26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate give, this chamber an assurance that the claims of Queensland for an overseas shipping container terminal will be given full consideration before a final decision is made on the number and location of container berths in Australia?
– I think thai on reflection the honourable senator will realise that the provision of ports within a State is peculiarly the function of the government of that State. Presumably the provision of container ports also will come under the jurisdiction of the State governments. I may say for the honourable senator’s information that 1 have recently noted Press reports to the effect that the biggest of the overseas companies intend at this stage to service Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle with their container ships. However, the question would best be addressed to the Queensland Government, which will be responsible for the provision of terminals in that State.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the financial difficulties that are experienced by taxpayers in appeals to the High Court from decisions of taxation boards of review, will the Treasurer consider the Government’s financing the defence when such appeals are lodged by the Commissioner of Taxation?
– This is a legal question. It has been canvassed many times over the years. It is one that only the Treasurer can answer. Therefore, I ask the honourable senator to place it on the notice paper.
– Would the Minister for Education and Science care to comment on the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisa tion, as reported in today’s Melbourne Age’, in successful rain making experiments that were conducted recently in Victoria in the Wimmera district between Nhill and Kaniva and near Swan Hill and which contributed to the harvesting of an extra $2m worth of wheat for the expenditure of $15,000? As the Nhill area is on the border of South Australia, can the Minister state whether any application has been received from the South Australian Government for experiments of a similar nature to be conducted in South Australia, particularly in the area just over the Victorian border where the cloud formation and cloud temperature would be almost identical with those of the Wimmera area? Can the Minister indicate any method by which he could interest the South Australian Government in the whole question of rain making in the drier agricultural areas of South Australia?
– I do not know whether the particular activity to which the honourable senator refers and which is reported as having produced the rainfall to which he refers was in fact conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation itself or whether it was conducted by some local organisations or possibly even the State Government, using the techniques which have been developed and proved by the CSIRO for use in this kind of operation. Normally, the function of the CSIRO is to develop and to prove and to show what can be done, what types of clouds should be used, what kind of material should be put into a cloud to precipitate it, and what sort of temperatures are suitable. The knowledge of how to do something is what the CSIRO develops. The application of that knowledge is then a matter for either a State government or some local organisation. For example, the honourable senator will see at once that if the CSIRO developed some significant economic new method of constructing roads, clearly the CSIRO would not go and construct roads. The same type of argument applies here. So all that I can say in answer to the detail of the honourable senator’s question is that I am sure that the division of the CSIRO concerned with this does keep all State governments fully informed of the techniques and the requirements to put this very valuable, and more and more proved, operation into effect.
– I direct a question m the Minister for Education and Science. Is it a fact, as reported in the Press, that at a Canberra meeting the Minister advocated universal curriculums among the State and Commonwealth education authorities and also said that he was in favour of trying to persuade the Commonwealth to finance the writing of common text books? Why cannot the Commonwealth take the initiative in promoting discussions between the States and the Commonwealth with a view to the adoption of these proposals? Will the Minister, in addition to advocating that the Commonwealth finance the writing of such text books also consider Commonwealth financial support for the printing of the books?
– This question partly follows along the lines of a question asked of me in the Senate yesterday. 1 will not recapitulate what I said yesterday other than to point out that I am not advocating and have not advocated a completely common syllabus or a uniform system of education or of text books throughout Australia. But it does appear that if some compatibility can be arrived at this might be of benefit to quite a large number of citizens. I would never and would have no authority to say that the Commonwealth would or would not finance a particular project. If a project of that kind were put to the Commonwealth by the States I would certainly take it along to the Government to see what the Government’s view was. The honourable senator asked me why the Commonwealth cannot get the States talking about this among themselves. All that I can say in reply to that is that I have, in the last three weeks or so, spoken to every Slate Minister for Education on a variety of subjects and have suggested to each one of them that they might care to discuss this at a meeting of State Ministers for Education or at a meeting of DirectorsGeneral of Education to see whether in fact this was possible. I do not think that the Commonwealth could be expected to do more than that.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. What has been the reaction from the States to the Prime Minister’s request for proposals from them for additional works in relation’ to water resources development in which further Commonwealth finance would be involved? What recommendations have the respective States made for projects in which the Snowy Mountains Authority would participate?
– I understand that no requests have been made by the Prime Minister for proposals by the States for additional water resources development works in which Commonwealth finance would be involved. The honourable senator will recall however that in our election policy speech last year the Prime Minister announced a proposal for a national water resources development programme involving an approach to the States in the form I have already outlined. But details of the implementation of this proposal have not yet been finalised. The honourable senator also asked me about projects involving the Snowy Mountains Authority. The Prime Minister has requested from the States advice regarding projects on which they would wish to use the services of the Authority. These projects would be within the respective State works programmes and would be financed from State sources. It is usual to treat replies from Premiers to the Prime Minister as confidential. Accordingly, I am not in a position to divulge what has taken place to date.
– Yesterday 1 asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army a question about casualty lists. I have received a few inquiries, and I am wondering whether the Minister has any further information. He promised to obtain further information for me quickly, if he could.
– I have some further information. Yesterday I gave the honourable senator what I thought was the correct answer to his question. I informed him that if it was not the correct answer I would obtain the correct information for him. It is as follows: the Department of the Army does not differentiate between national servicemen and members of the Regular Army in releasing the names of casualties. But when the Army numbers are given they enable people who know the numbers given to national servicemen to pick up speedily whether a casualty is a national serviceman or a member of the Regular Army. I know that there has been some difference of opinion on whether newspapers should publish casualties in separate categories. 1 have seen them published in that way in New South Wales. Newspapers there indicate that so many national servicemen were injured and so many Regular Army personnel were injured. However the explanation is that each national serviceman has a number with, I think, the prefix ‘7!. He retains that number when he goes overseas with members of the Regular Army. Thus anybody who knows the numbers can distinguish whether a particular soldier is a national serviceman or a member of the Regular Army.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Following upon Great Britain’s reference of its disagreement with Rhodesia to the United Nations late in 1966, and the United Nations action thereon, was the Secretary-General of the United Nations required to submit a report on the efficacy of the imposition of sanctions to member nations by 1st March 1967? If so, has Australia received this report or is it expected in the near future?
– Yes, the SecretaryGeneral was required to submit a report by 1st March and did in fact submit the report to the United Nations on 24th February. The report has been forwarded by the Australian Mission at the United Nations to the Department of External Affairs and its arrival is expected by the Department in the next two or three days.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise by pointing out that on 13th February it was announced that transistor radios had been recognised by the Hobart Fire Relief Committee as an essential part of life and that arrangements had been made with the Japanese Embassy in Canberra for the delivery to Hobart of enough pocket radios to keep the homeless informed from day to day. The radios were to be issued to homeless Hobart families through the central control centre at the Town Hall and distribution to country areas was to be arranged when the radios arrived. I am informed that these transistors were not made available because the authorities were required to pay substantial customs duty on them. Will the Minister explain to the Senate why the radios donated in this generous gesture to the people affected by the fires in Hobart were subject to customs duty? Was the matter ever referred to the Minister for decision? Will the Minister examine the case with a view to freeing these gift transistors from customs duty?
– Some of the information sought by the honourable senator is not within my knowledge but I shall make inquiries and give him a considered reply. T hope to be in a position to give him the information tomorrow.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Repatriation. I understand that the Minister spent Christmas Day wilh troops in the field during his visit to Vietnam and that he had discussions with them on various matters. In these discussions was mention made of irregularity in the delivery of newspapers from Australia? What was the basis of the complaints and what action has been taken to rectify the position?
– On my return from Vietnam I mentioned the complaint to which the honourable senator has referred. About the only complaint I had heard from the troops was that they were not receiving newspapers regularly. As soon as I returned I inquired into the availability of Australian newspapers for dispatch to Vietnam. I found that newspaper proprietors throughout Australia had been quite generous in making newspapers available for the troops in Vietnam free of charge. This applied not only to metropolitan newspapers but also to at least one country newspaper in New South Wales and it could well apply to country newspapers in other States. The problem then was not a matter of supply but of getting the papers delivered in Vietnam. I discussed the matter with the Minister for Defence hoping that we might have a fairly regular courier service and that papers could be delivered to Vietnam by that means. Unfortunately, we have not a regular courier service to Vietnam. But only this morning I took up the matter again with the Minister for Defence. When I first mentioned the matter to him he assured me that he would sec what could be done to expedite the delivery of newspapers. This morning, again, he said that he was going to make further inquiries with a view to getting these newspapers up there more regularly. We all realise what a tremendous help it is to the morale of the troops if they receive these newspapers from home fairly regularly.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question. Is the Minister aware that commercial television stations in Sydney have switched the programming of church services from Sundays to week days? Does the Minister know that this means that church sessions now have to compete with such popular trivia as Andrea. Mums and Dads, Pussy and Charlie. Eric Baume and Hazel and the Girls, with Dita Cobb bringing up the rear at about J p.m.? Is it fair that the church services now have to compete with this sort of popular entertainment? Would the Minister inquire of the PostmasterGeneral as to whether or not the stations concerned are breaching the agreement that they have to give the churches reasonable broadcasting and television time?
– I certainly will inquire of the Postmaster-General concerning any possible breach of the agreement. As to the remainder of the question I would be very loath to accept as a proposition that church services were only appropriate on Sundays. It would seemto me that the efficacy of the church service is constant throughout the week. I gather by inference from the honourable senator’s question that church authorities are complaining because of the changed time. If that is so I will make that point clear to the Postmaster-General when submitting this matter to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Housing. The Minister knows of the Senate’s continuing interest in business being written by the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. Some reasonably current figures have been given to us. I wonder whether the Minister could bring us up to date as to the amount of business being underwritten by the Corporation?
– The Housing Loans Insurance Corporation opened for business fifteen months ago. Since then the number of loans insured has reached nearly 3,500. In value they amount to $27m. This business in increasing. I think it is interesting to note that more than $21m of this business was written during the first eight months of this financial year. This shows that the Corporation is providing a valuable service both to the prospective home owner and to lending institutions.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he has read statements that more than thirty million people in north-east India are famine stricken. Can he advise us of the assistance that Australia has given to this unfortunate country and what further assistance is likely to be given? Many thousands have died and are still dying in this area and of those who survive many thousands will be permanently maimed by their privation.
– The Government has already announced its gift of wheat to India. The figure eludes me at the moment. I cannot actually say what the position now is but the Indian Government and this Government are constantly in touch on this matter. I cannot say whether the gift of wheat which has been provided to India is going to the area mentioned. I do not know whether that is the only drought area in India at the moment. I think the honourable senator may be assured that Australia will watch this position carefully and consider any requests made by the Indian Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the urgent necessity to get war material to Vietnam can the Minister advise the latest position relating to the manning of the Boonaroo’ by the Seamen’s Union? If the Seamen’s Union has decided not to man the vessel will the Government take immediate action to have it manned by naval personnel?
– I cannot add anything to the statements on this matter which have been made by the Minister for Labour and National Service. If the honourable senator wishes to put his question on the notice paper so that it can go to the Minister, I suggest that he follow that course.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister read the Henwood security story in the ‘Australian’? Docs any tribunal exist to examine the accuracy of Mr Henwood’s allegations? Does the Minister consider that Mr Henwood is experiencing ideological deviations similar to those experienced by Mr Rex Chiplin?
– No, I have not read the story. If the honourable senator places his question on the notice paper I will read the story at the first, opportunity.
– Can the Minister for Education and Science confirm that investigations are being conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation into the future use of computers by farmers and graziers? Can the Minister affirm that experiments in the accurate application of various manures, including superphosphate, indicate that yields can be increased by from 300% to 400%? ls the Minister aware of a comment by a leading American industrialist to the effect that western grain producers would, within the next five years, be extracting yields of 500 bushels of wheat per acre? If there is truth in these comments, will the Minister give an assurance that he will ensure that the knowledge gained by CSIRO will be extended rapidly to the farming community?
– I understand that some experiments are being carried on by CSIRO dealing with the best yields that can be obtained from a given area of land by the use of specific quantities of artificial manures, the application of given amounts of moisture at particular times, and things of that nature. The Organisation feels that this kind of information can be used by a computer to show what should be done by a particular farmer in a particular locality. 1 understand also that the results of this work will be published, probably next month at a meeting in Canberra. 1 am sure this will receive publicity, at least in Australian agricultural journals. In fact these publications cover well most of what the CSIRO learns. The Organisation itself also produces quite a lot of literature which is available to all. We are not responsible for extension services which are run by the various State departments. Therefore I cannot guarantee that any knowledge will be disseminated by those extension services but the information certainly will be published, as is usual, by CSIRO.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General upon notice:
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers:
Reports on Items
– Pursuant to statute I present the following reports by the Special Advisory Authority:
Butyl alcohols and butyl acetates
Ethylene oxide derivatives.
Debate resumed from 28th February (vide page 171), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General bc 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 thu Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– When the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech was interrupted last night, I was referring to the subject of dental health. For the benefit of those people who listen to the parliamentary debates on occasions like this and wonder why honourable senators traverse such a wide area and refer to such a great number of subjects, perhaps I should explain that in a debate of this nature we are allowed latitude to cover the various subjects in which we are interested.
I shall not repeat my remarks of last night. 1 shall continue where i left off in respect to dental health. Perhaps I should repeal the remark of Dr Hillenbrand that too many governments are ignoring deficiencies in dental health, hoping that they will just go away. Senator Wright interjected that they were hoping that the teeth would drop out. I thought it quite a pertinent interjection because that seems to be the approach of a number of governments to dental health. Dr Hillenbrand stated that he did not think that the Australian Government is placing as much emphasis on dental health as the American Government. I agree entirely. I have conducted some private surveys on research undertaken in
America, New Zealand and Australia. That research has shown that the greatest incidence of dental disease is in Australia.
The incidence of caries or decayed teeth seems to follow a pattern with respect to the amount of money spent in those three countries on dental health. I am prepared to listen to the advice of Dr Hillenbrand because he has been Secretary of the American Dental Association, which has 105.000 members, for twenty-one years. He spoke in his capacity as Secretary of that Association to the Australian Dental Association Congress in Melbourne and said that dental disease is the greatest unsolved health problem in the world, particularly in the underdeveloped countries, because of the lack of an established dental profession and lack of government assistance. We cannot claim an out on that score, because we are not an underdeveloped country. He went on to say that in all countries dental health care should not be regarded as a luxury. People should realise that a lifetime of dental health is easily possible.
I pointed out last night that about eight years ago I raised the subject of dental health as a matter of urgency. I made a pica to the Government that something should be done about it. 1 moved the adjournment of the Senate on the suggestion- that the Government should be studying methods of bringing dental health within the scope of the national health scheme. But 1 am a realist and I know that it cannot be introduced overnight. First, we do not have a sufficient number of dentists. One could imagine the number of people who had not perhaps been able to afford to send their children for dental care and who would send their children to the dental profession under the proposed scheme. My suggestion is that the scheme should be introduced on a graduated scale. Children in the one to five years age group could become insurable first under the national health scheme which included dental health. Then we could widen the scope progressively until everyone could take out units under the national health scheme to cover dental health.
I conducted a private inquiry, although such inquiries are never terribly reliable, of more than eighty people who had recently submitted their taxation returns. I said to them: ‘Would you mind telling me how much you paid for your family’s medical and dental expenses? Forget about the refund that you received. What did you pay for medical expenses and what did you pay for dental expenses?’ I must be fair and state that some of these people had two children and others had four children. In every case they had expended more on dental expenses than on medical expenses. 1 again ask the Government to have a look at this question to see whether we can include dental health in the national health scheme.
Yesterday Senator Keeffe posed a question when he was referring to Vietnam and to what was happening to our Australian national servicemen and members of the Australian Regular Army. He asked:
Bui is the Government looking after these people when they are maimed in battle? Is it looking after the dependants of those who have lost their lives?
I was amazed to hear this sort of statement from Senator Keeffe who is also President of the Australian Labor Party.
– Why is that?
– Because he was present in this chamber when the relevant legislation was passed. We gave to servicemen who had been maimed in battle, which is the category about which Senator Keeffe was speaking, exactly the same conditions as we gave to servicemen of the 1914-18 War and the 1939-45 War.
– The question is whether that is good enough.
- Senator Keeffe did not say that. He said:
But is the Government looking after these people when they arc maimed in battle?
I categorically state yes, we are, on exactly the same basis as we have looked after servicemen in the two World Wars.
– Does the honourable senator think that is looking after them?
– Yes. They are being treated in exactly the same way. I was one of those on the Government side who persisted in pleading with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) that this should be so. Then Senator Keeffe asked: ls It looking after the dependants of those who have lost their lives?
I categorically state yes, on the same basis as we did in the two World Wars. We are also providing assistance under the war service homes scheme. As I have said, I am quite amazed to think that a person of Senator Keeffe’s standing could not recall that this debate had taken place in this chamber.
Senator McClelland in his speech castigated and blamed Australia. He said that we were doing nothing to try to solve by peaceful means the problem in Vietnam. I wonder why he did not go on and ask: What are the Communists and the Vietcong doing to try to solve by peaceful means the problem in Vietnam?’ Honourable senators opposite probably are as aware as I am of the conditions that the Vietcong have imposed before they will even come to the conference table. Before they are prepared to talk they want to emasculate completely the forces that are opposed to them. I think I am a realist when I say that you cannot approach a conference table to negotiate for peace if just you want to destroy the other party to the negotiations. I am quite sure my friends opposite would be equally realistic. Apparently in the view of Senator McClelland Australia is always wrong. The honourable senator has not said so. but I presume he believes that the people to whom we are opposed are right. Anything that is un-Australian seems to him to be quite good.
I want to refer to a statement that was made by the minority leader of the Australian Labor Party in the other place. I use the expression ‘minority leader’ because apparently when the Party elected its leader thirty-seven people preferred somebody else. Admittedly thirty-two people preferred him.
– The honourable senator has his figures wrong.
– I stand to be corrected. I shall be interested to hear what the honourable senator says when he does correct me. 1 was under the impression that sixty-nine people voted.
– The honourable senator got those figures from the Guardian’.
– No, I did not. I would not read that paper, and the honourable senator is quite well aware of the fact.
Through you, Mr Deputy President, 1 ask Senator Hendrickson whether he will he good enough, when he speaks, to give us the exact figures. I say that thirty-seven members did not want Mr Whitlam as their leader; they wanted somebody else. I am perfectly entitled to refer to him as the minority leader, because he is only leading the minority. I want to develop this theme. From what 1 heard this morning, Mr Bryant might even agree with what I am saying.
– Your Party is not even called the minority party; it is called the cockatoo party.
