26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Was the Australian Government consulted on the question whether there should be a resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam after the Vietnam lunar truce? If the Australian Government was consulted, did it support or oppose the resumption of the bombing? Further, does the Government support or oppose the view stated this week to the United States Congress by the Secretary of Defence, Mr McNamara, that the bombing of North Vietnam had failed to reduce significantly the flow of men and materials to the south and that there was no evidence that increased attacks would be more successful?
– I listened with particular interest to the last part of the honourable senator’s question and I noticed that he quoted only part of the statement by Mr McNamara. It is true that Mr McNamara was reported in the Press to have said that the bombing of North Vietnam had not inhibited the flow of supplies to any great extent, but he qualified this in several ways. For instance, he said that he was not able to give any assessment of what might have happened and what supplies would have gone forward if the bombing had not taken place. This is an important question and I ask the honourable senator to put it on the notice paper so that an appropriate answer can be supplied.
– What about the first part of the question?
– I have asked the honourable senator to put the question on notice.
– I have to inform the Senate that the Right Honourable Herbert Bowden, C.B.E., M.P., Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs in the Govern ment of the United Kingdom, is in the precincts. With the concurrence of honourable senatorsI propose to offer him a seat on the floor of the Senate.
Honourable Senators ; Hear, hear!
Mr Bowden thereupon entered the Senate chamber and was seated accordingly.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Were the proposals and terms of agreement which were presented by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Wilson, to the Prime Minister of Rhodesia. Mr Ian Smith, aboard HMS Tiger’ in early December 1966 based on and in conformity with decisions made during the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference in September last, and were those decisions enunciated as a broad general proposition or in precise and detailed terms?
– I sought the assistance of the Department of External Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Department on this matter. I am advised that the negotiation between Mr Wilson and Mr Smith took place after the Commonwealth Prime Ministers Conference as the honourable senator knows. Hence the details of the working documents produced by that negotiation were not canvassed by the Conference. The broad terms of the negotiation were in conformity with the principles discussed at the Conference. The Conference was given some important understandings of the British Government’s intentions.I refer the honourable senator to the final communique, paragraph eight. If he turns that up he will see what it covers. The Conference also noted that in the event of Rhodesia not accepting a return to legality the question of mandatory sanctions would be referred by Britain to the United Nations before the end of the year - that is 1966.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer to the recent six derailments on the North Australia Railway resulting from the heavy traffic of iron ore from Frances
Creek and the criticism by the Northern Territory Legislative Council and railways union as to the condition of this line, ls it a fact that Japanese shipping to Australia has been postponed as a result of these derailments? What action has been taken by the Minister to have the line re-laid and to ensure safe working conditions for railway operating staff in the meantime?
– lt is true that there have been derailments on the line, as indicated by the honourable senator, lt is equally true that certain remedial action is being taken. So that the Senate and the honourable senator who asked the question may be given more comprehensive information, I ask him to place his question on the notice paper and I will get a detailed reply from the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that a report by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has been placed before the Postmaster-General with respect to the extension of television generally throughout Australia? Is this report being considered by Cabinet? Will it be available to honourable senators and honourable members? Will the Government please give consideration to the people of Kalgoorlie and Geraldton in Western Australia when it is considering this report?
– Quite obviously, I cannot indicate to the honourable senator what matters precisely are before Cabinet at this lime. It is not in the nature of things to give this information. We are all aware, I think, of the continuing interest that the honorable senator has in relation to this aspect of development, particularly in Western Australia. I will seek some information from the Postmaster-General and if the honourable senator will place the question on notice I hope to get a quick answer for him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether he can give a firm assurance that the freedom and protection accorded Australian embassy and consulate staffs in all overseas countries will be reciprocated in full to all existing and future embassy and consulate staffs in Australia?
- Mr President, J want to repeat the question to make sure I have it correctly in my mind. The question is: will Australia in future give the same protection to consular staffs and diplomatic stall’s of other nations stationed in Australia as those other nations give to Australians stationed in other countries? I cannot imagine a situation arising in which Australia would not provide the general immunities and general privileges that are supplied in all other countries, which are governed, as I understand it. by the Vienna agreement on reciprocal privileges and rights of diplomats in various countries. I am not quite clear what is behind this question in the mind of the honourable senator but that is the best answer I cao give at the moment.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. It arises from the question asked by Senator Morris in relation to the conference that took place on HMS Tiger’. There are two documents circulating in which an account of this conference is given. .1 would be grateful if the Minister would indicate to me which document is to be regarded as the source of revelation?
– T do not know which two documents the honourable senator is referring to; so I am afraid that I cannot act in a revelatory manner, as he suggests I might. But I would be happy if he brought both documents to me and discussed the matter with me privately or ia the chamber at some later stage.
– These documents have been tabled.
– That is good.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Will the Minister please advise why, when a person entering Australia has stated on his customs declaration form that within the clanger period specified thereon he visited a farm in a country which is known to have some incidence of foot and mouth disease, action is not taken in at least some cases to ensure that his clothing, shoes, etc. are free of any contamination?
– J was aware that the honourable senator was interested in this matter. I have received information concerning it from my colleague, the Minister for Health. He informs me as follows: where an incoming air passenger is found by his customs declaration to have been at risk of contamination in a country where foot and mouth disease exists, disinfection of footwear and working clothes is carried out unless the latter are perfectly clean and freshly laundered. Occasionally persons report that their footwear has not been disinfected although they indicated that they had been on a farm when overseas. These incidents are investigated and are found to have arisen when the country in question is not one in which foot and mouth disease exists. In some cases customs examination has revealed dirty boots in the baggage of passengers from risk countries although they have not declared that they visited a farm. Articles in the baggage of such passengers which may present a risk of foot and mouth disease are disinfected.
With regard to recent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in England, the control and eradication measures taken by the British Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food are so stringent and effective that so far it has not been necessary to disinfect footwear of passengers from England. The situation in that country is being kept under close study, and if disinfection measures become desirable they will be imposed. These procedures are applied in the case of air passengers but not in the case of sea passengers, as it is considered that the relatively long voyage to Australia by sea would obviate the risk. However, if soiled footwear or clothing is found in the baggage of sea passengers, they are nevertheless disinfected. Australia and New Zealand are the only two countries that impose these disinfection procedures with footwear and clothing that may prevent a risk of foot and mouth disease.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to the fact that the satellite town of Churchill in the Latrobe Valley of Victoria, with a population of approximately 700, has a telephone service consisting of one public telephone and one private telephone. Is the Minister aware that this service is available only at limited times at weekends and that this causes great inconvenience to people requiring urgent communication within and without the town? Will he give urgent attention to the establishment of an adequate and continuous telephone service to this rapidly expanding town?
– From time to time honourable senators, as is their right, bring to the attention of the Senate matters relating to the Postmaster-General’s Department, such as the possible inadequacy of telephone communications. In such circumstances, all that I can do - I do it in good faith - is refer such matters to the PostmasterGeneral. I hope to be able to give the honourable senator an expeditious reply to the question that he has asked.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In order to confirm or officially to contradict current rumours will he ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport to make an early and clear cut statement on whether the Australian National Line ship ‘Empress of Australia’ will be taken off the Tasmanian run this winter? If the answer is yes, when and for how long will the vessel be off the run?
– I will seek the information from the Minister for Shipping and Transport and I am quite sure that any answer he gives will be clear cut and precise.
– Did the
Minister for Supply at an Industry Advisory Committees meeting in Sydney last week declare that the need to supply from Australian sources is fundamental to the support of our fighting Services? Will the Minister agree that to date a large number of Australian industries, particulary in the electronics and communications spheres, have not received proper encouragement from the Australian Government to supply Australian defence forces with Australian equipment? Will the Minister agree also that to date a lot of hot air has been spoken about the subject but very little, if any, action has been taken? When can Australian industry expect, to receive a fair share of Australia’s defence equipment orders?
– The comment to which the honourable senator has referred was made at a meeting of the Industry Advisory Committees which represent the various industries supplying the Government, through the Department of Supply, and advising the Government on matters associated with those industries. We a; very fortunate to have this comprehensive toplevel advisory committee because of its wealth of experience. The honourable senator has quoted only part of what I said. He has taken that small part out of its context. Of course it is fundamental to the defence of Australia that we develop our own industries as much as possible and as quickly as possible. I cannot agree with the honourable senator that a lot of hot air has been spoken about this matter. I have had discussions with representatives of industry over the past few months and they have remarked gratuitously on the great improvement that has taken place in the last twelve months. Part of the programme was commenced by my predecessor - I do not want to take any credit from him - and has now come to fruition, and part has been commenced while I have been Minister for Supply.
The Minister for Defence gave a talk on this matter and cited some very enlightening figures. I do not think the problem is clearly understood. Because of our very small demand it is not economic to produce in Australia some of the sophisticated items of defence which we now purchase overseas. However I and the officers of my Department, like the Minister for Defence, are fully aware of the problem and we realise that, particularly in the field of electronics, industries will have to be developed within the Australian complex to meet our defence requirements although such industries will be completely uneconomic.
– Can the Minister for Education and Science inform me what universities in Australia are applying a quota for the admission of applicants for university training? What percentage of students who are willing and able otherwise to undertake university training is excluded?
– I think I had better obtain a table for the honourable senator because I believe I should go further than answer the terms of the question he asked. A mere indication of the number of universities which are applying quotas is of very little value at all. In looking at this question one needs to know, not only what universities are providing quotas, but in what faculties a university happens to bc providing quotas. That point is as important as the question as to which universities arc providing quotas. If the honourable senator will put his question on the notice paper I will obtain a table for him.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate inform the Parliament of the numbers of Australian conscripts who have been killed or wounded in South Vietnam, both accidentally and by enemy action? Will he also advise the number of members of the regular Services who have been killed or wounded in those categories since Australian troops were first committed to the war in Vietnam?
– Quite obviously the honourable senator’s question should be placed on the notice paper. Surely the honourable senator would not expect any Minister to keep a running total of the details he requests. We are not computers. If the honourable senator expects answers to such questions, he should place them on the notice paper and the information will be made available to him.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise because I think the subject covered comes within his administration. Can the Minister tell the Senate whether there is any substance in recent complaints by tourists who state that they resent being sprayed on their arrival by air in Australia? Is such spraying effective? What is the spraying designed to do? What is it supposed to destroy? Is such spraying done in any other airports throughout the world?
– The first point I want to make is that in this matter the Department of Customs and Excise is the agent of the Department of Health. The officers of the Department of Health are our advisers. They are the people who tell us that, in order to preserve Australian primary industries by keeping out of Australia certain known diseases which could ruin the economy by their entry, we should take certain precautions. I do not suppose that anybody likes to be sprayed, particularly if the spray is not perfumed. I suppose that people react against a detergent spray. However, I think it is a small enough price to pay for the protection that Australia thus receives.
– But is it effective?
– In answer to that query I can say only that, on the basis of advice 1 have received from both my departmental officers and officers of the Department of Health, it is effective. That is the important and operative answer to the question. It is true that those of us who are prone to hay fever or some such ailment may be disturbed by having to wait at an early hour of the morning while an officer sprays an aircraft cabin. However, as I have said, it is a small enough price to pay for the protection of Australia.
– I address a question concerning civil defence to the Minister for Repatriation, who represents the Minister for the Interior. In view of the extent of the loss of life and property sustained in the recent disastrous fires in southern Tasmania, has the Government yet taken any steps to review the civil defence organisation, not only in Tasmania, but in other parts of Australia? If this has not been done, will the Minister, in the light of the recent sudden, tragic and devastating experience in Tasmania, call a conference of Commonwealth and State civil defence leaders to evaluate and make recommendations upon the need for wider and more efficient co-ordination of search and rescue operations, upon fire fighting equipment, which came under quite severe criticism in Tasmania, and upon the emergency organising of volunteers and of civilian supplies?
– I understand the reason why the honourable senator has asked this question. I hasten to assure him that the people of Tasmania have the wholehearted sympathy of everybody in this chamber. I stand to be corrected, but my recollection is that a conference of civil defence authorities was held recently. In most cases, and in particular in New South Wales, the civil defence authorities are doing a very good job indeed. I do not know to what extent the authorities in Tasmania are efficient. I certainly think that the question is worth bringing to the notice of the Minister for the Interior, and I shall do that.
– Will the Minister for Customs and Excise inform me whether his Department intends to improve facilities at airports and seaports so that incoming passengers may be handled more expeditiously and efficiently than has been the case at some ports in the past?
– 1 think it was during the last session of the previous Parliament that certain questions were directed to me about the clearance of passengers. I and my Department have always been aware of the need to try at all times to improve facilities for the clearance of passengers. This matter has become increasingly important to Australia because of the larger volume of passengers. This is particularly so in relation to passengers by air. We have large concentrations of people at the terminals, particularly the Mascot terminal. Honourable senators know that a new terminal is to be provided there.
A review was instituted to see what we could do to overcome the problem. I am happy to be able to say that the review has now reached the stage where it is possible to commence a series of trials with alternative procedures in order to determine the best procedure to adopt for passengers and for the functioning of the Department. Those trials will include the use of oral declarations by passengers. They will be restricted initially to passengers arriving in Australia by air, but they will be subsequently extended to ships’ passengers. The first trial is programmed to commence before the end of this month. I shall be issuing a Press statement later in the day to this effect, but that is the substance of the statement.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of many announcements by the British Government that it intends to withdraw in the near future at least 10,000 troops from the area of Malaysia, Borneo and the Far East generally, can the Minister state what Australia’s future defence commitments will be in this area in the years to come? If not, can he obtain the information immediately?
– This is a matter of policy and therefore is not one which should be dealt with in reply to a question without notice
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether he has seen the statement made on 13tt February by the Chairman of the Decimal Currency Board, Sir Walter Scott, who, when commenting on the practice of some firms of continuing to advertise or to use dual currency terms, said:
They may well continue to advertise in £ s d after it has ceased to be legal currency in this country, but they cannot make any contract in £ s d after the Government has proclaimed decimal currency as the sole currency of the country.
Does any power exist, or is any action to be taken, to prohibit such advertising which, if continued, must surely react only to the advantage of the vendors and possibly to the disadvantage of the purchaser?
– The conversion to decimal currency has been one of the great successes in projects that this country has undertaken. It is now well ahead of the programme and it looks as if the conversion will be finalised at least six months ahead of the programmed date. This is a matter for congratulation of all who have been connected with the conversion to decimal currency. The honourable senator asks me a question with regard to advertising in pounds shillings and pence after the final conversion date. I think that industry itself would realise that when £ s d is no longer legal tender it would be a certain waste to advertise in f s d. At the same time industry may wish still to guide purchasers as to what the £ s d price is and what the decimal price is. I think that we should all hope that the use of pounds shillings and pence will cease everywhere as quickly as possible. As the programme is so far ahead, once the conversion is finalised the use of £ s d should cease altogether.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it a fact that the film ‘Viridiana’ made in 1962 by the Spanish director Luis Bunuel is being withheld by the Department of Customs and Excise from distribution in Australia? If this is so, will the Minister cause the banning of this film to be reconsidered, in view of the fact that it has been shown with considerable acclaim in Britain, Western Europe and the United States of America and is regarded by many eminent critics as one of the classics of the cinema?
– As I think the honourable senator will appreciate, I cannot answer for every film and every piece of film dealt with by the film censorship authority. I shall get the information and take the opportunity tomorrow to give a reply to the honourable senator with the full facts relating to the particular film.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer give consideration to amendments to the Income Tax Act in relation to age allowance to fix the amounts before any tax or full tax becomes payable on the taxable income rather than, as now, on the actual income to bring for taxation purposes those on superannuation benefits on an equal rating with pensioners who receive free medical and hospital benefits? Is it considered just that, at present, superannuation recipients must pay tax if their income is over a figure analogous with pension payments no matter what medical or hospital expenses have been incurred?
– When the Government is considering the Budget, items similar to that to which the honourable senator has referred are taken into account in an assessment of overall taxation proposals. I suggest to the honourable senator that he should write to the Treasurer in relation to these proposals so that they may be included in the assessment when the Government is next looking at the Budget, which will be within the next two or three months.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for Supply. This is supplementary to the question asked by Senator McClelland on the subject of awarding defence contracts to Australian industry. What was the amount of government support requested by the Victa aircraft company to enable the company to remain in the Australian aircraft manufacturing industry? What were the grounds upon which the company’s application was rejected?
– The light aircraft industry was examined by the Australian Tariff Board, an independent authority. The industry sought a recommendation from the Tariff Board that it receive a subsidy, lt did not apply for a duty because it felt, as I understand the position, that this would raise the cost of imported aircraft in Australia. Consequently, the Tariff Board made a report to the Minister for Trade and Industry, and the Government has adopted that report. The report is available to the honourable senator. If he cares to read it he will see all the reasons pro and con which the Tariff1 Board, an independent authority, raised in this particular instance.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise. During the parliamentary recess did any further developments occur in regard to the establishment of a national maritime museum on the site of the existing Sydney Customs House?
– I know of no further development that has taken place. I think this is a long range proposition because I personally foresee that the Department of Customs and Excise will be using the present Customs House in Sydney for many years yet. There are no immediate plans for the building of a new Customs House in Sydney. Any proposal relating to the existing Customs House after the Department of Customs and Excise is finished with it is way ahead in the future. In any case, it will be a matter for the Department of the Interior which, as the honourable senator knows, is the landlord for Government properties. 1 know of no new development that has taken place since the Senate rose last year.
– 1 ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: has any Minister read the article in the American Scientific Journal ‘Technology Week’ in which Dr Edward Teller predicts that the first peaceful use of nuclear explosives will come in developing northern Australia? Dr Teller stated that more than any other land area in the world, the Australian north meets the requirements to implement Project Plowshare, which is the long delayed programme to harness the atom to man’s peacetime needs. Will the Minister make sure that, all Ministers who have not yet read this article do so for the benefit of the development of northern Australia?
– I have not read the article myself, but as it has attracted such interest from the honourable senator, I shall take the opportunity to read it as early as possible. I will not guarantee to convert my colleagues until after I have read it. I will not commit myself to that.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Late last year the Minister stated that consideration was being given to extending the Adelaide airport terminal building because of passenger congestion during peak hours. I ask: what immediate proposals, if any, are being considered to provide additional passenger accommodation at Adelaide? Has the Government shelved plans to build a new passenger terminal building?
-! would wish to ascertain the current position from the Minister for Civil Aviation. I shall take the opportunity to do that and reply to the honourable senators question as soon as 1 can.
– by leave - I present the following paper:
Inter-Parliamentary Union - 55th Conference Held at Teheran September-October 1966 - Report of Australian Delegation. 1 seek leave to lake two short comments.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Firstly, 1 should like to express very deep sympathy to the relatives of the late Senator Sandford who was one of our colleagues on this mission and who, although he was not very well, did not spare himself in the least in the duties which he was asked to perform.
Secondly, I wish to express the thanks of the Delegation to our Secretary, Mr Bradshaw, who not only carried out the duties that were associated with the task but did very much more. Indeed, I do not think that any thanks could adequately cover the work which he did on behalf of the Delegation.
– by leave - The Government has agreed to an alteration of the basis on which it agreed last year to support the States for recurrent expenditure in colleges of advanced education. The earlier arrangement is embodied in the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1966 and was explained in my statement on tertiary education presented to the Senate on 21st September 1966.
