistance while the United’ Nations went through its exceedingly slow procedures? We would finish up as the poor Tibetans did, and we all know how Tibet was raped and taken over. Mr. James also was in good form. He is reported in “ Hansard “ of 5th October 1961 as having said-
– Is he a Labour man?
– Yes. He said-
Great statesmen throughout the world, and great Australians, are clamouring for world peace on a permanent basis. Yet we find this Government . . .
This frightful Government, which docs nothing about defence - . . providing £204 million for defence expenditure in the year 1961-62.
Mr. Killen said: “ Would you cut it? “ Mr. James replied -
Yes, I would cut it . . . This Government proposes to spend £204 million this year on weapons of war, although the Tenth Commandment is: “ Thou Shalt Not Kill “. But this bloodthirsty Government would spend even more money in this way if it could get away with it.
– Who said that?
– Mr. James.
– Who is he?
– He is a Labour member in another place. On 5th October 1961, Mr. Haylen - this is the fellow who has aspirations to join us - said -
The Australian Labour Party is a party of the people. We who belong to that Party believe that S.E.A.T.O. is useless.
What about the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition? I have heard it said today that it is a good job we have strong friends in S.E.A.T.O. I am showing the Senate the differences and the divergences in the ranks of the party that is putting itself up as the alternative government to run this country through desperate times. Mr. Haylen went on to say -
We on this side of the chamber ….
– We will not cop that from you.
– I can shout Opposition senators down if I have to.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! There are too many interjections.
– Mr. Haylen said -
We on this side of the chamber are assailed for saying that our troops ought to get out of Malaya. What has Malaya to do with us? Our troops are there only because of old fashioned thinking 1 am darned glad that I am old fashioned, because my thinking is that our preservation lies in the fact-
– But you are not there.
– The honorable senator need not worry. 1 was there. 1 was in Malaya for four years. This propaganda - sickening propaganda, as far as I am concerned - that the Government which I support ran away from the people in 1939 or 1940, or whenever it was - I was in uniform and I do not remember - nas been repeated. Like the propaganda of Goebbels and every other form of propaganda, if one repeats it often enough one convinces oneself.
– How did we become the Government?
– Honorable senators opposite looked for this today and I had better give it to them. Some things happened in 1942 of which I am quite sure they would not be very proud if they only knew of them. Perhaps these things could be well said today. I wonder if the people of Australia realise that immediately after the fall of Singapore - I was there, not here - there was a meeting-
– You were not on your own.
– Let the honorable senator wait. There was a meeting of the combined intelligence staff and the Curtin War Cabinet. Two Labour members of the War Cabinet asked the chiefs - their advisers -what method of communication they had, whether it would be possible to contact the Japanese, and what procedures were avail- able and could be employed to make a separate peace with Japan.
– Name them.
– Do honorable senators want them named?
– I would not like to name them. I would prefer to tell honorable senators privately, because two of these men are still alive - one of the men who was present is still alive. If I give the names, I feel that the faces of honorable senators opposite - not mine - will be red. I am prepared to name them.
– Go ahead. You should.
– You want them named?
– I will tell who they were. They were Mr. Ward and Dr. Evatt. Now I have named them. I think the public should know this about this great courageous party that can always do the right thing. At that point of time, two of the War Cabinet were prepared to find out the method and means of-
– Where did you get this?
– Who was the honorable senator’s informant?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order!
– That will come out if the honorable senator wants an inquiry.
– What rot. The honorable senator knows that one of these men is dead and the other is in ill health.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– I beg the pardon of honorable senators. One of the people who were present at this meeting - neither of the two to whom I have referred - is still alive.
– Name him.
– I am not prepared to name him.
– Because he would be a traitor.
– He would not be. I knew that the honorable senator would be riled about this.
– I am not riled about this.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! I warn Senator Hendrickson for the last time; he will cease interjecting or I will name him.
– I set out purely to dispel this myth that the Labour Party is all lily white. It is not all lily white. This has been proved. I said earlier in reply to an interjection that I had seen service. I saw six years of service in the Army during the last war, four years of it overseas. I saw the majority of my friends and comrades in arms in my own particular unit, the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion, either killed in action or dying because of the inhuman treatment they received in prisoner of war camps and on the Burma railway line. Senator Anderson will confirm this, because he was with me. I have four sons, two eligible for call up and two who will be eligible later, and I only hope and pray that we will never see the day when we have to put the measures proposed in this statement to the test. Surely by now mankind has learned the bitter lesson that no-one can win a war. The ones who lose a war often come out of it far better than those who win, and I think of Japan and Germany.