– The honourable senator is quite entitled to say that. But I am entitled to say what I am saying. In this place last week Senator Murphy made a very thoughtful speech in which he stated his opinion as the leader of the Australian Labor Party in this chamber. On Saturday last I watched and listened to- the television programme ‘Four Corners’. I could not believe my own eyes or ears. Therefore 1 was quite pleased to pick up a copy of the ‘Canberra Times’ this week and have what I thought 1. had seen and heard reinforced. On four occasions during that programme Mr Whitlam was chased into a corner. Mr Whitlam is a very shrewd person; he can get around a question beautifully. He is remarkably good at this. Finally during this programme the interviewer pushed him right into the corner and asked him this question, as set out in the text of the transcript:
Mr. Whitlam, would you withdraw Australian troops from Vietnam now?
– What did he say?
– He said: ‘No’. I admire him for doing that.
– He is not in government. How could he withdraw the troops?
– He clearly said: No’. The honourable senator cannot run away from this. He and I have been debating across this chamber for too long for him to be able to do that. I respect him for the views he holds. They are his views, and he is entitled to hold them. I thought honourable senators opposite were magnificent on the hustings. They went to the wives, the mothers, the sweethearts, the fathers, the sons and the daughters of our troops overseas and said: ‘Return us on 26th November and we will bring your men back immediately’.
– Perhaps some of those people regret that they did not return us.
– I am not debating that.
– We said we would do so at the appropriate time.
- Mr Calwell did not say that. He said: ‘I will bring them back immediately’. Actually he used the word conscripts’; I use the term ‘national servicemen’. He added: ‘I will bring back the regular troops after consultation wilh our allies’. Honourable senators opposite cannot run away from this. They would be despicable if they did so, because there is much evidence to establish that that is what they said. It was completely dishonest because within a fortnight of the meeting of the Federal Parliament Mr Whitlam, the new leader of the Australian Labor Party stands up and says - this is what he is by inference saying: ‘We did not really mean what we said to you because now we would not bring them back.’ If honourable senators opposite disagree with this, I want one of them to get up and tell me what their policy is now because quite frankly I am bewildered. I do not know whether Senator Murphy is the spokesman for the Opposition. I do not know whether Mr Whitlam is because, as I said, he has only thirty-two behind him and he had thirty-seven against him. I do not know whether Mr Bryant, who dispatches telegrams around the place, is the spokesman.
– The honourable senator has been bugging our caucus room.
– I was not even here. I was driving some Victorian friends around Canberra this morning, so the honourable senator cannot blame me for that. These are the questions which the Australian public are going to ask themselves, not now but at the next election. The Opposition came forward with such a positive, dedicated policy on which it chose to fight the election. I was in the
House of Representatives when Mr Calwell said: ‘We will fight you on this. These are the grounds we choose to fight the next election on’.
– He picked the wrong grounds.
– He picked the wrong grounds, in the terms of the pertinent interjection by my friend Senator Gair. All X ask of honourable senators opposite is that when they go to the people at the next election, for goodness sake go with promises which Labor is prepared to carry out and not with promises which they will repudiate should they become politically inexpedient within less than three months of polling day. I spoke last night and I do not want to speak much longer. I would have hoped, perhaps, to bait the Opposition a little more, but apparently the facts which I have presented cannot be refuted. I think one honourable senator - Senator Hendrickson - intimated that when he speaks he might reply to some of the allegations 1 have made. I think that the 40% of the Australian public that the Australian Labor Party claims to have supported it-
– Forty-three per cent.
– No, it was not. I have the analysis of the figures. It was not 43% throughout the Commonwealth; it was 40%. 1 would think that a big percentage of those 40% were conned into it because of the promises which that political party made which obviously, on the very statement of Mr Whitlam, it had no intention whatsoever of carrying out. Mr President, 1 support the motion.
– I have much pleasure in taking part in this debate and in associating myself with the expressions of satisfaction that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to which we are addressing ourselves was delivered by a distinguished Australian. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech embodies the Government’s assessment of the state of the nation and the Government’s indications of its legislative programme and its general policies in this the Twenty-sixth Parliament. It is in a parliamentary sense the Government’s case. In my view, it betrays a monumental inattention to the basic issues facing Australia today and it is conspicuously lacking in initiative in both domestic policy and foreign policy. It is the voice of a government that has utterly failed to appreciate the nature and the extent of the challenges facing Australia today.
To begin with, the Government seems unable to grasp the magnitude of the social and economic problems involved in the population explosion to our north, lt is the staggering prediction of the demographers that the world population will double itself to reach 6,000 million by the end of the twentieth century. In Asia two out of three people go to bed hungry every night. In India food production per head is less today than it was thirty years ago and the population of that country increases each year by about ten million, roughly the population of Australia. According to the Vernon Committee - a committee appointed by this Government’s predecessor - the gap between the low income countries and the high income countries is both large and increasing. Two-thirds of the world’s population, who receive probably less than 20% of the world’s income, are in the low income countries. The developing countries share of world exports decreased steadily from nearly one-third in 1950 to only slightly more than one-fifth in 1962. In other words, the have-not countries are getting poorer.
Is there anything in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to indicate that the Government realises this and that Australia needs positive policies to help its neighbours to solve these tremendously complex and agonising problems - to help them to feed their people? This is a fundamental question. It is a question of approach and of improved policies looking outwards from Australia. The Government seems to stagger along with the quaint old-world notion that military medicine can help to cure political, economic and social sickness. We on this side of the Parliament believe that the critical emphasis of policy in respect of Asia should be that if we want to assist these people, if we want to help to feed them, if we want to stop them turning to Communism, we must always be seen to be offering them something better. Unless there is a basic reshaping of the Government’s attitudes on such questions, there could be disastrous consequences for Australia.
I believe that this Government has no fundamental philosophy of co-operative relations with our neighbours. There is too much improvisation, too much expediency and too much dealing with situations as they arise and not as part of a general plan for cooperation with our neighbours. In our relations with Asia there is much more of what one might cai! a public relations stance than of policy. There is a tendency on the part of the Government to simplify the questions, to treat the people as though they did not need to know very much and to regard the whole conflict in the world today as a matter of goodies and baddies or cowboys and Indians. In the result, the people are left wilh little guidance from the Government on how they should shape up to the major problems.
In the time that is available to me today 1 want to discuss some of the problems in Australia which cry out for attention and to which this Government seems quite oblivious. I believe that they are important and urgent. They are what I call the unfinished business of Australian democracy. Firstly, there is poverty at home, here in Australia, as well as abroad. It may not be comparable with the poverty in Asia where people die, sometimes in millions, for want of food: but it is real poverty; it is degrading; and it should be the business of the Government to help to eradicate it. In the so-called affluent society it seems to be assumed that the major problems have been solved, that the ordinary man has what he wants and that it is not necessary or reasonable for him to rock the boat in order to achieve progress. It is assumed that everybody has enough to live on. Radicalism is to be discouraged because it is inconvenient to some of those people who enjoy the benefits of modern society. 1 sometimes wonder whether people who talk glibly, smugly and complacently in that manner really understand what is happening in this country behind the affluent facade. There is widespread poverty and despair in sections of the Australian community. I know that such assertions come as a surprise to some people. They look with patent disbelief at anybody who makes them. But I am satisfied, as I am sure many other Australians are, that there is a growing body of evidence that large numbers of Australians are living on the edge of subsistence.
A government that fails to address itself seriously to this problem is neglecting an important responsibility.
In the past year or two a great deal has come to light about the incidence of poverty in Australia. A number of impartial men in the academic world - at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and other places - have turned their attention to investigating for the first time just how much poverty there is in Australia. Less than a year ago Mr G. W. Ford, Senior Lecturer in Industrial Relations at the University of New South Wales, said that more than 800,000 Australians were on the poverty line. He said 735.000 agc and invalid pensioners and 65,000 widows were on pensions that could barely clothe and feed them. Professor R. F. Henderson, who is head of the Institute of Applied Economic Research at the University of Melbourne and under whom a major survey has recently been conducted, said:
In Australia we have no knowledge of the overall position because there has never been any general survey to investigate poverty, but poverty is real in this country.
He raised the important question of the purpose of social service payments and stated in September of last year:
We appear to be in a position where the authorities say the age pension is designed to supplement other savings and is not meant to be self-sufficient.
In the face of a mass of evidence that a very large number of people cannot manage on their pensions, it is fair to ask this Government and its Ministers in this chamber what they really conceive to be the function of the pension. Is it to keep the pensioner in a state of reasonable subsistence, reasonable comfort, reasonable satisfaction of minimum wants? Or is it to be, as is often suggested in statements that come from Government supporters, a kind of supplement to what they can earn themselves - if they can earn anything at all? I do not think there are too many people who would want to stand up in this Senate and say that most age pensioners are able to have earnings to which the pension might be regarded as a supplement.
– If they earn anything it is deducted from the pension.
– That is another problem but I am thinking of those who are quite unable to help themselves, who have nobody to look after them and to whom the Government addresses the consolation that what it gives them by way of pension is to be regarded merely as a supplement. Who is to provide the rest? That is a question that any self-respecting national government should bc able to answer at some stage. There is this huge void in the Government’s thinking on this question; this massive inattention to a problem that is getting worse and not getting better. Only a month ago at the important congress of ANZAAS in Australia, Mr R. J. A. Harper, Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Melbourne, published the substance of a preliminary report on the three-year survey being undertaken under Professor Henderson and his conclusion was that in the Melbourne area alone - an area which he defined as the metropolitan area - an estimated 133,750 people were living on or below the poverty line. He said that one in sixteen in the community lived in poverty and he defined the poverty line as being an income of $33 a week for a family of four. This represents the basic wage plus child endowment for two children. The assessments were made on that basis. He found poverty especially among unskilled workers with large families, among age and invalid pensioners and, to some extent, among newly arrived migrants.
– Did he consider that a good basis to take as the poverty line?
– I should like to know what Senator Webster regards as the poverty line. This seems to me to be a very conservative poverty line to draw because in the same breath Mr Harper estimated that the standard cost of supporting a family group of four persons was $67.34 on a weekly rent below $13. I think those making the survey have been careful in fixing this poverty line. I do not know precisely what other possibilities were open to them but I would certainly suggest that an income of $33 a week is one on which no family of four could live in reasonable comfort or decency.
Faced with this kind of evidence, the real problem is to ascertain the incidence of poverty over the whole country and then to have a policy to deal with the problem. Again and again this Government has declined to make surveys of the position on a national basis. For some years we on this side of the Senate have been asking what facilities for research into this matter the Government was providing and whether it would undertake a survey on a national basis. Again and again we have been told that this is not the business of the Government.
In 1964 I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether there was any material then in the possession of officers of the Department of Social Services showing the relationship between pension payments and what pensioners needed to live on. I was told they did not know and that in fact it was none of their business. I say quite emphatically that this is part of the nation’s business. It is a blot on the nation’s name to have such wide areas of poverty. The first thing to do is to have a national survey to ascertain just how widespread poverty is today. But the evidence is incontrovertible. It does not come only from academics; it comes from people with practical experience in these matters, such as social workers who understand the problems involved. It has been accepted in responsible journals as indisputable. The Melbourne ‘Age’ had a strong editorial on the question on 6th February under the heading ‘The Poverty Line’. Commenting on the survey it stated:
All the people concerned had far less money than most of us would consider the absolute minimum for trying to cope with the problems of daily life.
That is an answer to Senator Webster. The editorial continued:
Children are undernourished, pensioners live without hope, men are unable to earn enough money to provide for their families’ basic needs, widows and deserted wives lose the fight to raise their children in dignity and happiness. In Australia, as in Asia, poverty is being allowed to breed poverty.
That is a responsible statement by a very reputable journal. Does the Government propose to face up to this problem and do something about it or does it regard the problem as not being its responsibility If the Government continues to treat the problem as though it does not exist or as though it were not part of the responsibility of government, I am sure that in due course it will bc roundly condemned by the Australian people.
There is unfinished business for Australian democracy in other areas and particularly in the field of education. We have reached a stage where the Government has finally appointed a Minister for Education and Science on a full time basis. This is many years too late. I hope that it will be possible to make up for lost time. But the Government is years behind the times in moving only in 1967 to do this. Every responsible educationist in the last decade has been talking about this. But this Government is not a government which responds to an unanswerable case, it only responds to unbearable pressures. For many years now the case has been well documented that education has to be a national responsibility, that the Commonwealth’s part of the work can be properly administered only under a Federal Minister. Indeed, the Government has always been on the wrong foot in attempting to divert the question to the States by saying that it is a matter for them. It was only at the 1963 general election that the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, committed the Commonwealth to enter any field of education other than tertiary education - strictly, other than university education. We of the Opposition had been saying for years that this was a national responsibility. We had been saying for years that there ought to be a national inquiry into the education system and into the needs of Australian education at all levels. We know that already there has been an inquiry into tertiary education; but what about primary, secondary and technical education? All these matters have to be surveyed because unless we know what the needs are in national terms how oan we shape policies in order to meet them?
Again, every responsible educationist feels’ that pressure has to be put on the National Government ultimately to loosen the purse strings to allow a much greater volume of funds to be spent on education. We have reached the ridiculous situation in the last week where the Commonwealth and a number of States are engaged in an unseemly wrangle about how much each is to contribute to post-graduate research. The Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) made a statement on this yesterday in this chamber. Several Vice-Chancellors and the responsible heads of post-graduate research in the Australian universities have said that the drastic reductions in postgraduate research grants are calamitous; that hundreds of graduates are going to be unable to engage in post-graduate research at Australian universities. Honourable senators will agree that this shapes the intellectual climate of the community in a hundred ways. But we are bogged down in a dispute between the Commonwealth and the States, and the Minister virtually says that the Commonwealth is sitting pat; that it is the responsibility of the States; that the States have not put in their share and if the universities feel they are hard up then they should approach the States.
In a technical sense, according to the agreement, this is the responsibility of the States. 1 am not saying that the sole responsibility for this position rests on the Commonwealth. What I want to say is that some kind of constructive effort should be made lo break the deadlock, otherwise the universities will suffer and ultimately the students and the community will suffer from this failure to agree.
– But that is the very imbroglio that the Australian Universities Commission was intended to solve.
– Well apparently the Commission has not solved it.
– Governments wish to arrogate to themselves the right to disagree.
– I appreciate that. 1 am not pleased with what the State governments are doing either. But I am saying that ultimately the State governments look to the Commonwealth for the money so why can they not get their heads together, decide how much is to be spent and stick to the agreement? I want to see something more constructive come from the Commonwealth than for it merely to say: ‘We are sitting pat on this’.
This is only one of the areas in which a new approach has to be made to education. It is perfectly obvious that you cannot talk about achievements merely by reciting figures. It is easy to say that the Government is spending X millions of pounds today compared with a figure for Mr Chifley’s day that was only one-third or one-half of that. Comparisons of that kind are not really relevant comparisons: firstly, because the value of money is about one-third today of what it was in those days, and secondly, and even more importantly, because we are moving into the second half of the twentieth century - we are well into it - and we have to know what Australia’s needs will be in the next thirty odd years because in that period, as I said before, the population of the world is going to double. Things are moving at a tremendous pace throughout the world and in this part of the world our Government, so far as I can sec, is completely unable to appreciate what is going on. In Australia we have not begun to lay the foundations of a genuine national health scheme. We have not got down to the position where the ordinary man, the working man, can be guaranteed a long term low deposit loan at a low interest rate for housing on a basis which makes a home readily available to him.
– Come, come, senator.
– Never mind about come, come senator’. We have not got to the stage where we can talk about really low rates of interest. We have not got to the stage where we can talk as though the housing of the Australian community is on a rational basis so that every man is guaranteed housing at moderate cost ro himself and, especially, at low interest.
I am sketching these things because they have not really been tackled with the sense of urgency that I want to see. I see that there are great problems of national development which are being proceeded with in a casual way. This Government was never keen about the Snowy Mountains scheme in the early days. Honourable senators will recall that the opening ceremony of the scheme, back in about 1947 - the scheme was inaugurated by Mr Chifley’s Government - was boycotted by gentlemen who are today Ministers in the Government coalition. But over the years they warmed to the scheme. They adopted it as their own. Now that the moment of decision has come, when the work of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is petering out, they are floundering along and do not know what to do with the engineers and the other skilled resources that have become available as a result’ of years of work by the Snowy Mountains Authority. They have not grasped the importance of national development projects on a grand scale which would involve the use of those men, materials and skills in other parts of Australia where great water conservation schemes need to be developed.
These are just examples of the way in which the Government goes about its business. Let us consider the held of overseas investment. This is one of the critical problems facing Australia today. There has been a great deal of public pressure for a proper look at this problem; for effective curbs to be placed on overseas takeovers of Australian industry; and for effective Australian ownership and control of basic areas of our industry. All that was given in the Governor-General’s Speech on behalf of the Government, was some indication that in relation to national resources and new natural resources the Government favours - I think that was the expression - Australian participation. TheOpposition dees not believe that thai is facing up to the problem. There is no indication in the Governor-General’s Speech that the Government is going ro do anything about it. There is a pious expression of a general intention or a general attitude that the Government will favour some Australian equity participation in the development of these natural resources. No legislation is foreshadowed. There is no indication that the Government is serious about the problem. We are merely left with the feeling that the Government is merely paying lip service to the demands which have been made from within the ranks of the Government’s own supporters - even by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) - for some minimum Australian equity in Australian enterprises. 1 say that’ that is not good enough. I say that it does not measure up to what is demanded of the Government.
I have mentioned those areas in which the Government has failed. I wanted to say something about the Government’s general attitude towards the people in regard to domestic and foreign matters, but I see that time has caught up with me. The essence of what I want to say is that in all these areas part of the Government’s failure has been its inability to commit large sections of the population to national enterprises. In fact the Government does not want the people to know too much or to think too deeply about these questions. I have illustrated this in relation to foreign affairs. The Government’s policy is a superficial policy of getting the people to think in terms of good and bad.
I have not the time now to debate with Senator Branson or anyone else aspects of the Labor Party’s policy. We are all looking to the Government today for some kind of initiative in foreign affairs; some kind of attempt to achieve a de-escalation of the conflict in Vietnam. We arc looking to the Government and the Government is letting us down. What is the use of talking about the Labor Party in that situation? It is the Holt Government which has the responsibility of leading Australia in the next two or three years and I say that at the present time we are being let down in every direction. The Government does not like people to talk about poverty. It does not like to admit that there are the nonaffluent, the poor and needy. The Government does not want to campaign for an increased percentage of Australian ownership and control in Australian industry. It does not want the people to understand the serious problems facing this nation. It prefers to dazzle us wilh statistics so that the appearance of progress is falsely assumed to be the reality.