Briefly, we offered the States a matching arrangement of $1 Commonwealth to $1.85 State for annual recurrent expenditure in excess of that incurred by them in the base year 1964-65. The new arrangement we propose to enter into with the States is that we will delete the base year provision and take our share on the same ratio of I : 1.85 of all recurrent expenditure in the colleges of advanced education up to the maximum figure given for each college in the 1966 Act. The annual increase in the Commonwealth commitment is $2,256,000 and its distribution State by State is shown in the following tables which, with the concurrence of honourable senators, 1 incorporate in Hansard:
For the 1967-69 triennium as a whole the Commonwealth has increased its share of recurrent expenditure from $10,679,590 to $17,447,420, an increase of $6.768m. The details of this increase are also shown in the statement.
Capital expenditure is not affected by the new arrangement. The Commonwealth will continue supporting capital expenditure on the basis of $ 1 Commonwealth to $1 State. The Government intends to introduce the necessary amending legislation in the course of the present session of the Parliament.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to:
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Tuesday and Wednesday, and 11 o’clock in the forenoon of Thursday.
Motion (by Senator Henty ) agreed to:
That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays, after 8 p.m.; and that unless otherwise ordered, general orders of the day take precedence of general notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to:
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the whole Senate, bc suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from 6 p.m. until S p.m.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to:
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 10.30 p.m. on days upon which proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast, and at 1 1 p.m. on days when such proceedings are being broadcast, the President shall put the Question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which Question shall be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the Question - That he do leave the chair and report to i he Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the Question - That the Senate do now adjourn - which Question shall be open to debate; Provided that if the Senate or the Committee be in Division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the Question referred to until the result of such Division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the notice paper for the next sitting day.
Motion (by Senator Gair) - by leave - agreed to:
That leave of absence for two weeks be granted to Senator McManus on account of ill health.
Motions (by Senator Henty) - by leaver - agreed to:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, the following senators be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works: Senators Branson, Dittmer and Prowse.
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951-1966, the following senators be appointed members of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts: Senators Fitzgerald, Webster and Wedgwood.
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946-1960, the following senators be appointed members of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings: the President of the Senate and Senators McClelland and Sim.
– I have received from the Speaker of the House of Assembly in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea a copy of a resolution passed by the House and known as the ‘Development Capital Guarantee Declaration’. For the information of honourable senators, I lay &<* revolution on the table.
Debate resumed from 21 February (vide page 30), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
May It Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– Mr President, we of the Opposition desire to thank His Excellency the Governor-General for delivering the Speech which he made in this chamber yesterday afternoon. His presence gave the Opposition much pleasure as we have long held the view that an Australian should hold this distinguished post. Although the Speech is, in form, that of the Governor-General the Government itself is responsible for the contents of the Speech and it is on that basis that I intend to subject it to criticism. Firstly, we of the Opposition join with the Government and Government speakers in extending sympathy to those who suffered from the disastrous fires in Tasmania. As has already been observed by Senator Cotton, Australia is subject to periodic disasters of which this is but one. There is a lesson to be learned from that observation but the lesson has not been learned so far by the Government. It is that we should provide, as has been provided elsewhere, for action to be taken speedily in the event of any disaster, whether bush lire, drought, flood, earthquake or other occurrence. It is necessary that some continuing provision be made for civil emergency forces to go into action on such a happening. The experience of the United States of America shows that federal legislation is necessary in order that federal authorities may be able to lake appropriate action most efficiently and also to coordinate other activities such as those of the States and local authorities. This involves much more than providing compensation after the event, which the Government has decided is its primary role, lt is extraordinary that the Speech of the GovernorGeneral contained no hint of any such legislation. Plainly there is no Government policy on national disasters. So far as the Government is concerned, each one is to bc treated as a surprise and suitable measures, whether compensation or otherwise, have to be specially devised.
In foreign affairs, it has been suggested in this debate and elsewhere that we, the minority, should now surrender our convictions and join the majority. The logical extension of this is that in Australia there would be only one dominant party and only one political philosophy. That is totalitarianism. The Australian public is entitled to the presentation of opposing views in all matters, including foreign affairs, especially where the strongly held views of the minority represent over 40% of the Australian people. Principles are not like clothing, to be changed whenever it seems convenient. The Government clearly intends to carry on with its undeclared war in Vietnam. It supports a Government in Saigon which is fighting opponents who are all Vietnamese, whether recruited in the south or infiltrated from the north. The only foreign troops in Vietnam, including our own, are those supporting the Ky Government which was appointed by a military junta. It is clear that if the United States withdrew its support of Air Vice-Marshal Ky and transferred it to some general, Air Vice-Marshal Ky would not last a week, lt is clear, also, that despite an enormous, almost unlimited supply of military equipment and advice and an enormous supply of civil aid, the Ky Government could not retain power in South Vietnam without the aid of hundreds of thousands of foreign troops.
We press the Government to take some initiative towards achieving peace in Vietnam. The Governor-General said in his Speech that the Government ‘will persist with its search for the attainment of a just and enduring peace’. The fact is that there is no evidence of any attempt by this Government to take any initiative for peace. Clearly the United States Government has done so. Other governments have made attempts to initiate peace moves. But despite questions asked in this Senate, the Government has given no evidence of any initiative taken by Australia towards achieving peace in this war which is destroying the people of Vietnam. The resignation of Senator Hannaford is an indication of the widespread concern that is felt, even in the Government, parties’ own ranks, by others who share his views.
The Speech said that the Government would continue its policies of vigorous economic growth and development of our resources, lt is plain - actually, it is plain from what has been said already in this debate - that there is no growth whatever in our economy. The latest available annual statistics show that the rate of growth declined to less than 1% in the year ended 30th June 1966. But that less than 1% does not reveal the picture fully because it is the increase over the previous year’s gross national product. The population is increasing at a rate of more than 1% - something of the order of 2i%. That means that we are actually going backwards; that the gross national product per capita is actually declining.
– The honourable senator will try to present the picture fairly in relation to the year that has just passed, will he not, or does he not intend to mention the circumstances?
– The more fairly the picture is presented, the worse it will appear for the Government. It may be fair to refer to how Senator Cotton quaintly expressed it in his very thoughtful speech. He said: . . it is true to say that Australia’s ability to grow is considerably greater than its present growth rate reflects’. If that is not an indication of mismanagement of the economy by the Government, I do not know what is. Here we have a continent wilh great resources, many of them untapped. We have tremendous potential in our secondary industries. We have an active and vigorous population. We have mineral resources that are sought by all the world. Yet we are actually going backwards and a Government senator fairly says that our growth rate is considerably less than our ability to grow. That means mismanagement. It means that the Government is failing to do its duty to the Australian people. lt is all very well for a government to win elections by saying that Australia is to bc invaded next week by some Asian power. It is all very well to win elections by saying falsely that the Australian Labor Party wants to break the American alliance, which was forged through the efforts of that Party, lt is dishonest to say that the Australian Government’s commitment in Vietnam was made under the SEATO or ANZUS treaties. All of these things can be said and the people’s minds diverted from what has been happening to the economy; but the fact remains that Australia is not going ahead and the economy is going backwards. The Government cannot get away from the fact that more than 80,000 people are unemployed. Is that an indication of proper management of the economy? The softness in the manufacturing industries, the slump that has been occurring in the building industry over most of the past year, the problems that beset secondary industries, the breakdown in health operations, the breakdown in education - all of these things indicate an abdication by this Government of its responsibilities.
The economic situation is so bad that the Government, even in order to maintain its international reserves and to carry on its activities, has to go periodically to borrow moneys from private corporations overseas. To do so it approaches the United States Securities and Exchange Commission like any other private borrower and files prospectuses setting out the true position of the economy. These reveal that the balance of current account over a lengthy period has been adverse to this country. Notwithstanding our tremendous mineral resources, notwithstanding our great capacity in secondary industry, the balance of current account over the past few years shows results such as this: minus $2m in 1962, minus $469m in 1963, minus S53m in 1964, minus S778m in 1965, minus S830m in 1966.
How long can this go on? How long can any community afford to operate at a loss? On our balance of current account we have been operating for most of two decades at a loss. How do we carry on? We carry on because of the inflow of capital. That is why this Government has to keep on talking about the necessity for capital inflow; our economy would collapse without it. But at. what price are we purchasing that capital? That capital is coming in and the ownership and control of our mineral resources is passing into other hands, ls that good for Australia? Is that proper management of our economy? Is it good for us that the ownership and control of our secondary industries should pass increasingly into foreign hands?
– What percentage?
– Various percentages have been mentioned in this chamber, the variation being due to the inadequacy of statistics kept by this Government but the position is apparent, if one turns to the mineral resources field. The oil industry is owned virtually entirely by foreigners; the iron ore industry likewise; the aluminium industry likewise. 1 could mention many others. Questions relating to this matter have been asked and answered in this Senate. 1 remind Senator Sim that the findings of economists such as Hunter and Wheelwright - never denied in this chamber - are that most of Australia’s major secondary industries are owned either entirely or substantially by foreign interests. There are a few exceptions such as the steel industry, the paper industry and the sugar industry, but for the most part they are owned by foreign interests. Is this satisfactory? Why is there not in the Governor-General’s Speech an indication that the Government will see to it that ownership and control of those resources and industries are returned to Australian hands? Instead there is a pathetic statement about the Government’s favouring some equity participation. It is sad to think that a supposedly sovereign Government would approach the problem of our natural resources and our industries in this way, by saying that some arrangement ought to be made so that we can have some equity participation.
How deplorable is the Government’s approach in its toleration of this great and increasing control of our industries. It is the worst failure of the Government over its period in office, on the domestic front. It is impossible to plan for the future of this country when our assets are owned and controlled by outsiders. This will mean increasing problems in the future in the raising of revenue, and increasing problems in the future when attempts are made to set out the priorities, as Senator Cotton quite rightly suggested. We must establish priorities. Those priorities must be established in consultation with the States and local authorities. They cannot be carried out effectively without the co-operation of those persons who have been allowed to own and control our industries.
– How would the Australian Labor Party exploit our mineral and oil industries?
– The honorable senator has asked a fair question. The Labor Party takes the view that at the very least the benefits and wealth of our mineral resources ought to be passing into the hands of the Australian public, both governmentally and privately; that this great wealth which is our heritage should not be allowed to benefit primarily people outside our community while we are allowed only the crumbs, ls it right that this tremendous wealth should be allowed to be exploited by people outside this country for their own interests and that we should be allowed only the drops as if we were beggars at the feast? That is the position of Australians, yet the problem is not faced in the Governor-
General’s Speech, which is the responsibility of the Government. It is a problem which will bring this Government down.
The case for priorities is really the pressing question which faces the State governments as well as the Federal Government. There must be a system of priorities. We must tackle the problems of redevelopment of the cities, of transport, a national overseas shipping line, utilisation of our water resources and re-afforestation. These and many other problems involve questions of priorities. They also involve questions of Federal and State financial relationships which have not been tackled. On the question of Federal and State financial relationships, the States are vested with extremely important responsibilities - in education, health and public works - yet they are all facing the same difficulty that despite the efforts they make they simply do not have enough money to carry out those responsibilities. lt is not said that the States are inefficient, nor that in some way if they were to cut down on waste they would be able to cope. We must recognise that the States as well as the Commonwealth should act in the interests of the Australian people and that the Commonwealth should not take the attitude that the States are in the position of foreigners asking for money, to be cut off with as little as possible. These important responsibilities must be carried out properly by the States with the means we must evolve and a financial system which gives them moneys on a basis better than from year to year. On that basis it is impossible for the States to plan adequately long term public works, or to engage in social services with long term implications. For that reason, they should receive finance on better than a year to year basis. The moneys which are provided must be adequate. The three important factors of the system are adequacy, certainty, and a long term basis. Unless they are achieved there is not a proper Federal and State financial relationship and it is time that the problem was tackled.
The Governor-General’s Speech should contain a reference to the problem. There is no indication that the Commonwealth Government understands and is ready to deal with the problem. The question of priorities also involves the Government in making up its own mind as to its role and policies other than the provision of finance to the Stales and other authorities. The Government has no policy in great matters such as water, fuel and utilisation of our mineral resources. In Australia, as was found to be the case in the United States of America, the most urgent need in the development of our water resources is for the Commonwealth Government to determine its own role and policies within the framework of a consistent national water policy, taking into account co-ordination with the activities of the States and local authorities so that our water resources may be developed in the interests of the nation as a whole, as well as in the interests of the States and local authorities. That role and those policies have never been defined. When questions are asked on this subject all honourable senators get is an answer stating the number of dams that have been built with moneys provided by the Commonwealth, or on other ad hoc activities. Some reference is made to the undoubtedly good work of the Australian Water Resources Council. But the Commonwealth must define its own role and policies.
As to fuel, the discovery of natural gas deposits has focussed attention again on the lack of a consistent national fuel policy. We have resources of coal, electricity and nuclear energy. We have natural gas, hydroelectric power and oil. Various interests are concerned with the development of each of those resources, and the consumers are dependent on the future role of the Government in their development. The Commonwealth Government has not made up its mind which way it considers that development should proceed. It is simply not good enough that we drift on and on with a tremendous overlapping and waste.
So far as it can, the Commonwealth ought to determine a national fuel policy in association with the States, local authorities, and private persons and corporations who are concerned. A lead should be given to the people of this nation. The fault in the Governor-General’s Speech is the absence of Government policy. In so many matters, it is not a question of the Government having imaginative policies. The policies are imaginary. They are nonexistent. There is no water policy, no fuel policy, no policy on the development of water front facilities, and no policy in so many fields where there must be a policy if we are to have growth. If we are to expend large sums upon defence or other activities, the national product must grow. It is not growing. We have not laid the proper foundation for growth. That foundation must be laid. The Government’s continuing failure to do this is contributing materially to the decline in the gross national product.
A distressing feature of our economy which is injurious to manufacturers, businessmen, wage earners, pensioners, governments and consumers alike, is the continuing price spiral. Even the most reactionary person no longer blames the wage earner or his union or the industrial authorities for this. The Commonwealth should take action in regard to tariffs and restrictive trade practices, lt should utilise its financial powers to deal with the price spiral. The Government deserves severe censure for its failure, over seven years, to bring into operation laws against restrictive practices despite general agreement that such practices are injurious to the economy and that the Federal Government, State governments, local governments and consumers need protection against them. The history of the trade practices legislation is appalling. All honourable senators are aware of it. We all know of the watering down of the Barwick proposals, the lengthy delays, and the attempted emasculation even of the watered down proposals which was prevented by action in the Senate. The legislation was passed in 1965, but it is not yet operative.
For over eighty years the United States of America has had laws to protect the governments and people of that country against these injurious practices. Such laws have been in existence for decades in other industrialised countries. Yet for some reason or other - perhaps because of forces which seem to bear upon the Government - we have experienced extraordinary delay in bringing into operation this elementary form of protection against practices which, beyond any question and by general agreement, are injurious to the economy and are playing a significant part in producing a price spiral.
The Government has many avenues of expenditure. It ought to pay some attention to cutting down the cost of government. If effective laws were introduced against trade practices and if vigorous steps were taken to see that those laws were administered, a useful means of cutting down the cost of government at the Federal, State and local levels would be available. Other means are available to the Government too. The total expenditure on health in Australia in the year ended June 1965 was about $920m. In theory the Government subsidises patients but in practice it makes tremendous payments to hospitals, doctors and chemists.
– J take it that the figure quoted by the honourable senator is the total, of Federal and State expenditure.
– It is the total of Federal, State and private expenditure. Each of those three sectors accounts for about one-third of the sum I mentioned, ls the Commonwealth receiving value for the money spent? No research has been conducted by the Commonwealth into health needs or into whether it is receiving value for the huge sums that are being spent. The Commonwealth ought to tackle this problem of rising health costs by planning in co-operation with the States. We can, and should, evolve a partnership which allows us to give the best possible service to all Australians at the lowest possible cost. Hospital costs are rising. Hospital finances are in a mess. Fees are rising. This in turn means higher benefit premiums. All this is happening without proper scrutiny and evaluation.
The Senate could well consider the establishment of a committee on terms similar to those of a commission which was set up in Canada - that is, we should have a committee to inquire into and report upon existing facilities, the future needs for health services for the people of Australia and the resources required to provide such services, and to recommend measures which, consistent with the constitutional division of legislative powers in Australia, the committee believes would ensure that the best possible health care was available to all Australians. 1 come now to the field of education. On the one hand, the teachers of Australia through their organisations are complaining about a crisis in education. The universities and the State Premiers are doing likewise. Schools are overcrowded and there is a lack of facilities. There is a breakdown in education. On the other hand, the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) stoutly declares that there is no crisis in education but that we have the best of all possible worlds. We in Australia will suffer unless the financial provision for education is greatly enlarged and unless more attention is paid not only to the number of teachers but also to the content and relevance of the curricula. Our educational standards have not been subjected to the analysis and evaluation that are necessary if Australia is to play ils part in the modern world.
This Government seems to act like a stunned rabbit in the face of technological changes that are occurring elsewhere in the world. We have not taken advantage of these changes but are going along with an industrial system which in many ways is creaking and outmoded and which calls for very much more attention than it has been given. Our industrial system needs to be closely looked at in an atmosphere which is not obscured by some temporary industrial trouble, lt ought to be considered in an atmosphere of calm so that outmoded provisions and worn out procedures may be stripped away and so that we may be given a system which is better fitted to deal with the problems that will confront us in the very near future.
– Does the honourable senator mean the arbitral system or the industrial system?
– I mean the arbitral system. The honourable senator’s point is well taken. The industrialists of Australia themselves need to face up to the technological changes which are about to hit us and hit us hard. The Government is failing to see to it that industry prepares for those changes. We are living in a world in which what is going to count is not. so much manpower as the way in which that manpower is organised. We are going to need efficiency in industry in a way in which we have never needed it before. All agree that primary industries in Australia are important as providing export income, but if we are to sustain a great population in Australia, we must also have efficient secondary industries. There is no hint through this
Governor-General’s Speech of the realities of growth and power in the modern world. In relation to defence, the acquisition of what the Government terms military hardware is no answer to the problems of defence and security in the modern world. So long as international organisations are ineffective and nations must see to their own security we must act in accordance with the realities of power. That does not consist in the purchasing of military equipment from overseas.
In the modern world power depends on population and industrial strength. We have not gone through two great world wars without having that lesson forced upon us. lt is not how many soldiers you have. It is not the size of the navy and army that you may have, as in Indonesia. What is important is that you have population and industrial efficiency. We need to have great and efficient secondary industries. We must build these up. We must welcome the advances in technology and automation. All of these go towards making an efficient community. Building up our secondary industries means that we can support a growing population. Without that it is so much waste to try to secure our future by purchasing military equipment from overseas. No country has ever been able to build its security or to maintain its strength in this manner. We ought to be seeing to it that our strength is based on the foundations of increasing population and increasing industrial efficiency.
Mr Deputy President, there are many matters in this Speech which require attention and will receive attention from other members of the Opposition who will speak in this debate. I should like to say now that we of the Opposition are content to accept those proposals advanced by this Government which are in the interests of the nation. We are not here to oppose for the sake of opposition. We believe that democracy is founded on the fundamental principle that the majority rules. But we believe that the function of the minority is equally fundamental. Essential to the effective working of democracy is a vigorous and alert Opposition. This is our function for the rest of this Parliament. We intend to and we will constitute ourselves a vigorous, determined and public spirited Opposition.