Today, we have a set of circumstances in Which we are not the aggressors. We are a peaceful nation seeking to live in peace with the rest of the world; but we are forced to spend a fantastic sum of money just to preserve our peaceful way of life and the peaceful way of life that our friends in Malaysia want ‘to lead. I only hope to God that for the sake of my sons, your sons, and Che sons of every Australian, common sense will prevail throughout these troublous times. I oppose the amendment and support the motion for the printing of the paper.
– I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). There has been a lot of emotion during the whole of this debate. I think it is quite understandable when we examine the question. Generally, we have got right away from the matter that is before us. Honorable senators have been seeking to determine how best political capital can be made out of this debate, even to the extent of making damaging statements against men who are unable to defend themselves. We have passed the stage when we should permit such statements to be made under privilege of Parliament, They should be made in a place where they could be challenged. Wc have heard an attack on the honour of two of the greatest Ministers we have had in Australia. If anyone made a contribution to our defence in the last war it was the late member for East Sydney who exposed the Brisbane Line. As members of the War Cabinet, Dr. Evatt and Mr. Ward helped to save Australia from the invasion which was threatened and which would have succeeded had it not been for the change of Government.
I started by saying that we had drifted away from the question before us. Before people’s names are dragged through the mud, as they have been, such innuendoes and statements, if they are true, should be supported in every possible way, including the naming of the informer who told what transpired in meetings of the War Council.
Let me return to the point at issue: On 10th November the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) made a statement in another place, which was repeated by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) in the Senate, which indicated a serious threat to Australia by forces outside, mainly in South East Asia. According to the Prime Minister, these threats are so great that it is necessary to adopt methods of defend this country that are different from those that have been adopted in the past. The Prime Minister outlined the Government’s proposals.
Last night, the Leader of the Australian Labour Party in another place spoke on these proposals and made one of the most devastating attacks of his career on the Government. In fact, Mr. Calwell’s speech has been commented upon, even, by senators on the Government side of the House, and referred to as one of his greatest contributions. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate today again condemned the Government’s attitude, activities and the proposals contained in the statement. He repeated, with enlargements, much of what Mr. Calwell had said. We believe that a reply must be made to the accusations and charges that have been levelled at the Government. If no reply to those accusations and charges is forthcoming, we must accept that there is no reply to them.
The Government has claimed superiority over Labour in its ability to defend this country. That is not the truth. Although we all speak with emotion, although we all speak of what other Governments have done at other times, the point is that the Leader of the Opposition in another place and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate have said that the crises to which the Government has referred develop in election years and recede immediately after each election. The Government is so consistent in this respect that it is generally accepted that we will have a crisis just prior to an election. If these claims are not true and if these crises do not develop only in election years, let the Government deny that that is so.
The Labour Party has never said that we should not defend our country. The Labour Party has never said that there are no dangers confronting Australia at the present time and that we should not be prepared to meet them. But it has said that there is no greater threat to Australia today than there was three weeks ago when the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), on the advice of his military advisers, expressed entirely different views from those held now by :he Prime Minister and rejected the proposals subsequently outlined in the Prime Minister’s statement.
That position must be explained by Government Senators who intend to contribute to the debate in an attempt to justify the Government’s actions. They must show that here is a threat today to Australia that justifies the acceptance of the advice of those who advise Cabinet, as Senator Wright has said, and the rejection of the advice, of the generals who advise the Minister for the Army. One line of advice must be accepted and one must be rejected. It must be shown, not that there is a threat to Australia but that there is a greater threat to Australia today than there was 17 days ago. To condemn the Labour Party and say that it does not have a defence policy and to claim that somebody in another place says we should spend money on universities instead of on defence does nothing to answer the question: Is there a greater urgency today in matters of defence than there was 17 days ago? We are still waiting for the answer.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the present proposals are contrary to military advice. That has been claimed by the Leader of the Opposition in both Houses. The Government has not replied to that accusation, if it is in a position to reply. We have been told by one man that the present proposals were introduced on the advice of those who advise the Cabinet on these matters. Obviously the Cabinet’s advisers on these matters are not the military chiefs who advise the Minister for the Army, because they reached different conclusions. It could well be that the Cabinet’s adviser on this matter is the person referred to by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) as the great white father. Perhaps it is he who advised the Cabinet that there should be some alteration in our military set-up and some change in the method of providing recruits for the Army.
