26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m.. and read prayers.
– Mr President, it is with regret that I have to inform the Senate of the death of the Right Honourable Viscount Bruce of Melbourne, C.H., M.C., a former Prime Minister of Australia and a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Flinders, who died in London on 21st August 1967 at the age of eightyfour.
Stanley Melbourne Bruce was born in Melbourne and educated at the Church of England Grammar School there. He subsequently went to Cambridge University and was called to the English Bar in 1907. He served with the British Army in the First World War and was with the Worcester Regiment at Gallipoli where he was twice wounded, once severely. He was awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre with Palme.
Stanley Bruce entered Australian politics in 1918 when he was returned to the House of Representatives as the member for Flinders. In 1921 he became Treasurer and, in the same year, represented Australia at the League of Nations. Two years later, only five years after beginning his political career, he became Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs. Those portfolios he retained until 1929. During this time he was also Minister for Health and Minister for Trade and Customs for short periods. He became a Privy Councillor in 1923 representing Australia at the World Economic Conference, at the Imperial Conference in the same year and again at the Imperial Conference in 1926. He was President of the Commonwealth Board of Trade from 1923 to 1928. In 1927, His Majesty King George V appointed him a Companion of Honour.
He lost his seat in the 1929 general election but regained it in 1931. He was an honorary minister from January 1932 until October 1933 and for periods during that time was Assistant Treasurer, Acting Minis- ter for External Affairs and Australian Minister in London. In 1932 he led the Australian delegation to the Imperial Economics Conference in Ottawa. From 1932 until 1939 he again represented Australia at the League of Nations and was appointed President of the Council of the League of Nations in 1936. Resigning his seat in the House of ‘Representatives in October 1933, he was appointed High Commissioner for Australia in London, an office he retained until 1945.
From 1942 to 1945, he was the Australian representative in the British War Cabinet and on the Pacific War Council. He was created Viscount by His Majesty King George VI in the new year’s honours list in 1947.
In addition to his remarkable service to Australia and to the British Commonwealth, Stanley Bruce made a strong contribution to international affairs. In 1946 he was appointed Chairman of the Preparatory Commission of the Food and Agricultural Organisation and he was Chairman of the World Food Council from 1947 to 1951. From 1947 to 1957 he was Chairman of the Finance Corporation for Industry. He was the first Chancellor of the Australian National University, being Chancellor from 1951 to 1961. Viscount Bruce’s talents were outstanding and he was a man of wide interests. In his early years he was a sportsman of note, especially in rowing. He captained the winning Cambridge rowing crew of 1904. For the three years after that he coached the Cambridge crew, introducing methods devised by another Australian, Steve Fairbairn. He became a fine golfer and was made captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews in 1955. He was a skilful bridge player. Stanley Bruce married Miss Ethel Anderson of Victoria in 1913. Lady Bruce died earlier this year. They had no children. Viscount Bruce was a distinguished Australian who served his country and the concept of Commonwealth with the utmost diligence and loyalty. He will be sadly missed. I move:
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death on 25th August 1967 of Stanley Melbourne Viscount Bruce, a member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Flinders from 1918 until 1929 and again from 1931 to 1933 and Prime Minister of Australia for more than six years and places on record its appreciation of his long and distinguished public service.
– On behalf of the Opposition I join with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) in this motion. The late Viscount Bruce was an extraordinary man. His career was extraordinary. He became Prime Minister of this country at the age of thirtynine. His rise to that position was rapid. His fall from that position was equally rapid. He performed great services for Australia. One of those was to move the Federal Capital from Melbourne to Canberra in 1927. Another great service was the finalising of the Financial Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States under which the Australian Loan Council was set up. That Agreement has stamped the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States since that time. He not only served Australia according to the best of his lights, he also served the British Commonwealth and the world. He was Australia’s first President of the League of Nations. He served on food councils of the world.
He was a great humanitarian. He had compassion for those many millions of the world who were unable to feed themselves and he endeavoured throughout his career to generate the world into doing something for those unfortunates throughout the poverty stricken areas. He had a colourful career. He was outstanding in sport. He was outstanding in war. He was outstanding in his service to mankind but, Mr President, I think we can say that he was a man whose acts, whose attitude and whose reputation have been such that he will be forever part of the history of Australia.
– 1 would like to associate the Australian Country Party with the sentiments that have been expressed first by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) and secondly by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). Stanley Melbourne Viscount Bruce indeed was a very great Australian. Even now I have vivid recollections of bis last policy speech. I remember that in that speech he suggested that the standardisation of various manufactures was of prime importance to Australia at that time.
Mention has been made of the very valuable work he did as a member of the world Food Council. Not long before Sir Robert Menzies, our former Prime Minister, left this Parliament I was told that Lord Bruce was the man responsible for the air training that our airmen underwent in Canada during the war. I had not heard that before but Sir Robert assured me that the air training scheme was the brain child of Stanley Melbourne Bruce. We al] recognise the tremendous value, not only to Australia but also to Great Britain, of having had the Canadian area available for the training of British and Australian airmen. Not only was Lord Bruce an Australian figure; he was a world figure. Almost to the time of his death he continued to render service for the benefit of mankind. The Country Party also mourns his passing and has pleasure in expressing appreciation of what he did, not only for Australia but also for the world in general.
– Members of the Australian Democratic Labour Party desire to be associated with th is tribute to a truly great Australian, the late Viscount Bruce. Undeniably he was a man of great scholarship, a man of great vision and ability, and a man who served this country with great distinction both at home and abroad. His political life here was not a bed of roses. He met with the adversities and vicissitudes which are inseparable from political life, but I believe that his greatest contribution to Australia’s welfare was made abroad where he proved to be an excellent ambassador and advocate for the things that mattered and concerned Australia’s future. We have read a great deal of his achievements and have heard a great many things here today, but I believe the thing which would impress most present day Australians about this outstanding and distinguished gentleman was that he was a man of compassion, a humanitarian and a man of integrity.
– I. wish to be associated with this motion of condolence in relation to the late Viscount Bruce. As many honourable senators know, I was a member of his staff and it was from him that I gained my earliest knowledge of politics. I can only repeat what other honourable senators have said: Lord Bruce was an outstanding man. Not only was he an outstanding leader; he was also at all times a courteous gentleman. I well recall his deep concern when it became necessary for Russia, in order to establish foreign credits, to deprive her people of the food they badly needed. Lord Bruce was associated with many humanitarian projects about which the general public knew little. In rising in my place today to speak of this man whom I knew so well, I believe I can say that the world, particularly Australia, is a better place for the lifetime of work of Viscount Bruce.
– Mr President, I wish to be associated with what has been said by other honourable senators concerning Lord Bruce. I had the honour to serve within his Government from early in 1928. I remember very well indeed how proud he was at that time to be the youngest Prime Minister in the British Commonwealth. His loss is a very great one, both to Australia and to the United Kingdom.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honourable senators standing in their places.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Has the Minister seen Press reports that in Victoria a legacy of $20 a week has been left for the upkeep of a dog but that the guardian of the dog has stated that because of the high price of gravy beef - 45c per lb - and the cost of vitamin pills, $20 a week is hardly sufficient to maintain the dog at proper canine standards? In view of this, and also in view of the fact that age, invalid and widow pensioners are expected to live on a little over half that sum, will the Minister once again investigate the possibility of increasing the pensions so that those in receipt of them can maintain themselves, if not in human dignity, at least in canine comfort?
– I will bring to the attention of the Minister concerned the question which has been asked by the honourable senator and obtain a reply for her.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report today that Britain’s financial support for the Woomera rocket range in South Australia and for the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury in South Australia is likely to be phased out over the next four years in line with the withdrawal movement linked with the general cut-back in Britain’s Far East defence commitments? The report also suggests that Australia is already preparing for this move by Britain by seeking American and Japanese support for these range facilities on a hire basis as it was clear that the Australian Government could not shoulder alone the entire cost of the space research centres. Can the Minister state what progress has been made regarding American and Japanese involvement in future activities at Woomera and Salisbury?