– 1 rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply so ably proposed by Senator Cotton and ably supported by the honourable senator from the Australian Country Party. This motion expresses loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and thanks to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for coming to the Parliament to deliver the Speech that he delivered yesterday. I personally would like to express my gratitude to His Excellency. He showed an erudite mind and a poised manner and he read the Speech in a clear, resonant voice. In this modern age with television facilities, his performance contributed to a splendid reception for countless thousands of television viewers throughout the nation. I thought it was very good that in the Senate yesterday there were the three principal arms of authority. There was Her Majesty’s representative in His Excellency the Governor-General. There were the parliamentary representatives of the people in the senators and members of the House of Representatives. And there were the members of the judiciary - the High Court of Australia - here in their robes and gowns. I thought it was most fitting that the three arms of authority in this nation should be present and should be seen by countless thousands of viewers. I commend for future occasions the joining together of the three arms of authority in this nation. The viewers would have seen representatives of foreign nations which have diplomats here in Canberra, because they were most enthusiastic to be present yesterday. So it was a great occasion.
I should like to congratulate Senator Murphy on being elected Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. The speech that he has just delivered was a worthy one for the Opposition but I should like quickly to counter a number of matters that he raised. I would suggest to him that when he deplored the lack of economic growth he took too short a period of comparison. Australia has been subjected to a tremendous drought in at least two or three large areas in the past two years. The consequent lack of production by primary industries has a very large effect on the Australian economy generally. I should like to cite in contradiction to the figure that he cited some growth statistics that are undeniable. I have taken a long period for one of my comparisons, from 1948-49 to 1965-66, and also the period between January last year and January this year. The gross national product rose from $4,034m in 1948-49 to $18,3 14m in 1965-66. Deposits in savings banks rose from $ 1,534m to $5,307m.
– They are all inflationary figures; they do not mean a thing.
– These are figures expressed in dollars showing the rise from 1948-49 to 1965-66. 1 would also like to quote some figures relating to Australian production between January 1966 and January 1967. These figures deal with specific products. They refer to percentage rise or percentage fall. In the twelve months period January 1966 to January 1967 the production of tinplate rose by 109%; of electricity by 10%; of sulphuric acid, which is important in the manufacture of superphosphate, by 20.8%; of cars and station wagons by 53%; of trucks by 34%; of refrigerators by 1S%, and radio sets by 46%. In the short term, the production of these important items has shown a considerable rise. Of course, over the long term, despite the fact that inflation has occurred in the value of money, the actual figures relating to the gross national product show an enormous rise. I would say that Senator Murphy was not able to convince the Senate that the economy is slipping back.
Senator Murphy also referred to a grandiose scheme for priorities. Of course, we operate under a Federal system in which the Commonwealth has certain defined responsibilities and the States have the residue. If we as a Commonwealth lay down priorities in the fields of water, fuel, mineral resources and so on, we then cease to be a Federation; we become a unitary state. I suggest that before Senator Murphy’s ideas could be implemented, a referendum would have to be submitted to the people and the people would have to approve of the Commonwealth assuming the great powers and responsibilities that Senator Murphy would like it to assume.
By and large I was very interested in Senator Murphy’s remarks. I want to finalise my discussion of his speech by referring to the point he made that we, as a nation, are neglecting education. Of course you could say that the most sophisticated nation in the world was not doing enough in education, but by comparison with other countries I think that Australia is doing remarkably well. According to the report of the Vernon Committee of Economic Enquiry, 1 understand, 77% of Australians in the five to nineteen year age group are at school. This is substantially the same percentage as in Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In the number of Australians at school between five and nineteen years of age we are equal to these other sophisticated nations. Enrolments for tertiary education per 100,000 of population are higher in Australia than in Canada, New Zealand or the United Kingdom although lower than in the United States. I think these figures suggest that Australia is not lagging to any great extent behind the leading nations of the world.
The Governor-General’s Speech set out the course of action which the Government proposes in the future generally in the country and more particularly by legislation to be introduced into the Parliament. I consider that by and large a very satisfactory plan is set out in the Speech. However, I desire to direct attention this afternoon to a question that has been occupying my mind very considerably. It was not actually adverted to in the Speech. Generally, the Governor-General’s Speech referred to Australia’s expanding role in the international community. He pointed out that we are becoming more and more interested in international affairs, that we are establishing more and more diplomatic missions abroad and by the same corollary there are more and more diplomatic missions being established in Australia.
I desire to focus attention on the part of the world immediately to the east and north-east of Australia. These days it is very much the fashion to devote out attention to the north-west - to Asia - but I desire to refer to some matters that are happening in the Pacific, that is in the area to the east and north-east of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) recently visited New Zealand. Obviously he talked with the Prime Minister of New Zealand on the question of Vietnam where both New Zealand and Australian troops are engaged. This week the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr
McEwen) will go to New Zealand to discuss the question of trade under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. 1 welcome very much the close liaison that has developed between Australia and New Zealand.
I understand that before this visit of the Prime Minister, it is many years since an Australian Prime Minister has visited New Zealand for official discussions with the Prime Minister of New Zealand. 1 hope that these visits to New Zealand will become more frequent. At the close of one of the discussions the Australian Prime Minister mentioned that he hoped he would be able to visit some of New Zealand’s Territories in the Pacific with the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr Holyoake. I am most hopeful that Australia and New Zealand, by virtue of visits by their Prime Ministers, will look into the very important questions that are occurring in the Pacific at the present time.
This leads me to mention the fact that in today’s ‘Australian’ there appears a most interesting article by Christopher Forsyth on the question, .T Australia ready to lead the islands?’ We should also ask: are Australia and New Zealand ready to lead the islands? I thought 1 would discuss some of the problems of these islands as I have observed them from visiting them and reading about them. I will take the islands south of the equator. We in Australia are interested in (he large island of Papua and New Guinea which of course includes the island of Bougainville. East of Bougainville is the British Solomon Islands Protectorate which is spread over 800 or 900 miles of sea. About 800 miles north of the British Solomon Islands is the Australian Territory of Nauru. It is a small island about eight or ten miles long by two or three miles wide. It is of vast strategic and commercial importance to us in Australia. We have the responsibility of administering it, for which we are responsible to the United Nations. Further to the east of Nauru lies the Gilbert and Ellice Islands colony, which belongs to the United Kingdom. It is the largest colony of sea, as it were, in the world. There are a few square miles of land spread over many thousands of square miles of sea. Coming nearer to Australia, there is the island of New Caledonia, nine hundred miles to the east. This is a territory of France with a population of about eighty thousand. About forty thousand are French and the rest are New Caledonians.
Then slightly to the north of New Caledonia we find the New Hebrides, a condominium ruled by Great Britain and France together. Further to the east is the island of Fiji where half a million people live. About three hundred thousand of them are of Indian extraction and about two hundred and fifty thousand are of native Fijian extraction. East of Fiji are the Cook Islands, Tonga and the independent nation of Western Samoa, with American Samoa a few miles away. Still further to the east are the French Polynesian Islands of which Tahiti is the most important. In this vast area of sea there are all these small and not so small pockets of population. I would say that, there are about three million people living there. Mainly they are Melanesian although some are Polynesian. There are two million in Papua and New Guinea, about half a million in Fiji and half a million in the rest of the area.
I put it to the Senate that very little interest is taken by the Australian Parliament in these islands, with their different peoples living in different conditions. These peoples have been governed by different European powers over the years and the islands they inhabit are only a few hours flight from Australia. Jet planes now fly to most of them. I should like the Government to give close consideration to its responsibility to give leadership to this area.
The big question in the minds of everyone living in the area is whether Great Britain intends to withdraw its influence from these islands. As I have said, the British Solomon Islands Protectorate is, as it were, a colony of the United Kingdom. Fiji and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands are also colonies. The British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs, Mr Herbert Bowden, was in the Senate this afternoon. No doubt he will discuss this question with the Australian Government, lt would be presumptuous of me to suggest what the outcome of these discussions might be but I make these observations because I feel that even though the British may not be withdrawing immediately, the proximity of these islands to Australia will loom largely in their legislatures and in the minds of those charged with their administration.
In Africa and other parts of the world, Great Britain is creating conditions under which the indigenous population can take a greater interest in their own affairs. For example when I was in the British Solomon Islands, 1 was interested and pleased to see the Legislative Council in action. There were more elected members of the Legislative Council than ever before and preparations were being made for a further election at which no doubt still more indigenous members will be elected. In these islands, the United Kingdom Government is carrying out a policy of development. It is not what one would call a crash programme but there is a broadcasting system and persons have been seconded from the British Broadcasting Commission to assist with it. The British Government has opened a new secondary school at Honiara. There are schools at other places. Britain has developed mineral exploration and has inaugurated forestry control, it has made a few miles of road and put down a very good port at Honiara. But the rate of development is not nearly as fast as that proceeding in Papua and New Guinea. While one could not say that the British are neglecting this area, it can be said honestly that the tempo of development is not in keeping with that in other parts of the Pacific such as New Caledonia or Papua and New Guinea.
I wonder whether the Australian Government could give some thought to extending its educational assistance in the islands. I understand that about $100,000 has been set aside for the Australian South Pacific technical assistance plan. Some money has already gone to Fiji and I should like to see some technical assistance given also to the British Solomon Islands Protectorate area.
At present travel there through Papua and New Guinea is rather slow. There is a DC3 aircraft one week and an F27 the next. The area is only eight hundred miles from Queensland. I should like to see a direct air service from Brisbane or Townsville. The importance of the Australian Territory of Nauru warrants the upgrading of the airport there and Honiara could be a half-way stopping place between the Australian mainland and Nauru.
I am very- keen to see further development of trade between the British Solomon Islands and Australia. Trade is increasing and it is a pity that Australia is not getting a bigger share. An improvement in civil aviation communications by way of a direct air service would greatly improve Australia’s image in that area. I understand that the Australian Government is providing places in Sydney for some of the students from secondary schools there who require further training. I think this is very much appreciated and I would like to see the scheme extended. These people - and there are about 120,000 of them - are next door neighbours to Papua and New Guinea.
The British have indicated in general statements over the years that they are not terribly interested any further in this area. I think that the Australian Government could very well take more interest in the British Solomon Islands protectorate which is so near to Australia. When war broke out just over twenty-five years ago this area was absolutely vital. The Japanese and the Americans fought terrific battles there for the control of airfields because they realised that they could so easily bomb Australia from Honiara, or Guadalcanal as it was then known because Honiara had not been built in those days. 1 am putting the case that we should look, not so much east as north-east, strategically, commercially and culturally, when we consider whether we are going to provide leadership in the Pacific. Indications are that Mr Holt and Mr Holyoake are very interested in visiting at least the New Zealand Territories.
I also would like to mention the importance of another island which is only 900 miles from Australia. I refer to the island of New Caledonia of which Noumea is the capital. This is a territory of France. The island sends a senator and a deputy to Paris to represent it in the French Parliament. At present there is a massive Government building programme going on in the area. France has a large number of troops in the area - about 4,000 - under the command of a major-general. She has three or four ships of the French Navy, under the control of an admiral, stationed there. I would like to see greater contact between Australia and New Caledonia. I believe that tourism both ways could be very important. I think that the people of New Caledonia, who are extraordinarily well to do, by and large - thanks to the large nickel project there - would be very interested in coming to Australia for vacations and for (he education of their children. 1 think that increased cultural exchanges could take place. I suggest to the Government that in the creation of this new tourist activity mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech it seriously consider the relationship of tourist activity each way between Noumea and Australia.
I turn now to another series of islands in the Pacific which are to the north of New Caledonia - the New Hebrides. The New Hebrides, of course, are a condominium ruled by Britain and France. In the post office there is a Frenchman and a Britisher. In the police station there is a French police officer at one end and a British police officer at the other. Maybe there is duplication but from my observation while I was there the arrangement was working extraordinarily well. There are a good many Australians there. There are teachers, doctors and missionaries and I met an Australian dentist. There are people there with Burns Philp & Co. Ltd. There are others working in education. Generally, they would like closer contact with Australia. They have very close contact with the French. There are visits by the French Navy between Tahiti and Noumea. But the people there never seem to see any sign of Australia, although they are so close to us and there are so many Australians there. They use Australian currency and there is an agency of the Commonwealth Bank but there seems never to have been a visit by an Australian Minister. lt may be difficult for the Prime Minister and Cabinet members to familiarise themselves with these very important areas which are so near to Australia by visiting them, but I submit that the Government should consider seriously sending a party of members of Parliament to visit them. The Government has done a splendid job over the last three or four years in sending groups of parliamentarians to South East Asia, South America, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but I would think it is far more important that it should send parliamentarians to these near places. These people are all going to look towards Australia. Why, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has a magnificent record in this area. Its overseas programme is picked up there. As a matter of fact, in the evenings you can pick up the broadcast band of the ABC. I was able to listen to Senator Wright speaking in Parliament by means of n radio that cost me £4 13s in the New Hebrides, The radio communication between Australia and these islands is excellent at certain times of the evening. On the short wave it is excellent at all times. With Australian affairs looming so high in their listening, with their use of Australian currency, and because of their European population - their teachers, missionaries and doctors - it seems a great pity that the Australian Government has not yet been able to take a greater interest in these areas. 1 want to mention Fiji because the Australian Government has a trade commissioner at Fiji. 1 think it is high time that we expanded our office in Fiji by appointing a high commissioner. 1 think there should be a deputy commissioner there also. I say that because it is physically impossible for the commissioner in Fiji to do all the things that are expected of him and all the things that he ought to be doing. Fiji is the centre for the whole area comprising Samoa and Tonga on one side, the NZ territories to the south, the American territories, and the British and French territories. This commissioner can make only one or two trips a year to the areas that he is supposed to represent and carry on at the same time a busy office for migration and trade matters. It should be realised that the largest concerns in Fiji are Australian companies.
I suggest that the Australian Government could do these two things: Arrange a delegation of members of the Australian Parliament to visit these areas; and upgrade the office in Suva, Fiji, so that there can be closer liaison and closer service rendered to the many hundreds of Australians, young, vigorous and courageous people, who are living in these islands. I believe the time is coming, and coming fast, when Australia will have to look to its eastern flank as well as to its north-western flank, as it is doing at the moment. It should be remembered that during the last World War the Japanese built bases on the Island of Santo in the New Hebrides. The Americans also built tremendous aerodromes. They are there to this day although a little overgrown. I think the Australian Government should have far greater and closer contact than ever before with these areas which are so close to us and where so many Australians live. At the moment, in my opinion, they are not adequately represented by the small service that we are providing at present - a consul in Noumea and a commissioner in Suva. The chances of developing trade between Australia and these islands are great. One has only to go there to see that. All in all, I support the motion moved by Senator Cotton and seconded by Senator Webster. I conclude by thanking His Excellency for coming to the Senate and making the Speech that he made yesterday.
– In opening my remarks on the motion which is now before the chamber and which was moved by Senator Cotton and seconded by Senator Webster, 1 compliment Senator Murphy on the attacking and full-blooded speech that he delivered this afternoon in his new role as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. The pattern that he set in that speech will probably be followed by the Opposition over the next few months. If it is an indication of the pattern that will be followed, then the Government will be very well aware that there is an Opposition - a very live Opposition - in this chamber.
It afforded me quite an amount of pleasure to sit in this chamber yesterday and hear a Governor-General’s Speech delivered by an Australian. This is the first occasion on which I have had the opportunity to sit in this chamber and hear an Australian-born Governor-General speak to the Parliament of the Commonwealth. This afforded me great pleasure because the policy of the party that I represent is to have Australian-born Governors-General whenever possible. I was particularly interested in Senator Webster’s remarks when he called the attention of honourable senators to the fact that His Excellency is the third Australian-born GovernorGeneral.
Naturally, one of the things that are uppermost in the minds of most Tasmanians today is the tragic bush fires that swept through southern Tasmania a fortnight ago. I was pleased to note that some mention of this tragedy was made in the Governor-General’s Speech. I was also pleased to bear Senator Cotton refer to it. This is an occasion on which people not only over the whole of Australia but also ;n several other parts of the world have recognised Tasmania and the disaster that has occurred to it. I believe that I express the feelings of all Tasmanians when I say that we appreciate the assistance that has been given to us following this calamity. We have received great assistance not only in hard, cold cash but also in the form of clothing, food and those kinds of things. I am particularly happy to note that the Federal Government has come to the party, up to a point ait least. It is assisting the Tasmanian Government. The co-operation between the State Labour Government and the Federal Liberal-Country Party Government is proving and will prove of great help to the people of Tasmania over the next few months during which we will be engaged in the rehabilitation of the people of the area affected.
One of the worst features of this disaster is the long term effects which it may have on the economy of Tasmania. I am sure that those effects will cause concern not only to the Tasmanian Government but also to the Federal Government, of Whatever political colour it may be at any given time. Because of the destruction of rural and secondary industries, the present Federal Government might give consideration to lifting sales, tax, particularly on building materials, farm machinery and similar equipment that has been destroyed by fire.
– Is there any sales tax on farm machinery?
– I think sales tax may be payable on some types of farm machinery. I am not sure of that. If it is, 1 would like the Government to consider lifting it in respect of things that are needed to restore the economy of the island and to assist people to build new homes. I am not suggesting that the sales tax on motor cars should be lifted, because for many people they are somewhat of a luxury. I pay a compliment to the Tasmanian Government on the attitude that it is taking to the replacement of homes that have been lost by fire. Most of us are aware that the Government has agreed to provide homes up to the standard of the State Housing Department homes. If a person wants a home of a higher standard than that, he will have to make up the difference between the cost of his home and that of a State Housing Department home.
Another way in which the Federal Government could assist Tasmania generally and southern Tasmania particularly in rela-tion to this disaster is by giving favourable consideration to the establishment of a shipbuilding industry in the area to provide work for a number of the people who have lost their means of livelihood. I suggest that the Government has a very good look at this suggestion. A number of people may have to seek employment in another industry because of the destruction of their farms or orchards. If these things are done, they will greatly assist Tasmania and Tasmanians along the road to recovery. One had to be there to have any appreciation at all of the disaster that occurred. Already there have been fifty-nine deaths as a result of these fires. The death roll may go even higher than that. I am sure that the sympathy of everybody in Australia and many other parts of the world goes out to the people who were bereaved as a result of the fires.
Senator Laught referred to education and endeavoured to destroy the arguments advanced by Senator Murphy, but he did not go to any great depths; he merely skimmed over the issue. He mentioned the position which exists in Australia in relation *o enrolments and that kind of thing but he did not go into the economics of the subject. He did not mention the percentage of Australia’s gross national product which is spent on education nor did he compare that with the percentage spent by other countries. That, 1 believe, is the approach one must make to this very important issue. I think we all realise that education is one of the greatest problems facing the community. Owing to the technological changes which are occurring in our way of life we must of necessity have great regard to educational standards and endeavour to lift the education of our people to the highest possible point.