The Government has yet to tell us why these proposals were adopted other than on the advice of the military experts. The Leaders of the Opposition in both Houses have stated that the proposals will not give Australia worthwhile or adequate defence until 1970. That allegation must be dealt with by the Government. In his defence statement in 19S3 the Prime Minister said that we had three years to prepare for the possibility of war. If the methods adopted at that time to meet that emergency were satisfactory, surely the urgency cannot be so great today because the Government’s current proposals will take six years to implement. Although “in 1953 we had three years to prepare for war, apparently in 1964 we have six years to prepare because it will take six years before full effect can be given to the Government’s new proposals.
The Labour Party has deep and traditional views about conscription. But on this occasion the Labour Party has not said whether it supports or opposes conscription for service here, there or anywhere. All that Labour has said is that conscription is not the best way of providing a suitable force to defend Australia. Which Minister has dealt with that aspect of Labour’s argument? We have heard all about the unfairness of hiding behind volunteers. We have heard about the slur that is cast on the fellow who does not volunteer. But we have not heard one word about whether conscripts or volunteers are better for the purpose of defending this country. The Government has not answered the claim that conscription is not the best method of defending Australia. The Government has claimed that conscription is necessary because of the failure of the recruiting campaign, but the Leaders of the Opposition have stated that voluntary recruiting has not been given a- satisfactory trial, nor has sufficient thought been given to building tip a defence organisation which men could feel proud to belong to and which could compete for manpower with industry. The Leader of the Opposition has said that a superior force would be obtained by voluntary enlistment to that which would be obtained by conscription, if this method were a real trial. All these statements have to bc answered by the Government. We are looking for those answers now. The Government offers nothing which will give the people an opportunity of deciding whether the proposal is a genuine attempt to defend the country, to meet any threats that may be confronting it, or whether it is just an election gimmick.
In reply to what I have described as the most devastating attack I have ever heard, which was made by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, the second in command of the Government in that place sought through all the garbage tins for statements that any member of the Labour Party had’ made during his lifetime which could bc used to help the Government to win votes. There was even some mention of what Mr. Barry Jones had said on one occasion. Mr. Barry Jones is entitled to his opinion. All this was done in an attempt to belittle the Labour Party’s record. We saw similar tactics adopted today in Senator Branson’s contribution to the debate. All through his speech he made references to what someone in the Labour Party had said and asked what Labour would do or what the country should do. He argued that the Labour Party had no policy on defence. Does any of that type of thing answer the questions that have been raised here? Does any of it provide justification for the Government’s proposals? What we want are proper answers to our questions.
We appreciate that the Government is bankrupt of ideas with respect to defence when we see the Treasurer searching around for statements made by members of the Labour Party in the past, and when we see the Government in this place bringing Senator Wright into the debate to use his eloquence in an endeavour to cover up the whole issue with a flow of words. AH this clearly demonstrates that the Government has no answers to our questions. Strip Senator Wright of his abundant vocabulary, take away all the embellishment of words, and we find nothing left to answer any one of the questions that we have raised. While Senator Wright may be capable of playing on the emotions of people by saying how he speaks on this matter with a heavy heart and so on, I suggest that he has good reason to examine his own conscience with respect to the attitude he has adopted today. I repeat that when we strip away the excess language we find that he has said nothing which answers any of the questions we have raised. The fact that Senator Wright has been brought into this debate shows how desperate the Government is. Possibly his appearance in the debate is the price he has to pay for rehabilitating himself after the attack made upon him the other day for voting mostly with the Australian Labour Party.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to-
That the Senate at ils rising adjourn until Monday next, 16th November, at 2.30 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I regret being obliged to speak at all, after the events of the day, but I should be erring in decency if I did not advert to some of the remarks that fell from the lips of Senator Branson in the course of the debate. I forecast that there would be attacks upon the Labour Party, and its members during the debate, but I certainly expected nothing of the nature that was uttered by Senator Branson. He made a foul and most cowardly attack, with the most fantastic allegations, upon two members of the Australian Labour Party - one dead and the other incapacitated - regarding events that he claimed took place 23 years ago. There has never been any such suggestion. The kindest thing I can think of the honorable senator is that something has happened to his mind. I find it unbelievable that an allegation like that should be made against two great Australians.