– Yes, I read -the article to which the honourable senator referred. I remind him that I made a statement recently on this particular matter. I stated that the joint project arrangements to apply for the remainder of the current financial year would be the same as those which have applied over the five years from 1962, and that details of arrangements to apply beyond June 1968 are to be discussed. We have already agreed that those future arrangements will be on the basis that the partnership relationship will continue for several years. I have also mentioned previously that the current work load at Woomera, which extends to 1970, is heavier than in the last year or two.
Honourable senators will be aware of the participation of the Woomera establishment in the ELDO project and the American Sparta project. We are not at present having discussions with Great Britain, but we are currently holding our own discussions in Australia in preparation for a joint meeting with Britain later this year.
We are most active in our examination of the future of the Weapons Research Establishment facilities. Our aim is to devise a plan that will ensure the gainful long term use of these facilities within Australia. The one thing in that article with which I can agree is that it would be most difficult indeed for Australia to maintain alone the financial commitment for this huge complex at Woomera and at Salisbury.
– I address to the Minister representing the Attorney-General a question relating to the case of Peter E. Devine. In this case there was so much delay in arriving at a decision on Mr Devine’s application for legal aid in an appeal which he proposed to lodge that the time for appeal expired. Criticism of this delay was expressed yesterday by the High Court of Australia. Will the Government take action to see that in future such applications are expedited and that the administration of justice is not delayed or obstructed bv officials of the Treasury?
– I do not know whether there is any substance in the suggestion that the delay in this case was due to any fault on the part of officials of the Treasury. I suggest that the honourable senator might put the question on the notice paper so that the Attorney-General may explain the circumstances of this case.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the figures published recently by the New South Wales Police Drug Squad which disclosed that 74% of drug offenders were under twenty-three years of age, can the Minister indicate when he expects this Department to expand its activity by creating a specialised squad to deal wilh particular facets of drug offences?
– Let me say first that it has to be appreciated that much of what we have regrettably been reading in the last few days relates to matters which are clearly the responsibility of the States. There is a constitutional limitation on the role of the Commonwealth in relation to this very critical and very serious problem of the partaking of drugs. The matters that have been the subject of very stark comment are clearly related and linked to the manufacture and distribution of drugs in Australia. Senator Mulvihill and other honourable senators present will appreciate that customs control does not extend, generally, beyond the entry into Australia of any sub stance, and that the prohibited imports regulations constitute the vehicle which we use to exercise that control. I expected that a question would be asked about the proposed establishment of a narcotics bureau.
– A question has already been asked.
– I am referring to what we have been reading in the Press in the last few days. The suggestion by various newspapers of Australia that a drug bureau would bc set up in the near future is purely speculative comment. In view of the serious increase in attempts to smuggle drugs into this country, as reflected in the increase in drug offences, the Department of Customs and Excise recently sent one of its inspectors of the Prevention and Detection Service to certain Asian countries to investigate the methods by which narcotic drugs arc being sent to Australia. He took the opportunity to have discussions with the narcotics authorities in those countries and to examine the methods being employed there to combat the traffic in drugs. He also had talks with officials of the United States Federal Bureau of Narcotics who are stationed in that area. Since his return he and senior officers of the Department have been examining his reports to see what steps should be taken to strengthen the Commonwealth’s activities in this field. Legislation was introduced in the last sessional period to increase penalties for offences involving narcotic drugs. At that time the Government reaffirmed its determination to counter this iniquitous trade. However, no decisions will be taken on any additional methods to be employed until the full examination T have mentioned has been completed. I repeat that there are certain constitutional limitations on the control that the Commonwealth may exercise. For example, the Commonwealth’s control over LSD is limited. Control over the manufacture and distribution of locally produced LSD is a matter for the State governments.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation ascertain why Qantas Airways Ltd, in which the Government has a considerable financial interest, allows a facsimile of its passenger tickets to be used for political propaganda purposes by a Queensland organisation, and why use is made of the names of honourable senators without their permission?
– In company with other honourable senators, I have received in my mail a Qantas air ticket. For a moment I imagined that some kind soul had offered to send me to Canada; but it did not take me very long to realise that this was a gimmick. My name was shown on the ticket-
– Was it a one way ticket or a return ticket?
– It was a return ticket. Bad luck. Nevertheless, there is a serious aspect of this question. For that reason I will refer it to the Minister for Civil Aviation and try to obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– ‘Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Health been directed to the findings of a survey by the Anti-cancer Council of Victoria that the nicotine and tar content of Australian cigarettes is much more dangerous than that found in American cigarettes? Has the Minister noted the Council’s assertion that Australian cigarette manufacturers have known for some time that it is possible to make substantially less dangerous cigarettes by lowering their tar content, but they have not reduced it to an acceptable level? Will the Minister undertake that the Government will give urgent attention, if necessary in consultation with the States, to the Council’s suggested solution of government controls of permissible tar and nicotine levels as well as control over advertising and packaging claims?
– I ask the honourable senator to place that question on the notice paper so that I may obtain from the Minister for Health a full and considered reply on this very important matter.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me when television services will be available to persons living in western Queensland and from what centres the services will be transmitted?
– In response to my inquiry the Postmaster-General has given me some information on this matter. I am able to inform the Senate that the Government fully appreciates the desire of residents of country areas of the Commonwealth to enjoy the amenity of television services and has authorised the establishment of television stations in thirty-eight country areas throughout the Commonwealth, together with the provision of services to many areas by means of television translator stations. In all, it is expected that when the stations so far approved have been established about 95% of the population of the Commonwealth will receive a satisfactory service.
As the honourable senator is no doubt aware, the current approved phase of development includes one area of western Queensland, namely, Mount lsa. Most of western Queensland, however, is remotely situated and sparsely populated. Problems of a technical and economic nature are associated with the provision of services to such areas of the Commonwealth. The difficulties are illustrated by the fact that the 5% of the population that will remain without service when currently approved plans have been fully implemented is distributed over about 87% of the total area of the Commonwealth. That is a very significant statement. On the other hand, the normal coverage of a high power television station is limited to an area having a radius of the order of 60 miles from the station’s transmitter. Whilst the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is continuing its studies, which are designed to determine methods whereby television coverage might be extended progressively, the difficulties associated with the extension of television to remote and sparsely populated areas are very real and complex.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Is it a fact that the Minister for Territories recently opened the new Development Bank of Papua and New Guinea? Did he devote half of his prepared speech to politics and the question of the Territory becoming the seventh state of the Australian Commonwealth, and have very little to say about the economic development and solid social progress which should be expected in this emerging, bountiful country? Did he tell the audience that the new Development Bank would lend money to borrowers irrespective of their nationality and that the same high rate of interest, at the rate of 10%, would be charged to the indigenous or native citizens and to the exotic affluent citizens, although the former citizens have to exist on a miserable pittance as compared with the newcomers?
– I am not aware of when, the Minister opened the new bank, or even whether he opened a new bank. But I will obtain a report of the proceedings and send it to the honourable senator so that he may read what the honourable Minister said.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. 1 draw the Minister’s attention to a statement reported to have been made by the Premier of South Australia in which the Premier criticised the Commonwealth Government for not proceeding with the construction of an ordnance depot at Smithfield, South Australia, thereby contributing to what, he described as a situation of unoccupied houses in the area. Can the Minister say whether the South Australian Premier’s statement is correct? Can he give any information about the establishment of an ordnance depot at Smithfield?
– My attention was drawn to this article. I had only a quick glance at it. I have some information for the honourable senator, which is as follows: Because of restrictions on the amount of funds available for Army works and the relatively low priority for the relocation of the ordnance depot it has not been practicable to programme the project up to date. It is currently planned that the ordnance depot shall be constructed at Elizabeth in about 1971-72. In October 1966, at a time when the building industry, in particular, in South Australia was suffering severe unemployment the Premier of that State wrote to the Prime Minister and suggested that the early establishment of an ordnance depot at Smithfield could assist in bringing stability and alleviating unemployment in that area. The Prime Minister, in reply, fold the Premier that most of the Commonwealth work proposed was on the basis of long term planning and would no! provide any immediate relief to Adelaide.