For all these reasons I believe the Government stands condemned. It has failed to give effective national leadership at home and abroad. 1 know we will be told about all sorts of things which appear in the Governor-General’s Speech and that the Government is doing this, that and the oilier. Some of its efforts are modest, some have a degree of importance and some are quite trivial. If one looks at the achievement and measures it against the challenge the comparison is ridiculous. The Government: has failed us.
– First of all I should like to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty which have been stated by almost every member of the Senate who has taken part in this debate. I believe it is desirable that at the opening of every Parliament this kind of debate should take place because it permits members on both sides of the House to look critically at all the problems facing the country that come within their examination and to advance suggestions as to how these can be overcome. This is not just a time when we should pat each other on the back. Let me also extend congratulations to our Governor-General and express satisfaction that such a distinguished Australian should be occupying this position. I do not think any Australian has had such a wide experience in war and in peace as has our present Governor-General. It was indeed a great pleasure to sit in this chamber and hear him deliver his address from the throne. 1 take this opportunity to congratulate also the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I do not think anyone can disagree with me when I say that the motion was moved and seconded in a very thoughtful manner and that the matters put before us are worthy of very deep study. I am sure they have been taken to heart by all honourable senators.
Naturally there has been much reference to the great tragedy in Tasmania. I think it is a cause of considerable pride that not only Australia but’ also overseas countries have responded so nobly. The fact that people can be moved by a great tragedy such as this illustrates the basic good feeling and sympathy of the world at large. As 1 think of this tragedy and realise how great it has been I cannot help feeling that it highlights a rather strange characteristic. As a nation and as individuals we have been greatly moved - rightly so - by the Tasmanian disaster, yet we ignore all efforts to overcome another national tragedy occurring within our country week after week. Perhaps this is because of its constant impact, I do not know. The tragedy .1 speak of has often been referred to in this chamber; it is the road toll.
Casting our minds back to the Tasmanian tragedy of three weeks ago we recall that some sixty people lost their lives, that many millions of pounds worth of damage was done and that many people suffered a great deal of heartbreak. The real point I want to make is that this is happening every week of every year on our roads yet we seem to be doing nothing constructive to overcome if. More than sixty people are killed on Australian roads every week and for every person killed some twenty-seven persons are injured, many of them gravely.
Dr Johnson of the Department of Health in an article in the July 1966 issue of the Medical Journal of Australia’ - I will refer to it later in greater detail - has reminded us that because of injuries on the roads we are losing some 50,000 life years each year. He went on to tell us that one-third of the surgical beds in our large general hospitals are filled with victims of road accidents. If that is not enough, let me refer to figures contained in a report submitted by a select committee which was appointed by this Senate to inquire and report on road safety. As one relates those figures today one finds that material loss alone, which is infinitely less important than the lives that are lost, amounts to some $200m each year. Let us total the information we have: $200m worth of damage each year; sixty odd people killed every week; twenty-seven times as many people injured every week, many of them gravely; one-third of the surgical beds in our large general hospitals filled with road casualties. Let us also be sure that many of those people who are included in the road toll are as innocent as were the people of Tasmania who became victims of thefires three weeks ago.
So far anything we have done to overcome the problem has been piecemeal. I do not believe that our efforts have been sufficiently strenuous and severe to curb the problem.I am convinced that on the roads today is a dangerous minority of road users. They arc people who are so anti-social that they will be restrained only if we insist on penalties and measures which are infinitely more severe than those operating at present. It was not until1960 that the first real effort was made on an Australia-wide basis to overcome the problem of the road toll. At that time the appointment of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, which included nine senators, five of whom are still serving as senators, was indeed a splendid move.
Dr Johnson is quoted as saying in the report to which I referred a few moments ago - in the July 1966 issue of the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ - that the recommendations which came from the Senate
Select Committee on Road Safety were of outstanding importance. He said that if they were applied widely in Australia we would be making a much more positive effort to overcome the problem. The report of the Committee states: 1.It is imperative that a research group should be established, financed by Commonwealth funds and directly responsible to a Commonwealth Minister, to direct and co-ordinate basic and applied research into every aspect of road safety. The group should determine research projects and priorities, allocate projects to existing institutions and organisations, co-ordinate the results of local and overseas research, arrange for the analysis and evaluation of findings and publish its recommendations.
They are the introductory recommendations of the Committee about which Dr Johnson spoke in most glowing terms. Since the publication of the Committee’s report, other reports have been published. Only last week a report entitled ‘Report of a General Survey - Traffic Injury in Brisbane’ by Dr K. G. Jamieson and Dr I. A. Tait came to my hands. The survey was conducted under the authority of the National Health and Medical Research Council with the assistance of the Queensland Government.It is one of the most thorough and detailed investigations of the problem of the road toll that has ever come into my hands.
I became aware of this report through the select list of acquisitions which ismade available each week by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. 1 would like to express my thanks to the staff of the Library for making known to myself and all other members the new issues that are becoming available. I believe I should express thanks for the assistance we are getting. I would also like to say that I have found the Library staff invaluable in providing other research material on this subject. The patience of my audience in this chamber and on the air will not permit quotation at great length from the reports, but anybody who is stirred by the loss of sixty lives each week on the roads, and the injury of 80,000 people each year - some permanently affected and others temporarily - should not avoid studying and analysing them. Although the reports have gone into great detail, they state that there is still a long way to go. The report of the survey in Brisbane states:
A large volume of data is still available for analysis in relation to subsequent more specific research programmes which will be the more productive because of the background of general information already obtained. The magnitude and importance of the problem of traffic injury has been demonstrated, and the need for a broad and multidisciplinary approach to its solution is apparent.
The report was published in 1966 and covers investigations conducted in 1962 and 1963. ]t is full of vital information that we cannot afford to disregard.
I have also a more recent report of the Australian Road Research Board entitled Traffic Accidents in Adelaide, South Australia’. It covers the period 1963-64. it also is full of valuable information on the same subject. It is a curious thing that a study of similar reports from different parts of the world shows an almost exact similarity in broad terms. Each report highlights the problem which is examined from many points of view. It is examined from the point of view of single vehicles, two vehicles, driver, road factors, weather conditions and, possibly most important of all, the social background of the people involved in accidents, lt is clear from a study of the reports that road problems are not unique to Australia. They are common not only in a general way but also in a particular way, and for the same reasons, in every other part of the world.
One aspect about which we have no cause for pride is that the figures for road accidents in Australia are among the worst in the world. The figures for Sweden are among the best. Anyone who has given thought to this question will recall that the traffic laws in Sweden are very much more severe than they are in Australia.
– Particularly regarding alcohol.
– I am very glad that the honourable senator has referred to alcohol because that is one of the matters to which I intend to refer. As I have talked about this problem and have studied it over the years I have found that inevitably one comes back to the problem of alcohol in relation to the use of a motor vehicle. I have said publicly and privately for the last ten years that here lies one of the solutions to the problem. It would be impertinent for me to tell anybody that he had no right to drink; that is his own business. It also would be impertinent to say that a person who was qualified to do so had no right to drive a motor vehicle. But I do not think it is impertinent to say that with the number of vehicles on our roads no person has the moral right to mix drinking with driving a motor vehicle.
I revert to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety. Senator Wright has interjected on this point and has perhaps led me astray but I think rather advantageously. On page 22 of the report are several paragraphs which deal with alcohol and driving. Paragraph 101 refers to evidence concerning the effect upon the accident rate of the consumption of alcohol. Paragraph 102 qualifies the previous paragraph and points out that these results are much too low. Paragraph 103 states:
Statistics record the cases in which intoxication has been listed as the primary cause of an accident, but there is no evidence to indicate by how much these statistics might be in error in reflecting what is believed to be the true position. Private estimates place the percentage of accidents in which alcohol has had an influence as high as 70%, and investigation and examination nf fatal accidents and their victims, while not claimed to prove the extent to which alcohol contributed to the accidents, have revealed that 40% of victims had sufficient alcohol in their blood to render them under the influence of it, by the most generous of standards. In a survey conducted at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, upon a clinical basis, casualties admitted to the Hospital were examined for sobriety, and, on presently accepted medical standards. 26% of drivers were under the influence of alcohol.
I refer particularly to the words ‘on presently accepted medical standards, 26% of drivers were under the influence of alcohol’. Previously it was pointed out that private estimates had shown that 70% of people involved in accidents had been affected by alcohol to a degree.
Some people argue that a small quantity of alcohol does not interfere with one’s driving capacity, but this is a very specious argument. I. think il arises more from wishful thinking than from facts. In England a survey of all types of people was made by the Council of the British Medical Association. Some of the people were very heavy drinkers and some were very light drinkers. The Council came to the firm conclusion that even a small quantity of alcohol affected to a degree a man’s ability to drive a motor vehicle. This is a view to which 1 subscribe. I recognise that one of the most unpopular things one can do is to stand up in this chamber and say that a large percentage of road accidents are caused by people mixing driving and drinking. 1 know it is unpopular to do this, but that does not trouble me in the slightest. The thing that does trouble me is that there are too many people in Australia, in governments and elsewhere, who are afraid because of the unpopularity of such a move to face up to this problem and to take the strongest action possible to overcome it.
– Mr Towns, the Magistrate at Wollongong, takes strong action.
– Yes. I know that action has been taken in certain areas. I am sorry that at the moment 1 do not have details concerning some of the areas in which severe action has been taken, but 1 venture to say that there are no areas in which such strenuous efforts have been made where the truth of the old maxim Don’t mix drinking and driving’ has not been proved. Fundamentally, I think action must be taken in this respect if we are to try seriously lo cut down the carnage on the roads.
– What about speed?
– Speed is certainly one of the factors. Speed of itself frequently contributes to accidents, but I repeat - and please do not think that I am being oneeyed about this matter because I am not - that the reports to which I have referred prove that although excessive speed has been given as the final cause of a particular accident, investigation has shown that the people engaged in speeding had consumed too much alcohol before they started to drive. We have come to the stage where there must be a follow up of these scientific and carefully prepared and annotated examinations so that we can bring scientific evidence to bear on the problem. Having done that, if we want to save lives, the next step is for all governments in Australia to forget that it could be unpopular to legislate on matters such as this. I say this very definitely because this is a problem which is as much in the lap of the State Governments as it is in that of the Federal Government, and probably more so if it comes to the point. Governments must take this step despite the fact that it will be an unpopular one. If the evidence in these reports can be taken as being correct, and I believe it can, strong action such as a total ban on mixing driving and drinking must be taken. If the evidence can be believed, this action of itself would reduce the road toll from 25% to 33% and perhaps even to 40%.
I hope that the few comments 1 have been able to make on this subject will be heeded. I hope also that the reports to which 1 have referred, especially that of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety, will be noted much more carefully than they have been in the past. I hope, too, that we will overcome all fears of unpopularity, especially in our State governments, in an effort to eradicate this terrible thing that is happening every day and every week on our roads.
– In common with other honourable senators who have spoken to the motion, for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I desire to express pleasure that this Parliament was opened by an Australian Governor-General. I sincerely hope that in future this pattern will be followed by the Queen when she is choosing her direct representative in this country. I am indeed proud to represent the Australian Labor Party in this chamber. I thank the Victorian people for electing me to this position last November. When opening the Parliament His Excellency said that an increasing population was an essential element in Australia’s programme of national development. He added:
There is a valuable flow of migrants from Britain, and my Government aims to stimulate assisted migration from other European countries.
I intend to address my remarks this afternoon to this section of His Excellency’s Speech. 1 contend that the recent action of the Government in increasing tariffs in migrant hostels will have the reverse affect and that the flow of migrants to this country will slow down. The Government’s action has caused hostile hostel tenants in all States to band together to fight what they believe to be an unjust imposition and to decide not to pay the increases. It has been the final act in bringing to a head increasing resentment against the shocking accommodation and other conditions that exist in the hostels.
The reasons for the increase were set out by Commonwealth Hostels Limited in a circular that was sent to each hostel tenant in this country. Tn the opening paragraph this statement appears:
The Company has be:n faced with substantial and unavoidable increases in costs for food, wages and other services.
The next paragraph is very important. lt states:
Because of this it has been necessary to increase hostel tariffs.
The higher tariffs will meet 60% of the extra costs and the Commonwealth Government will increase its subsidy for hostels to meet the remaining 40%.
This will mean that the Commonwealth will be contributing just on (4 per week to the maintenance of every man, woman and child in the hostels.
Documents that we have obtained from Commonwealth Hostels Limited and tables of charges that we have seen lead us to believe that the situation is not entirely as was set out in the circular that I read. A table of figures submitted to the Leader of the Opposition in another place as recently as 4th February sets out the per capita expenditure in various years. It shows that in 1965-66 the relevant figure was $9.35. The document also indicates that the estimated cost for 1966-67 will be $9.97 per head. This means that the increase will be 62c per head. However, the minimum increase in hostel accommodation charges is 50c. A little bit of arithmetic indicates that 60% of the 62c per head increase in costs would be only 37c. That, on the figures that Commonwealth Hostels Limited has presented to us in documentary form, is the maximum increase that the Government,can justify.
This is the key to the charge by hostel tenants that they have been exploited and victimised. Each person who has been subjected to the increase believes that 37c is the highest increase in tariff that should be imposed. The additional tariff charged in the case of children just born is 50c a week. The total tariff charged for children under twelve months of age is $1.50 per week. I say quite seriously that very few babes would be getting anything like $1.50 worth of supplies and services from Commonwealth Hostels Limited. An examination of the whole picture reveals that the new charges are quite unjustified.
I have been associated with people from all States who are tenants in these hostels. Those whom I have dealt with are responsible people who have come to this country for the sole purpose of ‘making a go of it’, to use their own term. They want to be good Australians. They have not suggested, nor would they suggest, that any action be taken in this dispute other than that which has been taken. My own observation of the activities of these committees throughout Australia, particularly the committee in Victoria with which I have been closely associated, leads me to affirm that they have averted action that could have been embarrassing to them and to the Commonwealth. At one stage stronger forces were at work and more drastic action was suggested. So we are not talking about people who do not know their responsibility to this country. lt is important that we make just and proper decisions and that we ensure that there is no exploitation of these people who want to become good Australian citizens. They are quite disillusioned; they believe they have been spoofed. They say quite clearly that they have been misled by propaganda overseas. They say that they have been misled in regard to the type of accommodation that they could expect to receive when they reached Australia. Many say they have been misled about the employment that is available here, particularly in South Australia and Queensland. Moreover, they say they have been misled about the period of time they would have to stay in hostels before being able to purchase their homes or to move out into the community. AH these things have culminated in their being virtually in a state of revolt.
I know that in the past migrants have complained about conditions and the charges they have had to meet. On such occasions the complaints have been made more or less on a State basis. But on this occasion the dispute with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) is on a national basis. A deputation to the Minister has asked him to defer the increases and the threatened issue of summonses to persons who have not paid the additional tariff. Approximately 50% of the tenants have paid the old tariff but no more. Those people are being threatened with summonses by Commonwealth Hostels Limited in an effort to recover the difference between the old and the new rates. As late as this week we asked the Minister whether he would defer the new tariffs and the taking of legal action until a proper examination of the facts was made. 1 think everybody knows that the Minister has declined to do this. He is quite adamant about imposing the new tariffs and about not interfering with legal proceedings.
The Government is now faced wilh a head-on clash with people whom we want to live in this country to ensure that, as His Excellency said, ils development runs smoothly. Many of these people are contemplating a return to England. They cannot see any future in staying in Australia and in paying these exorbitant charges and having their children live in some of the conditions that 1 propose to describe a little later. What is urgently required at this stage is a crash programme to ensure that housing is available not only to the people that are coming to this country to be new citizens but also to the people who are already established here, lt is a crying shame that people must wait in hostels in the State of Victoria for three years before they can obtain accommodation in a house or flat belonging to the Victorian Housing Commission. The estimated time is three and a half years.
Mind you, Mr President, these people have, according to the conditions under which they enter hostels, only two years in which to obtain the necessary money to go into homes of their own. If they cannot get a housing commission home, they find that they must have a minimum of $2,000 before they can think about purchasing a block of land and subsequently attempting to get finance from other sources. Time is not available for me to go into greater detail but there are many case histories to show that in some instances it would be impossible in five, six or even ten years, to find $2,000 to enable these persons to ‘purchase homes and enter the community. As we know, many are forced out of the hostels at the end of the two years period into high rental accommodation - when I say high rental I mean anything up to $22 or $24 a week - so that they can house their children away from the communal surroundings, because they have stayed the full time permitted under the agreement that they signed.
In theory, low deposit homes are available. In practice, they are very difficul! to obtain. One cannot get a home from the housing commission for many months. I am a director of a housing co-operative in Victoria to which the Commonwealth Bank allocated $200,000 some eighteen months ago. As a result of one small reference in the local newspaper the Geelong Advertiser’, we had within twenty-four hours seventy-four applications for assistance from that sum of $200,000. If the publicity had gone on for an extra day we would have doubled that figure without any difficulty whatever. AH that we could accommodate were about thirty. This is the kind of demand that exists for housing cooperative loans. I believe that we can tackle this problem in many ways. If we need migrants, the Commonwealth Government must provide additional funds to ensure that homes are available. As the people who own the Commonwealth Bank, we must make available to the housing co-operatives throughout the length and breadth of the country additional finance to enable low deposit homes to be provided for people who seek them at that level.
This is the kind of situation that exists for some 9,000 to 10,000 migrants in hostels. I do not say that a priority should be given to any particular section of our community but I do say that a crash programme of housing is absolutely vital if the conditions indicated in the Speech that we heard in this chamber on Tuesday of last week are to be met. So I say to the Government that it should have a really close look at the situation. If it really wants migrants here, if we really need them, the Government should do something tangible to see that when they come here they will stay here and not want to return to their former homes. No migrant to whom I spoke in this regard wants to go back. Each and every one of them is insistent that he wants to stay in this country, yet some are already contemplating returning to their former countries because of the long period that they feel they will have to wait before they will be able to join the community and be among us as we would like them to be.
I now want to speak about some of the conditions that exist in these hostels. I have examined quite a number of them and I want to say right here and now that some of them are an utter disgrace and unfit for human habitation. 1 have photographs which can be seen by any honourable senator who wishes to have a look at them. The Minister for Labour and National Service also has a set of these photographs. I realise that in the early 1950s, after the war years when the immigration programme was initiated, it was necessary to provide some type of temporary hostel accommodation if we desired to bring to this country the people whom we needed. Part of the plan on that occasion was to convert army camps into hostel accommodation and build others in various parts of the country. But I say that in this day and age, some seventeen or eighteen years after the commencement of this programme, the accommodation has deteriorated to such an extent that even if it meant finding temporary private accommodation for migrants, some of these hostels should be closed down without any delay whatever.