When we compare the percentage of our gross national product that we spend on education with that spent by other countries we do not show up particularly well. For instance, in 1966 the United States spent 3.6% of its gross national product on education, the Netherlands spent 3.5% and Canada and Sweden 3.4%. Italy and the Soviet Union spent 3.2% of their gross national product on education, the United Kingdom spent 3%, Norway 2.8% and Austria and France 2.7%. Then we come to Belgium which spent 2.6% of its gross national product on education and Denmark, Ireland and Switzerland which spend 2.5%. However Australia spent only 2.4%. The figures 1 have cited indicate in far more specific terms than Senator Laught used the amount of money spent on the education system in Australia. 1 recognise that the Government has done quite a lot in this field over the past few years but I do not think that it has done sufficient to meet our requirements. It will be recalled that for a number of years the Australian Labor Party has endeavoured to prevail upon the Government to have greater regard for the educational requirements of our young people. We have advocated constantly the setting up of a Federal ministry of education which would cover also fields of science and technology. Although the Government has gone part o£ the way towards that objective it has not as yet seen fit to establish a ministry of education to cover the field as completely as we would like to see it covered. The Australian Labor Party would also like to see the recommendations contained in the Martin report on education implemented fully, particularly as they relate to teacher training.
The Governor-General mentioned that in this financial year the Government will spend more than SI 50m on education of which over $80m will be in the form of special grants to the States, but this will not cover adequately the aspects that we of the Opposition would like to see covered.
Let me say also that more facilities should be made available for the education of apprentices. This is a subject which has caused me considerable concern over a lengthy period. Is the potential apprentice being given sufficient inducement to enter industry? Probably one of the greatest needs in this sphere is that the level of wages paid to apprentices should be lifted. The wages at present are totally inadequate and until the arbitration tribunals or the government of the day lift the wage level of apprentices we will remain short of tradesmen because the apprentice of today is the tradesman of tomorrow. If we do not get sufficient apprentices into our workshops to learn a given trade we will not have sufficient journeymen to continue our industrial expansion. We will always be faced with the problem of endeavouring to import journeymen and tradesmen from other countries to teach our own apprentices how to do the job. I appeal to the Government to endeavour to work out some scheme whereby apprentices will receive greater remuneration and higher education in their particular field. If the Government does that I believe we will overcome our present shortage of journeymen.
There are many reasons why boys will not undertake apprenticeships. One is that a boy of eighteen can go into a factory and command the adult wage and there are not many boys, or girls for that matter, who are prepared to undertake an apprenticeship knowing full well that at eighteen years of age they will receive only 40% or 45% of the adult wage. 1 suppose from the short term view it is only common sense for youngsters to look at the matter in this way but it is obvious that in the long term it does not pay.
Another matter I want to mention is the taxation zone allowance applicable to the west coast of Tasmania. I have raised this matter on many occasions and I know it exercises the minds of many Tasmanian senators and of the honourable member for Braddon, Mr Ron Davies, in another place. Recently 1 made another tour of that part of Tasmania and learned that this is a burning question with the people living there. The rainfall in the area is upwards of J 00 inches a year. In some years the annual rainfall reaches even 120 inches, lt is not hard to realise what a disadvantage such a climate is to people working outside. The employers in the area supply waterproof clothing but anybody who has worked in that apparel understands the discomforture it involves. I ask the Government to give consideration to increasing the taxation zone allowance for this area. The area involved is not large, it starts at about the Hellyer Gorge on the north-west coast and takes in Waratah, Zeehan, Strahan and Queenstown and extends to the South West Cape.
– How many people are involved?
– I am afraid I cannot answer that question. To the best of my knowledge, the population of that area has not been assessed. However, I can say that it is not a very large population and to increase the zone allowance would not entail a great loss of revenue by the Government. The amount involved can be seen by comparing the allowances from zone A and zone B. For zone A the allowance is S540, plus one-half of the total deductions allowable on assessment for dependants and housekeeper. For zone B the allowance is $90 plus one-twelfth of the total deductions allowable on assessment for dependants and housekeeper. To grant the higher zone allowance would make a considerable difference to the people living in the area and would help to compensate for the discomfort they experience.
One of the disadvantages of living on the west coast of Tasmania is that certain areas cannot receive television transmission. This amenity is enjoyed by people living in areas regarded as being more acceptable. In some parts of the area along the west coast the people are unable to watch television programmes in their own homes. As a guess, I would say that 90% of Tasmanians can enjoy reasonable television reception. The other 10% of the population, including the people in the area to which 1 am referring, cannot receive television programmes. It has been suggested that the television stations will boost their power and will supply programmes in some sections which are not yet receiving television, but that stage has not been reached yet. I think the Government should give consideration to bringing this area into the category of zone A allowances for income tax purposes.
I wish now to refer to immigration, a subject of great importance to Australia. Members of the Opposition appreciate as much as Government supporters the importance of immigration to Australia. Our immigration policy can be traced clearly to a Labor Government, and to Mr Arthur Calwell, former leader of the Australian Labor Party. When the displaced persons scheme was first brought into operation Mr Calwell was Minister for Immigration. It is true that Australia had an immigration policy before that time, but
I believe that the Honourable Arthur Calwell created the immigration policy that has been carried on by this Government. I do nol wish to take any credit away from the Government. However, it has now been made easier for Asians to enter Australia. Irrespective of whether we agree with that policy, it exists and we must endeavour to have a reasonable and equitable scheme of entry for Asians.
A particular case has come to my notice. It concerns a man born in China who came to Australia on an entry permit. His mother and father also came to Australia but they have since become naturalised. The man’s brother and nephews have also become naturalised. The man is unable to become naturalised because he has not reached a sufficiently high educational standard. For that reason, he is unable to bring his wife and child from Hong Kong to Australia. If Asians are to be permitted to enter Australia under a particular scheme, why should it not operate on a family basis? If one partner of a union is permitted to enter Australia, I feel that it is worth while the Government’s considering the possibility of admitting family units.
The Governor-General in his Speech referred to national servicemen and said that by June of this year Army strength would reach 40,000. I approve of that. However, while the build-up of our military forces for overseas service continues, it seems to mc that the Government is neglecting the Citizen Military Forces. For two years in succession - in 1966 and 1967 - members of the CMF have complained to mc that they have not been able to receive payment for their half year’s service until after the new year period. These chaps give up their time and recreation and in some cases lose financially because of their service in the Citizen Military Forces. At the end of the year they look forward to payment of a few shillings which will tide them over the holiday period, but they cannot get that payment until some time in January. Whether that state of affairs exists throughout Australia I do not know. It certainly exists in Tasmania.
I took this matter up with the Minister for the Army (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in 1966 and I was told that it would not occur again. I was given all the assurances under the sun that the matter would be rectified.
However in January of this year I again had occasion to lake the matter up with the Minister. He replied saying that the matter would be investigated and that I would be notified accordingly. We are now almost at the end of February, but 1 have not had so much as a scratch of a pen from him. If that is the way in which the Government is treating the CMF, I am rather surprised that it is able to get persons interested in becoming members of the CMF. I note that my time has expired. I leave the matter there.
– 1 support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, which was ably proposed by Senator Cotton and seconded by Senator Webster. Together with other honourable senators, 1 desire to express loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank His Excellency for the Speech which he was pleased to deliver. It might be of interest to note that we have had only three Australian GovernorsGeneral. It has been my privilege to hear two of them deliver a Speech from the dais in this chamber. The first was Mr McKell who, in my opinion, performed his duty with great dignity. Yesterday it was a greater pleasure, if that were possible, to see Lord Casey, who is well known and respected throughout Australia and the world, come here as the representative of the Queen and open the Twenty-sixth Parliament. Those of us who witnessed the scene must agree that it was a wonderful opening, lt is with great, pleasure that I express the warmest of feelings to His Excellency for delivering the Speech.
Since we were here on the last occasion several changes have occurred on the Opposition side. 1 tender congratulations to the new Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and the new Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). I hope that they will remain in those offices for quite a long time. I should like to express to Senator Willesee my deep appreciation of the manner in which he carried out his duties as Leader of the Opposition following the retirement of Senator McKenna from that office. Senator McKenna carried out his duties as Leader with the greatest dignity that it is possible for a man to display. In following Senator McKenna, in my opinion Senator Willesee did an extraordinarily good job. Indeed, 1 was surprised at how well he acquitted himself. Senator Willesee and I have had our little differences of opinion, but I must commend him for the excellent way in which he acquitted himself.
As I indicated earlier, I have been present at many openings of Parliament. As the recent opening might be the last that I shall be privileged to attend either as a visitor or as a senator - certainly as a senator - let me dwell on some matters that have been of interest to me in my lifetime. My mind goes back to 1 1th November 19 IS when an armistice was agreed to between the German nation on the one hand and the French, British and Italian nations on the other hand. Military victory was achieved mainly as a result of the efforts of Great Britain, France, America and italy. But the defeated nations were not brought into the peace talks. It was perhaps the first time in European history that defeated nations were not brought into such talks. That had a vital bearing on the future of Europe and Asia.
Early in .1.919 I was privileged to hear many discussions by noted naval, military and air force personnel about what the future might hold for the world if another great armed conflict, in which America would become involved, occurred in Europe and Asia. Today the prophetic words uttered by an Australian admiral ring as crystal clear as they did nearly fifty years ago. That officer foretold the pattern of what became World War II. He foretold its effect upon Australia. He said that Japan would enter the Asian mainland and would use what we now call Indonesia and IndoChina to outflank Australia. He stressed the possible effects of the alliance of European manufacturing knowhow and Asian manpower. 1 have not forgotten these things. Ho Chi Minh is now using against Australia a military offensive similar to that which the Japanese used between 1941 and 1945. We have in Australia people who are deliberately blind to this fact.
We must remember that Australia is a gem in the Pacific. In this area time seems to stand still. The admiral whom I mentioned thought that within perhaps fifty years Asia, a slumbering giant, would begin to assert its massive latent power. He said that Australia would have to live with this great power whether it be in the form of an alliance between China, India and Japan or with each entity as a single mighty race. In other words, he expressed the thought that we had to learn to live with and respect these nations. We have always turned our eyes to Europe, but within the last twenty years the force of circumstances has compelled us to realise that our future security is bound up with every event that occurs in Asia. We must have peace, with the sword being fashioned into a ploughshare. In other words, we must co-operate with our neighbours. How are we to do this? We Australians are small in number. But we possess great attributes from which peace may flow. Our troops are famed not only for their fighting qualities but also for their ability to make friends. My experience has been that Australian troops have a happy knack of making friends and of gaining the confidence of people with whom they mingle.
I look back to the days of 1918 when the Fifth Army was routed and there was nothing between the French and the British but a bare handful of Australians. The French people were in flight. Anyone who has never seen people in flight, who has never seen a country invaded, who does not know what this means to his country, is lucky. I saw the horror and terror of those people and never in all my life was so pleased as when the French people stepped aside when they saw the Australians, allowed us to go through and went back to their homes because they believed they were safe. They were safe in their belief in the Australians. The power that the Australian has, no matter where he is, is to make friends. That is one of the great attributes that we have in our people. One of the greatest assets of our soldiers in Vietnam is their power to make friends, to show we are friendly.
People ask why we are in Vietnam and what we are doing. I say that these people should go there and see what the Australians are doing. I am proud of them. They are carrying our Australian banner of peace and co-operation. Let us here support them. I shall have something more to say about that in a few minutes. These qualities will break down much of the Asian dogmatism. I fervently hope that our Asian neighbours will gain confidence in our good (mentions. Can anyone doubt the good intentions of the Australian people? Let the Asians be ready and willing to co-operate with us in our efforts to achieve peace and goodwill. We need the teaching of Asian languages in our educational institutions. This is something for which 1 have implored for ages. We should throw away our Latin and throw away our Greek. I did not know very much Greek but once upon a time 1 did know a good deal about Latin. Honourable senators opposite would never believe it but 1 did, and I have asked myself whether it would not have been better had 1 known something of Asian languages. 1 recall that when Archie Cameron, formerly Speaker of. the House of Representatives, came back from World War I. although he was a farmer who had had, perhaps, no chance of obtaining an education, he became a student of Japanese. His services were of inestimable value as an interpreter to the Army during World War II. But I did not have enough brains or force of character to do this. 1 want our education authorities to get busy and teach Asian languages so that we may talk to the people in Asia. When we were in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. I learned a few things because I had a boy that spoke French fluently and also spoke the native tongue. When one mingles with the ordinary people - not with the heads of State - and knows that he is getting over to them what he wants to ask them and that their answers are interpreted correctly, he has an idea of what they are talking about. Whilst we were in the storm centres Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand recently, I sensed that the people - I speak of the ordinary citizens - wanted peace, a higher living standard, a voice in who should govern them, and political power held not by only a few people.
Marshal Ky brings hope in this regard to the people of South Vietnam. This is something that we want. Yet there are people who criticise him and organise demonstrations against him. As democrats, they say that they want democracy. In spite of what honourable senators opposite say. they do not know much about it. This man, the hope of democracy, came to Australia. He was the man who promised land reform. When he came before us, a man who was trying to bring about our hopes and aspirations, what did honourable sena tors opposite do? They organised marches against him. What could be more ridiculous than their attitude? Yet they say that they are democrats. They fought an election just recently and they picked their own battleground. Senator Cohen and Senator Murphy said: ‘Let us have an election on this. We will fight you on this. We will choose our weapons. We will cut you to ribbons. You will not be decimated, because that would mean a loss of one in tcn; you will be annihilated.’ Strange how things turn out, even with the best laid schemes. It was not our side that was decimated. The people spoke. If honourable senators opposite are democrats, they must recognise that.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
- Mr President, I repeat that whilst 1 was in the storm centres of Laos, Cambodia and Thailand recently I sensed that the ordinary people - and I emphasise ‘ordinary people’ - wanted peace, a better education and a higher living standard. They wanted a voice as to who should govern them. Political power must not be held by a few people. I repeat that Marshal Ky brings hope in this regard to the people of South Vietnam. He brought about a constituent assembly to draft democratic reforms. At Honolulu he promised land reform and he is carrying out that promise.
All who met or saw Marshal Ky during his visit to Australia were impressed by his sincerity. Whether one met him in person or saw him on television, he did not look like a dictator. Here is one man who has come from the people - I will have a little more to say about this later on - and who gives hope to these people. Yet the Opposition criticises him. There were organised marches against him, and these demonstrations were organised by people in very high places. I never dreamed that such disgraceful things would happen in a democratic country. Marshal Ky is a man who is dedicated to the task of bringing to these people in South Vietnam the very things that we want them to have.
The terrors of war are not as great as the terrors of hunger, poverty, disease or lack of education. Three out of five people in the world face these terrors. Australian people resist Communism because it tries, by force and intrigue, to bring about a society wilh but one ideology. It tramples rough shod over anyone who may disagree. Communism is trying to force this ideology of terrorism upon South Vietnam. Do honourable senators opposite subscribe to this view? I have not heard one of them condemn it. I have not heard them say one word of praise for our troops in South Vietnam or for the great efforts that America is making in South Vietnam in an endeavour to bring about peace and tranquility in that area. Honourable senators opposite remain dumb. They dare not deny it.
We have recently had a general election. Honourable senators opposite chose the battleground and the weapons by which they would fight. 1 remember the present Leader of the Opposition and Senator Cohen standing up, each brandishing a sword, metaphorically ready to thrust them through Government supporters. They were jubilant. They said: ‘We will join you in battle’. I thought of the old biblical times. They went to bartle. They were not decimated because that would have meant a loss of only one in ten; they were annihilated. I shall have a word or two to say about this annihilation later on. At the recent, election the Australian public proved by the ballot box returns that they wished to preserve our way of life and to allow the people of South Vietnam to progress towards a democratic form of government, too. In every State, a majority of people endorsed this policy. The people threw the Opposition’s policy to the winds. They rejected it.
– Not in Tasmania.
– The people rejected the policy. If the Labor Party is a democratic parly and if there are democrats within the Party, then they must accept, as they have always told us they would, the vote of the people. But they are not able to do so. Honourable senators opposite will not stand up and say that. They have not the courage of their convictions. They have repeatedly said that they will accept whatever the people say at the ballot boxes. But in this case they have nol done so. 1 repeat that they organised marches; they did all sorts of things. They would not even allow people to express a different view.
I remember one special group of hecklers at the Adelaide Town Hall. After the meeting was over this group of hecklers said a few unkind things to a few of us old Diggers who had not said a word to anybody. I said to the hecklers: ‘Excuse me. Are you Australians?’ They said: ‘Yes. Why do you ask? What has Australia ever done for us?’ I said: T am not arguing with you. Are you Australians,’ They said: ‘Yes’. I said: ‘Will you do one thing for me tonight when you go home? Will you just think how lucky you are to be Australians and not half Japanese?’ This sunk in because they realised that if it had ,not been for the gallant Australians they would have been half Japanese, and there is nothing worse in this world than anyone who has suffered under the caste system. The people who remembered the 1940s realised this at the last election. They realised how close we were to invasion by the Japanese in .1942. Members of the Labor Party who were in power were digging dugouts in the Blue Mountains. These were not for the ordinary people. Honourable senators opposite know that as well as I do.
The Communists of North Vietnam today are pursuing the same method of aggression as the Japanese pursued from 1941 to 1945. Australia stood firm. But the internal structure of Vietnam is a little different to ours. It is in South Vietnam that the Western people must show tolerance. The Australians and the South Vietnamese have one thing in common - the power of criticising the Government. The sources of criticism arc usually the student bodies a.nd the so-called intellectuals who have never had to work to be selfsupporting. This is a world wide phenomenon. The scholar caste, as it were, believes that it holds a special privileged position in society, living, as someone once said, in an ivory tower. But. when a person seek their thoughts as to how their ideals may be translated into practital forms, he is promptly told that that is the government’s function. They say that it is not for them to roll up their sleeves and prove by deeds that their ideals will work. To do this they would have to mingle with the people who toil - the hewers of wood and the carriers of water. By standing aloof they have completely isolated themselves from the great mass of the working people of the world.
In South East Asia, one meets exactly the same reluctance to -^5 Impractical. This would require living amongst the ordinary people who work, fashion and produce the necessities of life. It is from this section that Ky came. It is from this section in South Vietnam that their leaders will come. The intellectuals will be left high and dry when the leaders arrive. As far as we are concerned, a similar situation to this exists in Papua and New Guinea. If honourable senators go there themselves they will see that is the position. The Governor-General’s Speech states that Vietnam is of critical importance to Australia and the cause of freedom. I repeat that on 26th November 1966 the people of Australia showed that they supported the Government’s policy. Somebody on the Opposition says this is not true. Heavens above, has it not yet penetrated the honourable senator’s skull that the Australian Labor Party was defeated? The honourable senator knows on what issues the election was fought. Every elector had a right to disagree with the Government’s policy. Even Senator Cant will admit that. Every elector had the right to disagree with the Government’s policy and the Opposition did its best to fan that disagreement. That is fair enough but the people endorsed the Government’s policy on Vietnam by an overwhelming majority and by a majority in every State. If the Australian Labor Party is a democratic Party and if its members believe in democracy their bounden duty is to give wholehearted support to the Government’s policy on Vietnam.
– The Government has not a majority in the Senate.
– I should like the honourable senator to listen. There should be support for our policy so that as a united people we can support our gallant boys in Vietnam and quickly achieve peace. All these matters are outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
I was interested to hear Senator Laught speak about the Pacific. His was one of the most interesting speeches I have heard for a long time. The honorable senator is dedicated to his beliefs. The sooner we in Australia realise the importance of the Pacific area, the better it will be for us. I was intrigued by the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, particularly when he mentioned breakdowns. He mentioned numerous so-called breakdowns but he forgot to mention the biggest breakdown in Australia and that is in the Australian Labor Party. I support the motion that has been moved by Senator Cotton and seconded by Senator Webster.