Although the Army has been planning, since about 1954-55, to build a depot at Elizabeth no firm undertaking or assurances have ever been given as to the dale of commencement of work. The construction of a Citizen Military Forces training depot at Elizabeth, at an estimated cost of $388,000, is planned to begin , early in 1968 and a combined radio transmitting and receiving station is to bc built, this year at a COst of $183,000. No actual forecast can be made as to the number of servicemen who would be likely to buy houses there; the numbers would be relatively small because the servicemen normally are reposted every three or four years. Certainly the South Australian Government would not have been asked to build houses there for possible Army use. Even when the ordnance depot is established approximately seventy military personnel will be employed there. On ‘.he basis of approximately one-third of them being married the requirement will be for about twenty-five married quarters at the most. It should be stressed that, since there is no shortage of married quarters iti Adelaide, and as Elizabeth is only 19 miles from the city, possibly many of the families would prefer to live in married quarters available in Adelaide. This fact would reduce still further the number of houses that would be needed for married Army personnel in the Elizabeth-Smithfield area.
– -Is the Minister for Education and Science aware that last night the Senate of the University of Western Australia voted to increase substantially the tuition fees chargeable al that once free university? In view of the fact that amongst the increased charges are substantial increases in the charges for submission of doctoral theses and enrolments for masters’ degrees, will the Government take any steps to facilitate the efforts of those students who wish to engage in research at the University of Western Australia so that they will not be burdened in this way. due to the inadequacies of the Federal Government in the provision of finance to that University?
– Commenting on the last comment made by the honourable senator, I think it should be made perfectly clear that if any university votes to increase fees for its students, it does not in any way lessen the liability of the Commonwealth Government to provide funds to that university. The universities are financed by a Commonwealth contribution matching a composite State Treasury and fees contribution. The only result of raising fees at a university is to lessen the amount which is contributed by a State Treasury. It does not in any way lessen the amount contributed by the Commonwealth Treasury. Therefore it is completely incorrect to say that this vote can be the result of any Commonwealth action.
– But that is what the Senate of the University said.
– I cannot help what the Senate of the University stated. The facts are on record. The amount contributed by the Commonwealth Government matches a composite sum, as I have said. If fees are raised, the contribution by the State Treasury falls and the Commonwealth has to contribute just as much, so that action cannot possibly be said to be due to any Commonwealth activity. The other part of the honourable senator’s question concerns the fees charged by universities for post doctoral theses. Again, that would be a matter concerning the treasury of a university. It would reduce the burden on the State Treasury but would not in any way affect the amount the Commonwealth had to contribute.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. The Minister will recall that the Treasurer said, in his Budget speech, when expressing the very commendable decision of the Government, that it is proposed to seek an amendment to the defence forces retirement benefits legislation to give common entitlements to all servicemen on full time continuous duty for periods of twelve months or longer by admitting to the benefits of the scheme those persons now excluded because they have enlisted for periods of less than six years. This extension of the scheme will give cover to national service men who enlist for two years. I ask: Will the Minister advise the Senate as to when the relevant legislation will be introduced? Will the legislation have retrospective application to a particular date?
– I do not think the Treasurer has made a statement on the matter raised by the honourable senator. However, I will refer the honourable senator’s questions to the Treasurer to see what information I can secure for him and I will let him know the result as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science, who administers the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, whether his attention has been drawn to an announcement in the New York Times’ of 24th August of the development by Columbia University of an efficient filter that reduces to negligible amounts the tar and nicotine content of cigarette smoke absorbed by smokers. Will the Minister request CSIRO to investigate this discovery with a view to evaluating its claimed characteristics and if necessary, to recommending its use by the Australian tobacco manufacturing industry?
– I believe that I did see some time ago a reference to a new filter which had been developed in the United States of America. It is probably the same reference which Senator O’Byrne saw. I am not clear whether it would be a function of the CSIRO to conduct an inquiry of this kind. What I will do is consult with the Executive of the CSIRO, obtain its views on the matter, and let the honourable senator know its views.
– My question is to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral and relates to frequency modulation radio transmission. It arises out of the number of inquiries which have been made regarding this matter. I ask the Minister: Can he say whether or not there are any plans for the establishment of FM radio transmission in Adelaide or adjacent areas? Can the Minister say whether the claims that have been made regarding technical superiority of FM transmission are substantiated? If so, does the PostmasterGeneral’s Department contemplate the introduction of this form of radio transmission?
– There are no immediate plans for the establishment of frequency modulation transmission in Adelaide or adjacent areas. Frequency modulation undoubtedly has certain merits, including lower noise levels and high fidelity of sound. However, it seems clear from the technical submissions and information available to the PostmasterGeneral that frequency modulation would not facilitate an improvement in the broadcasting services where such improvement is most needed, namely, inthe distant country areas, and that the use of medium frequencies is in fact more effective. The Postmaster-General has stated, and I think I have repeated the statement at some stage during question time here, that there use no plans to introduce frequency modulation broadcasting into Australia.
– I wish to ask the Min ister who represents the Treasurer a question. Has the Minister heard that on 26th September 1882 Her Majesty Queen Victoria made a grant of £10,000 to a society called the Royal Colonial Institute for the purpose of collecting and diffusing information relating to colonial and Indian productions and manufactures? For the purpose of assisting agricultural and industrial associations in Australia, will the Treasurer grant assistance and relief in the matter of donations, bequests, payment of Federal estate duty and exemption from sales tax on goods purchased by the show societies in Australia whose purpose is to collect and diffuse information to the public relating to Australian productions and manufactures?
– I have to admit to the honourable senator that I do not know what was done in 1882 - that was just a wee bit before my time - and I have not heard of the matter that he mentioned. Regarding the question which he poses, I inform him that representations were made to the Government by various show societies when the Budget was being prepared. These matters were considered then. It was not found possible to include in the Budget provisions relating to these societies.
(Question No. 198)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 213)
SenatorKENNELLY asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
Will the Minister issue to all commercial aircraft operators a firm directive requiring strict compliance with all Air Navigation Regulations and prescribed maintenance procedures?
– The Minister has supplied the following answer:
The Minister advises that he can see no justification in issuing such a directive to commercial aircraft operators. Such operators are no different from any other citizen or company. They are already obliged to comply strictly with the law - the Air Navigation Act, the Air Navigation Regulations madeby the Governor-General in accordance with this Act and as empowered under these Regulations the directions, notifications, permissions, approvals or authorities issued or given by the Director-General in Air Navigation Orders or by writing under his band. Air Navigation Regulations and prescribed maintenance procedures are part of the law. (Question No. 217)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers:
I and 2. The Department of Civil Aviation has received no application from Trans-Australia Airlines to take part in the commuter air services. lt is known, however, that the management of TAA has had informal discussions with several of the applicants and has extended advice, particularly regarding traffic handling arrangements. There would be jio objection to TAA entering into an agreement with one or more of the operators of commuter services, providing for co-operation on traffic booking and handling. TAA already has entered into this kind of arrangement with, for example, East-West Airlines and with Illawarra Flying School, which operates a commuter service between Bankstown and Mascot.
– 1 have received from Senator Cant ar intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely:
The Government’s inconsistency in asserting that China is a threat to Australia and in permitting at the same time large scale trade with China in Med, chemicals, wheat, wool and other goods. ls the proposed motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– I formally move:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till tomorrow at 3. IS p.m. 1 do this for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely, the Government’s inconsistency in asserting that China is a threat to Australia and in permitting at the same time large scale trade with China in steel, chemicals, wheat, wool and other goods. I state at the outset that it is the intention of the Opposition to move that the question be put before the expiration of the time allowed in the Standing Orders for debate of this matter.
– The honourable senator wants to apply the gag?