I have observed the . Brooklyn hostel. Commonwealth Hostels Ltd has indicated that it is not happy with this particular hostel - or camp, as I would call it. It is in such a state that it needs many, many thousands of dollars spent on it to bring it to a normal state of maintenance. One of the big problems that is being faced in every part of this country is that migrants are still living in corrugated iron Nissen huts. They are shocking; they are terrible. Even if they were painted and made to look like mansions, one would have to live in them to know just how terrible they are. We had temperature tests last week in Melbourne and found that during the heat wave temperatures of 125 degrees were common inside the huts in which these people are living and that temperatures were well over 100 degrees at night time. The tenants were forced to hose down the roofs with water before they could attempt to put their children to bed. This is the kind of accommodation in which we are putting people in 1967. I have known of women who have just broken down and cried, broken-hearted because they have been brought into conditions of this kind after reading documents received from Australia House which gave an entirely different picture. These showed on the front a photograph of beautiful trees around a very attractive building as being the type of accommodation they would receive when they came to this country. If we want to encourage migrants we must have a crash programme to ensure that they will not spend many months of their lives in existing accommodation after they arrive here.
Under the system operating in these hostels, working wives find that they are suffering real penalties. Many families find that if they are to save to get out into the ordinary way of life the mother has to go to work. In most cases these are people with very young families - children from thirteen years of age down to new born babies. The mother has to make a pretty serious decision as to whether she will attempt to find a job. If she finds a position, she will be away from her children in most cases even before they have left for school. The children who are of school age will be running around this communal centre after school until she arrives back at about 6 p.m. This is a moral problem that she has to overcome in relation to searching for a job.
When she gets a job, in many cases she has to find a child minder. Naturally enough, the kindergartens at the hostels cannot take children under two years of age. She has to pay private people to look after the children while she works during the week. She then finds that because she has obtained a job her tariff immediately rises. She also finds that her husband’s income lessens by virtue of the fact that he has to pay income tax at a higher rate. She in turn has to pay income tax. When one analyses the position and considers the penalties suffered by a woman who takes a job, one finds that she is very little better off than she would have been if she had stayed home and looked after her family. Quite frankly, as a man who brought up four children, I would not like to see my children left alone in one of these hostels while their mother was away trying to earn a living.
Commonwealth Hostels Limited and the Minister claim that these women receive a concession when they are not working. But if someone tries to tell them that they are receiving a concession when they are not working and that the increase is not a penalty that is imposed on them when they are working, they become very angry indeed and do not believe that that is the real situation. They believe that because they are earning a little more Commonwealth Hostels Ltd wants a little more out of their kitty. That is another aspect which I believe the Government should consider. These people should be encouraged to earn that little extra which will allow them to get out of these hostels as soon as possible.
Already we are receiving very bad publicity in England in relation to our treatment of migrants. I quote the following from a report of a statement by a minister of religion who was in Australia for about twelve months:
A Scottish minister who has returned from a year in Australia yesterday criticised hostel accommodation offered migrants.
Everyone 1 spoke to from this country expressed dissatisfaction with the accommodation, which generally takes the form of Nissen huts’, he said.
People emigrating from Scotland are not going from slums nowadays.
Many of them are leaving a high standard of living and cannot be expected to bc impressed by being dumped, even for a comparatively short time, in the kind of hostels I have seen.’
That statement received wide publicity in England and also in many newspapers in Australia. The members of a committee, with representatives from every State, have decided that they will not take things lying own. They have decided that if they cannot get some satisfaction they will put in 20c a week and raise sufficient funds to place full page advertisements in newspapers in Great Britain and other European countries, advising people in those countries of the conditions that exist in Australia. They will not attempt to persuade people not to come here. All they say they intend to do is let people know the truth and let them make up their own minds.
That is the kind of publicity that is resulting from the short-sightedness of the
Department of Labour and National Service in imposing these increased charges which I believe I have proved to be out of all proportion to the reasons that have been given for them. This is a very serious situation. Not only will we lose migrants because of the unwillingness of people to come to this country, but we will lose migrants who are already here because they will return home and start again in their countries of origin. ft is quite clear that it is Commonwealth policy not to make these hostels too comfortable. That is why they are in their present state and why Commonwealth Hostels Ltd does not intend to do very much to improve the existing conditions. 1 have a letter in which Mr Harold Holt, when he was Minister for Immigration, indicated that the Government had a policy of not making hostel accommodation too comfortable because if it was comfortable migrants would want to stay in it for far too long. I. do not believe that that proposition is valid. I believe that the migrants whom we have in Australia and who are coming here would not want to experience this communal type of living any longer than they had to. 1 also believe that if they are given some comfort in their accommodation they will retain their dignity.
Another matter associated with these hostels is the health problem. Figures made available by the Broadmeadows Municipal Council show that the incidence of hepatitis in the Broadmeadows camp is far above that in the rest of the Municipal Council area. The situation is the same in respect of the incidence of infantile diarrhoea and scarlet fever. That information is based on health inspectors’ reports. The municipality has a population of about 90,000, of whom about 9,000 are migrants. I have seen some of the reasons why this health problem exists. I inspected the dining room at Brooklyn. I have no quarrel at all about the food that I saw or ate at any hostel in Victoria. I believe that the caterers do an excellent job. As far as I was able to observe, the quality of the food is quite good.
When I inspected Brooklyn, twenty-five or thirty sparrows were flying around the dining room the whole of the time the people were eating there. Of course, sparrows have not been trained in toilet practices. The sparrows often flew over bowls of soup and other food, and the poor tenants had to use their spoons before they were able to continue eating. What disturbs me is that the dining room is not sparrow proof and it certainly is not rodent proof. This can be observed at any time any person likes to go to the Brooklyn hostel and see things for himself. This matter has been mentioned to Commonwealth Hostels Ltd, which intends to investigate it.
There is not one tap in any of the units. No water is available to any tenant, unless he walks all the way to the nearest communal centre. This is another reason why disease breaks out in a hostel of this magnitude - with 900 or .1,000 people. No mother can regulate the habits of her children if she has to walk 100 yards from her domain to the nearest communal centre to find a tap. Young children are unable to wash themselves. No mother is able to supervise the washing of her children within the precincts of her own unit. She cannot get any water unless she walks 100 yards, or more in some cases, to the nearest tap.
I implore the Government to have a real look at this matter, to consider the facts that were placed before it on Monday of last week and to take some action to ensure that the worst features that 1 have described here today are eliminated. .1 have not gilded the lily in any way. I have not referred to anything that 1 have not observed. While I am in this Parliament I will never do anything other than try to tell the truth about matters that 1 have seen. The matters that I have mentioned demand the taking of desperate measures. I want to see the decision to increase these tariffs deferred. I also want to see a system under which decent housing is available to all migrants within a short period of time so that they can become citizens amongst us in the normal way.
– I hope that Senator Poyser, who has just resumed his seat, will not consider me presumptuous if I offer him my most cordial congratulations on his contribution to public service in the address that he has just presented to us. As far as I am concerned, the Address-m-Reply debate loses its reality unless the matters to which he has adverted receive an answer from the responsible Minister before this debate is closed. 1 also offer my congratulations, again without presumption, to Senator Cotton and Senator Webster, the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. Each of them delivered a most thoughtful speech. Lest 1 be counted as out of step, I accord to the GovernorGeneral my congratulations on being the recipient of the royal honour that enables him to take his proper place among such distinguished, illustrious and gallant men as Lord Slim, Lord Dunrossil and Lord De L’Isle, V.C.
I wish to refer first to the Tasmanian bush fires and as a Tasmanian representative to express on behalf of the people I represent our deep and earnest appreciation of and heartfelt thanks for the real assistance and sympathy that came in overflowing measure from all parts of the Commonwealth. It was a great stimulus to the soul to find that the tragedy attracted such widespread sympathy, which was expressed immediately by the presence in the stricken area of the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). He visited Tasmania on behalf of the Australian people almost as soon as he returned from New Zealand. The tragedy received prominence early in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech and this is a matter of gratitude for Tasmanians.
I shall not enumerate the difficulties that arose from the bush fires. They did not cause the annihilation of the island but they covered a strip of country extending about 120 miles north and south and 20 to 30 miles wide. Perhaps 3,000 people were directly affected. The fires caused material loss estimated at S50m. It is wounding to the soul to see the way the fires scarred our beautiful scenery in southern Tasmania but the magnificent response of the people of Australia, the Commonwealth Government and the State Government to the need for relief will stimulate the fortitude of the Tasmanian people. Within a few years they will rebuild the scarred portion of Tasmania with better houses and a strengthened spirit.
There is elsewhere, unfortunately, a bush fire of a far more serious nature. The Governor-General referred to it in very appropriate terms when he said:
Vietnam remains of critical importance to Australia and to the cause of freedom.
I do not mean to engage today in any debate on the justification for our engagement in Vietnam or in criticism of it. I abstain also from debating the method by which we are carrying out our responsibilities there. I have expressed my views previously on the justification for our commitment and I adhere to those views firmly and with due respect to those of others. 1 remind the Senate, however, that I said when this situation assumed belligerency that my support was conditioned by two relevant matters. The first was that while we were defending the line in war, peace was to be pursued with equal vigour. Notwithstanding all the criticism that comes from the other side of the House about the silence of the Australian Government on peace negotiations, I am satisfied that every effort is being made to obtain discussions that would put Vietnam on a proper basis and release us from the scourge of war. I say that having due regard to what has fallen from British Ministers including the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (Mr Harold Wilson), Mr George Brown and Mr Michael Stewart, the previous Foreign Secretary, and to what has been done by the United States in pursuit of peace. I believe it would be a disadvantage to the real objective if Australia were guilty of intrusion to an extent that would be regarded by the Communist nations as disproportionate. That would merely antagonise the other side rather than help to bring about peace.
The other condition 1 stipulated as justification for the Australian commitment in Vietnam was that those who were required to bear the sacrifices in that campaign should bc adequately compensated by this nation. This is not the social obligation to which Senator Poyser referred nor is it a great social problem like the carnage of the road to which my friend Senator Morris referred quite graphically. Our obligation to those who serve in Vietnam cannot be escaped by any man in this Parliament because each one has accepted the responsibility for committing men to war.
Senator Branson who spoke earlier gave the impression that repatriation benefits on the same scale as those provided in the two world wars would be adequate for service in Vietnam. With great respect to him I say that the present provision for repatria tion benefits is totally inadequate and demands improvement. The Government has had longer time than is reasonable to review this matter and unless it initiates new proposals within the next month or two, it will be the bounden obligation of this Parliament to express formally the minimum that is required in this field of defence service compensation.
I propose to occupy the whole of my time in illustrating the reasoning which compels me to take that view. I remind the Senate that if a servant in civilian industry is injured through any fault associated with the management of the undertaking or, now, of a fellow employee, he is entitled to an amount that will repair the loss he sustained so far as money can compensate him. If his death is caused, his widow will receive by way of compensation the equivalent of the wages he would have earned throughout his working life. If he is seriously incapacitated he must get compensation that will repay him not only for his pain and suffering but also for his economic loss and any incapacity for work throughout the time he is incapacitated, whether it is forty years or four years.
But, Mr President, when you are thinking in terms of present repatriation scales remind yourself of this: in administering this right to compensation in the civilian field the courts have made tremendous advances in the last twenty years. There have been undreamed of advances in the last forty years. The scale of damages and compensation now is such that courts would not have dreamed of forty years ago. In addition, there has been the abolition of the old doctrine of common employment whereby an employee was disqualified from recovering compensation if the fault was due to a fellow employee. That doctrine was banished from our law in the decade of 1940. So the field of civilian compensation has been widened and strengthened. It is illustrated by this: the Commonwealth accepts the view - I think somewhat questionably, but it has made the decision - that it is under an obligation in regard to defence servants operating within Australia, an obligation of the nature I have described. You have the spectacle, Mr President, irrespective of repatriation scales, where in August 1966 a judge, sitting without a jury - and therefore no compassionate element entered into the case - in respect of a young serviceman training at Georges Heights in Sydney, who was practising jungle training at the top of a cliff, considered it was negligent not to put down matting which would prevent him falling in case he slipped. The serviceman slipped and was rendered quadriplegic. He was awarded $82,000. Let us say that $10,000 or so was for pain and suffering; there was $20,000 with which to buy a house; and $50,000 to invest which would give him an income for life of $70 a week with capital intact. That is the dimension of the obligation that the Commonwealth accepts in respect of servicemen in Australia. That is the dimension of the compensation that the courts of this country would require me, if I were a contractor and took a band of builders to Darwin to construct defence barracks, to pay my work men if they were injured because of any fault of mine or of their fellow workmen. But where there is no fault, ever since the 1890s, employers have been under an obligation that is now current in every State and in the Commonwealth, to pay in the event of death about $9,000; and in the case of serious invalidity, a pension during incapacitation of about 80% of the wages.
Mr President, if this country is going to war and if the Parliament takes the responsibility that it considers it is compelled to take, in the national security, of ordering men compulsorily into battle, is there any honourable senator who will stand in this place and say that this Government and the country has less obligation to compensate the casualties on the battle field than to compensate the casualties I have referred to in the industrial field? Yet, Mr President, in the case of death, a widow’s pension today is $13 a week. I will not bring into consideration the children’s and household allowances because I am going to ignore al! those fringe benefits. They will have to come up if we have a committee to review this matter or if we have a two day debate on it and define our situation. But the widow’s pension is $13 a week or $676 a year. There is no lump sum at all. That is for the widow whose husband is killed on the battle field. Senator Ormonde has been asking why there is a distinction between national servicemen and members of the Australian Regular Army in the casualty lists. There may be this distinction: Regular Army men are beneficiaries under the
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. If a private in the Regular Army is killed his widow gets $20 a week - $1,136 a year. The widow of the lieutenant in the Regular Army would receive $30 a week - $.1,761 a year. I am stating approximate figures because I do not worry about details. The widow of a colonel would get $60 a week - $3,240 a year. So there are benefits to members of the Regular Army that are denied to the national servicemen and to voluntary servicemen under the ordinary repatriation scale.
But the comparison becomes pathetic when you compare the situation with that in the allied army of the United States of America. In the US a widow immediately gets a minimum sum which is the equivalent of the last six months pay of her husband; not less than $800 and not more than $3,000. That is a lump sum payment. In addition she gets a dependency pension of $1,440 a year.
– ls that for a private?
– That is basic. It is for everybody. In addition she gets 12% of the basic pay of her husband and there she gets some recognition for his extra experience or responsibility. But those are only two of the benefits made available in the US. In addition, since November 1965 every widow of a soldier of the US Army who was killed on active service gets a life insurance cover of $10,000. The soldier is required to pay a small contribution to the premium. He pays $1 a week or $4 a month. Up till last October the US had paid out $7 1m under that insurance cover. The time is overdue for Australia to compensate on a scale not less than that applying in the US the men who are dying and the men who are suffering serious invalidity. It should do so in a reasonable time - within the next month or two.
So much for fatal casualties, Mr President. I want to make a reference to incapacity that is not fatal. Remembering that young Soutar got $82,000 for being totally and permanently incapacitated when he went over the cliffs during training at Georges Heights, we pay totally and permanently incapacitated men $30.50 a week. There is something paid to the wife and something paid for the children but I am leaving aside anything but the backbone on the basis that it approximates the basic wage. I know national servicemen. One gave up his dairy farm; another his fruit farm; another was a dental mechanic; another was an apprentice motel manager; another was a fully trained pilot; another was a medical student; and another was an engineering student. There are all classes and creeds involved. Henry Lawson in his poem ‘The Star of Australasia’ predicted in 1895 that the star of the south would rise in the lurid clouds of war. He went on to say:
All creeds and trades will have soldiers there - give every class ils due -
They’ll fight for honour and fight for love, and a few will fight for gold,
For the devil below and for God above, as our fathers fought of old.
And bed-ridden ex-servicemen or widows arc expected to exist on something that is nearly the basic wage. 1 put to the Senate the view - this is the last time 1. shall do so in general debate - that if we are to take a line from the industrial field the least we can do is to pay a totally and permanently incapacitated man the equivalent of the average wage earned by all classes in this community.
When we were waging a total war under the inspiration of Churchill, he advanced to the House of Commons the viewpoint that the burden of repairing and replacing property damaged in the war should be borne by properly owners throughout England. He created a fund to which all property owners contributed. That fund grew to over £200 million and when it was wound up about two years ago the present Speaker of the House of Commons - I think he is the honourable member for Plymouth - referred to the scheme as one of the great success stories of the war. It was based on a mutual responsibility for the repair of damaged property. The Australian Government adopted that scheme almost overnight and was able to induce estate agents, accountants and others who knew the value of property and had had experience in assessment to form local committees. Within six months contributions began to flow into the fund and, thank God, due to the American alliance to which the Labor Government and the rest of us turned, little was required to repair property. Of the £14m which was collected £8m was spent in compensation for property loss or damage - including even the loss of native pigs in New Guinea. The remaining £6m was used to pay the war furlough of the men who relumed.
That gives me the idea that the businessmen of this country would welcome with open arms the opportunity to contribute, according to the value of their property, to a national insurance fund from which benefits would be paid for wartime casualties. 1 have spoken with many businessmen, some high in responsibility and others on a lower level, and not one failed to say that if the proposition were put before the business community of Australia it would be accepted. We would then have the satisfaction of knowing that the sacrifice of those who contributed to our defence was being recognised in a material way. There would be the same spirit as was exhibited by the Australian people who contributed to the Tasmanian bushfire relief fund. Contributors to the fund I have suggested would have the infinite satisfaction of knowing that repatriation benefits paid to battle casualties were not inadequate.
Sitting suspended from S.45 to 8 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting I was developing a reason why repatriation legislation should be reconsidered in the light of our obligations to our servicemen in Vietnam. Honourable senators have had the opportunity of witnessing a film showing the exciting visit of President Johnson to this country. The film recorded the overwhelming enthusiasm that the Australian people showed towards him. It caused me to recall a conversation with a member of the Labor War Cabinet that we had as we mounted the dais to welcome President Johnson. My companion said that it reminded him of the first time he took his seat in the War Cabinet. The Service chiefs had advised the War Cabinet that the Japanese were only a month away from Australia; that if one division of Japanese soldiers was landed at Cape York, nothing could stop that division before it reached Melbourne. That was the night that the Prime Minister was authorised to turn to the United States of America.
In the fabric of defence in the Pacific, the welcome to President Johnson represented a resolve on the part of the Australian people to remain firm to that alliance that had protected us before and today was protecting freedom in the Pacific. We require our men to accept compulsion to battle in the cause of freedom, lt is that factor which compels us, if we properly represent the Australian people, to see that servicemen who suffer sacrifice in battle are adequately compensated by this lush and luxurious country. Not one citizen, whether from the trade union cause, commerce, the professions, the farms or any occupation, would deny that compensation should not only be adequate but generous; that at least it should be comparable with compensation paid to United States servicemen.