– I hope the hysterical speech of Senator Mattner has not affected his blood pressure. The dramatic piece about a sword in the stomach dripping blood was typical of the dishonest propaganda that is coming not only from Senator Mattner but from many other war hawks around the world. Much of it was used during the recent election campaign but one would think that a man like Senator Mattner, who has had a long and gallant career, would be more moderate in his presentation of this most serious subject.
I shall deal with a few of his points later, but at the outset I add my approval of the sentiments expressed by previous speakers in referring to the Speech delivered by the Governor-General. Lord Casey, yesterday in opening the Twenty-sixth Parliament. It was very pleasing to see an Australian-born Governor-General in the chair. Lord Casey is the third Australian to hold this high office and I hope it will become the policy of the Government to continue to appoint Australians.
His Excellency referred early in the Speech to the bush fires which have destroyed lives, homes, farms and other property in Tasmania. The interest that His Excellency and the Government on behalf of the people of Australia have shown in this disaster is heartening to the people of Tasmania. The Government is fully conscious of the great tragedy that has befallen the people in the southern part of that State and I should like to express appreciation on behalf of the people of Tasmania. Other honourable senators from Tasmania will agree that we all appreciate fully and sincerely the generosity of the people throughout Australia who have helped Tasmania in its time of sorrow and anguish.
As has been said, there was an appalling loss of life. In the past Tasmania has been relatively free of major disasters of this kind. It seemed that this could never happen to us. However circumstances were such that the tragedy did happen and the response from our fellow countrymen throughout the length and breadth of Australia has been really magnificent. In Tasmania we are now facing the mammoth task of rebuilding from the ashes but it is characteristic of Australians that they can face adversity; if they know they have the goodwill of their fellow men they are willing to build again. This goodwill has been amply demonstrated to Tasmania over the past few weeks. On behalf of our fellow Tasmanians, my colleagues and I thank the people of Australia from the bottom of our hearts for their magnificent assistance - their gifts of food, clothing >and money - as well as their moral support. Tasmanians will be forever grateful.
At this time we should give some thought to the consequences of such a tragedy. Of course, the message has been brought home to many people throughout Australia. We must learn by example and by mistakes. I am reminded that although Tasmania seldom has major catastrophes of this kind, in the six years preceding this fire there had been 1,457 fires and the area burnt was 691,708 acres. This story can be matched in other States. Even now there is high fire danger in Victoria and I sincerely trust that the fires there will be brought under control so that the people of Victoria will not bc subjected to anything like the devastation that was experienced by the Tasmanian people.
– At least they have taken precautions against experiencing such losses.
– Senator Cormack has anticipated the point I was about to make. Civil defence appears to be in the field of buck passing between the Commonwealth and the States. In the course of my remarks 1 shall try to illustrate that the Commonwealth is ever ready to say that this is a State responsibility. The Commonwealth perhaps can provide some funds but it is up to the State to provide the answers in a practical way.
The matter of civil defence which covers fire fighting is one which I believe should be given a very close scrutiny not only in Tasmania but in the entire Commonwealth. After all, the basic principle of civil defence is for people trained not only in vigilance but in all the tactics of fighting such things as fire, flood and other disasters which may come either in peace or in war, to have the proper facilities. This was illustrated during the course of the fires in Hobart by a statement made by Mr Webber of Melbourne, President of the Firefighters Union of Australia. He said:
Hobart’s basic problems apply Australia-wide, but there are a few special ones that need pointing out.
He spoke of some of these things. He said that there was under staffing of fire brigades and of rural organisation. He spoke of outdated equipment and insufficient equipment. He spoke of outdated organisation with confusion as to authority in given areas. He spoke of apathy from the public and publicity media regarding fire menace. He went on to say: . . the first need is for standardisation of training methods and equipment throughout Australia. 1 would like to make this submission to the Senate: There is no time to be lost for the Commonwealth Government in collaboration with the State Governments to attack this great problem; to see that our Commonwealth civil defence organisation is extended, so that it co-ordinates the activities of similar bodies in States in which there are not only volunteers but permanent firemen so that equipment can bc standardised throughout Australia. Then in the event of a great disaster in one State equipment could be flown rapidly from another State to assist.
– Senator Cormack is an authority on nonsense. But there was an example of this assistance the other day when the Commonwealth sent the Navy to Hobart to assist in fire fighting. It also sent a unit of the Air Force to assist in Hobart. Yet Senator Cormack says ‘nonsense’. We are in the process of getting big transport and troop carriers into our Air Force and these could be used in a national emergency, so it is not nonsense.
– How did you get a fire on a ninety mile front in two days unless nothing had been done about it?
– This is what I wish to speak about. Over the last week reports have been coming through that there are small fires burning not only in Tasmania but in Victoria.
– They are out.
– 1 hope (hey are out. That is a very commendable thing. If fires are attacked on a wide front before they reach the proportion of large fires which in turn become major fires, then we will bc doing a job on one front. But this does nol only apply to bush fires. The same thing can apply in case of flood or any other national emergency, particularly in view of the fact that we arc involved in warlike activities. The civil defence of any nation engaged in war should be on a very high priority list. Civil defence not only incorporates responsibilities in war time but also covers peace time. Senator Cormack should widen his horizons sufficiently to see the importance of the point that I am making. The bickering that goes on between the Commonwealth Government and State Governments over financing these important things - this passing of the buck - is too big an issue to bc covered up and for the blinds to be pulled down and the blinkers put. on. I would like to make this appeal to the Senate and to the Parliament: There should be evolved a co-ordinated Australia wide plan to smarten up every facet of civil defence in order that there should be a maximum defence against national disasters such as fires.
– What about smartening your ideas up first?
– Senator Cormack is trying to make a political issue out of this. I am trying to make the point that it is a challenge to us all to take a broader view. If Senator Cormack wants to make it a political football then let his own conscience guide him. There are bigger men in Australia than those who would try to make this a political football, lt may be of interest for honourable senators to know that these great fires are not new on the Australian canvas. In January 1939 - if I may remind Senator Cormack - there was a fire in his own State of Victoria in which seventy-one people lost their lives and 1,300 homes were destroyed or damaged.
– There were twelve Tasmanians.
– As Senator Lacey reminds me, there were twelve Tasmanians. In 19S1 there was a disastrous fire in South
Australia in which there were five deaths and tremendous damage to property. In 1951-2 there were 2,500 fires in New South Wales and they caused $13m damage. I put the proposition to the Senate that it is fantastic for us to be having this periodical loss of life and property while the buck is still being passed. The point I wish to make before leaving this subject is that permanent fire fighting and civil defence forces are inadequate everywhere in Australia. The penny pinching and the don’t care’ attitude that is prevalent at present must be overcome. Ways must be found to overcome it.
I would go so far as to say that the Government’s policy as stated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech should be amended immediately to incorporate national compulsory insurance for all citizens of Australia in order to finance adequate disaster fighting services. When one looks at the Commonwealth “Year Book’ one finds that in 1964-65 fire insurance companies collected $55 1,000m in premiums and paid out $354,000m. This means that in insurance on fire alone there is an annual margin between payments and premiums in the order of $200m. There arc duplications everywhere of insurance offices and staffs. The wastefulness of duplication is obvious to everyone. If there were a national fire insurance plan for which everyone was responsible and under which there would be adequate fire fighting services, much property would not be destroyed and many lives would not be lost as they are lost today.
I join issue with Senator Mattner when he says that if the Labor Party is a democratic party its bounden duty is to give wholehearted support to the Government’s policy on Vietnam. I remind him that that policy is very difficult to follow. The Government has played hole in the corner over the whole story of Vietnam. It has adopted piecemeal methods. It introduced national service training without a mandate. It involved us in war - an undeclared war. It has repeatedly refused to state its policy on the declaration of war. Australia was committed to war without consultation between the Government and the Opposition to achieve a bi-partisan policy. The Government has gone along willy nilly, hanging on to the coat tails of other people and not taking the Australian people into its confidence. It has been dishonest with the Australian people.
Despite the power of the propaganda that was used during the recent election campaign - purely to win the election; not about Vietnam at all - 40% of the Australian people still refuse to believe that the Government’s policy on Vietnam is correct.
– The honourable senator does not believe in majority rule.
– Can anyone say that the Australian people had any say in Australia’s commitment to this war? The Government worked out a policy itself and presented the Australian people with a fait accompli. Everyone knows about the piecemeal legislation and the sly way in which the Government presented the people with an accomplished fact and said: ‘Look, you are in now; you have to stay in’. When honourable senators opposite tell us that they should have the wholehearted support of the Opposition, I reply that they would have had a lot more support if they had been even honest about this matter.
I wish to say a few words about the campaign that was waged on this issue during the election campaign. I have had the experience of seeing a propaganda machine using the Press, radio and television to influence the youth and the aged of a nation to hate, to kill, to burn and to poison whole sections of a community in mass genocide. I saw continual development of that state of mind in Germany. I was reminded very forcibly that the same methods were used during the election campaign and are being used on the Australian public today. The people of Australia are not very well versed in foreign affairs. Their way of life, with their normal home needs such as paying their bills, meeting their hire purchase commitments and so on, does not give them much time to study international affairs. Their introduction came as a very subtly organised propaganda campaign that told them basic dishonesties. Many people were given the impression that the Chinese would be down in Australia within a matter of weeks.
– Who said that?
– Every day the teleVision screens showed arrows coming down from China to Australia. That was the subtlety of the campaign. This was not said; it was implied. The campaign appealed to two basic psychological feelings of the human being - fear and anxiety. This propaganda was directed to the fear and anxiety of uninformed people. We know that very well because in electorates that are predominantly intellectual this propaganda did not sink in; but the vote was strongest against our Party and in favour of the Government in areas with many underprivileged people who did not understand the subtlety of the propaganda and believed it. However, these chickens will come home to roost.
– We did not misquote Senator Kennedy as he then was.
– This excuse about misquoting Senator Kennedy, which is now coming from members of the Liberal Party, is a poor one. The situation was the same before the 1954 Agreement which has been broken flagrantly and has continued to be broken.
– By whom?
– By both sides, including us. Under that Agreement we have no right to have our troops there. In addition, there is no doubt that Australia and the United States, by their present activities in Vietnam, are trying to continue the colonialism that the French tried unsuccessfully to perpetuate.
Again, big money is being made out of the war. We have more than 80,000 unemployed in Australia. But the war industry in other parts of the world is booming. For the third time in my lifetime the armament makers are making fortunes out of war. This is what spurs on the hawks. We read about the hawks in the American newspapers. Of course there are hawks in the United States. They are making big money out of war. They always do. Who wins wars? We should know enough about this. Senator Mattner has been through three wars. Senator Lillico knows about wars, as do many other honourable senators. There is no future in them. The losers win and the winners Jose. The Japanese and the Germans are our allies now, whilst the hated people of today were on our side only a short time ago. The whole thing is phoney. But there is a lot of money to be made out of waging war. There are big profits for the armament makers. Anyone who tries to refute that should have <a look back through history.
– What about the Czechoslovakian and Russian armament makers who are pouring weapons all over the world? Tell us about them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– The GovernorGeneral said:
My Government will persist wilh its search tor the attainment of a just and enduring peace.
If this Government was interested in achieving a just and enduring peace it would have tried, with all ils vigour and all its prestige in this part of Asia, to prevent the resumption of the bombing of North Vietnam after the truce. Instead, the only positive comment that J saw in any of the newspapers was that the Australian Government endorsed the policy of resuming the bombing. The man who came back to Australia yesterday, who missed out on the First World War, who walked out in the Second World War and who is absent for the third one, says that it is a good idea to bomb North Vietnam. The people can take a certain amount of this; but surely one cannot fool the people all the time.
The Governor-General also said:
The greatest impediment to any general relaxation of existing tensions in Asia, and indeed throughout the world, is the attitude of the Communist regime in China.
Australia is a member of the United Nations. We pay lip service to the support of that body. Yet we have isolated this vast section of the world’s population. We have excluded them from making contact with other people throughout the world and from seeing and discussing how other people live outside their own country. They have lived behind a bamboo, iron or whatever sort of curtain it is because of their religious beliefs and for other reasons. For many hundreds of years they have been isolated. We are so blinded by our own conceit and our feeling of superiority that we say: ‘We are committed to Nationalist China being a member of the United Nations. Therefore, unless Communist China does this or that we will continue to exclude it.’ The first thing that ‘any businessman has to do is to try to get an idea of the sort of man that his competitor is and what his competitor’s tactics are like. Yet in international affairs the Government is prepared to exclude Communist China and to create all sorts of national complexes and individual complexes and inhibitions among the Chinese people so that the propaganda can be conveyed to them without any comparison. Australia’s policy of continuously excluding Communist China from the United Nations has helped to bring about that very situation.
The Governor-General went on to say:
A development which we have welcomed has been the ending of Indonesia’s confrontation of Malaysia.
This was a most desirable thing. The change of outlook and policy in Indonesia has provided an opportunity for constructive consultation. I only hope that history will not repeat itself as it has done to a great degree in Malaysia, where one colonialism is being replaced by another one. When I was in Kuala Lumpur I noticed all the international vultures establishing themselves there and getting their pound of flesh from Malaysia which is now protected for them. 1 hope very much that the discord and disharmony will not be perpetuated in Indonesia now that there has been a change of Government or a change of front or whatever you like to call it. If you allow the international exploiter to go back into Indonesia you will sow the seeds of further discontent.
Our foreign policy must be such that we insist that we will not substitute one form of colonialism for another. The Indonesian people were glad to see the last of the Dutch colonialists and I am sure they do not want to see some other colonialists in a different uniform or with a different accent coming into their country. It is up to Australia, for her own interests, for her own safety and for her own defence, to see that the Indonesian people have some hope of a future in which they can develop their own resources in their own way for their own advancement. We have seen in the last couple of hundred years of history that the only reason people go to another country is to try to get a monopoly of the resources of that country, noi to do anything good for the people there. The whole story of colonialism bears that out.
In the few minutes remaining to me I want sincerely to congratulate Senator Hannaford, whom I can see on this side of the chamber, for having the courage of his convictions. I believe, as I am sure he believes, that the war in Vietnam and our Government’s policy in relation to it are wrong and that history will prove them to be wrong. He has done a very courageous thing.
Let me turn now to the subject of Commonwealth and State relations and direct attention to the fact that they are at present very poor indeed. The editorial in the Australian’ of Saturday 18th February is in these terms:
Those at Thursday’s conference- meaning the Premiers Conference - have again run away from the fundamental fact that the whole system of Federal-State financial relations is the major institutional factor frustrating efficient public spending.
Reference was made to private and public spending and the editorial went on: . . the Stales are not yet aware of the full implications of the change in the formula governing the Commonwealth grants.
However, as long as the present archaic system of dividing public funds persists, nobody - not even the Treasury officials occupied full-time on the question of State-Federal finance - will be able to judge the relative merits of the competing Slate claims for special treatment except within the crudest limits.
I feel I should repeat now a quotation used by Senator McKenna in a speech on 26th October last during the second reading debate on the National Debt Sinking Fund Bill. He directed attention to the ridiculous position which has grown up in relation to the States. He put the matter in a nutshell; the Stales have been made the suckers, the scapegoats of this Government’s policy. Senator McKenna read the following extract from a speech made by Sir Henry Bolte, Premier of Victoria, on 14th September last: the States are responsible for major and cosily services, with education the key example . . At the same time we are involved in a system of finance which continues to load the burden of interest and other debt charges on Government loans almost exclusively on the States, so thai the public debt of the S’tates continues to soar while that of the Commonwealth continues to decline. . . . Much of the increase in the debt of the States, in fact $ 1, 600m for all States and $400m for Victoria-
I want all honourable senators to listen to this - is money that has been provided by the people from taxation to the Commonwealth Government and lent by it to the States at market rates of interest. Every dollar of this must be repaid to die Commonwealth by the States, and with interest added we repay from State taxation $2i for every $1 lent. The whole system is so patently crazy and loaded against the States that it is beyond comprehension how anyone can be found to detenu it.
Honourable senators on the Government side do defend this kind of thing but a man of the calibre of Senator McKenna is able to show what is going on. Asked by other senators why the Auditor-General had not found these great deficiencies in the National Debt Sinking Fund, Senator McKenna said that all sorts of strange bookkeeping methods were being used. He went on: . . what I have said is a shocking record of mismanagement of the Commonwealth’s own debt redemption. It shows that unnecessary burdens have been placed on taxpayers. There has been gross unfairness to the States and a negation of the spirit of Federation, lt shows up the massive failures of the Australian loan market to the tune of some $2,000m down the years of administration of this Government. Need I say any more than this?
I say to Senator McKenna: ‘Those are my sentiments’. This Government speaks of imaginative policies, but its policies are imaginary, not imaginative. The Government is conjuring up things it proposes to do but it is not doing them. This is a do-nothing Government. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 18th July 1966 contained a supplement called ‘Australia Unlimited’. In it the Financial Editor had this to say:
There was no real growth in the gross national product after allowance is made for price changes. . . . They are all areas of State Government responsibility, and it is a fairly reliable rule that State investment activities are the most basically important of all, especially for less privileged members of the community, people who have little choice but to send their children to overcrowded State schools and to avail themselves of the increasingly deficient public hospital and public transport facilities.
When one looks under the surface of the propaganda which the Government pushes out periodically and which is taken up by the newspapers and other avenues of communication, one sees that members of the
Government are scratching each other’s backs just as Senator Webster scratched the Government’s back ad nauseum last night. His arguments were patent propaganda. Senator Cotton got down to tintacks but Senator Webster contradicted nearly all the honourable senator’s arguments.
– Will the honourable senator cite one instance instead of using the word ‘all’?
– 1 will make that the subject of another speech. In conclusion let me say that this Government is failing the very basis of our nation - the children and mothers of Australia. The Government boasts about migration but I read with interest an article on page 10 of the Australian’ of today’s date under the heading ‘A Nation of Too Few Children’. Ours is a nation which, by the use of contraceptives, is limiting the size of families. But another strong influence is the fact that people cannot afford to have children because of the wide margin between wages and the cost of living. The cost of clothing and educating children is such that even the present birthrate will not be maintained; it will become worse.
Although the Governor-General delivered his Speech in a most forthright way which did credit to him, the subject matter which the Government prepared for him reflects no credit on it.
– I will not waste time tonight replying to the nonsense we have just heard from Senator O’Byrne, particularly in his remarks on Vietnam. I understand that we will have an opportunity to debate foreign affairs. I look forward with great pleasure to that debate. I think we will be able to expose then the complete nonsense of Senator O’Byrne’s argument and the need for Senator O’Byrne and the Labour Party - or some sections of it - to face up to the realities of the situation in South East Asia.
It is my intention tonight to touch on three subjects: Commonwealth and State financial relations, foreign investment in Australia, and tariffs. Before doing so I shall comment briefly on the speech of Senator Murphy in leading for the Opposition in this debate. I think it is fair to say that Senator Murphy indulged in a series of gen eralisations without any supporting evidence. I can well imagine the reaction of a court of appeal to Senator Murphy if he engaged before it in the types of statements he made in this debate. It would not be a very favourable reaction. If I heard him correctly, he stated that the building situation is declining. I shall quote from the Treasury Information Bulletin No. 45, which states at page 29:
Completions of new houses and flats in the recent December quarter totalled 30,513, the highest quarterly total on record.
I can only conclude that Senator Murphy was not aware of the facts.