Australia has no nobler son than Dr. Evatt, and all Australia knows it. He is a man who . not only played a major part for Australia during the Second World War but also made a sacrifice of his career as a judge to serve his country at the highest level at that time. He had the distinction of helping hugely to forge the United Nations Charter. He won enormous distinction for Australia by being made President of the General Assembly of the United Nations in its early formative years. Dr. Evatt has been an eminent Judge of the High Court of Australia and prior to his retirement was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Yet Senator Branson did not hesitate to lay at the door of the man such a cowardly, fantastic, unsupported allegation.
Senator Branson declined to disclose the source of his information. I say to him that he has done a contemptible thing not only in relation to Dr. Evatt, who is incapacitated but happily is alive, but also against Mr. Ward, the former honorable member for East Sydney who is now dead but served Australia during the Second World War in the Cabinet. I had the honour and distinction of serving with Dr. Evatt and Mr. Ward in the Chifley Cabinet for years. I was associated with both of them for many years afterwards until both left the Parliament and one left this world. I regarded them both as men of the utmost integrity and above all impregnated with Australianism. Tributes were paid to them in this Parliament for the parts they had played in Australian public life.
Senator Branson excites my contempt that he should rise in this place and, in just the heat of debate, make such fantastic allegations as he has made. I say to him through you, Mr. Deputy President, that he should retract those allegations. If he does not do so, he will certainly earn the contempt of every member of the Opposition - until he does. I say to him also that unless he has the courage to go outside this place and repeat those allegations, he will not have one vestige of respect from anybody on this side of the chamber.
– Or the respect of any decent Australian.
– I agree with my colleague that Senator Branson will not have the respect of any decent person in the community. I hope that Senator Branson will find it in him to realise that he should not have said what he said today. If he wants to persist with his allegations, let him go outside and repeat his statement. He will speedily find that even the dead, let alone the living, might have rights. If Senator Branson is not prepared to do that, he should know that from this minute he will have nothing but the contempt and disrespect of every member on this side of politics.
– It was never my wish or intention to produce names in this place and I said that, but members of the Opposition persisted in demanding them. Senator Hendrickson said: “ Name them, name them.” This went on. “Hansard” will prove that. I think I said this on three occasions. I listened with great interest to Senator McKenna because, although honorable senators may not think so, I do respect his opinion. I accept the fact that Dr. Evatt is not well and that Mr. Ward is deceased. But this does not alter events of 22 years ago. Just because there has been an effluxion of time, that does not alter what happened 22 years ago; nor has time excused what happened.
– You know it is not true.
– You stated that I should produce the person who was present when this took place. I am not going to do so. The person concerned can easily be found if the Opposition wishes to have an inquiry into this. The person could be subpoenaed and brought forward to make his statement and support what I said. It is regrettable, of course, that it was 22 years ago and that of two of the people concerned, one is dead and the other is not well. But that does not alter what I believe took place 22 years ago.
, - Senator Branson said that I persisted in asking him to name the two persons concerned in the Cabinet. I did that for a reason. Who could say who the two persons might be? They might be anyone from the late Mr. Curtin to the newest member of the Cabinet of that day. Senator Branson has said in this chamber that the statement was made to him by some person who was a member of the War Cabinet.
– I did not say that.
– If he did npt say that, Mr. Deputy President, what he did say is that information was leaked to him from sonic person who was in a position to hear the late Mr. Ward and Dr. Evatt make $iis request to some high military man. Is that correct?
– No. I did not say that either. You were not listening.
– I want to be correct because this is a rather serious allegation. Senator Branson said it was reported in the War Cabinet records.
– I did not say that either.
– How then did Senator Branson get the information that he gave to the Senate today? What I am saying is that there must have been someone In the War Committee who told him what the late Mr. Ward and Dr. Evatt had requested - some person who had access to or was in attendance at the War Cabinet. That must be right.
– That is belter.