– This will not be a motion to apply the gag. The lime allowed for debate on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate is fixed by the Standing Orders. Therefore a move to shorten that time by three or four minutes cannot be regarded as a gag motion.
– That is what it is.
– To talk a matter out fails to give satisfaction to the Senate, it is the policy of the Government to set up speakers to talk out time in order that the Government will not be embarrassed by a vote. The matter that is before the Senate at the present time is a serious matter, irrespective of how the Government might try to play it off. It deserves an expression of opinion from the Senate. We say, therefore, that i he last speaker on this side of the chamber will move for the question to be put. We will not be satisfied if honourable senators say that this is applying the gag and so they will not support it. I point out that the Standing Orders themselves prevent the debate proceeding beyond three hours.
The purpose of this debate is to canvass the double standard adopted by this conservative Commonwealth Government in relation to its trade with the People’s Republic of China. It is a double standard irrespective of which way the Government might try to wriggle out of it. The Government depicts China as the primary enemy in South East Asia. Constantly we are told that the People’s Republic of China presents a threat to Australia’s security and that we are in Vietnam to stop the downward thrust of Communism into South East Asia and the eventual engulfment of Australia. During the general election campaign last
November we saw on our television screens a map of China and a map of Australia below it with arrows constantly pointing down to Australia. A fear complex was created in the minds of the Australian people in order to get them to support the Government. Yet the Government trades with the people whom it says are potential aggressors of Australia.
The Government claims that Communist China is the principal supporter of North Vietnam and that it is constantly providing war supplies for that country. The Government claims also that when members of the Vietcong or North Vietnamese troops are captured it is noted that many of their weapons have come from China. The Government tells the Australian people that China is the big bad enemy. It claims also that China is the chief player in the domino theory - that if South Vietnam falls other countries will fall after it and that eventually China will take over South East Asia. The Government constantly tells the Australian people that if there ever will be an aggressor on Australian shores it will be the People’s Republic of China.
When Government senators address the Australian electorate they cannot say one good word about the People’s Republic of China. During election campaigns when it is necessary to create the fear complex in the minds of the Australian people the Government tells them that there is no good in the People’s Republic of China. That is all right. I do not deny that the Government, through the Department of External Affairs, the Security Service and other avenues open to it, receives sufficient information to be able to tell the Australian people that, but it cannot adopt the double standard of fighting and, at the same time, feeding the Chinese people. In that context the Government cannot justify its trade with the People’s Republic of China.
Australia’s trade with the People’s Republic of China is not an inconsiderable part of our total trade. In 1961-62 trade with China was of a total value of $131,911,000. In 1962-63 it amounted to $129,289,000. In 1963-64 it totalled $168,190,000; in 1964-6S it was $135,633,000; in 1965-66 it was $106,541,000; and in 1966-67 it was $131,485,000. This trade includes what we claim are strategic goods, whether the Government admits it or not and whether the Government is still wedded to the retention of the list of goods set out by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation which it has adopted. The Government is so secretive about this list that it will not tell this Parliament what items are included in it. It will not tell the Australian people what the list contains. The Government believes that under this cloak of secrecy it is able to export whatever it likes to the People’s Republic of China and say that the goods do not appear on the list. This is a nonexistent list; at least it is a list which has not been brought out of the Cabinet room.
We on the Opposition side say that many of the goods that are exported to the People’s Republic of China today are strategic materials. We say that they are materials which China requires to support and execute the warlike operations that are going on in Vietnam. I will now refer to the exports of inedible tallow to the People’s Republic of China. They are as follows:
Exports of tallow to that country are nicely covered up in the statistics presented for 1966-67 because it is listed under animal fats and vegetable oils. The details of what is contained under that heading are not revealed by the Commonwealth Statistician. But it is part of the Government’s policy to trade in tallow with China and there is a quantity of tallow included under this heading covering animal fats and vegetable oils.
It is not so many years ago that tallow was exported direct to North Vietnam. It was only when the Government was exposed as trading with the enemy - with North Vietnam, which it is not prepared to declare an enemy, although it is a country whose people are shooting down Australian youths - that this trade in tallow with North Vietnam ceased. Now, tallow is being sent to the People’s Republic of China. What guarantee does the Government have that it does not go from China to North Vietnam?
The list also includes iron and steel plate and sheet. The value of those exports to the People’s Republic of China since 1961 is as follows:
The figure for 1966-67 shows an increase of 300% compared with that of the previous year. But this is not the end to the exports of minerals to the People’s Republic of China. The value of exports of nonmetallic mineral manufactures amounted to $7,000, and exports of non-ferrous metals were worth $177,000. In addition, iron and steel products to the value of $3m were exported to Hong Kong. This Government has no control over where the iron or steel goes after it arrives in Hong Kong. Chemicals constitute another very interesting export to the People’s Republic of China by the Australian Government, but we in this Parliament are not told what sort of chemicals they are.
– Just apply tothe Minister for Customs and Excise. He will give the honourable senators the details.
– I have tried, but have not received them. The Government must accept responsibility in this matter. Either the Minister took this action on his own, or one of thefor public servants did. This Parliament is given no explanation as to why a licence was granted to Broken Hill Co. Pty Ltd or its subsidiaries to export these things. For all we know, these chemicals might be such as could be used for the manufacture of explosives. They could be anything. We are not told what they are. In 1961-62 chemicals to the value of $71,000 were exported to mainland China. In 1962-63 the figure was $6,000. In 1963-64 it was $7,000. In 1964-65 it fell to $3,000, and in 1965-66 it was $1,000. But in 1966-67 there was an increase of 500%; in that year the value of chemical products exported to mainland China was $5,000. The trade is increasing constantly. With the concurrence of honourable senators,I incorporate in Hansard the following table published by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics relating to trade of Australia with eastern countries:
Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics
Canberra, A.C.T. 24 August 1967
With the concurrence of honourable senators I also incorporate the following summary of exports to principal coun tries as published by the Bureau of Census and Statistics for the year 1965-66:
Some of I be items .shown in the in formation supplied by the Bureau of Census and Statistics are not included in the tables contained in the other document. The final item in the second list relates to ‘all other articles’. In 1961.-62, the value of goods exported under this classification totalled $1,546,000. The figure for 1962-63 was $950,000. In 1963-64 it was $1,092,000, in 1964-65 it was $1,511,000, in 1965-66 it was $944,000, and for 1966-67 it amounted to $248,098. This is not an inconsiderable amount of trade. The Senate is entitled to an explanation of what is covered by the classification ‘all other articles’.
There can be no doubt that our trade in wheat and other cereals with the People’s Republic of China is of considerable help to the primary producers of this country; in the year 1966-67 it was worth $115,947,000. We also exported to the People’s Republic of China hides, skins and fur skins, undressed, to the value of $276,000. Our exports of textile fibres and their waste were worth $10,658,000. Our trade in dyeing, tanning and colouring materials was worth $10,000. Our cereals such as wheat and other grains are used to feed and strengthen the economy of a so-called enemy. The people whom the Government put up to us as being a potential threat to Australia have their economy and position strengthened by our export of cereals to them. The hides, skins and furskins that we export are used to make footwear and other types of goods that are manufactured from leather. We also export wool and other textiles to the People’s Republic of China. In this way, we are feeding and clothing a potential enemy. I repeat that we exported $10,000 worth of dyeing, tanning and colouring materials. These can be used to make camouflage nets and other camouflage material. Yet this Government continues trading in these sorts of commodities with the so-called enemy. In addition to untreated hides, in 1966-67 we exported $12,000 worth of untreated leather. We also exported to the People’s Republic of China scientific and controlling instruments to the value of $2,000 in that year.
– What type of instruments are they?
– It is for the Minister to tell the honourable senator. He refuses to tell anyone else.
– ‘When did the honourable senator ask for the information?