I turn now to deal with Commonwealth and State financial relations, a subject upon which every speaker in this debate has touched in one way or another. I think this subject should be approached dispassionately without indulging in party politics. I believe that Senator Cotton did a service to the Senate when he dealt with the subject in this debate. It is a very vexed and complex issue. There has been dispute, often acrimonious, dating back many years - ever since the Commonwealth assumed major responsibility for raising taxes.
I can well remember the days of the last Federal Labor Government. At that time the State Premiers returned home after Premiers Conferences and Loan Council meetings complaining bitterly about the attitude of the then government. The Premiers claimed that finances were allocated on a basis of ‘take it or leave it’. So it is clear that there is nothing new in this dispute. It is not of recent origin, as we may be led to believe. Like Senator Cotton, I believe in the Federal system. I believe it is a very fine principle. The decentralisation of power provides a safeguard for the Australian people. We have been witnessing for many years a decline in State powers and an increase in Federal powers.
– That is a very good thing.
– It is a matter of opinion. I do not challenge the honourable senator’s view. It may be that in a complex society it is a good thing; it may be a bad thing. However, it is a simple fact I am pleased that Senator Mulvihill said that it is a good thing because I understood Senator Murphy to say when he defended the States that it was not a good thing. Perhaps there may be some disagreement on the matter on both sides of the chamber. In the complex society we live in today, perhaps the trend is inevitable. In all fairness. I. think I should say that the drift has been assisted by the States. On many occasions they have been only too pleased to pass over powers to the Commonwealth, particularly if they were unpopular. However, in the main. I think the trend has been evident since the assumption by the Commonwealth - and I do not quarrel with that move - of the main responsibility for tax raising.
With financial responsibility of course goes financial power. Whether the Federal system can survive today is a matter of conjecture. I hope that it can. I believe we should look for ways to make it survive. 1l is not a simple problem. It involves the division of responsibilities between a State and a national government. I think that State governments quite naturally look to development which will assist their own States. Each of the six States pushes for areas of development without regard for other States or for national responsibility which must be assumed by a national government. A national government surely must look to national development as a whole, and to balanced development. I think this view brings the States into conflict. Each State is trying to do everything at once and, not being financially responsible in the main, it quite naturally is looking to some other power - in this case the Commonwealth - to provide all the funds required. This must always be a matter of dispute.
In a developing country like Australia with ils limited resources all things cannot be done at once. Senator Cotton and Senator Murphy referred to the question of priorities. This is not just a Commonwealth responsibility. The States have responsibilities in allocating priorities. One would hope - and it is probably a Utopian hope - that the States would get together and agree on the allocation of priorities for development. After all, the size of the cake is limited. It does not matter who is the taxing authority. There is a limit to what the taxpayers can pay without a stultifying effect being imposed upon the economy. Then the opposite effect of a reduction of taxation resources must be faced.
So it is clear that there is a limit and this makes necessary, I think, an allocation of priorities as between States and the Commonwealth. It is not possible to deal with this subject and other subjects in detail in the short time available. A number of suggestions have been brought forward to overcome the problem. One suggestion is that the Commonwealth should provide more and more money to meet the demands of the States. This means that the Commonwealth must increase taxation more and more and incur the risk of a stultifying effect on the economy, to which I have just referred, and the risk of an unpopular reaction by the public.
Suggestions have been made that the formula for reimbursements should be altered. I think there is some justice in this suggestion when it comes from New South Wales and Victoria. As I come from Western Australia and such a suggestion might mean less money for my State, T am not sure that I can support it. However, I recognise that there is justice in the claim by New South Wales and Victoria. A suggestion has been made that the Commonwealth should pass over some of its taxing powers to the States. Mention has been made of payroll tax, probate duty and sales tax. This suggestion also involves great problems because taxation today is used as a financial and economic measure to influence trends in the economy of our complex society. Grave doubts exist as to whether the passing over of these taxing powers to the States, who can act in complete disregard of the national economy and use them merely for revenue purposes, is in the interests of the nation. They are some of the suggestions that have been made. One of the great prblems is that without the responsibility for raising revenue you tend to get financial irresponsibility. There is no doubt that if the States were made responsible for raising at least a substantial portion of their funds you would get greater financial responsibility among them.
I do not pretend to have the answer to this problem. However I believe that an answer must be found. It is not within the genius of this Parliament or tha State Parliaments to find an answer. If tha final answer is that the States should bo provided with more avenues of taxation, lt must follow that there should be a redefinition of the responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States. We cannot continue with a situation in which the States can raise more money and at the same lime make the same demands upon the Commonwealth Treasury for funds. As I indicated, it may be that we would have to redefine the responsibilities of the Commonwealth and the States. Whether education should become a Commonwealth responsibility instead of a State responsibility is the sort of thing that I have in mind.
What 1 have said - I have said it very briefly because of the time factor - illustrates the fact that this is not a simple question. It is one of great complexity. But it is one to which, if we believe in the Federal system, an answer must be found. 1 am not so sure that this Senate is not the place where a very thorough examination of the problem could be undertaken, provided the examination was dispassionate and was outside the arena of party politics. This matter should not be the subject of a party political brawl. I hope that the Senate will take up this challenge and will set to work to try to find a solution to this perennial problem of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the State governments.
I turn now to the subject of foreign investment, which Senator Murphy dealt with at some length. May I say that in doing so he displayed more emotion than logic. He displayed a naive Socialist philosophy. When we speak of foreign investment, most people seem to believe that we are referring to American investment. British investment in Australia is older and less spectacular. Mainly it controls institutions such as banks and insurance companies. It is solid and has been accepted. American investment, on the other hand, is new and we seem to be frightened of it. In his Speech, the GovernorGeneral referred to foreign investment and expressed the view of the Government which favours Australian participation in the ownership and control of our resources. This is a very good principle; I accept it as such. But I think it is foolish for us to leave it at that, because many problems are involved. No doubt the sharing of ownership satisfies national pride. But it creates great difficulties which we should recognise. It may not always be in our best interests.
I should like to examine very quickly some of the facts that are associated with foreign investment. How large is it? Since 1958 all foreign investment has averaged $200m a year. It finances one-tenth of all our capital expenditure by private business. It is equal to one-half of our expenditure on roads. That is not a very large sum of money. It is difficult to find substance to many ‘of the objections that are raised when they are examined calmly and dispassionately. Foreign firms have not absolute control over resources. That is the first thing we must remember. They must bargain, buy and tender in competition with others and must work within the framework of the law. They have no guarantee against expropriation or of being able to repatriate their profits. The factories which they build cannot be transported out of Australia. Finally, any Australian government can decide how they shall operate within this country. It is claimed that such firms are less motivated than are Australians to develop this country and to act in the interests of Australia. But are our nationals always motivated by high ideals? Foreign companies seek profit - so do Australian companies - and by doing so they deploy resources efficiently and produce what the people want. This economic point is now being conceded even by the Communists.
Many recent studies have produced information that has lifted this argument from the realm of emotion and prejudice to that of scientific fact. The projections and recommendations of the Vernon Committee have been shown to be entirely erroneous. Dr Perkins, a well known economist from the University of Melbourne, has described them as being the figment of an imagination fed by an error of statistical manipulation. Other well known economists have expressed similar opinions.
– What does that mean?
– Let the honourable senator ask Dr Perkins. One of the best studies has been that undertaken by Dr Donald Brash who was formerly of the Australian National University. He shows in a very detailed study in his book ‘American Investment in Australian Industry’ that the advantages far outweight the disadvantages. He has gone to some lengths to show why foreign firms invest in Australia. He has produced a table which gives the reasons. The most important reason is that they seek to take advantage of the accepted growth of the Australian market. That is natural enough. The second reason is that they seek to overcome tariff barriers. It is rather amusing and intriguing to hear people who advocate high tariffs oppose foreign investment. Yet tariffs are the second biggest reason for foreign investment in Australia. The third reason why foreign firms invest here is to overcome the problems of import restrictions. All the remaining reasons are infinitesimal when compared with those three major reasons.
– Tariffs are import restrictions.
– You could put them together, but they are set out separately in this survey. It is claimed that existing and established Australian firms are taken over by overseas companies. There are many reasons for this. One is that Australian companies have got themselves into great financial difficulty. Without a takeover those companies would have gone into liquidation. One of the most vivid illustrations was the ASARCO takeover of the Mount Isa Mines in the 1930s. Very many more recent cases could be mentioned. Many takeovers have occurred at the invitation of Australian companies. Australian companies have invited foreign companies to take them over for various reasons and when they have been invited to retain a shareholding they have declined because the shareholders have said: ‘We are getting a good price. Let us get out.’ So it is not all the responsibility of overseas firms that there has been a sell-out of existing companies. One of the great problems in sharing ownership has been the attitude of the Australian shareholders or investors themselves. They want a quick return on their capital. American investors are satisfied with a much slower return. They are quite satisfied in many cases to wait for many years before they get a return and to reinvest profits in the company. This does not meet the wishes of the Australian investor and it causes problems of management. The Australian investor is thus inclined to sell out to the American who is prepared to wait for many years.
This pressure for quick dividends which is an Australian characteristic is not a charasteristic of the American investor. Many American companies are very conservative as regards dividends. They prefer to reinvest and tables produced by Donald Brash show that the great majority of profits in many - not all - American companies are reinvested over a great number of years. I cannot deal with all of the reasons, but these are some of the reasons why there is a complete takeover of established Australian companies. It is not reasonable to blame the foreign investor or the foreign company because in part at least the responsibility rests with the Australian shareholder himself. There is also a reluctance when offered shareholdings in new companies for Australian investors to invest. They want to make sure before they invest that this is a going concern. Many examples can be given of American companies in particular offering shares to Australian investors who have refused to take them up until such time as they are satisfied that they will get a reasonable profit for their investment.
I merely mention this to show some of the problems that we see when we examine this matter dispassionately. Many American firms are glad to make changes in production and to introduce new methods, which means that they must accept a lower profit for a number of years. Australian investors do not like this. With joint ownership, problems arise in management. These are some of the factors involved. It is not a simple matter. But despite all this, Donald Brash concludes that there is a shift towards shared ownership, which I think we all welcome. I merely make this point not in any sense of party politics but to put the facts factually and dispassionately before the Senate. Before I conclude on this aspect I want to deal quickly with another matter. I want to quote a former adviser of the Australian Labor Party, Professor Arndt. We have heard of him. He may not be very popular today because he does not share the views of honourable senators opposite on Vietnam nor apparently on foreign investment. Professor Arndt made a very detailed study on the subject of foreign investment and he concluded by saying:
I think it is quite possible that the benefits, direct and indirect, of overseas investment during the past decade have greatly outweighed the costs, direct and indirect, and will continue to do so.
This is the opinion of a very distinguished economist. I think that more can be done by examining this subject in a positive manner than by taking negative action in calling for controls etc., the need for which is far from proven.
As my time is nearly up, may I deal very quickly with the subject of tariffs. I could deal with this at some length as it is one of the great problems facing us in a growing industrial society. I personally am not very happy with the tariff policy. Recently Sir Leslie Melville, a very distinguished man who was formerly Chairman of the Tariff Board, made some comments on this subject which are echoed in many circles. Many business organisations and, I trust, primary producer organisations are concerning themselves with this problem; if they are not, they should be. It is probably highlighted in a recent decision of the Tariff Board with regard to the chemical industry. One must doubt whether the Tariff Board today is an independent body, as it was set up to be, because in a reference to the Tariff Board the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) said: in the interests of achieving effective and stable protection of employment and investment in the chemical and closely related industries . . .
The point in dispute here is the question of investment because the chemical industry, like so many other industries, is a fragmented industry. It has a small market. It is a joint industry that can produce far beyond the small demands of the Australian market. Under a high tariff more than one chemical industry is encouraged to establish itself in Australia. Therefore, the question is whether or not under the protection of a high tariff these industries produce efficiently and at lowest cost. Under this reference, existing investment is to be protected. If some of the investment is misdirected, as it may be, not only in the chemical industry but also in other industries, surely the national advantage should take priority over the interests of individual companies and the misdirected investment. One could speak at length and criticise the decision on the chemical industry. Mr Cramb, a tariff consultant, had this to say in an article entitled ‘A New Concept of Tariff-Making in Australia?’, published in the ‘Economic Partner’ of January 1967:
A revolutionary new approach has been made to tariff making in Australia and already other local industries are anticipating the possibility of similar ‘ultra protective’ steps in relation to their manufacturing activities.
I cannot go into detail on this particular subject as my time has nearly expired. I refer to it tonight only because it is a matter that we as parliamentarians should keep under constant review and study. It has a considerable effect on the cost structure of Australian industry. I am not opposed to tariffs. Do not misunderstand me. But I am opposed to tariffs that protect high cost industries at the expense of the Australian community and particularly at the expense of the primary producers of Australia, whose costs are increased substantially by the effect of tariffs and who are not in the position to pass them on. Tariffs are one of those complex problems that perhaps we are all inclined to avoid. I make this plea: we should not avoid them. We should keep this subject under constant review, because this is one of the major economic measures in Australia which has a very substantial effect upon the cost structure of Australian industry. Sir, I support the motion which has been moved by Senator Cotton and seconded by Senator Webster.
– I join with Opposition speakers in criticising the lack of detail in the Speech made by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral yesterday. But before I pinpoint some of these issues I want to deal with one or two statements made by Senator Sim. In the first instance he implied that there was some difference of opinion on the role of the Commonwealth Government as expounded by me through my interjection and by my Leader in the Senate, Senator Murphy, in an earlier address. Perhaps I can clear the situation if I state very clearly that we favour the term creative federalism. One of the classic examples of what we mean is provided on page one of the circulated copy of the Governor-General’s Speech, in its reference to the tragic bush fires in Tasmania. The Speech reads:
My Government entered into immediate discussions with the Government of Tasmania concerning ways in which assistance can best be given.
I think that exemplifies the rather negative attitude of the Government. We are in a technological age. I cannot see why we could not be visualising the utilisation of the Defence forces’ helicopters and the use of chemical bombs in fire fighting. There is nothing new about this. More than two years ago I attended a seminar at the University of New England. Leading foresters in Australia, conservationists and a host of other experts attended this seminar. Everybody was talking about the experiences in Canada and the United States of America. Nobody is stupid enough to say that even those innovations would avoid bush fires, but I think that they could have nullified some of the tragedy that Tasmania experienced. I repeat that until we get this creative federalism, where the defence chiefs do not feel it infra dig to move in and work shoulder to shoulder with civilian agencies in a time of catastrophe, there will be something wrong. I hope that the Government will take up this matter very rapidly. It might have been Tasmania yesterday but it could be Victoria or New South Wales tomorrow. Do not forget that at every one of these conventions that have been held on the subject we find that this cry has been repeated.
Again turning to the point raised by Senator Sim on the question of overseas investment, I suggest that if he studies a book entitled ‘The American Invasion’ by Francis Williams, he will see at pages 16 and 17 that a Mr Reginald Maudling, the President of the Board of Trade in 1960 - and I can assure honourable senators he was far from being a Socialist - expressed some misgivings about what he called the invasion of the British manufacturing sector by United States industrial giants’. Senator Sim also referred to the question of Canada. I think we all agree that Lester Pearson is another gentleman who is certainly not a Socialist. But the Canadian Government had to legislate to control certain forms of overseas investment. Let me say very definitely that because one has inhibitions about overseas investment - whether it be from the United Kingdom or the United States - this does not impair one iota any defence pact. Let us look at the time when President Kennedy held office in the United States. There was that memorable occasion when he had to take the gloves off to the United States steel companies. Honourable senators know that in all these industrial giants - whether they be the United States steel companies or the Broken Hill Pty Ltd - there comes a time when they think that decisions made in their board rooms are much more important than decisions made in Cabinet meetings in Canberra, That idea will always exist. We have not any anti-trust laws like the Sherman law. Honourable senators opposite might say that there is something coming off the launching pad. We will see what happens. But at the present time there is no such law.
When the Labor Party expresses some misgivings about this question it is because the average American has found that from time to time his Government has had to protect him. Do not forget that during the time of the Eisenhower Government there was a Defence Secretary named Wilson. He said that what was good for General Motors was good for the United States. Even President Eisenhower had to tick him off. It is not a question of what ideology you follow. It is a question of commonsense. Who rules the country - the elected government or some of these industrial giants? That question indicates the fear that we have. It is something that has manifested itself to a very high degree in Canada at the present time.
It would not be appropriate to deal at length with the question of Vietnam because I think that every honourable senator is waiting with extreme interest the statement to be made next week by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) on the prevailing position in that country. I could not help thinking when Senator Mattner, who I know is a very distinguished soldier, was speaking about the role of Australian troops in South Vietnam that every one of us would feel much happier if he knew that the Australian troops, among their multitude of duties, could follow the convoys of civil aid which reach the port of Saigon from the wharf right down to the little hamlet. I am concerned about the rake off that is being had by the merchant group. I would certainly be the last to defend Air Vice-Marshal Ky on many issues, but I say that when he executed one merchant he did not execute enough.
Honourable senators opposite talk about China. What a tragedy that it was only after Chiang Kai-Shek left that China dealt with the question of corrupt landlordism. That is the core of the problem in South East Asia. How much are the haves going to surrender to the have-nots? I repeat that if nothing else is done, I think that the Prime Minister of this country should insist constantly that Australian troops be used to police civil aid in South Vietnam. If Air Vice-Marshal Ky squeals about it the Government should say to him: ‘You won’t get any’. Let us have no illusions about it. The South Vietnamese want civil aid, but I want to see that it is given to the poor deprived peasants. I know that human nature being what it is - whether a person is black, white or brindle - there are racketeers. They were in post-war Europe; they are in our cities; and they are in South Vietnam. It is no use adopting a namby pamby attitude or making pleas on sentiment.
Honourable senators know that unless there are armed escorts following the civil aid, the people will not get it. To a large degree this is the situation in Pakistan at the moment. That is why Australian wheat which is being sent to Pakistan is filling more peasants stomachs in that country than our aid is doing in South Vietnam. It is a simple matter. I have no illusions whatsoever. If the Australian Embassy in Saigon said: ‘If in three months you do not do this and that, we are going to stop civil aid’, the people concerned would come to heel. Make no bones about that. There is nothing more ridiculous than people squealing about Communism when they are not prepared to make a sacrifice and create a better society. I sincerely believe that this Government is not doing anything to overcome this situation. Perhaps the Minister for External Affairs will give me something to refute that next week. I hope he will. At the moment that is the reservation I have.
Today I heard the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) bravely dealing with a question from Senator McClelland on the role of Australian industry in the production of various defence equipment. The Minister was dealing with what he termed sophisticated armaments’. Again it is a question of delay. Last year I toured many of our Army establishments. We were told that we were getting our anti-tank gun, which is not a sophisticated weapon in these days, from Sweden. The Minister referred to electronics. I am only referring to an anti-tank gun which is a much less sophisticated weapon. We still find that we are subject to the whims of Swedish industries.
I notice that the Govenor-General’s Speech refers to fast patrol boats. This is an island continent. Do not tell me that in the long period that this Government has been in office it could not have embarked on an expansion programme that would have provided a shot in the arm to our own particular shipbuilding yards. When we talk about massive tankers we are told about tooling up and what it envisages. I think honourable senators would agree with me that patrol boats are in a much smaller class and they could have been very easily accommodated in our own shipyards. I come to the question of immigration, hut as I know that there are one or two developments occurring in this matter at the present time, I will hold my fire on it.