Senator HENDRICKSON__ If that is so,
Mr. Deputy President, I trust that Senator Branson will take the cue from our worthy leader, Senator McKenna, and make the statement outside this chamber and at least give to the son, daughter and wife of the late Mr. Ward the right to defend his loyalty to the Commonwealth of Australia, and to give the same right to defend themselves to the wife and family of Dr. Evatt. If Senator Branson does not do that he stands condemned not only by honorable senators on this side of the chamber but by any decent citizen in the Commonwealth.
– I want to rise to say that I do not believe one word of what Senator Branson said. I was not in this Parliament 23 years ago and neither was he, but I had quite a lot to do with the men he has commented on today. Of all the members of the Cabinet of those days - I am not suggesting that any of them gave this matter any thought - these two men were certainly nothing if they were not fighters. They are the last two men in the world I could imagine suggesting such a thing. Senator Branson rose a second time to repeat his charge, even after Senator McKenna, very gently and decently, offered him a way out. If Senator Branson made his remarks in the heat of debate and wished to withdraw, I would concede him that right, as it is the right of every honorable senator. During debates sometimes our blood pressure rises and very strong feelings are engendered. I would not hold anything against an honorable senator just because he became excited or took umbrage at some remarks. Senator Branson has taken umbrage because Senator Hendrickson has insisted that he name the people to whom he referred. Is this course not preferable to leaving the men unnamed and thus smearing every member of the Cabinet of those days? Senator Branson should at least have the courage to state the names of the men.
These two men I knew welL On many occasions 1 disagreed with them. But neither ever ran away from defending his opinions either privately or at party meetings. It is peculiar to me that after Senator Branson is requested to name the two men, a syllogism arises in his argument. For years two men were constantly maligned and smeared by the Liberal and Country Parties. But then a syllogism is created because one of the men is dead and the other is very seriously ill and is not in the Parliamentary arena today. Can anybody imagine Senator Branson or any other member of the Liberal Party hiding this charge for 23 years if it had a scintilla of truth in it? Three weeks before a Senate election in a debate of this type this scurrilous and untrue attack is made. Where is the authority for it?
This is one facet of Parliamentary life that worries me and this might be a good time to discuss it. I agree that there must be Parliamentary privilege. People elected to a national Parliament must be able to make statements without the fear of being dragged through the courts. But I have never been happy that a member of Parliament can tear down the respect and character of people without fear of reprisal. I defend the institution of Parliamentary privilege, but I believe that it is nearly time that this Parliament examined its standards of decency and self respect. For too long I have sat in this chamber and heard the characters of people outside anailed and torn to shreds: It is conceivable that businesses could be ruined by taking away the character of the men who conduct them. It seems to me that now is a good time to make Senator Branson appear before a tribunal of this Parliament: He cannot be made to answer to men who are dead, but he can be made to answer to his colleagues in the Senate;
I suggest that no member of this Parliament, irrespective of his party affiliations and no person listening to the broadcasting of proceedings this afternoon, believes that the charge made by Senator Branson is true. By his actions Senator Branson has made suspect the whole of the debate today. This is a matter of regret. Whatever may be the result of this debate, I want to see it thrashed out so that Australia will get something out of it. I support every word that Senator McKenna has said today. Senator Branson has repeated the charge and has refused to name the person he claims gave him his information, Can anybody imagine Senator Branson waiting all these years to reveal something of that nature? I have no doubt that for many years before he was elected to the Senate the names of the two men concerned fell readily from Senator Branson’s tongue with just as little authority. I do not believe one word of bis charge. I knew the two men well and, as 1 have said, I disagreed with them on occasions, but in the final analysis they earned my admiration. The honorable senator made a scurrilous attack. I say directly to him that it was an untrue attack; and if he has a vestige of manhood left in his body, for goodness sake, let him withdraw the charge before even that is lost.
– I do not intend to speak at any great length. Unfortunately, the debate this afternoon was clouded with personalities and, in some measure, with poisonality. The debate started when the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) delivered a brilliant speech. He had to borrow, in some measure, from the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place (Mr. Calwell). That was necessary because the Leader of the Opposition in the other place told the truth. Then we heard a mean speech . by a distinguished senator from Tasmania whose academic brilliance should have lifted him above such a mean approach. But, with the characteristics of a base actor, he had to act the part. He tried to discredit the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber. I do not think that did the honorable senator much credit. On many occasions I have paid tribute to his brilliance and sincerity. The Senate was debating a matter of major importance to Australia and its people - the defence of this nation.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– I will not deal with that debate-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! I want to deal with the honorable senator. I point out to him that we are not dealing with the defence statement. The honorable senator is speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. He was out of order.