– I have the official documents here. It is all conveniently concealed under headings and sub-headings. We on this side of the Senate are not satisfied with the role of this Government when it plays the double standard - the standard of duplicity - with respect to the Australian people and the so-called enemies of the Australian people. It will take more than some smart questions from the hill billy corner to get the Government out of this difficulty. The steel products which are exported to the People’s Republic of China are alleged to be tinplate waste. It is alleged that this is used to make cans, cooking utensils and that kind of thing. I do not know what would make a better container for a bomb that someone wanted to throw into a building than a soft drink can. It Ls pretty handy if it is filled up with gelignite or some other explosive such as nitro-glycerine made from the tallow that is exported.
The statement by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd shows that roofing steel is another commodity that it is exporting. Steel of any sort can be used for all manner of purposes. In the escalation of the bombing of North Vietnam, bridges and all sorts of other structures are being blown to pieces every day. They have to be repaired. They arc repaired with concrete and steel is used in the form work for the pouring of the concrete.
– For reinforcing?
– Sheet steel cannot be used for reinforcing, but it is used for building form work. Another commodity is structural sections. What is meant by that term? Generally the commodities that are being exported are supposed to be building materials. So these sections would be heavy load bearing structural sections. I know of no reason why structural sections that are processed as building materials cannot be used for the repair and construction of bridges, buildings, factories, underground shelters and gun emplacements. Yet later in this debate we will be told that the commodities that we are exporting to the People’s Republic of China are not strategic materials; that they are not contained in the list to which the Government subscribes but at which it will not allow anyone to have a look. These structural sections could also be used to build barges and other small sca-going or river-going craft. The Government gives no guarantee that these materials that are going to China are not being filtered into North Vietnam. In fact, it cannot give the Senate such a guarantee.
The people who sell these goods to China also say that the steel is used for the manufacture of toys. Can one imagine for one moment that a country which is so short of steel products that it has to import large quantities of them would use steel for the manufacture of toys? In any case, if steel is imported for that purpose there is nothing to stop the sheet steel or tinplate being used to make bombs, booby traps or any containers that will hold explosives. Yet the Government does nothing about this. It knows the many and varied uses to which steel may be put.
The important question that we have to ask ourselves is: Who issues the licence for the export of these steel products to the People’s Republic of China? The responsibility fairly rests on the Minister for Customs and Excise to issue a licence for the export of any commodity of a value in excess of $250. I am not prepared to stand here and believe that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) would have issued a licence for the export of $4m worth of steel to the People’s Republic of China without consulting the Cabinet about it. Therefore the whole of the Government stands indicted in this respect.
What happened to the policy as directed by the Department of External Affairs? It has a supervising role in respect of the trading and other relationships with the enemy. What happened to the Department of Trade and Industry? The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) is prepared to move in on what is supposed to be a peaceful trade in iron ore between Western Australia and Japan. Surely a licence to export steel to the People’s Republic of China was not issued without his knowledge. So, overall the Government is, and has been for a number of years, fully aware that these exports are taking place, and it is doing nothing to attempt to put down that trade or even to explain it to the people within the Australian electorate.
I should like to know when the Government will be prepared to advise the Parliament and the people of Australia what is contained in the list of strategic materials. Or will that be kept secret so that any time the Government is exposed in respect of trade with a potential enemy it can say: This commodity is not on the list’? The Government stands indicted for its actions with respect to this trade with the People’s Republic of China.
Now that this matter has been brought to a head in this Parliament through the media of public information throughout Australia, the people of this country will not be satisfied until some firm, convincing and honest answers are given to them with respect to Australia’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China as the potential enemy, as the main supporter of North Vietnam, as the chief player in the domino theory and as the country that is most likely to invade Australia, and with respect to the Government’s double standard of trading with this so called enemy which it is not prepared to declare an enemy at the very time when it is contemplating bringing down legislation to prevent other people giving assistance to people who are opposing Australian youths in Vietnam. How does the Government justify these exports to this so called enemy when Australian youths are being wounded and destroyed on the battlefield in Vietnam? I wonder how members of the Government Parties can sleep with their consciences when they know that these things are going on.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The first point that I note with great interest is that this matter of urgency has been brought forward by an Opposition backbencher, not by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). That is very interesting. Apparently those two honourable senators do not want to be committed too far on this matter, in case something backfires. I also note that it was left to a backbencher to advise the Senate that the Opposition would apply the gag to this debate. Let me remind him that there are speakers from two parlies on this side of the chamber and from two parties as well as the independent senators on the other side of the chamber. Between them they will decide whether anybody who has a contribution to make to this debate will bc entitled to make it and will not be gagged. After three hours of discussion, we on this side of the chamber will not support any motion for the gag. So I think Senator Cant went a little too far in making that statement.
– All the Opposition is irving to do is stifle discussion.
– That is quite so. J do not want to spend a great deal of time on what Senator Cant said. He dealt with facts which do not hold water. His first complaint is that Australia exports to mainland China. He has refrained from saying what everyone on the opposite side will refrain from saying, and that is whether they, if ever they become the Government, will cease to trade with mainland China. That is the $50 question. What will members of the Opposition do if they come to power? Will they cease trading with mainland China? That is not their policy. Their policy is to recognise mainland China. They are quite prepared to sacrifice Taiwan and its 15 million people to allow the recognition of China. One of China’s conditions for recognition is that Taiwan and its 15 million people be sacrificed to the maw of the Government of Communist China. Whilst the Opposition strongly supports the recognition of China and is prepared to support this sacrifice, I would like a clear announcement from some responsible member of the Opposition, when speaking on this matter, as to what its policy would be if it were returned to office. I notice that even Senator Cant was prepared to go to the extent of refusing to supply Hong Kong, that being a British dependency. I noted with great interest that he did not want to take any firm stand on wheat, because Western Australia is very much interested in wheat. Senator Cant said that the export of wheat is a great help to the Australian primary producers. Does his party propose that sales of wheat should cease?
– Certainly not.
– Thank you. That is the answer that I require, but which Sena tor Cant refused and failed to give. Now I want to deal with some of the points which have been made by the Opposition. The matter under discussion deals with the consistency of the Government. The Government has been perfectly consistent in its policy. Tn line with other Western powers the Government operates controls to prevent the export of strategic materials to Communist countries, including mainland China. But it does not obstruct the sale by private Australian traders of items not on the list of strategic materials. This list is drawn up by the Western powers and is freely available from sources other than Australia. The great bulk of Australia’s exports to mainland China consists of wheat and wool. I want to deal with steel exports, because I have certain facts which I think will be of great interest to the Senate.
– We do not believe the Minister when he speaks in such terms.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! Senator Cant may not speak, to a Minister like that.
– I did not hear what Senator Cant said, so 1 do not ask that the statement be withdrawn, lt is of no consequence, coming, as it does, from Senator Cant. Figures given to me by the Department of Trade and Industry show that in 1966-67 37,522 tons of steel was exported. This included 24,890 tons of untinned plate and sheet cold rolled of less than oneeighth of an inch in thickness and 12,632 tons of coated plate and sheet galvanised, not corrugated, of less than .118 of an inch in thickness. I am advised that exports of this type of material are made from any of the Western countries to Communist China.
– Does that include the United States of America?
– I will deal with that question in a little while. I will answer the honourable senator with great pleasure. There have been no exports of tallow or zinc. The normal use for this particular type of steel-
– What year is the honourable senator dealing with?
– I am giving the figures tor the year 1966-67, which are the latest figures from the’ Department of Trade and Industry, and the uses to which this steel can be made. In addition to the 37,522 tons I have mentioned there were 520 tons of waste steel scrap, which is used for the manufacture of toys and torch cans.