Before the suspension of the sitting 1 cited certain figures to honourable senators. I will not slay to recapitulate them now. The voluntary system of recruitment was considered by the Government led by Sir Robert Menzies to have failed and this led to the conclusion that compulsion to military service should apply. That conclusion involves this country in an inescapable commitment to compensate the casualties of battle so that at least, accepting all the human bereavement, they will not be put at an economic disadvantage. A totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner receives each week 10s less than the basic wage and widows of servicemen receive about one-third of what a civilian widow would get from the ordinary courts of justice. That is a situation that nobody can accept. Therefore I appeal to honourable senators to remember that the Senate is on the threshhold of becoming an organic unit in the Parliament of this country. I remind honourable senators of the dedication of Lincoln at Gettysburg and ask that here and now we resolve to dedicate ourselves to the cause of compensating our servicemen adequately. Irrespective of whether they are compulsorily required to serve or are serving voluntarily, that compensation should apply. Every man who has visited the front lines will say that the same spirit exists among national servicemen as exists among volunteers. Once engaged in the defence of Australia, they will defend it and it is our duty to compensate them.
– I was pleased to sit in the Senate chamber on 21st February and observe how well
Hh Excellency the Governor-General looked. I deduced from his appearance that he has been enjoying very good health. Like many more people in the Parliament and in Australia I sincerely hope that he continues to enjoy good health. I consider His Excellency, Lord Casey, to be an outstanding Governor-General of Australia. His Speech, which was of course prepared by the Government, placed me in a position of absolute disagreement from the first paragraphs; almost from the first sentence.
His Excellency’s Speech is lacking in essentials at this point in the history of the Commonwealth. In January and February there was unemployment but no details of the situation were supplied in the Speech. Prices have been rising fairly rapidly over the past twelve months, but details of those rises are not supplied in the Speech. The reduction in farm income over the past twelve months has been considerable and frightening, yet no details were supplied in the Speech. Stock losses from drought in New South Wales and Queensland have been frightening. Stock owners are still incurring monetory losses yet we have not been supplied with any details of stock losses. The poverty stricken and bedraggled condition of the sugar industry, which for many years has enjoyed prosperity, was not outlined to us. The obligation of Australia to produce greater quantities of food for sale to countries faced with increasing populations was not stressed.,
I believe that the morale of the Australian people permits them to be informed of the true situation on all matters throughout the Commonwealth. It is such that (he Government may be as forthright as it wishes to be. It can tell the people the plain truth about every situation. I am surprised that the Government at the opening of the Twenty-Sixth Parliament did not take the people of Australia into its confidence and tell them in a forthright manner of the testing time which Australia faces. The Speech did not refer to the requirement of funds for further developmental works. I believe that it is my duty to refer to the matters that I have just mentioned in order to make the Speech complete. In doing so I do not wish to detract from the good things that the Government mentioned in the Speech. 1 merely point out that the Speech had serious shortcomings, lt did not inform the Australian people of the true situation regarding the economy and it did not tell them of the trials which are facing Australia.
When I was speaking during the Budget debate last year I said that the Budget was a drought Budget. We have not been relieved of the stress and the serious effects of the drought. When we look al the Governor-General’s Speech we find that it commences wilh this paragraph:
This - the 26th Parliament - assembles al a lime when Australia is enjoying a sustained period of stability and economic progress.
That is positively incorrect. I shall submit evidence to support that contention and my case will stand or fall on the evidence that I shall submit. The Speech states that Australia is enjoying a sustained period of stability’. Has there been a sustained or continuing period of firmness in the economy? Has a solid economic situation continued, say, for a period of twelve months? 1 shall demonstrate to the Senate that this statement in the Speech is entirely incorrect.
As 1 have said, the Government did not give us any details concerning the unemployment situation in the Commonwealth. I propose to supply that information. While I am speaking 1 anticipate that an honourable senator opposite will interject and say: ‘Yes, but 80,000 unemployed represents only a very small percentage of the work force of 4,600.000 people.’ Of course it does, but unemployed people are not mere census figures; they are more than that. To understand this matter, we have only to look at the situation of a man who is receiving perhaps a little more than the basic wage and who suddenly becomes unemployed. Suppose that he has a wife and several children to support. What will happen to him? How will he make good his loss through unemployment which may be only temporary? If it is only for a week, that hiatus in his income causes hardship for his family. Then there is the period of recovery through which he has to go when he once more commences employment.
In January there were 88,965 persons unemployed in Australia. That is not a small number. Some people may say that it is only about 1% or 2% of the work force. What if it is? If we have had the pleasure of enjoying a sustained period of stability and economic progress over the years, surely we should have been able to deal promptly wilh the unemployment situation. But it was allowed to run amuck. As I have said, in January there were 88,965 persons unemployed. The increase in the number of unemployed in that month was 12,508. The increases in the number of unemployed in the various States were: New South Wales 3,095, Victoria 3,380, Queensland 2,373, South Australia 2,232, Western Australia 1,113 and Tasmania 315. Unfortunately, Queensland has 25% of the total unemployed in Australia. Queensland always presents a sad unemployment picture. There were 10,019 men out of work, 1,805 women seeking jobs, 4,248 youths had not been placed in employment and 4,255 girls were doing their best to gain employment.
The whole picture is a sad one, but the saddest part of it is that 8,503 juniors were out of employment. Of course, these juniors want to do the best they can for themselves during their lives. They want to gain employment and launch out into life. What will happen if they do not gain employment? Are they going to become disillusioned and disheartened? Are they going to become deadbeats in our society? These are matters about which the Commonwealth Government must concern itself constantly. This was the highest unemployment figure for four years. As I have said, the opening sentence of the Governor-General’s Speech was:
This - the 26th Parliament - assembles at a lime when Australia is enjoying a sustained period of stability and economic progress.
Somebody is at fault. I hope that I have proved the point I set out to make regarding unemployment.
As honourable senators who have travelled around the capital cities of Australia know, a building boom has been in progress for a number of years. Financial institutions including insurance companies have constructed some very beautiful buildings. Strange to say, the new buildings appear to blend splendidly with the old buildings. They are good to see and one would like to sec these financial institutions continuing with their building programme.
But unfortunately in Queens-land the building boom has become slightly deflated and there is unemployment in the building trades. The metal industry is not flourishing as it was at this time last year and there is hardship for families. 1 ask the Senate to note that 1 have attempted to prove the point that 1 mentioned earlier. 1 have also referred to price fluctuations. Prices have been increasing constantly, yet the Government is not alarmed about them. It must bc a very courageous Government indeed. It will have to accept responsibility for what happens in the future. Everyone knows that if prices rise wages have to be increased. We have this situation at the moment. An application for an increase in the basic wage has been filed with the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. I remember saying last year when the Commission was dealing with the basic wage case that the basic wage would be increased by at least $2 a week. It so happened that I was right and I was not guessing on that occasion. If a decision in the current basic wage application is given by the end of March or the beginning of April, we will find that once again there will be a substantial increase in the basic wage to offset increased prices which have been operating for twelve months or more.
What will happen to our export industries? We in Australia have to pay higher wages than do employers in other countries. In terms of figures wages are higher in Australia but generally the recipients of the wages are no better off now than they were in 1949-50 when the basic wage was £6 9s per week. I have stressed this fact on another occasion; I shall not take it any further now. There have been increases in the prices of foodstuffs and general household goods. What is happening in the industrial sphere makes one shudder. Groups of workers who never dreamt about going on strike at one time are now striking to get wage justice. Just recently the clerks employed by two airline organisations in Brisbane went on strike with a view to having their claim for a slight increase in wages considered. I think I have already referred in this place to secondary school teachers in Victoria being compelled to go on strike to get wage justice.
Dissatisfaction exists over the method employed by the Commonwealth Concila- tion and Arbitration Commission to increase the basic wage. There is a very long and costly hearing and then a month or so elapses before a decision is given. In the meantime prices continue to rise. The constant increase in living costs is forcing groups of workers to resort to strike action to obtain an immediate response to their claims. Meanwhile the Government remains complacent.
I now propose to point out how prices have increased. There was an increase of 0.8% in the Brisbane consumer price index in the December quarter. The index number for all groups rose from 142.5 to 143.6 in that quarter. For the year ended in December 1966 the all groups increase was 2.6%. So that these figures may be understood, I point out that the base of the index for each city was 100. The food group of the Brisbane index, which increased from 151 to 152.8, accounted for over one-half of the quarterly increase in the all groups index. The increase during the quarter was 1.2%. Price increases were recorded for beef and mutton, bread and other cereal products, and potatoes. The index for the clothing and drapery group rose by 0.8% from 122.4 to 123.4. Men’s and women’s clothing contributed almost equally to this increase. For the housing group the index rose from 161.1 to 162.5, an increase of 0.9%. The increase was due chiefly to the increased costs of home ownership. For the household supplies and equipment group the index showed an increase of 0.2%. being an increase from 116 to 116.2. The increase in this group was attributable to increases for a number of household items. The miscellaneous group showed a rise of 0.5%, the index having risen from 154.7 to 155.5. The largest increase was in rail fares. Private motoring, dry cleaning and beer also contributed to the increase.
The consumer price index increased in all State capitals during the December quarter. Percentage increases were as follows: Sydney and Adelaide, 1.1; Brisbane, 0.8; Melbourne, 0.7; Hobart, 0.6; and Perth, 0.4. Let us not disregard the increases of 0.4%, 0.6% and 0.8%. What they will represent in dollars is something that the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will have to answer for. When this Government assumed office in 1949 the
Commonwealth basic wage was £6 9s, >r $12.90, per week. At the present time the basic wage is as follows: In Brisbane, $3 1 ; in Sydney, $33.50; in Melbourne, $32.70; in Adelaide, $32.30. in Perth, $32.80; and in Hobart, $33.40. In his Speech at the opening of the Parliament, the GovernorGeneral said:
This - the 26th Parliament - assembles at a time when Australia is enjoying a sustained period of stability . . . 1 have just drawn attention to the increase in prices. If the Government calls that stability, I would like to know what instability is. The Governor-General said also that we are enjoying economic progress. 1 propose to point out that that assertion is incorrect. I think you will concede, Mr Acting Deputy President, that 1 have fully proven that there is substantial unemployment in the Commonwealth and nothing has been done to relieve it permanently. I have also proven that prices have risen and that the economy has not been stable over the period in question.
During the year 1965-66 farm income fell by $239m to $3,20 1m, even though there were increases in the prices of wool, wheat and meat. The income from wheat was SI 37m and from wool S46m less than in the previous year. Those two commodities accounted for 77% of the decrease in farm income in 1965-66. Wheat is grown largely by farmers in New South Wales and Queensland. Those farmers must have suffered severe monetary loss. The harvest fell by 111 million bushels to 258 million bushels, a decrease of 30%. lt was the smallest harvest since 1961-62. Sheep losses have been considerable. In New South Wales there was a loss of 11.8 million head as a result of the drought. Poor old Queensland lost 5,000,000 sheep as a result of the drought. When dealing with such losses, in order that the position is understood clearly one must stress that it is really the growers on the land who have to endure the losses. In Queensland wheat losses amounted to $10m; barley, $3m; maize, $l.2m; sugar, $24m; sorghum, $1.8m; pineapples $0.4m; dairying, $ 10.8m; sheep and wool, $llm; cattle, $8m; total losses $70. 2m. That was the loss in farm income in Queensland. Can anyone in the Senate or elsewhere tell me how we can be prosperous, how the economy can be sound, if the producers on the land suffer a total loss of $70.2m in one year? It is nonsensical. Where is the sustained period of stability if these people have to suffer losses such as these?
I shall not go over the position in the sugar industry because I have not the necessary time at my disposal. We all know that there are two pools in respect of the sugar industry. No. 1 pool contains the sugar that is consumed locally. No. 2 pool contains the sugar that is for export sale to the United States of America, Britain and Japan. Of course, the position in relation to No. L pool sugar could he improved by increasing the retail price of sugar, but I am not recommending that. Sugar in this pool sold at $86.55 a ton, whereas the average price of No. 2 pool sugar was $69 a ton representing a difference of $17.58. This has been going on for some time. What was a very prosperous industry just a few years ago is now begging for assistance.
– Is the honourable senator blaming those sugar prices on the Government?
– No, I did not say that. Unfortunately, the honourable senator was not here earlier. I am saying that the sugar growers are suffering. They have been impoverished because of the low prices. Now that Senator Webster has raised the point, I want to point out that the sugar industry is a big labour employing industry in Queensland, lt has a huge export income which helps the balance of payment position of the Commonwealth and permits big retailers, in Melbourne in particular and in Sydney, to buy manufactured goods overseas, where they are produced in low wage countries, and bring them into Australia to retail at fairly good prices. It is a good industry that is buttressing our overseas balances and it has done so for a number >f years. This is an industry in which the growers are begging for mercy, looking for financial assistance. I shall tell the Senate some of the facts about the miserable $19m that was made available. Five distinct bodies were associated with that loan: the Commonwealth Government, the Sugar Board, the Queensland Government, the Reserve Bank, and the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank. How the growers ever got any benefit from the money 1 do not know. They would have had to prove to the world that they really wanted assistance. This was purely a business transaction on the part of the Government, because for every dollar that was loaned 4i% interest is being charged. That is not the kind of assistance that should be given to primary producers who are crying for financial assistance for the first time in their lives. Where, may I ask, is the sustained period of stability and economic progress when that kind of thing is occurring in Queensland?
Petrol sales in Australia in 1966 amounted to 1.771.5 million gallons, which was 3.9% more than sales in 1965. Sales of aviation fuel were up by 11.3% to 4.2 million barrels. We get our oil and petrol from other countries. We are not producing anything. Yet last August we had a Budget which provided for assistance to those organisations that were boring for oil. An amount of $ 1 1.9m was made available under the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act and there was a margin. The Department of National Development could have gone to $16m. 1 ask honourable senators whether they have read any report furnished by the Department to the Parliament or to the public showing what progress has been made in Australia in boring for oil. I have not seen anything and I am very observant about these things. I should like the Minister - that is, if the Secretary of his Department will permit him - to furnish a report to the Parliament as early as possible, showing what progress has been made in Australia towards discovering oil, because it is most important that we satisfy our own oil requirements within the next year or two.
– First, I should like to offer my congratulations to the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, Senator Cotton of New South Wales and Senator Webster of Victoria, respectively, for the very thoughtful and constructive speeches which they made at the opening of this debate. I want to refer to one or two matters before I come to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), to which naturally I paid pretty close attention and upon which I want to comment during the course of the half hour 1 have in which to speak. First, as a Tasmanian and as a senior Minister 1 would say that the people of Tasmania are deeply grateful to the people of Australia for the immense assistance which has been rendered to our State and its people as a result of the recent lire disaster. It is in times like these, when the people of Australia so generously open their hearts to a small State such as ours in difficulties that we appreciate the real character of the Australian people.
– Could the Federal Government do a little more?
– The Feneral Government, has been particularly good. I remind the honourable senator that apart from the immediate assistance that was given to us the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) was seconded at once to take charge of all Commonwealth assistance; the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) on his way home from New Zealand deviated to Tasmania to see for himself what the position was; and every contribution made is deductible from taxable income, which means that the Commonwealth Government increases us contribution by about half the amount that is donated by people to this fund. We in Tasmania are deeply grateful for that support. Indeed, we have received assistance from all over the world.
I saw a little paragraph in an American newspaper which was sent to me and which shows us that sometimes we are not as well known as we think we are. This paragraph, which appeared in a small rural newspaper, said that the island of Tasmania to the south of Australia had been completely burnt out, but the inhabitants were all right because they had been taken off in two submarines, f know that Tasmania is sometimes called the speck’ and sometimes it is left off the map of Australia. But let me assure honourable senators that nobody can get rid of us Tasmanians in two submarines.
I wish to turn now to one or two matters that are of interest to Tasmania. One particular matter which is looming up and which will be of vital interest to our rural producers is the system of containerisation, which we hope will bring great blessings in the form of reduced freight rates. I have read of a proposal to have common freight rates to and from the container ports. 1 point out in relation to one of our greatest crops - apples - that it costs us approximately $2 to send a case of apples from Hobart to the United Kingdom and 75c to send a case from Hobart to Sydney. So if we had to send our apples to the United Kingdom via Sydney it would cost us $2.75 a case. That would present tremendous difficulties. As a matter of fact, it could spell the ruination of our apple producers. I mention only this one commodity, apples, of which Tasmanians are the greatest Australian exporters. If we are to be exporters of apples via a container port in Sydney, the combined freight rate will have to be under $2 a case for this system to be of any good to us.
– Well under.
– That is right. So we in Tasmania must watch this matter with tremendous interest. We probably have greater difficulties than anybody else because we have only one method of getting our apples to the mainland market; that is by sca. Other States have road and rail transport; we have only sea transport. We must transport our apples under the Australian Navigation Act. The costs under that Aci are very high. 1 am not complaining about its provisions. I am pointing out that Tasmania will be unable to export its produce if it has to pay the high costs caused by the Navigation Act of transporting produce to a container port and, in addition, the freight from the container port to the market; whereas at the present time we have a system of direct shipment. This matter will present great problems which Tasmanian members of the Parliament should watch closely. 1 do not want to say anything more about it. I raise it as one of the matters that we have to keep in mind.
Now, naturally enough, I want to deal with the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition in opening this debate for the Opposition. He referred to Government weaknesses. He attacked the Government on four points: foreign policy, the economy, loan policy and overseas investment in Australia. I shall deal with some of those matters. The first matter that he dealt with was Vietnam. I read his references to it with interest. They were all couched in the familiar terms that we read in Socialist and Communist journals, pamphlets and tracts.
He referred to ‘the undeclared war’, ‘the civil war’, ‘the Ky military junta’ - all the terms that we read in those publications. It was not without interest, I thought, that his references were couched in the sama language and the same terms as are used in those publications.
– That is puerile. Tha same terms have been used in all the great newspapers.
– This was interesting. The Leader of the Opposition is touchy about it. If the cap fits he can wear it. That is all right with me. I wish to refer particularly to his reference to the Ky military junta. Premier Ky paid a visit to this country. 1 thought he established fairly in the minds of the people of Australia thai he was out to do the best he could for his country and that he was a democrat who was determined to introduce parliamentary representation in his country. He has already held elections for the purpose of setting up constitutional machinery. He has done that under great difficulties. From what I have read in the Press, I understand that he has already announced that he is not prepared to stand for the office of President. At the present time he is setting up an electoral system in his country. He has done this in the midst of great conflict.