– I mentioned those matters only as preliminary remarks and because that was the tenor of the debate today. At the end of that debate a most vicious attack was made on two people who are not in a position to defend themselves! I disagree with my distinguished colleague, Senator Willesee. I would never vitiate the privileges of parliamentarians. Some parliamentarians may be in the fortunate position of possessing wealth and so being able to defend themselves outside the Parliament. But, I believe that on all occasions when remarks are uttered they should be uttered with a sense of political, personal and parliamentary responsibility. As Senator Willesee has suggested, Senator Branson did not exhibit any of those qualities. I know that he was challenged to name the two men concerned. He could have named any other two men, but it was just unfortunate that he named two men who are not in a position to defend themselves and who have been denied the right to be present in the precincts of the Parliament. One of them is not physically capable of defending himself, and the other has gone beyond the great divide.
In all decency, at the re-assembling of the Senate next week, Senator Branson should either withdraw his statement or substantiate it. I am not challenging his integrity, but I believe that he adopted a mean approach in the dying stages of this sitting. He challenged the integrity of two really great men, with both of whom I disagreed on occasions, although I was not in this Parliament with either of them for very long. However, I had met them on many occasions before I entered this Parliament. Both of them were great men. They had a contentious approach, as distinct from my approach.
Senator Branson has alternative methods of proceeding. If he does not wish to withdraw his charge, he should substantiate it.
If he has the courage, he should ask for an avenue to be made available to enable him to vindicate what he did in such a miserable and mean way this afternoon. Perhaps he was briefed. I would hesitate to think that any Minister would brief him. I know that the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), in particular, would not brief him on this matter because the Minister’s integrity is above reproach.
I say in all seriousness that the two men who have been attacked are distinguished men in the political history of this country. One of them is distinguished in the judicial history of this country. He sacrificed the opportunity to be Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia by stepping down from the High Court in 1940 in order to enter this Parliament. He came into this Parliament not on the Government side but as a member of the Opposition. He did not know that the party whose policy he espoused would ever become the Government. He sacrificed his prospects of a judicial career. Dr. Evatt had a legal career not only unequalled in the history of the Sydney Law School but unequalled in the history of any law school in Australia. I know that he was difficult in certain circumstances. We all admit that he had not had his shoulders rounded. But let us be humane in our interpretation of his actions. No one can take from Dr. Evatt the greatness or the brilliance of his intellect.
– Or the greatness of bis patriotism.
– I have already dealt with his sacrifice. I shall deal with this issue in my own way, Senator Cavanagh, because I feel so incensed about the action of a senator who seeks to make political capital, on the eve of an election, of the personalities of two people who cannot defend themselves.
I hope that, when we re-assemble next week, Senator Branson will withdraw what he has said. I have not the greatest admiration for him, but I have a measure of respect for him and I think he will withdraw it. If he does not withdraw his allegation, I hope he will substantiate it and that, in substantiating it, he will ask for an inquiry of a particular type. The honorable senator knows the avenues open to him, just as well as I do, so that he can substantiate his allegation. I quarrelled with the two previous speakers when they referred to the honorable senator because they misquoted him. I have not misquoted Senator Branson at all. That would be far divorced from my approach to this problem.
The honorable senator has avenues open to him. People can be subpoenaed, called to give evidence and, if necessary, compelled to do so. That would be the decent thing for Senator Branson to do in respect of the two people he has challenged, because one is dead and one is mentally incapacitated. The honorable senator should say whether he will retract his statement or pursue the other course. He must do that in justice to this nation. I appeal to Senator Branson to do the decent thing and let the truth be recognised.
– Have I the right to speak again.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- No. The honorable senator has the right to make a personal explanation.
– I think a personal explanation will cover what I have to say. In good faith, I was given some information. I accepted it as such. Probably immaturely, I did not seek the permission of the informant to use his name. That is most regrettable. Until such time as I can use his name, I withdraw the allegation. I withdraw my statement until such time as I can put the name before the Senate.
Question resolved in the affimative.
Senate adjourned at 5.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 November 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641113_senate_25_s27/>.