The Leader of the Opposition earlieasked me a question about the United States of America. The United States of America never exports goods to Communist China. This policy was in existence long before the United States of America’s commitment in Vietnam. The United States of America has always followed this policy. Vietnam plays no part whatever in the United States of America’s policy in this respect. Vietnam was only incidental to its policy. If the Australian Labour Party proposes to follow the policy that has been mentioned, let members of the Party rise and say so. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber will be very interested to hear it. Australian exports are only of marginal significance to the Chinese economy. On the other hand, those exports are a valuable source of foreign exchange to Australia, which has to earn its living in the world largely through the sale of primary products. To cut off this trade with China would merely mean that China would buy her products elsewhere and she would in no way be inconvenienced; whereas Australia would have available less foreign exchange to further its economic development and for defence needs. For example. Australia earned foreign exchange to the value of $!40m in 1965 from exports to mainland China. Everybody recognises that Australia has a vital long term interest in fostering peace and security in South East Asia. There can be no weakening in the resolve to resist the present aggressive and hostile policies of mainland China on issues vital to Australia’s security, but it is not in our interest in the long term to close the door to patient efforts to establish a basis of living with mainland China. Our policy must look to the day, however remote, when mainland China is prepared to seek normal relations with Western countries. These are the influences and considerations which govern our policy on trade with mainland China. The con siderations are based on realism and practical facts; they are under constant review in the light of change. If the facts change in any fundamental way, the Government will review them.
I now want to deal with the statistical position to which honourable senators have referred. The figures for total exports, excluding wheat, to mainland China from the major Western countries are very interesting. I have taken for comparison the figures for 1963 and 1965, the latest that I could obtain on a reliable basis, because Chinese statistics are not over reliable. In 1963 our exports to mainland China totalled $23.7m; in 1965 they totalled $10.5m, or less than half the’ 1963 figure. Belgium increased its exports from $8.5m in 1963 to $ 14.8m in 1965, or nearly double the 1963 figure. Exports from France increased from $52. 1 m in 1963 to $53m in 1965. Italy increased its exports from $8.3m in 1963 to $50.4m in 1965; Japan from $55m to $2 18m; the Netherlands from $11.5m to $ 16.9m; United Kingdom from $33.4m to $64.6m; and West Germany from $ 13.8m to $70.5m. Each figure I have cited is in Australian dollars so that there might be no misunderstanding.
In 1965 the exports of semi-finished and finished iron and steel products to mainland China by the twenty-five major exporters of the world amounted to 722,000 metric tons, of which Australia supplied 6,000 metric tons, or about 1% of China’s total imports in that field. Mainland China’s domestic steel output is about 12 million tons annually.
– France does not regard mainland China as a threat. This Government does.
– I am always prepared to answer questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition and will deal with the matter that he has raised. We have at all times said that the great enemy of the world is international Communism and that is what we are fighting, just as we are fighting Communist aggression in Vietnam. From the viewpoint of mainland China, our trade with that country is insignificant when compared with its total trading. I think the position has been best expressed in an editorial in today’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’. It states:
Yet before Mr Whitlam leads his troops into battle with cries of mock indignation, he should pause to think where this may lead the Labor Party. . . . There is in fact a very strong case for treating Red China as a normal, civilised country unless and until it actually commits an act of aggression against its neighbours. . . . But there is surely a good deal of sense in not treating China as an irreconcilable enemy until she has been proved to be such. There must be many Chinese Communists who, given the chance, would prefer to raise the standards of the Chinese people by trade and industry rather than to indulge in revolutionary adventures. These ‘revisionists’ may still come out on top.
The Australian Government has realised the truth in that statement. All along the Australian Government has maintained with mainland China trade which to that nation is insignificant, but which to us is significant. Consequently, we have a contact. There is no better contact than in the field of trade and industry to get to understand people, and to get to know what is going on. This pipeline should be continued because it is of tremendous value to the Australian people. The Labor Party has been very careful not to say on what grounds it objects to trade with mainland China. Is it on moral grounds?
– We have not said that we object to the trade.
– If it is on moral grounds, the quantum is of no interest. The Australian Government is pursuing the same policy as all Western governments with the exception of the United States Government. Earlier in my speech I dealt with the position of the United States of America. The United States Government docs not trade and never has traded with mainland China, regardless of its involvement in Vietnam. That is its policy. The policy of this Government is to adhere to the list of goods to be made available for sale to Communist China. That is the list to which I have referred, lt has been drawn up by the Western nations and includes 121 items. But the Australian Government goes beyond those 121 items and has prepared another list of goods. Every prospective exporter of an item on that list must apply to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) for approval before he can ship them to mainland China. If approval is given by the Minister for External Affairs, the
Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) issues a permit
I was interested in the remarks of Senator Cant about the goods we sell to China. In fact, China buys them in a very competitive field, make no mistake. Australia can compete and does compete in the sale of goods not covered by the list of 121 items of strategic materials and the list prepared by the Australian Government to which I have referred. In this way it earns valuable overseas exchange. It is of tremendous importance to the well being of the world that we should continue our trade in the fields open to us. As I have said, some fields are not open to us.
I would like to cite to honourable senators some figures for 1966 - the latest available to me. I think honourable senators opposite will appreciate that we have been given practically no notice to prepare a case in answer to that put by the Opposition. The latest complete figures I could obtain for imports of iron and steel by China in 1966 are from Japan 628,000 long tons; from the Benelux countries 350,000 long tons; from Italy 159,000 long tons; from the free Federal Republic of Germany 155,000 long tons; from the United Kingdom 86,000 long tons; from France 67,000 long tons; and from Australia in 1966-67 38,000 long tons, of which total, as I have said earlier, 37,500 long tons were of sheet steel of oneeight of an inch thickness or less. The balance of about 500 long tons was composed of waste which is used for the manufacture of toys. China can buy many other commodities in many countries of the world.
– Even in the United States?
– Even though the honourable senator conducted a lecture tour of the United States in an attempt to dissuade as many people as he could from continuing their operations in Vietnam, the United States Government still has not altered its policy. I can assure the honourable senator that there is no alteration in the policy of the United States Government. As I have said, Australia supplied in 1965 about 1 % of mainland China’s total imports of semi-finished arid finished iron and steel products. I have pointed out how significant those exports are to Australia’s overseas trade. If honourable senators opposite were in office, they would recognise that significance and would pursue the same policy. If the Labor Party would not, let honourable senators opposite get up and say so. The policy of the Government has been clearly stated and written. The Government has clearly followed that policy. These statistics are prepared every year.
asked some questions as to what this meant and what that meant. The Minister for Customs and Excise has been getting the answers to those questions. It is quite significant that the questions have never been asked by Senator Cant before now. He purported to put a case for the Australian Labor Party and then sought answers to his questions. If the honourable senator seriously proposed this matter for discussion he should have prepared his case. He should have had the answers to his questions and then made an attack on the Government. Instead of doing so he asked for information which he himself should have. had. The statistics are available. I am interested to note that the honourable senator did not have this information.
I wish to deal now with the policy of the Government concerning North Vietnam. This matter was mentioned by the honourable senator. The position is that no exports have been going to North Vietnam-
– Since when?
– A decision was made in 1966, and the only exemptions were goods for humanitarian purposes. No exports have been going to North Vietnam. A distinction is drawn between our trade with North Vietnam and our trade with mainland China as we are engaged in hostilities with North Vietnam and we are not engaged in hostilities with mainland China. I have made that clear. I have said so three times in the course of this speech. There is a difference between the policies. No exports are going from Australia to North Vietnam.
I have covered as many points as I can in answer to the remarks of Senator Cant. I say again that the very short notice given to the Government of proposals to raise subjects such as this for discussion as matters of urgency presents us with great difficulties in amassing necessary and relevant information. This is particularly so when one receives only a quarter of an hours notice or twenty minutes notice of these matters before they come before the Senate. In fairness to the Senate, I consider, if an informed debate is to take place on these matters of urgency, longer notice should be given so that the facts can be produced by speakers on both sides of the House. I say facts and not fancy such as we have heard in this debate from Senator Cant. He referred to exports and then asked questions about them because he did not know the facts. He should have known them. He has put up a case in which he has accused the Government of certain things. 1 feel that the raising of matters of urgency does no good when the Government has only half an hour or even less in which to prepare its case in answer to the Opposition’s case.
– The Minister had longer than that.