It is all very well for us who have lived under democracy and know what we mean by ‘democracy’ to look at other countries through our own eyes. But here are countries that are not used to democracy. They have to learn it. They have to develop it. We must understand the difficulties in which democracy has to be developed in these countries. We have been blessed in that we have had democracy. We inherited from our mother country a great knowledge of democracy. I believe that we have improved it in our way of life. I think that Premier Ky will lead his country to democracy. That is his intention and I believe that he will carry it out.
I refer now to another matter to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, namely the written policy contained in the bible of the Australian Labor Party, the policy manual. The Leader of the Opposition did not read it, but I will read it to the Senate because I happen to have a copy of it. I will read the policy to which he referred and I will then read what he said about it. The document reads in part:
An Australian Labor Government will direct the Army to bring home without delay the conscripted men who are already in Vietnam, acting with full regard to the safety and security of the Australian forces. . . .
For all other Australian forces in Vietnam the Government will have regard to the situation in Vietnam as it exists at the time and to the importance of maintaining future co-operation wilh the United States. Whilst it will take no action without consultation wilh the United States it will work for, and insist upon, the return of all Australian forces from Vietnam as soon as practicable.
Of this the Leader of the Opposition said:
Principles are not like clothing to be changed whenever it seems convenient.
– Fair enough.
– Fair enough. But on Sunday the new Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam) made a different statement altogether. Of course, honourable senators must realise that this policy was ten months old. That is almost a record for the Australian Labor Party. But Senator Murphy’s policy lasted only three days - from Wednesday until Sunday. During the week-end the new Leader of the Opposition in another place appeared on television and pronounced another policy. This is interesting because it shows that the Australian Labor Party under its new leadership is still in utter confusion on its foreign policy. It is being pulled this way and pushed that way by cliques and factions, just as it always has been. 1 feel a little sorry for the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who said on Wednesday last that you do not change principles as you would change a suit of clothes, because on Sunday we saw the new Leader of the Opposition in another place in a new suit.
I shall touch only lightly on the reference by Senator Murphy to the resignation of Senator Hannaford from the Liberal Party. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones; it is dangerous. Senator Hannaford made his own choice without pressure of any sort. That is more than you can say about Mr Sam Benson, M.H.R. who was told to get out of the Australian Labor Party. He was told that if he did not resign from a certain body by a specified date, he would be expelled from the Australian Labor Party. He was forced out because his views on Vietnam were opposed to those of the Party. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate said that to hold one political view only was totalitarian. That has been reported in Hansard. He said if you have one political view that is totalitarian. But let anyone inside the Australian Labor Party express a different point of view as Mr Benson did and very soon he sits on the cross benches. Mr Benson was put there by pressure. I mention that because the Leader of the Opposition referred to Senator Hannaford. I repeat that Senator Hannaford made his own choice, without pressure of any sort.
– 1 agree.
– That is right. I repeat that throwing stones when you live in a glass house is a little dangerous. 1 turn now to the development of Australia and investment from overseas. Australia is a young country faced with an enormous task of development. In its short history of less than two centuries it has gathered a population of 1 1 ,500,000 and has done wonders in development. A great deal has been done - and 1 do not know whether honourable senators fully realise this - because of the thrifty nature of the Australian people. They are great savers.
– Thrifty nature?
– Because of their thrifty nature. They are a thrifty people and a saving people. They are great supporters of Commonwealth loans. Recently when we sought $175m the loan was oversubscribed up to $200m. The Opposition has always been a little pathological about borrowing money overseas. Honourable senators opposite talk about investment from overseas as selling the birthright of Australia. I was most interested in a speech made by Senator Morris in the Senate a few months ago. it is worth reading and studying again because it was very good. He spoke of the development in the Cape York Peninsula. A great number of American and Australian investors have gone into that area. They have built over fifty miles of internal roads, erected miles and miles of fencing, developed thousands of acres of pasture and built dams and houses. They have done all this in one year and mostly with overseas capital. This is on leasehold land which reverts to Australia when the, lease runs out.
– Well, they cannot take it with (hem. They cannot take the roads, the fences, the pastures and other great developments. They are there and they belong to Australia. When the lease runs out the Government of the day will say what will happen to the lease. That is what the Opposition calls selling our birthright! It is a good birthright for Australia because we would not have had that development yet had it depended on our own financial resources. As a country we are not old enough; we have not the capital ourselves to develop the country fully. The capital is not in Australia, lt could not be in our short history and we have to rely on overseas capital. Whatever government is in power, whether it is the Labor Party or ourselves, it will have to rely upon overseas capital to develop Australia at the rate we propose to develop it. i wonder what would have happened by way of oil exploration if it had not been for overseas interests. This was mentioned by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen), if we had not been able to call upon overseas investment and know-how we would not have achieved such progress in the development of oil and natural gas resources. We would not have had the facilities, the know-how or the capital to take this development to the degree it has been taken. I want to refer now to what the Leader of the Opposition had to say about the Australian economy. He stated:
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. . . Gross national product per capital is actually declining. . . . The economy is going backwards.
For sixteen or seventeen years 1 have heard successive Leaders of the Opposition say that the economy was being wrecked and ruined and that we were on the brink of disaster. The Opposition has been predicting that for seventeen years but it has never happened. I propose to give the Senate some facts about development because the Leader of the Opposition said the rate of growth had declined to less than 1%. It was 0.9% in 1965-66 so his figure is quite correct. But that development followed upon three years of most intense growth. The figure for 1962-63 was 5.9%; for 1963-64, 6.6%; for 1964-65, 6.7% and for 1965-66, 0.9%. But the Leader of the Opposition did not mention these years. He picked the year in which Australia was suffering a great drought. He used that as an instance of our economy. The non-farm gross national product in 1965-66 rose by 3%. The situation was partly due to the drought and partly due to the effects of that drought on industry.
There is no substance in the claim that the economy is or was going backward. 1 have placed ali these figures and facts before the Senate. I have brought them forward using constant prices and the nonfarm gross national product at constant prices rose by about 3% in 1965-66. With the very rapid growth before 1965-66 which the honourable senator completely neglected to quote, it shows that there has been a steady development over the last four years. Industrial production in the three months to January last increased strongly. Of the thirty-four items listed in the Com.monwealth Statistician’s preliminary publication only five showed decreases on figures for a year earlier. Twenty items showed increases of 5% or more and of that number nine showed an increase of more than 10%. Housing commencements, in the December quarter reached a record level approximating an annual rate of over 1 1 5,000. Farm income is increasing strongly this year, reversing in part at least the big drop of last year. Employment in recent months has risen strongly, particularly in manufacturing industry. In the three months to December 1966 civilian employment rose by 37,000 of which 5,500 was in manufacturing industry; the comparable figures in the December quarter of 1965 were 34,700 and minus 3,400. According to the Leader of the Opposition this was in a moribund economy. He says that this happened in :.n economy which was going backwards. The Leader of the Opposition went further and said: ‘A distressing feature of our economy is the continuing price spiral.’ Now, the Labor Party has a cure for this: price control. Price control is the cure of the Labor Parly for this price spiral. This is interesting. I obtained the figures from the last consumer price index for all the capital cities covering the December quarter 1966. When referring to these figures the Leader of the Opposition stopped at June 1966. He does not like to bring these things up to date. He likes to have the benefit of the drought. I have brought the figures up to December 1966. The average consumer price index for all capital cities for the December quarter of that year showed a rise of 1.3 on the previous quarter. Adelaide, in a price controlled State, showed a rise of 1.5. The rise in Adelaide was the highest.
– South Australia has a Labor Government. Does the Minister attribute all the blame to it?
– Yes, it has a Labor Government and is a price controlled State. Thank you very much, senator. The consumer price index is derived from five groups - food, clothing and drapery, housing, household supplies and equipment, and miscellaneous. In the housing group Adelaide showed a rise of 3.6 against the average of ] .8. Yet this is the Labor Party’s cure. South Australia has a Labor Government and it has price control yet this is the result. Well’ well, well. Let us have a look at our own performance in comparison with the countries of North America. Europe and Japan. The ‘International Financial Statistics’ shows that in the year ended October 1966 - the latest figures I could get - the consumer prices rose by 4% in the USA, 4% in Canada, 4% in the UK, 4% in Belgium, 5% in Denmark, 3% in France and Germany, 6% in the Netherlands. 4% in Norway. 6% in Sweden, 4% in Switzerland and 4% in Japan. In Australia the figure was 2.4%. There were only two countries out of the fourteen, Italy and Austria, which had a 2% rise. The other twelve countries were well ahead of Australia. So judged by world status we have not done so badly in this depressing feature of our economy, which, according to the Leader of the Opposition, is going to the pack. He said also that the Government could not get away from the fact more than 80,000 people were unemployed. To be quite correct there are 89,000 persons unemployed. We will put the figure right on the line. There were 89,000 people registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service at the end of January. This number is equivalent of 1.9% of the work force. The increase in 1966-67 was 40,000, which compares with 42,000 in 1965-66. The honourable senator cited a seasonally swollen end of year figure. At the end of the year school leavers and seasonal workers always produce a large figure. I point out to him that the figures I have been able to take out - the latest figures - show that in the year 1966-67 the increase was 2,000 less than in the previous year. During the years that we have been the Government we have had a policy of full employment. We watch this matter closely and will continue to do so. The Government is well aware that this factor is part of the great success story of its .period in office. Over the years we have maintained full employment and the percentage of unemployment has been one of which any Government could be proud. That is not to say that we are satisfied.
I have had a note passed to me to say that my time has nearly expired. It is understood, of course, that the Leader of the Government has a little additional time. I thought that that was our undertaking. As a matter of fact, I understand I could speak for sixty minutes if I so wished but with due deference to honourable senators, and particularly with due deference to the Leader of the Opposition, who has been looking a bit uncomfortable, I think I should allow some time for the next speaker to put another point of view. However, I want to say one thing in closing: I think we are living in a tremendously exciting period. Scientific development in the world at this stage will bring and must bring tremendous benefits to mankind. But that is all right for the scientists. We in the two Houses of Parliament may not have a string of great scientific achievements to our name but we have to deal with problems which are equally important to mankind. If we can solve the political problems which confront us then the proper distribution to all mankind of the scientific benefits which this age will bring will be assured. Although these are political problems, their solution is of no less importance to mankind than are the advantages which flow from the solution of any scientific problem. We, as elected members of Parliament, bear the great responsibility of ensuring that the immense benefits of this scientific age are made available to mankind.
– It is with pleasure that I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I join with previous speakers in their expressions of loyalty tq
Her Majesty the Queen and their expressions of sympathy to the people of Tasmania in the disastrous fires which swept that State in recent weeks.
Before I proceed to speak on the motion before the Chair may 1 take this early opportunity to correct a statement I made last Thursday when addressing myself to the Ministers of State Bill. I said that during the Chifley regime there were as many Ministers in the Government as there are now. Prompted by an interjection or two I later examined my notes and found that I had inadvertently and erroneously concluded that the Commonwealth departments of that time, which numbered as many as they do now, were each controlled by a Minister. 1 take this opportunity to make the amende honorable. There were nineteen Ministers at that lime as compared with twenty-six now.
I congratulate the Governor-General on delivering in a very fine manner a Speech which could scarcely be described as inspiring. Indeed I found it to be barren of the things I expected it to contain. It was barren of any promise to alleviate the distress and difficulties of the less fortunate sections of our community, f listened with interest to the speeches of the mover and seconder of the motion we are now debating. After hearing those speeches I fancied that we had reached the golden age, that there was nothing more to be achieved and that all that needed to be done had been done by the present Government. That is a wonderful stale of mind. It is wonderful to bc satisfied that all is well and to believe that there are no shortcomings in the legislation or administration of the Government. That state of mind was particularly evident in Senator Webster’s speech. He told us that the Government had done this and that and had been responsible for this and that, all of which of course brought great benefit to the people. According to him the Government was even responsible for the favourable seasons we have had.
– 1 did not expect that of the honourable senator.
– J got the impression that the honourable senator had been carried away wilh the idea that the Government had achieved everything. In fact, that is not so and the sooner we are realistic enough to recognise that our economy is not as stable as we would like to believe it is, the better it will be for us. In truth, our economy is balanced on a razor edge and it behoves the Government to be very guarded and careful that it does not disturb the economy otherwise we will suffer disastrous effects. It is all very well to be enthusiastic about one’s Government - that is expected of a member of the Government parties - but to rock oneself to slumber in the belief that all is well and that one can rely on the right things being done is quite wrong.
– I accept the honourable senator’s apology.
– The honourable senator says that he accepts my apology. If he can interpret my remarks in that way, that is all right. We are square. I am willing to apologise when I am wrong as 1 have already demonstrated. 1 listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). Let me congratulate him on his elevation to that position. 1 feel sure he would have liked to have assumed the office in better circumstances because 1, as one who was a member of the Labor movement for so long, know that the man who takes the job of another in the workshop, in the office or in the field of industry generally is never looked upon with any great regard. I could have understood it if the honourable senator who was Leader of the Opposition until recently had been an aged, feeble-minded individual who had a penchant for putting on marching boots and leading demonstrations, but that was not the case. Senator Willesee, who has been in this House for about seventeen years, was elected only six months ago to the position of Leader of the Opposition. I have no particular reason to support Senator Willesee any more than I would support anyone else in the Australian Labor Party but I have had a lot of experience and I thought that in the six months following the distinguished leadership of Senator McKenna, Senator Willesee discharged his duties with distinction and satisfaction.
– No-one said he did not.
– Senator Cavanagh seems to be disturbed by my remarks. He is a great industrialist, and in the union that he represented there would have been a strike if one man had taken another man’s job.
– Not if he were elected.
– I know that what I am saying is stinging a little but it is not intended to sting Senator Murphy because, after all, he has not had a wide industrial background.
– That is just filth.
– It is not filth. In my home State during the years 1 was in the Australian Labor Party any man who opposed a sitting Labor member of Parliament, excepting of course if the member had neglected his electorate or misconducted himself, was regarded as a political scab.
– That is how the honourable senator kept his seat.
– I had no difficulty.
– No scab would oppose the honourable senator.
– I served for twentyeight years and left wilh an honourable record. I was never questioned wherever I went in this country. 1 could go to any State in the Commonwealth without being questioned by anybody. 1 hope that Senator Murphy will have a successful term of office. I believe that he is a very well qualified man. I am only resurrecting the standard of mateship that existed in my time as against today’s standard as seen by me. Provided a man was doing his job well, he would never have been displaced simply because he did not part his hair on the right side. He would not have been thrown out for some reason like that.
– The honourable senator took the leadership from Senator McManus when he came to the Senate.
– That is too funny- The fact remains that Senator Hendrickson has never been a leader of anything and the likelihood of his becoming a leader is very remote. I hope that the Opposition in the Senate will be virile and active and will prove to be of value. Having regard to the political setup in the National Parliament today, it is very important that there should be a very active Opposition to the present Government. I believe that the Twenty-sixth Parliament promises to be one of the most interesting in the history of Federal government in Australia. I believe that the proceedings will be distinguished by the growth of stature and position of the Senate because of the decimation of the ranks of the Opposition in another place and the consequent effect on the capacity of the Opposition there to function as an effective opposition group.
The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) can look with a great deal of pleasure on his large majority, but I feel that sincere democrats throughout Australia will wonder whether such a large majority is very desirable in the interests of the country. This nation’s founding fathers in their wisdom provided for the Senate as a second chamber. I am certain that the Government’s lack of a clearcut majority in this chamber will from the outset counterbalance the impotence of the Opposition in the lower House. Indeed, I believe that in the Twenty-sixth Parliament the real and important debates will take place here and not in the other place. Evidence of that appeared in the debate in this chamber last week on the Ministers of State Bill, the purpose of which was to increase the number of Ministers from twenty-five to twenty-six. Arguments were advanced in that debate in the Senate which were not raised in the debate on that Bill in the lower House.
Similarly in 1966 the more fruitful and informative debates on the Repatriation Bill were heard in this chamber, not in the lower House. I. contend that this is a healthy approach to legislation and if it is due to the even political balance in the Senate and the presence of representatives of the Democratic Labor Party I am quite happy to see that situation persist. I and my colleague, Senator McManus, are fully cognisant of the implications of the important position we occupy at present. I remind honourable senators that from 1956 to 1959 the Government similarly did not have a majority in the Senate despite its majority in another place.
Everybody knows that there is no real threat of a double dissolution. There is not much .likelihood of that now. There was not a double dissolution then and neither the Government parties nor the Australian Labor Party wish to see a double dissolution through which the Democratic Labor Party would be the only party to gain seats because of its present under-representation in this Parliament.
– What about the independents?
– Very well, we will include the independents. We do not want to bring about a double dissolution because of the unwarranted expense associated with holding another election. It would have to be a very grave matter superseding the question of expense and the inconvenience of an election that would cause the DLP to bring about a double dissolution.
– Perhaps such an important matter as the nexus between the two Houses?
– That is an important matter.
– To waste money on?
– The Government has wasted $200,000 already on a postponed referendum. 1 cannot foresee a double dissolution arising in 1967, but one can never be sure of the type of legislation that the Government might attempt to foist upon this Parliament in a moment of unreality.
– Such as the IPEC episode.
– Yes. The large numerical difference between the Government and the Opposition in another place will inevitably permit complacency and it may cause a feeling of futility and impotence in the reduced ranks of the Opposition. In such a situation the role of the Senate as a house of review will assume added importance, lt has the grave responsibility of ensuring that all aspects of intended legislation are thoroughly examined and canvassed and that arguments neglected in the ill functioning lower House are debated at length and thoroughly in a representative Senate.
I believe that honourable senators are conscious of these matters. We should examine all legislation and give it the opposition that it merits, when opposition is merited. We must ensure that the Government, with an unusual majority, does not become complacent and introduce legislation which is not in the best interests of Australia. Rather should we see to it that the Government, which has failed with its big majority to recognise the just claims of the less fortunate sections of our people, will recognise its responsibility to them and will discharge that responsibility with expediency. It is not good for the country to have an imbalance in Parliament. The Australian Labor Party has only itself to blame for the gross imbalance in the lower House and its depleted ranks.
In the general election held on 26th November 1966 the ALP lost eleven seats. It did so primarily because it put forward a foreign policy which had been foisted on it by the pro-Communist left and which could have had birt one conclusion - the destruction of our alliance with our major ally, the United States of America.
During the debate today reference has been made to the grounds on which the election was fought. Those grounds were selected by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Calwell. He fought the election on grounds of his own choosing. Members of the ALP cannot tell me that they were in accord with those grounds because since the election result I have heard it said: Instead of fighting on a social programme we fought on Vietnam. Our policy was a shocker.’ All of the responsibility and blame was pushed on to the then Leader of the Opposition. As a former leader of a political party, 1 could not believe that a leader alone drew up a policy. A leader does not draw up a policy alone, unless things have changed.