I want to deal with the question of poverty. I do not know what gets the greatest billing in this society in which we live. I notice in this afternoon’s Sydney Press a lurid story about the sex life of a Hollywood queen. That story got a good spread. Yet on the other hand we find that these pockets of poverty receive a very brief muted reference. Somebody takes out some statistics and he says: ‘So many people are getting this form of pension’, and he relates it to the overall work force. I do not think that is good enough. It is a question of slowness in the making of decisions. I will give the Senate a couple of case histories.
Last week I witnessed a form of group therapy at Wisteria House which is a component of the Parramatta psychiatric unit. Wisteria House deals with the rehabilitation of people who have suffered the ravages of alcohol or drug addiction. I think all honourable senators know - and I think that Senator Anderson, if he were in the chamber, would agree - that last year I was constantly nagging him about what we were doing to combat LSD and other drugs. In the competitive age in which we live, we know of the rat race in our educational structure. There is a terrible temptation to students to take all sorts of pep pills to get them over the hump. Sometimes, with fall outs, they get more and more addicted to these drugs. The point I am making is that bureaucracy is running rife. I found at Parramatta that people in four wards are receiving social service benefits, but the people in the fifth ward - this is Wisteria House and I think it is called ward 17 - are not receiving any social service benefits. I know that this is happening, and that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair) has the matter in hand. About twenty people are involved. I sat with them and they unburdened themselves. In the middle of the dialogue a woman said: ‘I feel a lot better but I am having a little delay with my social service pension’. A truck driver was there and he mentioned a particular matter. These worries are constantly in their subconscious minds. It is true that on a bookkeeping basis it can be argued that help for these people would cost so many thousand dollars; but one does not have to be an economist to know that if forty people are put back into the Australian work force, their pay packets will be restored and the Taxation Branch will get more from them. This is a classic illustration and I am using the debate on the AddressinReply as a forum to place very forcibly before the Minister for Social Services the need to do something about these matters. I am not just dropping this on the table tonight. On 2nd February I wrote to the Minister on a number of these matters and it is time an answer was forthcoming.
There is another small sector of the people who are in the same category. I refer to the invalid pensioner couple who have a son or daughter about ten or twelve years of age. I have in mind particularly a Mr and Mrs Gorton who are receiving $23.50 a fortnight each and a child’s education allowance of $3 a fortnight. I was in a north coast electorate and met this family. It is obvious that with the present cost of living a child of that age cannot be given the best of clothing and other essentials for a happy life on such an allowance. I cannot understand why the Minister for Social Services cannot do something to help the relatively small number of people in this category.
I refer now to the difficulties experienced by people who miss out on a repatriation pension and are told they are fit for work.
They probably are fit for work of a certain kind but no one can deny that if a man reaches, say, thirty-five and has not a powerful physique, he is beaten before he starts when it comes to semi-skilled or unskilled manual work. In this modern age a skilled man is expected to have a boiler attendant’s ticket, an overhead crane driver’s ticket or at least a motor licence. But many people do not have these qualifications. A Mr Sergeant has given me a list of about thirty-five undertakings where he tried unsuccessfully to get work. They include the Ballina cannery and Evans Head Returned Soldiers Club where he sought work as a steward. This is the sort of thing that lowers morale. We talk about combating poverty and making a better society, but the things I have mentioned do not require any crash legislation. They are merely matters in which the Department of Social Services or the Minister could move a little quicker.
I turn now to the Postmaster-General’s Department. A truck driver has a coronary and recovers. His own private driver’s licence is not affected but his licence to drive a truck is. I cannot understand why there is no consistency; I do not think the Government has faced this issue.
I return now to what I said in the beginning in reply to Senator Sim about creative federalism. Several years ago the Senate set up a select committee on road safety. I suppose the States have been slow in introducing what was suggested at the time but the Senate should take the plunge again. I commend to honourable senators the article in ‘Newsweek’ of 13 th February 1967 dealing with major safety devices for 1968 automobiles. We have a Department of Shipping and Transport which covers a broad field. Here is an opportunity for the Commonwealth Government to move in. It could reconstitute the select committee and blaze the trail for the State authorities. The driving code we have today is not uniform. There is nothing more fascinating than to drive around Canberra and watch the reactions of the drivers of other cars. The cars come from all States and one can sense the little hesitations in driving. This is because we do not have a uniform driving code.
I repeat that the Governor-General’s Speech fails to refer to many things in which the Federal Government should be setting the pace. This does not mean that we should intrude upon State rights but we should do something to conform with the age in which we live. Fortunately more and more Australians are beginning to realise that they are Australians first and New South Welshmen or Victorians a very poor last. This is inevitable. Some of the old catchcries about the Canberra squeeze are grossly exaggerated. In this chamber we have an equal number of senators from all States who can ventilate any injustices. The Government should not remain inactive simply because it is afraid that somebody will accuse it of riding roughshod over State rights; it should take the initiative. The prevention of bush fires, the establishing of a uniform traffic code, measures to avoid potential dangers in motor car construction - all these are things we expect from a government in the federal field.
Reference is made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to the tapering off of the Snowy Mountains scheme. I could name about forty former Snowy workers - miners and others - who have gone to New Zealand and will not come back. Some are going on to Canada with their firms. We have lost these people. It is no use saying this has not been hammered for the last two years. This is an illustration of the inadequacy of the federal system. When some of the States suggested that they might get men from the Snowy Mountains Authority, the Commonwealth could have called the States in and devised a co-ordinated plan. Too often there is a namby-pamby attitude to these things. People criticise you today not if you make mistakes but if you do nothing.
I have endeavoured to pinpoint some of the failures of the Government. I have referred to social service injustices suffered by sectors of the people and to weaknesses in expansion, notably in relation to the Snowy Mountains project. Finally, let me say this: we are talking about creating an Australian tourist commission. I hope some of the organisations that do pretty well out of tourism such as Ansett and the Pioneer and Greyhound bus tour companies will put something back into the industry. We talk about the American society, but look at some of the forms of State taxation that are imposed in America on transport services. I hope that when we come to finance the Australian tourist commission some of our transport organisations will not get a free ride.
– I join with Senator O’Byrne in saying that I was pleased to see early in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech a reference to the bush fire disaster that recently befell Tasmania. It is very gratifying to see how the Commonwealth Government showed a ready desire to help the people of Tasmania. It was encouraging also to note how readily the people of Australia came to the aid of a comparatively small community which was badly hit by the disaster. Not only the people of Australia but people in other parts of the world have recognised what this has meant to Tasmania. I listened with a lot of interest to the contention that there should be brought into existence a civil defence organisation, part of whose responsibility it would be to combat fires wherever they happen to occur. I went through a time in the Tasmanian State Parliament when it was thought that a most effective fire fighting organisation was being built up throughout the State. I remember quite well forestry officials making appointments in various parts of Tasmania. It was claimed that under the fire prevention legislation, Tasmania had an organisation that was as good as could be obtained. So far as combating fires is concerned, it would need a mighty organisation to counter the freak weather conditions that occurred on the day on which the recent fires broke out. Under the circumstances, it would have been beyond human power to combat the fires in the southern part of Tasmania under the circumstances that were in evidence on that day.
But there is one important aspect which in my opinion should be considered. The most effective way to combat fires is by preventative strategic burning at a time when it is safe to undertake it. I mean directed burning aimed at preventing such an occurrence throughout the State. I believe that this aspect has been grossly neglected in Tasmania. I believe it well may be - and I heard this claimed - that Tasmania’s fire prevention legislation even discouraged individual preventative burning. Be that as it may, the organisation that was built up fifteen or twenty years ago - whether or not it had ineffective equipment or whether other things were wrong with it - broke down. Whoever was responsible, I repeat again that no organisation could have combated those freak conditions. Under the circumstances no organisation, in the absence of the preventative burning about which 1 have spoken, could have combated the conditions which existed on that day.
I was interested to hear Senator Murphy speak about the growth rate of the Commonwealth. He claimed it was unsatisfactory. I believe he said that last year it was down to less than 1%. He seemed to attribute the cause of that unsatisfactory growth rate to the Commonwealth Government. If it were possible for the twenty-six men who comprise the Commonwealth Government to gear this Commonwealth to the maximum rate of production and of growth then I would be one of the first people to stand by and urge them to do so. But of course it is obvious that there are very many other wide spread factors that have to do with the growth rate and the development rate of any country. While the central government can lay down conditions that are congenial to a certain amount of growth, while it can bring about the economic climate which is so necessary for development and expansion, yet there are factors which are outside its control; factors which are so necessary if a country is to produce at its maximum rate of growth and development. I was very interested to see the almost booming state of Western Europe. Of course we have read about it many times. We have read about the great leap forward that has taken place in Western Europe. Then, when one crosses the English Channel, one can almost see the lethargic, despondent and downward trend - by comparison - so far as the economy of Great Britain is concerned.
– The victors in the war.
– Yes, they were the victors in the war, but I do not think the war has much to do with these factors. I was very interested to read the opinion of an ex-director of a British business firm, a man who had spent most of his life directing a British business enterprise. He published an article about what was wrong in his opinion with the economy in Great
Britain. He attributed most of the trouble to outmoded systems of business management. He claimed - I do not know how rightly, but probably with a good deal of justification - that the system of management adopted and the outlook of the people concerned is outmoded. They are living on tradition and living in the past. He gave instance after instance where these out of date methods have been fatal so far as industry is concerned. He said, amongst other things, that in the United States of America, using the same machinery, 95 people can turn out as much steel as can one of Britian’s largest companies, Stewarts and Lloyd, using 259 men. He went on to say that from 1953 to 1963 production in West Germany increased 84% and in the same period it increased 37% in Britain.
– Under the Conservative Government.
– Yes. But there has been a Labor Government for some time. The same principles laid down in this article have been brought forward by Mr Wilson himself. Industrial production in West Germany increased by 37% over the same period. In England it increased only by 19% and here in my opinion is the real crux of the matter as it affects the wage earner and as it affects him in this country: real hourly earnings have risen by 73% in West Germany over that ten year period but in Great Britain they have risen only by 34%. It is said rightly that these increased hourly earnings - that is, real earnings, not just figures, not just inflation - have been earned by increased productivity.
– But it may have been caused by better technical skill.
– That then is a matter for the management in one country or another. Nevertheless I am one of those people who believe that a spirit which is not all that it should be pervades British industry and outlook. So when you lay reponsibility for the dearth in production in Australia at the door of the Commonwealth Government, it must be remembered that there are many factors operating in that direction. Not the least of them is the decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which, if not accompanied by increased productivity, amount only to adding up figures and definitely have no real value. Surely that is elementary. It is as simple as adding two and two together. Until we can produce ourselves into a more affluent state and while the Arbitration Commission and other factors enter into the national economy, we will always have these spiralling prices because there is no increased productivity to combat them. I do not think there is any getting away from that position.
So when people say that the sole responsibility rests with the adjudicators in the Commonwealth Government, I believe that they are confining it within very narrow limits. They have to look very much further afield, because productivity, in the main, is the responsibility of all of the Australian people. There is nothing wrong with this country which could not be cured if a bigger percentage of us were to put our shoulders to the wheel and do a real job of work. As Mr Wilson told the people of Great Britain, there is nothing that cannot be cured by a bit of good, honest hard work.
Like many other people, I have lived through the time of the imposition of uniform taxation. We have heard several honourable senators speak on this subject this evening. It is true that in the States there is a tremendous amount of dissatisfaction with Commonwealth-State financial relations. I believe that the reason for that is the disparity between financial responsibility and administrative responsibility. I am one of those people who believe in the Federal system. This afternoon I heard an interjection to the effect that if the powers of the States were to dwindle still further that would be very good indeed. I shudder to think of a setup in Australia under which one parliament in Canberra would adjudicate on all matters - national and local - many of which today are administered by the State parliaments.
I remember well that when uniform taxation was introduced the then Premier of Tasmania, Mr Cosgrove, expressed the greatest dissatisfaction with the apportionment of taxation revenue to his State. He roundly condemned the uniform taxation system. He said something along these lines: it is constituting anaemia at the centre and paralysis at the circumference, and if these conditions continue we will bring about a state of paralysis throughout the Commonwealth. He returned to Tasmania, after accepting, along with the other Premiers, what was deemed to be a reasonable formula, claiming that the States had won a great victory over the Commonwealth. He was highly pleased with himself on that account. But that did not last long. Not much more than twelve months passed before it was found that the formula that had been adopted was completely unsatisfactory. Over the years several formulas have been adopted by the States in conference with the Commonwealth. The one that was adopted about seven years ago was adopted by the unanimous vote of the State Premiers. It was claimed to be highly satisfactory. But its adoption was soon followed by mutterings of dissatisfaction in the States.
In my opinion, while this division of responsibilities and taxing powers continues there always will be dissatisfaction because we have a setup under which a State government, instead of being directly responsible to its own taxpayers for the expenditure of money, can blame the Commonwealth for not providing sufficient money to meet its requirements. Furthermore, I believe that the present system breeds a certain amount of improvidence and discourages the closest scrutiny of expenditure. I have no doubt whatever that if a team of experts were to investigate the administration in my State it could bring about improvements that would save the State hundreds of thousands of dollars.
I know that it is all very fine to say these things without suggesting a remedy. I notice that the Premier of Victoria and Mr Wentworth, M.P., have had something to say about a system under which the States could levy a marginal income tax. I do not know just what they mean by that term. But whatever the solution may be, it should not be beyond the wit of the States and the Commonwealth to bring about a better distribution of taxing powers. Senator Cotton referred to the New South Wales Government’s commitments rising by 9% a year while its revenue was increasing by only 7% a year. Be sure of this: the present system has been tried and certainly has been found wanting.
In order to put an end to this dissatisfaction which has existed for so long and will continue to exist while the setup is as it is, some consideration should be given to altering the setup as between the Commonwealth and the States. If the present position continues, it might well end the Federal -system. In fact, it has ended that system as we knew it. The system of trial and error has shown that the Commonwealth is in possession of very much more power than was ever envisaged by the founders of the Constitution. So if we believe in Federation, if we believe that State Parliaments should adjudicate on those things which by thenvery nature should be adjudicated upon by a local authority, then it should be possible to investigate the proposals which have been put forward by responsible people with a view to seeing whether they are practical propositions. I call to mind that Mr Cosgrove, a former Premier of Tasmania, was an opponent of uniform taxation but he was converted before he left office.
– What he did not receive under the tax reimbursement formula he received from the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
– He received too much. I think that converted him. He suggested at a Premiers’ Conference that the Commonwealth and the States should have one taxing system and that each State should indicate to that one taxing system the amount of revenue it wished to be collected on its behalf. I do not know whether that is a practical proposition but I do know that Mr Cosgrove advanced it. If that were done, he claimed, it would do away with the dual system which operated before the system of uniform taxation became effective.
I know quite well that there is company tax. I know also that for some weird reason I have never been able to fathom the directors of some companies which operate in Tasmania seem to be happy to live in Melbourne. I take it that they are exempt from tax in Tasmania. That is the kind of difficulty which must be overcome. I repeat that I believe in the presentation of the federal system. I do not think that a country of the geographical proportions of Australia can be effectively administered by one central authority. This has been tried in other parts of the world and found wanting. But if the federal system is ro survive it is high time representatives of the States and the Commonwealth got together and tried to devise a more satis factory relationship. Nothing is more certain than that if a formula were agreed upon next week as being satisfactory to all, within a year or two it would be found to be wanting. I do not believe in the system under which one authority collects most of the revenue and hands it over to the six other authorities in the Commonwealth. I repeat that while that system obtains the tendency will be for the States, instead of attempting to put their own houses in order, to blame the Commonwealth for not making larger grants.
I support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I would have liked to say some other things, particularly in relation to overseas investment because I am sensitive on that subject. Not very far from where I live the Savage River iron ore deposits are being developed by an overseas firm with the blessing of the State Labour Government. The deposits have lain dormant ever since the white people went to Tasmania and in all probability they would have lain dormant for many years more but for the influx of overseas capital. I am one of those people who sincerely believe that this country needs every dollar of capital it can get whether from its own resources or from overseas. We cannot be choosers. We have not sufficient capital of our own. We must go on, so we must have capital. If we do not go on and develop our resources, nothing is more certain than that sooner or later someone else will, and develop them in a way that we will not like.
- Mr President, I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– Pursuant to standing order 28a, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senator J. F. Fitzgerald, Senator K. A. Laught, Senator C. F. Ridley, Senator D. M. Tangney, Senator I. E. Wedgwood and Senator I. A. C. Wood to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested to do so by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That, during the unavoidable absence of the Deputy President, the President be authorised to call upon any one of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the chair, without any formal communication to the Senate.
Messages received from the House of Representatives intimating that the honourable members named had been appointed to serve with the following committees:
Public Works - Mr Bosman, Mr Chaney, Mr Fulton, Mr Holten, Mr James and Mr O’Connor.
Bill received from the House of :Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– J move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Ministers of State Act to permit the appointment of one additional Minister, making :twenty-six in all, and to increase the annual sum provided for ministerial salaries by $6,000 to $197,300.
The amendments to the Act arise out of the appointment of a Minister to administer the recently established Department of Education and Science. As honourable senators will know, Senator Gorton has been administering both the Department of “Works and the new Department and the amendments will permit continuation of the practice of having each Minister responsible for only one Department.
Arising from the increase in the number »of Ministers an increase in the annual sum set aside for Ministers’ salaries will be necessary. The sum currently authorised is $191,300. The amount now proposed to be set aside is, as I have said, $197,300. “The increase proposed, namely $6,000, is the minimum needed for the annual salary of one Minister at the present time. For the information of honourable senators, the new amount of $197,300 is derived as follows:
I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Murphy) adjourned.
– At the outset I would like to join with the comments made by my colleague from Tasmania concerning the devastation and destruction by fire in southern Tasmania in recent weeks. I wish to offer to honourable senators my appreciation of their expressions of sympathy and regret, and to join with those expressions to the people concerned who have been bereaved and deprived of their properties. The practical help and sympathy which has been extended has enabled the spirit of the Tasmanians to assert itself and the destruction is being cleared systematically and capably. The job of restoration of homes and of properties devastated by the fire can be commenced. It is a great encouragement in times like this that so many practical expressions of help came forward to aid the people of Tasmania in the form of financial assistance, and the provision of food, clothing and other necessities which were so speedily dispatched to the stricken areas.
It was a great consolation and satisfaction to me as a Tasmanian to see the wonderful spirit of the people immediately assert itself in the burned out areas. I have visited many of the fire ravaged areas in southern Tasmania quite recently. Although a great deal of damage was done to homes and properties - and in many ways to irreplaceable possessions - I did not hear one complaint from anybody about his misfortune. It is a great comfort to know that the spirit of the people can be demonstrated so quickly and so practically.
I commend the wisdom of Mr Reece, the Premier of Tasmania, who so quickly came into the picture and did all he could to build the confidence of the people and to encourage them to get on with the job of restoration. The thought went through my mind afterwards that had the fire taken place at night, the casualties might well have been counted in hundreds rather than approaching sixty, dreadful toll though it was. I saw areas in which it would have been impossible for the people to have escaped at night. As it was, many people were absent at their daily work; the children were in schools and others were absent about their daily jobs of shopping and so on. This reduced the number of people who were in the homes at the time the fire struck.