– No. I received the notice of this matter from the hands of the honourable senator who led for the Opposition. He gave me information about this matter at about twenty minutes to 2 o’clock. At about 1 o’clock, or even twenty minutes past 1 o’clock, I rang the Leader of the Opposition in an effort to obtain the information, which was in relation to the business of the Senate. He said: I cannot give it to you yet, but this is what I think it means.’
– I withdraw the words I think’. The Leader of the Opposition gave me a rough indication of what would be discussed. As far as I was concerned, I had about an hour and twenty minutes. Senators as a whole have had about half an hour to prepare themselves. This is not fair to the Government.
– Mr President, I shall deal as briefly as I can with one or two matters raised by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty). He deplored the fact that the Opposition intends to move the closure and said that action would gag the debate. It will do no such thing. This action will be taken within five minutes of the time when the debate would be due to end. So, no more than five minutes of the debate will be lost at the very most. That is not gagging a debate in the usual sense of cutting off a debate because-
– if the honourable senator will slick to that-
– Oh look, just keep quiet, you silly old fellow. The debate will bc shortened by only a few minutes when the gag is applied. 1 was interested in the remarks of the Leader of the Government when he said that if we wanted to recognise Communist. China we-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) - Order! Senator Willesee, 1 ask you to restrain yourself. It is not becoming for you to speak in the way in which you did to another honourable senator.
– I thank you, Mr President, but 1. point out that the honourable senator is completely out of order in interjecting at any stage particularly when he knows that my speech is limited to a quarter of an hour.
– Senator, if I were to rule out interjections each time they occurred because they were disorderly, I would be ruling out business all the time because the Senate lives on interjections as far as 1 can see.
– I always bow to your impartiality, Mr President, but, with very great respect, I believe that when honourable senators interject the senator who has the call is entitled, and has the right, to protect himself. However, I do not wish to waste any more time on that matter.
The Leader of the Government said that the Australian Labor Party wanted to sell out Taiwan and accept Communist China. A couple of seconds later, he said: ‘The day will come when Communist China will come into the international comity of nations and then we will recognise it’. The Minister stopped short of saying what would happen to Taiwan at that stage. He quoted from the editorial appearing in today’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald”. I understand that among journalists there is a story to be written when a man bites a dog. Politicians generally say that journalists misquote them. On this occasion we had a politician quoting journalists. The Leader of the Government read from the Sydney Morning Herald’, but he did not read a certain section of the editorial. Tt says:
It would lake a much more eloquent speaker than Mr Holt to explain convincingly why the Government should have been secretly permitting the sale of Australian steel to Red China, which the Minister for External Affairs never tires of describing as the main danger to South-East Asia and the chief support of the Communists in Vietnam.
The Minister also said that he deplored the fact that this debate was being handled by backbenchers and that our leaders were not taking any part in it. After hearing one leader speak in the debate, 1 am very thankful that the debate is being carried on by backbenchers.
I wish now to quote the words of Douglas Brass. I will not misquote his words. I think that they put in a nutshell just what this is all about. I wilt come to the points made by way of interjection by members of the Country Party and also by other senators later in my speech. But I think Douglas Brass puts the matter very succinctly when he says:
If Governments have consciences, which is debatable, the major guilt factor in Canberra continues to be Australia’s trade with China. While we screech and preach about China’s threat to our future we send her goods worth $144 million a year.
Mr President, I have never ceased to wonder at the ability of the Government to dodge issues and to completely avoid its responsibility particularly at election time to give an account of its stewardship to the Australian people. Instead of doing so it puis the blame onto the Australian Labor Party and forever asks what Labor is going to do about certain things. I think it was the genius of Sir Robert Menzies which first led to this state of affairs.
One of the most ironical things is that the Government always says that it wants to get the Australian Labor Party onto the question of foreign policy. When one looks at the foreign policy of the Government, particularly while it was under the leadership of Sir Robert Menzies and as it has worsened under the present Prime Minister, (Mr Harold Holt), one wonders why the Government ever dares to lift its head above ground level. If we examine foreign policy in relation to the record of Sir Robert Menzies, particularly with regard to Suez, we could be excused for thinking that he would never have opened his mouth on the subject again. There was a time when the Australian people were worried because Sir Robert Menzies would never go to Asia. Now we arc a darn sight more worried because we cannot stop the present fellow from going to Asia, carrying on with this endless chatter of his and putting us in the invidious position he does. What the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck) thinks about it all, only time will tell. 1 know that if I were his Minister for External Affairs, I certainly would not let the Prime Minister go on with this endless, stupid chatter, as’ he does, hulling and purling, going to the countries of Asia and making such statements as lbc one that the foreign policies of the world can best bc studied in the discotheques of New York. At long last the Liberal Party knows what it is to be lobbed with a dud leader. I am sitting back and enjoying it.
The Government has got itself into this position today because it has always taken foreign policy and used it as a political toy. lt has never hesitated to send a few battalions of young Australians overseas - never minding the political or international significance of doing so - if it meant some voles to the Government on its home ground. The Government wishes to cling to office by any means at all. lt has no regard for the statesmanlike attitude that it ought to be adopting in the field of foreign policy. On this occasion the Government has been caught both ways, lt has been caught with its hands in the cookie jar. The Government will have a lol of trouble getting ils hand out without breaking the jar and cutting ils hand badly. The Government has weakened its moral position in dealing with the students of Monash University. I do not know how the Government is going to rap them on the knuckles for sending aid to North Vietnam when the Government is doing the same thing on a vastly greater scale than the students ever thought of doing. The Government has weakened its moral position completely. I had Nome sympathy with the Government last week when that matter was being debated. The Government has simplified the Vietnam position to a point where it is likened to a Chinese spear. It has always drawn the picture of a very long spear with the shaft of it in Communist -China and away down at the tip end of the spear are the Vietcong and Hanoi. If the Govern ment believes this and is noi playing politics, it ought nol to bc trading with Communist China.
Over the years, as the leading article in the “Sydney Morning Herald’ says, Mr Hasluck has been consistently exaggerating the threat of China. He has not been dealing with some fact in relation to Communist China. He has been dealing with a potential threat from Communist China. And something potential is a very easy thing to wax eloquent about, lt is a nebulous sort of thing, it knows no boundaries, lt exists mainly in the mind of the speaker and one can go on forever about it. He has not dealt with the fact of Communist China - the fact of its aggression. Looking at the internal situation in China one can see that there are many people within China who disagree wilh the caperings that are going on in Peking towards the British Government and many other nations, lt would appear that there are many Chinese within China who disagree with this minor aggressive altitude of Communist China and who are fighting for their right to do something about it.
Why should the Australian Government say that: this is an incorrigible situation, that 700 million people are incorrigible? Why not wait till they prove that they are before we start sticking our heads out? On this issue - I say this very seriously - the Government does not. know what is go;ng on in our own country. Does it not realise that even though it has got away with this for eighteen years, thinking people today - particularly the younger people - will no longer accept this Communist cry that the Government has been putting up. No longer can the Government say: ‘There is a Communist. We will align the Labor Party with him. Everybody on this side is a goody. Those over there are the baddies and therefore you cannot have anything to do with them’. No longer do the people accept the black and white argument that the Government puts in relation to Vietnam. They are as confused as the Government is about it. They will not accept this simple proposition. I am not saying that many of them are not quite worried about the situation, but they do not accept the very clear picture that the Government tries to draw. If the Government says: ‘Why should we not trade with Communist China after what we have said about them and the war?’, they come back and say: ‘Why can you not trade with the Communists in Vietnam? What is the kafuffle about? What is the huffing and puffing about? The Government says that we cannot have anything to do with these people but at the same time it is dealing with a Communist regime in China.
What is more important is that this question of trade spills over into the question as to what will face this country when Great Britain finally goes into the European Common Market. I believe that the people of Australia are miles ahead of the Government in regard to this. They see the European Common Market as a regional grouping. They see that there has been a successful regional grouping. They see our exporters being excluded from the European market because of this grouping. They see our being excluded from America because of the grouping there to protect its own people. So they naturally look around to see in what region we can trade. Naturally, because they are not blind they look to the Asian area, which includes some of the Communist bloc, the biggest member of which is China. They see that regionalism is a success and they ask: ‘What is this story? What about giving us a clear picture, not saying on the one hand that the Communist Chinese are bogies and that they are attacking and killing our people, and on the other hand that we should trade with them?’