– That is so. We take full responsibility.
– But the honourable senator’s colleagues do not.
– We do not stab one man in the back.
– They do not stab one man in the back, Mr Deputy President, but they shift ground. Even during the election campaign it was very obvious that Mr Calwell’s successor was not going ‘all the way with A. A.’ That has been confirmed by the recent statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on the ‘Four Corners’ programme.
– The honourable senator is misinterpreting.
– I am not misinterpreting. I heard the statement. Senator Murphy in the course of his speech said: ‘You can’t change principles like garments and take them off to suit your convenience.’
– The honourable senator thinks that he can.
– No, I do not. I have proved it. I agree wholeheartedly with Senator Murphy’s statement, but he does not want to confuse principles with an attitude of mind or of policy. For more than ten years the ALP was savagely opposed to State aid for independent schools.
– So was the honourable senator.
– His party was.
– - Do not talk nonsense. But on the eve of the 1966 elections, at tha bikini conference at Surfers Paradise, I think it was, the then Leader of the Opposition had a change of heart. Whether it was accidental or not no one knows. Some of the newspapers said that it was accidental. However the ALP changed its policy. Is that a principle or just an attitude of mind?
– You get a headstone if you remain immovable and do not make progress.
– That is right. I am dealing with the difference between a principle, a matter of policy and an attitude of mind on any subject. The ALP’s attitude towards Communist China’s aim to dominate the whole of South East Asia, including Australia, helped to defeat it at the last election. Labor’s policy is based on the assumption that a Communist Asia is inevitable, and I believe that some members of the rank and file of the ALP believe that this is desirable. The contention is that we must learn to live with this situation. That is the message in Dr Cairns’s book Living with Asia’. I want to say very definitely and with all the emphasis at my disposal that we of the DLP do not accept the view that a Communist Asia is desirable, nor do we subscribe to the view that it is inevitable. I can understand the attitude of those who do subscribe to that view, but I cannot understand the attitude of the antiCommunist, or should I say non-Communist, group in the ALP. I refer to men like the New South Wales State President, Mr Charlie Oliver, the Federal Secretary, Mr Cyril Wyndham, the former Victorian ALP President, Mr Holt, and to all those who determine the tenor of editorials in publications like the ‘Worker’, the journal of the Australian Workers Union. After all, these people have made some quite unambiguous statements. Let me refer to a statement by Mr Oliver in 1964. He said:
Half a dozen Communist controlled unions are more effective at the Federal level than the New South Wales ALI’ which comprises half the Labor movement.
In December 1965 Mr Wyndham attacked the pro-Communist, anti-American and neutralist sections of his own Party as being responsible for the rejection of his proposals to reconstruct the Party’s Federal machine. Then we come to the ‘Worker’, the journal of the Australian Worker’s Union which is the largest union in Australia. This is what it said in November 1966:
It seems to us that sinister influences are at work within the Labor Party. We are not accustomed to beating about the bush or calling them left wing influences’ or other fancy names. They are pro-Communist influences.
– Did the honourable senator write that for the Union?
– No, the Union does not ask me to write articles for it. Mr R. W. Holt who played such an historic role in the ALP’s affairs in the days of the Evatt, split in 1955 officially complained to the Federal Executive of the ALP in early December of last year that some members of the Victorian ALP Executive were prepared to act in concert with Communists and that the Executive was under the influence of an outside body - the Trade Unionists Defence Committee. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber will know whether or not that was true. All of these men have stated that the proCommunist left runs the ALP. They are repeating what the DLP has said for the last twelve years. While the policies and personalities of the pro-Communist left dominate the ALP the Party should not become the Government of Australia.
– We are opposed lo Fascism, too.
– I am opposed to Fascism as strongly as I am opposed to Communism. Those ALP members who publicly say that the ALP is run by pro-Communists but in November of last year urged that the ALP be returned as the Government of Australia may perhaps demonstrate their Party loyalty but they do little to show their loyalty to Australia or their common sense.
– Does not the honourable senator see the similarity between the Vatican peace proposals at Christmas and our proposals?
– I am making this speech and I do not need any aid from the honourable senator. He knows that 1 am right on the ball.
– The honourable senator has only a minute to go.
– The Deputy President is quite competent to determine how much time I have left. The government of this country must never be allowed to fall into the hands of the pro-Communist left. Members of the DLP will play their part in ensuring that it never does. There is no doubt that Red aggression in South East Asia continues a real threat to Australia. It exceeds anything that we have ever witnessed in history. The next decade will determine whether or not Australia survives as a free and independent nation. To meet the coming crisis with any degree of success Australia must be united. We cannot afford to maintain existing divisions. Australia needs a bipartisan foreign policy today more than ever before in her history. I can understand why this cannot be achieved. There are men in the ALP, even some in the Senate, who endorse that view. To them I say quite sincerely that it is the timidity of the non-Communist right that has resulted in the minority left dominating the power centres of the ALP. The pro-Communist left dominates the Federal Conference and the Federal Executive of the ALP, and it is within a few votes of dominating the last power centre - the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. For the sake of Australia and their own political lives I say to members of the ALP: *Grasp the nettle now. Set about the task of turning the ALP from being a vehicle for pro-Communist policies into a Labor Party of the character that Australia needs and deserves’.
– We stand with Senator Kennedy and Senator Fulbright.
– Let the honourable senator concern himself with the affairs of Australian politics and not get out of his depth. Then he will not be drowned. The task I have mentioned would involve honourable senators opposite in a short sharp struggle with the pro-Communist left, but the result could hardly be in doubt. If members of the ALP were to do this they would earn the gratitude of every sane, thinking Australian, irrespective of party loyalties. Perhaps I am being unrealistic in expecting this to happen. Let me read what Mr Allan Fraser wrote in the Sydney ‘Sun’ on 14th February. Honourable senators know Mr Allan Fraser. He served in another place for twenty-three years as a member of the Parliamentary Labor Party. He wrote:
Much as I hate to disillusion anybody, no change in Labor’s Vietnam policy nor even in the Victorian ALP Executive will follow last week’s caucus election. Many earnest folk who sought Mr Whitlam’s success . . . enjoy dreaming these things, but they should face reality. Talk of a dramatic switch of power groupings in the Party is wishful thinking. On the new (Parliamentary) Executive the weight, both in numbers and ability, is greater than previously against any watering or any playing down of foreign policy. Victoria is also stronger.
They are the words of Allan Fraser; they are not mine. They are not the words of an ordinary political correspondent. As I said, they are the words of Allan Fraser, a man who was a member of the Parliament for twenty-three years and a former chairman of the Australian Labor Party’s Foreign Affairs Committee. Is it any wonder that members of the decimated ALP should ask themselves: What are we thinking about when we allowed our Leader to take us to the people with such an unreal, unAustralian foreign policy? Members of the Opposition both here and in another place are the most disillusioned people to have sat in any Parliament. Some of them have even admitted to me that they endeavoured to persuade the former Leader of the Opposition to give up the policy of withdrawing troops from Vietnam.
– It was not his policy.
– I do not know whether it was or not.
– It was our policy.
– I hope it was, but very few are prepared to accept it as such.
– It was a caucus decision.
– As I indicated a while ago, I am surprised to think that the former Leader of the Opposition ever made that decision.
– He did not make the decision. Caucus did.
– He was the first to make such a statement. He made it in Hobart. He quibbled for some time and said that he did not say that, and then he said that he did.
– Oh, no.
– He did, and the honourable senator knows it.
– Get on and make your speech.
– I am. I am making a pretty effective one. There are some people who maintain that whilst the ALP in its present condition warrants criticism there is nothing at fault with the coalition parties and that they are beyond reproach. So now I shall say something about the Government parties.
– Hear, hear!
– Anything that I said about the ALP was based on fact. I have read the statements of prominent members of the ALP. Even Mr Calwell has been quoted recently. He advanced a reason as to why Labor lost the last election. Members of the ALP all have different reasons. The fact remains that they did not have the confidence of the public. They were regarded as being a security risk. The people felt that they could not trust them.
– You were a risk once.
– I am talking about 1966, not 1956. Then the public could not trust us. That was before the great takeover. The greatest takeover of all was the takeover of the once great Australian Labor Party by the Communists of this country.
It is a misconception for people to think that the Government parties are without fault. It is one misconception which the DLP will attempt to clear up in 1967. The Federal Government is open to quite strong criticism in relation to its defence policy, its basic approach to foreign affairs, and its social services policy. These are the three obvious areas of criticism. But there are other areas also. The DLP stands for the objective of self reliance in relation to defence. It is here that we cross swords with the Government. We realise that with a population of 11.5 million we cannot be entirely self reliant. But we believe that we should be sufficiently independent to be able, in the event of an attempted invasion, to defend this country until some ally comes to our aid. However, Mr Holt has stated quite clearly, without any ambiguity, . that he does not believe in self reliance in defence. On 30th August 1966 he said:
I do not think that defence self-reliance will be within our grasp for many years to come. It is in the alliances we have - and to which we ourselves make a reasonable contribution - that our security lies.
For years we relied on Britain. Now it would appear that we are content to rely on the United States. He said:
I would regard 5% of the national income devoted to defence as a sort of practical working limit in the absence of some traumatic international developments.
The DLP believes that Australia should not wait for a traumatic international development to occur before adopting the objective of self reliance in defence. To wait and do nothing would mean a repetition of the disastrous lessons we should have learned in the Second World War, when the Labor Prime Minister, John Curtin, was compelled by circumstances to call on the United States of America for aid. No-one wishes to repeat those tragic lessons of unpreparedness but Australia will if it does not immediately gear its expenditure to the objective of self reliance.
– As a former State Premier, what would the honourable senator visualise to be the rise in income tax to meet that expenditure?
– Give me notice of the question. Many people have in the past two or three years taken up the cry that Australia should pursue an independent foreign policy but not every group making this claim agrees on what is meant by an independent foreign policy. It would be desirable to pursue an independent foreign policy but for Australia there is little room to manoeuvre once we recognise two vital issues or facts. One is that we are a relatively small power and the other is that our future security is obviously dependent on the preservation of the American alliance. However, once we recognise these facts I believe there is still room to manoeuvre in the field of foreign policy and to engage in diplomatic initiatives that will earn a favourable reputation for Australia in the eyes of Asian countries. In this field, let me say that the present Government failed to take an initiative. I think it was in a early part of 1966 that it nearly missed the bus. That was in the establishment of the Asian and Pacific Council, commonly referred to as ASPAC.
This was suggested by Asian countries. It was intended not as a kind of Asian common market or free trade area but simply as a group of States to consider new areas and projects suitable for co-operative action and exploitation. It should have been welcomed by the Australian Government but it was not. Instead, cold water was thrown on the project. By June, when Australian representatives were due to depart for the formative meeting of this new grouping, it was well known in diplomatic circles and extensively reported in the Press that the Australian Government did not support the formation of this new body. The Australian representatives arrived in June in Seoul, where the formative meeting was held, and during the proceedings found that the vast majority of delegates were quite enthusiastic about the proposed new organisation. Indeed, at this meeting a permanent body - the Asian and Pacific Council - was formed with nine member countries: the Republic of China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Vietnam, Thailand and Australia. Australia did become a member but her early hesitancy and cold water attitude could not have left a very favourable impression. This was an opportunity to manoeuvre and to take the initiative but the Government in this case manoeuvred in the wrong direction and ignored taking the initiative. I sincerely hope that this sort of episode is not repeated when future opportunities arise for greater co-operation with our Asian neighbours.
Then we come to the question of civil aid or economic aid - call it what you will. There is certainly room to manoeuvre in this field. We are not doing nearly as much as we might. We are relatively an affluent country and our neighbours are very poor countries where starvation is rife. I believe that we have a moral obligation to do something more than we are doing in the field of economic aid. This has been dealt with by other speakers in this debate, and I want to identify the DLP with the pleas on this count. Over the years we have pleaded with the Government to do more in the field of civil aid for the people of the undeveloped countries where hundreds of thousands are in want.
– Would the honourable senator say that this was contingent on our ridding Vietnam of racketeer merchants and all of that sort of thing?
– Yes, I would think so. 1 have never been a supporter of racketeers or rackets of any description. The honourable senator would know that.
– I wanted to get from the honourable senator an understanding on the part of the DLP that it supports any action by the Australian Government to insist that blackmarketeers be dealt with on the waterfront of Saigon when our supplies arrive there and disappear overnight.
– That situation is irregular and wrong and should be met. I have recollections that Air Vice-Marshal Ky executed a fellow for profiteering.
– It was not enough.
– But when the Air ViceMarshal came out here, among the many extravagant and intemperate charges levelled against him was one that he executed a fellow for profiteering and extortion.
– They said that he waa a murderer.
– He should have dealt with another twenty. I would be more satisfied if our aid was being given in the right quarter and so would the Australian taxpayer.
Hie ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood)- - Order!
– That is right. I go a bit with the honourable senator on that. His interjections or little speeches show that he does not conform to what Mr Calwell was saying about the Air Vice-Marshal.
– None of our leaders condones blackmarketing. Do not misquote me on that.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - -Order! Senator Gair is making a speech and will be heard in silence.
– I am not misquoting the honourable senator. One of the many things with which the Air Vice-Marshal was charged was that he executed a fellow for profiteering.
– Who charged him with that?
– Mr Calwell charged him with it. He charged him with everything.
– When he arrived here and before he arrived. It was just before Mr Calwell pulled on his marching boots to lead the demonstrations. We do not endorse the Government’s lack of initiative in foreign policy and we do not endorse its parsimonious attitude in the matter of foreign economic aid. On the matter of social services, I wonder what Government supporters do with the many letters that they must receive from age pensioners who are trying to eke out a meagre existence with the paltry age pension currently paid by the Federal Government. What do honourable senators say in reply to those letters? Surely in their own hearts they must know that the rate of pension is totally inadequate. At the recent election the Government certainly did not receive a mandate to continue the payment of inadequate social service benefits. In that vote there was no mandate for the continuation of a situation in which the maternity allowance has not been altered since 1943. Neither was there a mandate for the Government to ignore the just claims of the family man for increased child endowment payments.
Neither was there a mandate for the Government to be mean and hungry in its attitude to the less fortunate sections of our community. I repeat that Australia is an affluent country. Great profits are being made. We read of great successes in industry, secondary and primary. Yet big sections of our people are in need of a little additional aid to separate them from starvation and to give them a little more of this world’s goods than they are receiving at the moment. The circumstances of all of these unfortunate people are not of their own making. It is true that some of them have contributed to their situation. We have to make allowances for them. But generally speaking these people have been hard working men and women who have never had an opportunity to amass anything on which they might live now, in the evening of their life or in their time of adversity, when they have been bereft of their husbands or breadwinners and have been left with the responsibility for rearing a family of young children who will be the men and women of our community in the future.
I wish to make a few passing references to the very important matter of the forthcoming referendum. The original decision of Sir Robert Menzies to hold a referendum to increase the size of the House of Representatives and the recent decision of Mr Harold Holt to proceed with it after he had announced its postponement in February 1966 were not prompted by any lofty motives; they were prompted by sheer political expediency. This referendum is the greatest confidence trick ever dreamed up by the Liberal Party since its formation in 1944. When Sir Robert Menzies put forward the referendum proposal in 1965, it was to have three effects: firstly, to break the nexus; secondly, to have each member of the House of Representatives representing not fewer than 80,000 people - not electors; and thirdly, to enable an immediate increase of twenty-four in the number of members of the House of Representatives.
In acknowledgment of the public’s undoubted opposition to any increase in the number of parliamentarians, Mr Harold
Holt has increased the quota from 80,000 to 85,000 people, so that there will be an immediate increase of thirteen parliamentarians - not twenty-four, as envisaged by Sir Robert Menzies. Mr Holt has not altered the proposal to break the nexus. However, he has seized on the quite valid suggestion that it is possible to increase the number of senators by one senator from each State. He has hinted that the Cabinet will take that course of action - that is, increase the number of senators by six, being one from each State, and increase the number of members of the House of Representatives by twelve or thirteen - if the referendum fails. Under Sir Robert Menzies’ original proposal the choice for the people was simple. If they voted ‘Yes’ the nexus would be broken and there would be an immediate increase of twenty-four parliamentarians. If they voted ‘No’ the nexus would be retained and there would be no increase in the number of parliamentarians. A subsequent Gallup poll revealed that a majority of the people intended to vote ‘No’. I believe that they are of the same mind today.
Now we find that Mr Holt is attempting to put forward a different set of alternatives. He intends to claim, when the referendum fails, that he is free to proceed with an increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives if the number of senators is increased proportionately. As the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party in the Senate I say that we will not allow that to happen. We will fight the referendum. We will fight for the preservation of the nexus. We are opposed to any increase in the number of parliamentarians. If, when the referendum fails, as I am sure it will, Mr Holt tries to increase the size of both Houses, the DLP will oppose that move with as much force and strength as we propose to expend in the referendum campaign itself. We will then leave Mr Holt to settle with his own conscience in terms of moral and political responsibility.
If his referendum proposal is rejected, the decision of the people can be interpreted only as a vote against any increase in the numerical strength of the Parliament. For any government then to proceed to increase it in defiance of the voice of the people would be, I believe, politically immoral.
Surely no government with any sense of responsibility could ask the people to express their view and then, having got a negative vote, proceed to increase the numerical strength of the Parliament - at least for the present. Despite this clear-cut expression of policy, my Party has frequently been accused of being opposed to an increase in the number of members of the House of Representatives without any increase in the number of senators. We are strongly opposed to breaking the nexus. This afternoon I had the pleasure of reading an extract from the annotated work on the Constitution by two eminent lawyers, Quick and Garran, who were associated with the conventions and discussions on the Constitution. If honourable senators would only take the time to read the writings of those men on this very important constitutional question, they would recognise their grave responsibility on this matter of breaking the nexus. I told the Senate that the postponement of this referendum cost the taxpayers $192,518.
– That was last year.
– Who is writing the No’ case - Senator Gair and Senator Wright?
– We did such a good job on the last occasion that we frightened members of the Government out of their boxes. I think we might be charged with the responsibility of doing it again. I do not know of any happier or more rewarding task than the one we had on the last occasion. We will accept the responsibility again if we are requested to do so by the people who are opposed to the referendum proposal.
The wastage of money in this fashion is inexcusable at a time when we can do so much with any surplus money that we have. Now the Government proposes to spend a lot more money. The cost of running this referendum is enormous. What is it for? It is merely to satisfy political expediency. Had the Government complied with the requirements of the Constitution and carried out a redistribution following the census, the imbalance between one electorate and another, about which we read so much, could have been adjusted and we would have been in a better position.