I pay a tribute to the people who came into the picture and tried to assist in so many ways. I particularly wish to express my gratitude to the members of the Education Department who marshalled the children in the schools, took them to areas of safety and looked after them while the fire passed through. No doubt history will record the tremendously valuable work done by these people. Hundreds of other people rallied to the support and rescue of those in trouble and stayed on the job days on end. I met two young people who had been hitch-hiking through Tasmania and were in Margate at the time of the fires. They gave up the remainder of their fortnight’s holiday to help in a practical sense the people in that area. The assistance given had to be seen to be believed. It was very encouraging to me to see the way in which practical help and support came to the people in their time of need. It came from all over Australia and, indeed, from abroad. The people who suffered in the fires certainly needed that assistance and they will continue to need it for some time.
It was an odd type of fire. Many honourable senators have read of it. I believe that once it got going there was nothing known to man that could have been used to prevent its spreading the way it did. It travelled at terrific speed on a day of very high temperature. It is recorded that fire actually jumped about half a mile to threequarters of a mile. I do not know of any fire-fighting methods which could have been employed to stop it. Perhaps there could be some condemnation of the fact that in the initial stages the fires did not receive the attention they should have received, but once the conflagration started there was very little that human beings could do to stop it.
One looks for practical means of limiting the distress and suffering of the people in the affected areas and for whatever means may be used to provide employment for the people who have lost their jobs as a result of the destruction of industries in the Huon and Channel areas of southern Tasmania. I believe that the Federal Government now could well give serious consideration to a re-assessment of the application of the Verolme shipping organisation for the establishment of a shipbuilding and heavy machinery industry at Margate in southern Tasmania. I believe the Government should agree to grant to that organisation a shipbuilding subsidy in line with the subsidy being paid to other shipbuilding organisations throughout Australia. It would be a practical gesture of assistance to an area of Tasmania where so much destruction has occurred.
Many orchards were hit by the fires. It was thought in the first few days that the trees which had been burnt possibly could be saved. I believe that a subsequent and closer examination has revealed that damage to large sections of orchards is total where the fires have gone through. It will take from five to ten years for these sections of the orchards to come into production again. One wonders what is likely to happen to the industry during the period over which the new trees will be growing. We pay a tribute to the fortitude and resolution of the victims of this fire. Everything that can be done up to this stage to help them has been done, but the forms of assistance which must be considered are those which in the long term will help to restore the industries and the agriculture of the areas affected.
We are assured that Tasmania will be able to meet the requirements of the export market for apples. I believe that approximately 10% of the apple crop has been damaged. Another question arises in relation to the Tasmanian fruit industry. When we were considering the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry last year, I asked for an examination of the ban by Japan on the importation of Tasmanian fruit because of the possible introduction of codling moth and thrips to that country. I understand that the Minister who was in charge of those estimates proposed to take up the matter with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in the hope that a means could be found to overcome the possibility of these diseases being introduced to Japan and to enable us to commence a valuable export trade to that country. Figures made available to me show that approximately 25% of the Tasmanian apple crop could be exported to Japan if we could overcome the problems I have just mentioned. I sincerely hope that every effort will be made by the Government to get the CSIRO to conclude its examination of these problems so that we can take up the question of exporting Tasmanian fruit to Japan. It is my view that unless something substantial can be done to assist the Tasmanian fruit industry we will suffer the loss of this industry and of a return of approximately $20m annually.
The regulation of shipping constitutes another problem. Year by year it is estimated that the crop will mature at a certain time. However, weather conditions and so forth intervene and the regulation of shipping becomes a headache. I believe that every effort is made by those who are in control of shipping arrangements to minimise the problem, but it is always present. This highlights the need for us in Australia to commence the construction of our own ships for overseas service. It is not suggested at the moment that we should provide shipping to carry all our exports and imports, but the time has been reached when we ought to be commencing the construction of our own ships to enable us to compete against overseas shipping organisations. We are told from time to time that part of our shipbuilding yards are uncommitted and are available for the building of additional ships.
The Australian Labor Party has put forward this proposal for quite some years. It was encouraging to me and to others to note within the last eighteen months that the former Treasurer, Mr Harold Holt, who is now the Prime Minister, seemed to be moving towards the adoption of our view. We hoped that the ideas which were being formed in his mind would crystallise and that the green light would be given for the construction of ships in Australia for overseas trade. It has been stated that many problems would arise. I cannot foresee any great problems arising from the operation of Australian ships.
From time to time we hear complaints about the condition of the fruit when it reaches the European market. 1 recently made some inquiries from a person who had been examining the position in England. He assured me that in a number of instances quite substantial damage, is done to the fruit between despatch in Australia and its receipt in Britain. He said that on occasions up to 25% of the fruit arrived in a damaged condition. One cannot expect the consumer to purchase such fruit. Closer attention must be paid to packaging so that the fruit can be received in good condition. Sometimes fruit is despatched on ships that ply around the coast of Australia and do not go direct to the market. It is suggested that when the holds are opened and other cargo is taken on the refrigeration systems are not adequate to cope with the situation. Consequently the condition of the fruit deteriorates. I know that it is not always possible to get a ship that will take a consignment of fruit straight to the market without any stops. But with the development of modern technology and science, it ought to be possible to evolve some system to enable fruit to arrive at its destination in a condition that will lead the consumer to purchase it with confidence.
The production and despatch of fruit to overseas markets is very costly. Costs are rising continually. It has been stated that this industry bears an 80% cost load. I have been told on good authority that the net return on a case of fruit sold on the European market is of the order of 40c. Consequent upon a recent decision made by the Federal Exporters Oversea Transport Committee in consultation with the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association an additional charge will soon be levied against freight shipped from Australia to overseas countries and that in relation to refrigerated cargo the impost will be approximately 10%. That means that to the existing cost of $1.90 per case an additional sum of 19c will be added. The net return to the grower will be such that he will find it extremely difficult to carry on. I believe that the Tasmanian fruit industry will be in a depressed state for some years to come unless a direct solution can be found to the problems I have mentioned.
– Have the growers evolved any scheme which they think will be suitable in the circumstances?
– At the moment the industry is looking at the preparation and utilisation of a new type of container or package that may minimise the damage that is being done to the fruit. The growers had a form of case, then a cell pack carton container, which they felt was the answer to their problem but this apparently was not the case, and now a new type of container is being looked at. I am concerned with why, comparatively, the freight charges on Australian fruit are so much heigher than those on fruit from New Zealand. I say ‘comparatively’ in view of the respective geographical positions of the two countries. Bearing in mind the geographical relationship of Australia and New Zealand the level of freight charged on fruit is apparently substantially higher in Australia than it is in New Zealand. Nobody has been able to explain this to me and I believe that the industry finds it extremely difficult to get any sort of reasonable explanation for this position.
– Will the honourable senator repeat what he said was the net return for a case to the grower?
– It is 40c, and the freight charged is to the tune of 19s 2d a case, expressed in the old currency, which I find more convenient to use.
– After that, the net return is of the order of 40c a case?
– This is the figure as I see it - round about 4s on a case of fruit. I want to turn for a moment to something of which the Senate is already aware. I refer to the canning pea industry in
Tasmania. Honourable senators will recall that during the discussion of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement I mentioned our concern as to possible damage to the Tasmanian canning pea growing industry. We received assurances that if any substantial damage were likely to be done the Government would have another look at the position. This year in the areas where canning peas are grown we apparently have had seasonal conditions comparable with those in New Zealand, which generally enjoys very good conditions. Conditions in New Zealand might be said to be almost ideal for the growing of this type of commodity, bearing in mind the fertility of the country, the good farming methods employed and the adequate regular rainfall. Apparently in the pea growing areas of Tasmania we have had a season comparable with that of New Zealand. The result has been that crops have given a higher yield than was formerly the case. Recently the Minister for Supply (Senator Henty) was giving assurances that the problems of the industry would be watched very closely. At the very time he was giving these assurances the representatives of the canning organisations were canvassing the farmers for a reduction in their contract agreements for the supply of peas. Some of the farmers submitted, because I believe they realised that if they did not submit to the requirements of the industry - I put it in those terms - the chances of a renewal of contracts in the year ahead might be jeopardised. This is as charitable language as I can possibly use to put the position. It was not put to me in these terms. I put it to the Senate in this way to indicate the vulnerability of people in this industry so far as continuity of operations is concerned. The matter got to the stage where growers of canning peas who were not disposed to fall into line with the canners’ requirements in this connection had their crops cut and harvested in a condition in which they had not reached the level of maturity which the farmers believed they ought to have reached. Naturally the time factor as it relates to the maturity of the crop can be of major importance. In the case to which I have referred the yield per acre would have been substantially higher if the crop had not been harvested before it was ready. This was done because the season was bountiful, but what happened shows the vulnerability of the industry. When we have regard to the kind of challenge that comes from imports from New Zealand we can see that this is a vulnerable industry. It could be argued, quite fairly I believe, that substantial damage has been done to the industry because of its vulnerability. I would expect the Government to give some assurance to the industry that its interests will be preserved and protected, as the Government said it would do when this Parliament was discussing the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement.
There are many ways in which we could assist New Zealand other than by allowing commodities of this kind into the country. For a long time I have wondered, having regard to our common interest in this area, our common heritage and our common aims and objectives, why we have not entered into negotiations with New Zealand for the sale of our iron ore to that country. In my view this is a field in which we can be of practical assistance to New Zealand, bearing in mind that New Zealand lacks iron ore deposits. I have referred on other occasions to the fact that New Zealand is endeavouring to extract iron ore from beach sand. We have in Australia an abundance of iron ore. We are prepared to negotiate with other countries for the sale of our iron ore for the manufacture of steel products in those countries. Surely this is an area in which we can be of practical help to a country with which we are so closely tied. One of the great problems confronting New Zealand is lack of steel for manufacturing industry. If we really feel an affinity with New Zealand and are concerned for that country’s welfare and development’, surely we can make financial arrangements which will enable it to enter into some sort of partnership with us for the establishment of a steel industry and so carry on with the manufacture of products from this basic raw material. As I have said, we have an abundance of iron ore in Australia and we can be of practical assistance to New Zealand if we can negotiate suitable terms of purchase.
I want briefly to refer to the role of industry as I see it and the area of responsibility of industry in the development of the industrial potential and output of this country. On other occasions I have discussed the entry by Australian secondary industries into overseas markets. We have the example of the Repco organisation which is trading with about thirty countries. The organisation’s trading: arrangements are not such as to leave it with a credit balance in respect of itsoperations with some of those countries but the organisation believes in diversification of markets. I entirely agree with it on that score. It has endeavoured to sell toareas such as Malaysia and India where it can be of great assistance. It can trade at a loss in those areas and set its losses against its profitable trading in other areas. This is the kind of enterprise which I believe should be encouraged and which I am sure is encouraged by incentives of one kind and another. I have considered this matter carefully and although I appreciate and acknowledge the initiative that has gone into the establishment of many industries, I believe that industries, must be induced by some means to act upon considered judgments so far as entry into overseas markets is concerned.
Unfortunately, I have only a short time: left to me, but I will deal very briefly with the dairying industry. I know that the question of the subsidy is under consideration at the present time, but I suggest ta> the Government that very close consideration ought to be given to the desirability of assisting the co-operative butter factory organisations so that they can diversify their manufacturing processes. They should call on the science and technology of the present day so that they will not have to rely on the production of one commodity from the dairying industry. Many of these co-operative organisations are in this position. They have machinery and facilities solely for the manufacture of butter fat. In many instances the shareholdings in these companies are quite small.
I believe that if the Government were to give some consideration to assisting in this financial changeover - whatever it might be - in the dairying industry and if it were to give some thought to the provision of funds to allow the co-operative factory organisations to diversify their industry and the products which they turn out, some service would be given to the dairying industry. I sincerely hope that the Government does not contemplate reducing this subsidy to the dairying industry. I think that the provision of such funds as J have mentioned would be a practical way in which to assist the dairying industry, lt would enable these co-operative organisations to diversify their products into, say, cheese, butter oil, powdered milk, stock food and all those other commodities which could be sold quite lucratively. Certainly, as far as butter fat is concerned these organisations are struggling for economic existence.
– I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency, the Governor-General. I would like to congratulate both the mover and the seconder of the motion upon their excellent speeches. His Excellency’s Speech covered many subjects, all of vital importance to Australia. It seemed to me to be partly in the nature of a review and partly foreshadowing legislation which will be brought forward by the Government in the ensuing period of this Parliament. I Would like to refer to the opening words of His Excellency’s Speech. He said:
This - the 26th Parliament - assembles at a time when Australia is enjoying a sustained period of stability and economic progress.
It is my opinion that we are enjoying this sustaining period of stability because of the wise leadership that this Government has given the nation. Proof that this opinion is held by the vast majority of the Australian people was given at the general election on 26th November last.
This prosperous and lovely country enjoys a stable way of life while so many countries near to us are beset by problems of the gravest concern. It comes to my mind that each day the President opens the Senate by prayer, wherein words are spoken referring to the true welfare of the people Of Australia. In times of crises our people respond and have concern for the welfare of each other. The magnificent and instantaneous reponse to the Tasmanian bush fire appeal reflects the warm heartedness of our people, which has come to be regarded as typically Australian. I join with all those who have expressed sympathy to the people who mourn in Tasmania. This same warm heartedness has given rise to the growing desire that all possible aid shall be given for the welfare of the people of South Viet- nam and India, and, in fact, wherever there is need. The Government responds continually by gifts where there is some great need. We rejoice that help was given to the people of India. I was interested to read recently a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) that a further gift of $200,000 for commodities, was being made immediately to meet Indonesia’s most urgent requirements. Mr Hasluck said that the $500,000 provided for a similar purpose in the latter part of 1966 had been spent and that representatives of Australia and other countries were meeting in Amsterdam on 23rd and 24th February to determine ways and means of giving help to Indonesia.
His Excellency referred also to South Vietnam. May I refer to the words of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in his policy speech when he referred to South Vietnam. He said:
The presence of ourselves and other friendly forces there is not a commitment to war, it is a commitment to peace and freedom.
I firmly believe that by our assistance in South Vietnam we are endeavouring to obtain for the people of that country lasting peace and lasting freedom. Recently I was in Korea, and I hope that we will be successful in obtaining peace and freedom for the people of South Vietnam and that they will not be condemned to living for years under the terms of an armistice instead of under a true peace.
Korea, which was for so long wartorn and where the devastation was appalling, has made tremendous strides. I was in Pusan in South Korea. This was the only place where war devastation did not take place. The armies of North Korea and of South Korea swept up and down South Korea leaving behind tremendous suffering, ruin and damage, yet in Seoul and in the parts of South Korea that I was able to see buildings had been erected and the people were going ahead with plans for all kinds of social services and for education. It was most heartening to see thousands of boys and girls in their school uniforms looking happy and well-fed and looking with enthusiasm and courage to the future. I was privileged to go to Panmunjom, but there the picture was the reverse. It was a scene of appalling devastation. The paddy fields were lying dormant and there were rows of barbed wire, some bearing notices ‘Mines Here’. It brought home very forcibly to me the fact that the people of South Korea are still in a state not of war but of danger of war. The week before I was there troops from North Korea had penetrated into South Korea killing American soldiers and South Korean soldiers, yet despite this the people of Korea are determinedly looking for peace. In the demilitarised zone they have erected a building dedicated to freedom. It may seem extraordinary to have such a building in a zone surrounded by barbed wire and by soldiers, yet I assume it is there as an expression of hope for peace in the future and of their aspirations for the achievement of the best possible living standards for their people.
I was also in Quemoy, where the same courage is being shown by the inhabitants. People from the mainland come to that island as they are able to escape by one means or another. They are endeavouring to build up the economy of the small island to make it self supporting as far as possible.
In Taiwan it is obvious that the determined efforts have met with success. The people are no longer dependent economically upon outside aid. Their agricultural policy is sound and I was told that 85% of the agricultural land is now under private ownership. I was taken to Kao-Hsiung where a splendid new port is being developed. Factories are being built nearby so that goods can be exported easily. It is obvious in Taiwan and Korea that people who have asserted their right to choose their own way of life, both socially and economically, are achieving a continuous and steady rise in the standard of living. I am sure that the South Vietnamese people would do the same if they had the chance.
I talked to the people of Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. They realise the urgent need to demonstrate to Communists that free Asia is determined to remain free. They expressed gratitude to Australia for the military aid we are giving and also for the civilian aid that is being given to their countries and to so many other countries under the Colombo Plan and other projects. We do not want the people of South Vietnam to be condemned to live under a con- tinuous threat from Communist forces ad infinitum.
Might I remind the Senate that since World War II the Australian Government has given about $ 1,000m in external aid. The countries to which aid has been given are Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Ceylon, India, Indonesia, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. All these countries are our neighbours and we are building sympathy and friendship with them.
The Governor-General referred to the historic Goals of Freedom declaration which was signed at Manila by Australia and six other Asian and Pacific region countries. The part that Australia can play and is playing in the affairs of this region is indeed being acknowledged. In addition a vast amount of civilian aid is being given by voluntary agencies within the churches and the community. This goes on day by day, week by week. An endeavour has been made to co-ordinate the planning of this voluntary aid by means of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid. Recently the Government enabled three experienced men to go to South Vietnam to survey the needs and to see what practical plans can be implemented for rehabilitation in the areas we can reach.
Again, through voluntary agencies large sums of money are being devoted to assistance in these countries. Milk powder is being sent to India to relieve immediate needs and dairy herds are being established for the future. In fact many worthwhile projects are being carried out by young people who are giving their services in these countries.
Recently I attended in Victoria the annual meeting of the Freedom From Hunger Campaign, and I would like to pay a tribute to the determination of and the success achieved by the people responsible for that campaign. They have been able within the last twelve months to raise a very large sum of money in small contributions from many Australians. These generous gifts will, I am sure, continue to be made.
Now I turn very briefly to a consideration of those in our own community who are in need of help. In his Speech the Governor-General referred to legislation by which the means test for age, invalid and widows pensions will be liberalised. This will mean that the new limits on income, before eligibility for pension ceases, will be $1,196 per annum for single persons and $2,106 for married couples, and that a single person whose income does not exceed $520 per annum will receive the full pension, as will a married couple whose combined income does not exceed $884. Of course, as we are aware, where there are children the income limits are increased.
Help is also foreshadowed for voluntary and other agencies giving assistance to those caring for the disabled. We are told - and it was foreshadowed in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) - that practical help to those who are caring for the disabled will be given by means of a capital grant towards the expansion and establishment of sheltered workshops. Many of these workshops were visited by members of the Government Members Social Committee last year. I, with some of my Victorian colleagues, saw quite a number of them, and I was struck by the fact that so many people who would until fairly recently have been condemned to live helpless and hopeless lives are, through these sheltered workshops, being given the ability to seek employment outside the workshops. Thisgives them a meaning and purpose in their lives. We saw children, young people and aged people being helped in this way, and it is indeed good to know that legalisation will soon be introduced to provide for these increased grants.
We are also told that help will be given to various agencies conducting social welfare work. I understand the Australian Council of Social Services will be listed among them, and I pay a tribute to the work that is being done by the agencies combined under the aegis of this Council in the various States in which they are operating. 1 would like to say something about housing. The Ministry of Housing, as we know it now, was established only recently, on 17th December 1963. We should be very grateful to the first Minister, Mr Bury, and also to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin for the excellent record of service rendered to so many people through them and their Department. When we think of facts and figures, as I have so often said and thought, we can visualise all the people who are being given a chance to live happier lives by reason of the sums of money that are being granted. We are told, for instance, that the homes savings grants scheme is to be liberalised.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 February 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670222_senate_26_s33/>.