But to say that we have not sufficient members is so much poppycock. The United States of America is a country comparable in size with our own and it has one representative in the national parliament for every 355,000 people. At present we have a representative in our national Parliament for every 67,000 people, and that means men, women and children. A shade less than 50% of that number are persons under twenty-one years of age.
I suggest that senators who support the Australian Labor Party should go to the Parliamentary Library and read the copies of Mansard for 1948, in the days when Mr Chifley was Prime Minister. There they will find the statements of some of Mr Chifley’s Ministers, including Dr Evatt and Senator McKenna, on the breaking of the nexus. Some of the best arguments that one could read against breaking the nexus are recorded in Hansard for 1948, when the Liberal Party-Country Party Opposition of that time, wanted the Labor Government to break the nexus. To its credit the Chifley Labor Government refused to do that and increased the number of senators and members of the House of Representatives. I repeat that all this talk of a referendum is based on political expediency and nothing else. The proposal has been put forward as a solution to the Liberal Party-Country Party differences over redistribution and for the life of me I cannot understand why the Australian Labor Party supports the proposal.
– Would you say that if the Government has to grapple with the existing problem in effect it will menace the Country Party and assist the Australian Labor Party.
– I am not a prophet or the son of a prophet, nor am I a crystal gazer and I do not know what the result would be, but the Australian Labor Party should recognise that there is no justification for adding to the heavy burden already carried by the taxpayers in the cost of government. We are already adequately governed and the people are adequately represented, at least for the present. I see no reason for the Government’s proposal. In all conscience I cannot support it and I do not believe the people will relish the Government’s decision to try this confidence trick on them again. They will tell the Go vernment in no uncertain language that they do not want any additional parliamentarians. Probably they want more value for their money. Perhaps they want better politicians. I believe that this is the feeling of the Australian people and I move about quite a lot.
– I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply so ably moved by Senator Cotton and seconded by Senator Webster. This is the first opening of the Commonwealth Parliament that I have attended as a senator and I am proud to be here to represent Queensland. I realise more from day to day the functions, importance and purpose of this Upper House. I congratulate all those who have been elected to the Ministry and to offices of importance on both sides of the House.
I compliment His Excellency the GovernorGeneral upon the delivery of the Speech in the Senate on the opening of the TwentySixth Parliament. I agree with honourable senators opposite that perhaps in many respects it was dull and uninteresting, but we must understand that policies do not always make bright reading. Had His Excellency, with all his intelligence and ability, written the Speech himself, I do not think he would have varied it very much either in text or intention. On both sides of the House we express our loyalty and allegiance to the Throne. This does not vary from one side of the House to another.
I shall make only passing reference to the general election because after all it has been decided by the people of Australia and is now over. During this debate there have been assertions and innuendos from the Opposition to the effect that the result of the election might have been different had it been fought on different grounds. I cannot concede this. I do not believe the outcome would have been any different had other issues been chosen. The policies proposed were debated and the people reached a decision on them. It has been suggested that the Government chose the ground upon which the election would be fought. This is totally incorrect as a perusal of Hansard for the House of Representatives of 15th March 1966 will show. On that date the then Leader of the Opposition (Mr Calwell) stated:
The Opposition rejects the Government’s interpretation of events in South Vietnam. I challenge the Government to take a referendum on this question and agree to abide by the result If it will not do this, I promise the Prime Minister that the Opposition will fight the next general election, whenever it comes, on this major issue. We will fight it in the Kooyong by-election. We stand up for our beliefs. In Kooyong, the citadel of capitalism, the blue ribbon seat of Liberalism, the home of the silver tails, we will make this the issue. We will win the by-election if the people of Kooyong are as sensible as the people of Dawson were a few weeks ago.
That was the challenge upon which the last election was fought.
– Who was silly enough to say that?
– That was said by the then Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives. The choice of subjects was open but the decision, I feel, proved that the people of Australia were more adult than the Opposition expected. In this respect I would like to quote what Mr Peters, the honourable member for Scullin in another place, said on 23rd February. As to why the present Government supporters won the election, he said:
They were elected for one reason, namely, that there exists in Australia a condition of affluence that the people are prepared to accept. There exists in Australia a condition of prosperity that is shared generally by all members of the Australian community. All people who intelligently examine the situation will admit that this was the sole reason for the way the people voted.
I could continue and quote what he said about new Australians but I do not think this is necessary. Before passing from the election I want to say that it has been decided by the people. Another election is not to be fought here now. Members of the Government parties are here to govern and members of the Opposition are here to propose what they can, constructively, I hope, to assist. I think the election showed that the people of Australia realise - as does our Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt), our Governor-General and honourable senators present tonight - that Asia exists and that we are part of Asia; that primarily our defence and security arrangements rest in Asia; and, secondly, that our trade and commerce are global. Our principal concern, I think, is defence and security - and every thinking Australian agrees with that. It is of very little significance that we have enormous resources if we cannot hold or defend them, and for our defence we should take whatever action is necessary and feasible. I think this Government taas done everything feasible to protect the resources and industries we have now. I am sure the Government will continue to do so. In this respect, I would also say that in defending and supporting our own resources we have upheld our alliances. That is a thing on which other nations judge and gauge us. If we are not able to hold up our name, to show that we will stand where we are expected to stand, then I do not think we can expect to have many reliable allies. But we have done this in Vietnam and in many other countries.
I know that in Vietnam we have entered into what is called an ‘undeclared war’. But let us be quite clear: war today is not what it was a century ago. One does not declare war today. One just assumes war. Was war declared when Russia invaded Hungary? I do not think so. Yet that happened less than a century ago. We call this ‘undeclared war’ but it is no less bloody or atrocious than other wars have been. This war is carried on by means of subversion, aggression and infiltration. These are the lines laid down by some of the Eastern countries and these are the lines which determine what war is. It is not necessary to declare war, but war still exists. Regarding our present commitment in Vietnam and current talk of escalation, as a returned soldier I would like to say that the bombing and shelling of lines of communication and rear echelons is one of the simple tactics that have been adopted, I would say, over the last fifty years of warfare. The principle always has been that if we could prevent the enemy from getting supplies or troops to the front then we would have so much greater advantage. I think that the United States advisers, the Australian advisers on the spot, and the advisers of other countries implicated in the Vietnam war - let us call it a war - have decided to adopt this principle, and I feel that they are the only ones who can tell us what action should be taken in this regard. I will abide by what they decide.
– We are entitled to some explanation though.
– I think the explanation should come to us confidentially. I do not think the explanation should come to us by way of statements in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, to be made public to those whom we could call our enemies. I think such an explanation should be made confidentially, in a party room, and no more.
– Should not the people be informed of why we are at war? We have asked questions in this chamber of the Government and have not had an answer.
– At the moment I 4m discussing tactics of war and nothing else. I am going to be very brief in order o be polite to an Opposition senator who tonight is to make his maiden speech. There are many other aspects that I would like to speak about but briefly, i,n the three minutes 1 have left, I would like to mention repatriation as it concerns this war in Vietnam. In reply to criticism of repatriation benefits available to our troops involved in this undeclared war, I suggest that if honourable senators on the opposite side examine those benefits available to men returning from Vietnam they will find those men are far better off than were any of the men who returned from the First and Second World Wars.
– There are critics of repatriation benefits sitting on your side of the chamber.
– I am speaking about critics on the Opposition side.
– Yes, but clean your own house first.
– I think that our house is clean. Senator Keeffe spoke about the dependants of these men. In order to be brief I will give this pamphlet to Senator Keeffe in the morning. I am sorry to have to reply to him in so brief a manner.
– I hate to tell the honourable senator what he will do with it.
– Senator Keeffe may tell me what to do with it, but he will benefit greatly by reading it. If he does not read it, it will show what a small outlook he has. That is how I will leave the subject for the moment. At a later date I will deal with other subjects covered in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, including resources and foreign investment. At this stage I support the motion that the Address-in-Reply be agreed to.
– At the outset I should like to thank Senator Heatley for his courtesy in cutting short his contribution to this debate to give me time on the air so that those people in Western Australia who may be interested in listening to my speech may be able to do so.
I would be remiss if in the opening stages of my speech I did not refer to the late Senators Seddon Vincent and Sir Shane Paltridge. Due to the untimely death of both honourable senators within the life of the last Parliament vacancies were created which resulted in Senator Sim and myself being elected to this place. Although both those honourable gentlemen were not of my political persuasion I think I can say quite honestly that they did a tremendous amount for this country. Senator Sir Shane Paltridge, as a Minister of the Crown, played a very significant part in this chamber. Senator Vincent left his mark on Australian thinking. 1 have in mind particularly his leadership of the Senate select committee which investigated the question of Australian productions for television. The report of that committee has found considerable approval with a large section of the Australian po-ula.! ion and I hope that one day it may even be considered by the Parliament.
I join with my leader in expressing appreciation to the Governor-General of the Speech he delivered to us. As was to be expected, the Governor-General brought added dignity to this chamber. As a newcomer sitting for the first time as a member of Parliament I was most impressed by His Excellency. His Speech, of course, was prepared by his advisers and it is on some of the features of that Speech that I should like to comment. As was to be expected, the Vietnam situation received early attention. No doubt the Speech contained exactly what honourable senators on both sides expected it to contain, but possibly we on this side of the chamber were rather surprised that even at that early stage in the life of this Parliament the Government indicated that the number of servicemen in Vietnam would be increased from 4,500 to 6,000. This was not said during the election campaign. We were told then that the number of servicemen in Vietnam would be increased only if this became necessary.
A lot has been said in the debate about the mandate given to the Government as a result of the election on 26th November 1966. I think it is well worth saying a little about my own impressions of this mandate because it. is the kind of thing which could create some unusual and peculiar ideas unless it is taken to a logical conclusion. Although we of the Labor Party chose the Vietnam issue as the subject for the election campaign I do not believe that the result of the election was a mandate for the Government to pursue its policy on Vietnam. From my own observations I believe that the people of Australia were not interested in the Vietnam question.
I travelled fairly widely in Western Australia during the election campaign and I was interested to learn the views of people so that I could endeavour to change them if they did not accord with mine. I learned that the people generally were not interested in the Vietnam question. To my surprise people in Western Australia were also very little concerned about the Ord River project. I am referring now to people in the metropolitan area and in parts of the Forrest and Moore electorates. I had thought that Vietnam was a really hot issue and one that the people would have been taking up. Instead the people were concerned with local matters even though they were not Federal local matters. lt has been said that there was a tremendous swing to the Government parties in the election. This was not so in Tasmania or Western Australia. Admittedly a number of seats were lost by the Labor Party but they were lost by very narrow margins. With such a large number of supporters in the other place the Government may believe that it can do as it wishes but this overconfidence may lead to disaster. The large number of Government supporters in the other chamber does not mean that the people are behind the Government in that proportion. The Senate voting figures in Western Australia indicate a difference of only 2% in the number of votes cast for Liberal Party candidates and the number cast for Australian Labor Party candidates. This is not a very high percentage and does not represent the tremendous swing which is said to have occurred throughout Australia. It certainly did not occur in Western Australia. I have raised that aspect to indi cate that it is not correct to say that the Government has been given a mandate to do as it wishes.
The Governor-General said:
My Government will persist with its search for the attainment of a just and enduring peace. 1 am interested to know what the Government means when it says that it will search for the attainment of a just and enduring peace. This concerns me considerably because althought we claim to be a modern, enlightened, civilised community we are still clinging to the idea that war is the only way to end international tension. War is an archaic method of solving international difficulties. We all agree that we want peace. The problem is the means of achieving it. A few years ago it was suggested by a professor in Canada that we should conduct peace research, or as it is sometimes called, investigation into conflict resolution. This is a means of examining the difficulties that arise internationally with a view to solving them without recourse to war and its attendant horrors and destruction. Peace research has caught on in quite a number of countries and is conducted usually under the aegis of a university. It is the practice for a university to second some of its best professors and senior lecturers for the purpose.
In 1964, two years before Sweden reached its 150th anniversary of neutrality, that country decided to act to commemorate the occasion on a grand scale. For two years very serious consideration was given to the best way to do it. On 1st July 1966 - the 150th anniversary - Sweden set up the International Peace and Conflict Research Institute. I have a report from the Secretary-General of the International Peace Research Association, published in the International Peace Research newsletter. It states that an international Scientific Council of twenty-four scholars, politicians and international civil servants shall have consultative functions in the planning of the research programmes and in their evaluation. An international governing board has responsibility for the major decisions on the management and a director has the tasks of organising the Institute and guiding its activity. The Institute is functioning. It seems to me that the Government should give some thought to setting up a peace research institute and financing it as part of. the Australian National University. Then we would be. doing something of considerable value towards the attainment of a just and enduring peace.
The Governor-General referred in his Speech to the development of our resources. Honourable senators are aware that such development is taking place on a grand scale. Of course, the resources have been there for all time and have been discovered only at this stage. They are largely being exploited by overseas companies and for that reason our gross national product does not reflect the true benefits available from them. If Australian companies were responsible for the development of the resources, the money obtained would be distributed through their production up to the refined state. I am aware that refining activities are increasing in Australia but there are still tremendous arrears to be taken up.
As an illustration of that point I wish to refer to bauxite. I could have referred to iron ore deposits in the north of Western Australia, but bauxite will serve as a typical, quick illustration. The royalty we receive on bauxite is Se a ton when it is won from the ground. In 1965 over one million tons of bauxite was won in Western Australia and Queensland. A large proportion of it was exported as alumina. Alumina remains after the rubbish is taken out of the bauxite. The alumina is exported and at that stage the product has enhanced its value to about $120 a ton, as compared with the royalty of 5c a ton paid on bauxite. If the alumina were refined in Australia into aluminium ingot, the value of the one million tons won in 1965 would have been about $120m. The loss to our gross national product is clearly indicated, because the money is not available in Australia. It is being spent somewhere else for refining. If aluminium sheet or rod were produced, or the’ fabricated articles, their value would be tremendously greater than the amount of $120m to which I referred.
Iron ore is being pelletised before export. I have heard it said a number of times that we are giving away Australia at the rate of 15c a ton. This is a humorous expression, but the fact remains that we are losing all along the line by sending our. resources overseas without processing them in Australia. I do not say that a great change can be made overnight, but we should be moving to increase our processing facilities.
His Excellency referred to the amount spent by industry generally to increase productivity and add to our gross national product, thus assisting the economy. He did not use those words, but that is his implication. I believe that up to that point in the Speech, one point was lacking: that is, no credit was given to the workers at the bottom of the job producing the particular articles. I give every credit to management, but it is surprising to find the amount of efficiency displayed by the workers. We pay people to give us ideas on improving management methods. I think greater appreciation is due to the workers. It does not take long to appreciate what they have done.
I was very pleased to hear the reference to sheltered workshops, which have been established to aid the disabled people in the community. I have nothing but praise for them, but I would like to see a further step taken. We have in the community another disabled group. Although its members are not disabled physically or mentally, they are disabled as to their usefulness. I refer to adult Aboriginals and part Aboriginals.
Quite often these people have not been trained to play a significant role in the economy of the country. They just do not know where they can fit in. They would like to fit in and I think that more could be done for them. I do not think that industry should be charged with this responsibility. Something could be done along the lines of providing sheltered workshops for them. This would be helpful. I think that the Government might look at this matter when it is considering the question of sheltered workshops.
The Governor-General in bis Speech referred also to the provision of economic aid which is a matter of great concern to this Government. Economic aid is being directed towards Asian countries through such agencies as the International Development Association, The Colombo Plan, the South East Asia Treaty Organisation and the Asian Development Bank. This is all excellent work that is being carried out to assist underdeveloped countries. But I believe that we should also concern ourselves to see whether this work is being carried out efficiently and well. When I was planting a crop of oats about eighteen months ago I used urea in order to improve the stalks. Because a lot of the land was new land and had to be burned off, I had to use large quantities of urea. I suppose that other honourable senators who are farmers would also have noticed this particular feature, but when the urea was delivered to me I was surprised to discover that it had been manufactured in Indonesia. It had been exported from Indonesia by a firm calling itself Mitsui Ltd. Mitsui is quite a well known Japanese name. The strange thing is that just before I received this quantity of urea I had read that United States authorities were building a nitrogenous fertiliser factory in Indonesia because fertilisers were important to Indonesia in order to improve the soil and the crops that it was growing for its own consumption. Apparently it was much more profitable for the business houses to export the fertiliser than it was for them to try to grow the crops that they should have been growing. A short while later I read that the United States Government was proposing to set up a second fertiliser factory in Indonesia because the first one had proved to be inadequate. That is why I say that if we are to provide this economic aid we must ensure that it is used properly. I wonder whether the Government has this matter in mind.
Finally, I want to refer to the speech of Senator Cotton who moved the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. I do not want to pull Senator Cotton’s speech to pieces because I agree with a great deal of what he said. But towards the end of his speech he attacked the Australian Labor Party, which he is entitled to do. He referred to a view that had been expressed by Mr Robert Maxwell, a member of the British Labour Party who was visiting Australia. The view expressed was to the effect that the Australian Labor Party wants to get up to date, that it wants to throw away its ideas of Socialism, and that it wants to get into the private enterprise field in order to maximise the freedom of the individual. Mr Maxwell did not visit Australia as a representative of the British Labour Government. He came to Australia because he is the owner of a printing publicity business in England which produces an encyclopaedia in opposition to the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’. Mr Maxwell is a millionaire. He is a very successful and astute businessman.
I felt that when he was speaking he was giving his interpretation of what is meant by freedom of the individual, with which I agree. We should have freedom of the individual, but that does not mean freedom of the individual to go into private enterprise. This view was not expressed by the British Labor Party although it was implied by Mr Maxwell. We have to remember that for years socio-economists throughout the world have been examining the situation that confronts our present complex society. They are of the opinion - this is generally accepted by them at the present time - that we must have planning in our society and that it is impossible to do anything of value without planning. In the Australian set-up we find that while we have plenty of planning by individual groups there is no co-ordinated or overall plan to bring these groups together in order to ensure that they are not overlapping and that no areas are being left out. I think it is freedom of the individual to work within a planned economy for which the Labor Party stands.
That is the point at which I shall conclude. I want to leave in the minds of honourable senators the Labor Party’s philosophy, which it was said was lacking. We are not lacking in a philosophy. We believe in this planned economy about which I have spoken. We believe in the philosophy of Socialism; in using the country’s resources for the benefit and wellbeing of the people of Australia as a whole. I hope that while I am in this chamber - whether it be for a short or a long period - I will be able to advance consistently the matters that I have put before the Senate tonight. These matters were omitted from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech but I believe that they have merit. I trust that my observations have been of some value to the Senate.
– Mr President, at this hour of the night it is apparent that my remarks would have to be very brief. Therefore I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 March 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670301_senate_26_s33/>.