We find ourselves more and more in a peculiar’ position, but the Government will never face up to the situation in the Asian area. We find ourselves bound militarily by the ANZUS and SEATO alliances with Western powers in an Asian area. We are one of the countries that have to stay there. We are not one of the countries that are able to get out of the area. Great Britain is already on the way out and has been for a long time. The only people that this seems to have surprised are in the Government. America will not want to come back to the mainland of Asia. It does hot want to suffer any longer than it can possibly help this opprobrium of being accused of interfering iti Asian affairs. When it moves away from’ Asia it will riot try to come back. We stay in this area and we must trade with the countries in it. I should like to hear the Australian Country Party on this problem. I should like to hear members of that Party say whether or not we ought to be trading with these people. As usual, they are not a very great help to the Government when anything on this line comes along.
Great Britain’s entry into the Common Market will highlight with a great deal of starkness problems which the Government and many other people have not yet recognised. It will be a greater blow and a greater problem to Australia than the Government has ever told the people about. Delays are occurring. I do not think it is a question as to whether Great Britain will go into the Common Market; it is a question as to when it will.
– When de Gaulle dies.
– It could well be when de Gaulle dies; even he is not immortal. If the Government ever acknowledges help from anybody, in solving its problems, it ought to go down on its knees at night and thank Heaven that these delays have come about. As my time is rapidly running out, I want to deal with the big challenge that Senator Henty issued. He said that thic Australian Labor Party was very careful to dodge the question as to whether or not it would trade with Communist China. He said that we do not say what we would do if we were in this position. The answer, Madame Deputy President, is very simple. The Australian Labor Party would never have been in this position, because we would not have gone to war in Vietnam in the first place. We would not have gone into any war without giving an explanation to the people. We would not have gone forward into battle with the people so hopelessly confused and divided amongst themselves. This is something that we would never have done. We would never have gone into any type of war and thrown the whole burden on the youth of Australia, not charging anybody else one cent to back up the people in the front line.
The Government has dropped the pretence that it was South Vietnam that asked Australia to go there. We went there because of American policy. The Government had the perfect answer to give to the Americans, and they would have understood it. We could have told them that because of Great Britain’s withdrawal from this area we had to accept new responsibilities. lt was not that we would have to fill the vacuum, 1 do not believe in that. The Americans would have accepted that explanation. We could have been searching for new markets, including markets in the Communist bloc, to mee) the blow that must fall when the British move into the Common Market. We would have realised that we were Asians in an Asian area. We disagree with Sir Robert Menzies’ type of diplomacy which held that we were forever in orbit around Buckingham Palace, lt is all right for Mr Holt to be caught with his pants down in the President’s pool. We do not like him to be caught with his pants down in the Asian sphere.
In answer to Senator Webster let me say that if we believed that Communist China was causing all the trouble in Asia and was killing Australians in Asia, we would not give export licences to people wanting to trade with Communist China. All we say is thai the Government cannot have it both ways. Because the Labor Party would never have been in this situation in the first place, we believe that we ought to be trading with these people. We believe that Communist China will be brought finally into the council of nations. We say that we should recognise Communist China. We say that it should be brought into the international committees of the world, that if necessary it ought to be dragged into the international committees of the world to stand up to international commitments and accountability. If this debate does one thing, I hope to goodness it will shame this Government - if that is possible - into realising that it is miles behind in its thinking, that this business of playing politics on something as important as Australia’s future in Asia is a serious matter, and that it is nearly time that the Government started to lead the Australian people in these twin problems that face us.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Let me refer first to the challenge by Senator Cant that the Labor Party will move the gag on this resolution so that there can be a vote in this chamber. A vote on what? What would be the effect of the vote? The effect of the vote the Labor Party is seeking would bc the adjournment of the Senate until 3.15 p.m. tomorrow instead of 3 p.m. In addition, if the motion were carried this debate would terminate sooner than would otherwise be the case. The Standing Orders provide that such debates as this shall proceed for a specified time and such debates are recognised on all sides as a vehicle for discussion. The Labor Party hopes to cut short the debate and thus have an opportunity to play to the gallery.
Ostensibly, we are debating here a motion to the effect that the Australian Government is inconsistent. Washing over and through the motion are overtones of a suggestion that trading with Communist China, which has been going on for years, is somehow or other on a par with the actions of certain people ii Australia who are collecting money to provide direct assistance to soldiers fighting against Australians in Vietnam. That. I think, is one of the reasons why this motion has been brought forward but there is no suggestion of truth in it, and I shall comment on it as I go along.
Taking the motion at its face value it suggests, firstly, that the Australian Government is inconsistent in claiming that China is the centre of danger in Asia while at the same time nol refusing to send wheat, wool or other goods to China. 1 heard Senator Willesee speak abou) playing politics and I heard Opposition senators expressing their views. I believe that the record shows without doubt that mainland Communist China is a long term threat to the stability of the Asian continent while she pursues her present policies. No-one has ever suggested that she will launch an invasion of Australia next week or in the next fortnight, but on the other hand I believe without doubt that her activities in starting so-called wars of liberation in independent countries around her periphery, in stirring up dissent and assisting that dissent with arms, in using force or supplying the materials for using force make it clear that China is a source of danger to the independent nations of the Asian mainland. I have no doubt of that.
As Senator Henty has said, on the Asian mainland, China is the vehicle of international Communism. We have seen in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam how it instigates or helps others to use force to further its aims. That force must be resisted, not because it is Communist but because it is force used aggressively; and it must be resisted no matter from where it comes. I have no hesitation in stating my belief that the Government is right, and has been right, in directing attention to the role of China under her present Communist Government. The policies she has been following are having their effect on the Asian mainland, and I believe that the danger is continuing.
Senator Cant stated that it was, therefore, inconsistent to sell wheat, wool or other materials to such a country. Why is it inconsistent? Of course it could be claimed to be inconsistent if it could be shown that selling wheat, wool or the other materials was assisting Communist China to carry out her policies and threats to the independent nations around her, but I do not believe for a moment that that can be shown. Indeed, what would be the result of a refusal by Australia to supply wheat, wool and the other materials to Communist China? It must be evident that China would not thereby be hurt and that those materials would be available to China, either indirectly from Australian sources through some intermediary country or directly from a supplier other than Australia. Therefore it is not claimed, I think even by the Opposition - at least so far it has not been claimed, but it may be and I would be interested to hear it - that the provision of these materials assists Communist China or that the refusal to sell these materials, or anything at all, would seriously damage that country. Of course it would not.
However, what is worth considering when we look at this matter is whether that refusal to sell would damage Australia. I believe it can be shown that it would damage Australia without any resultant damage to Communist China. Our future development, our future growth in population, our future industrial muscles, our future capacity to look after ourselves in the world in which in the years ahead we may be left more and more to look after ourselves, depend on the earning of overseas funds. The earning of exchange will enable this country to grow and develop in the way it must. Is it suggested - no reason has really been stated - that this opportunity to grow should be prejudiced and even stopped even though slopping it would do no harm to Communist China because the wheat, wool and other materials would be available from other sources?
What kind of case can be made out that it is inconsistent to see a threat from a country and still take an action which does not hurt that country although it hurts your own country? Let us examine the proposition Senator Willesee put forward. He said that the fact that these commodities had been sold to China for years, and are being sold to China now, in some way weakened a stand against people who collect money to provide direct aid to Vietcong soldiers. If Senator Willesee is right in this, and if the Labor Party takes the same view and is also right in this, it means that they can see no difference between the sale of wheat, wool and other materials to China and the activities .of those people who are collecting to provide direct aid for Vietcong soldiers.
– I said it weakens the Government’s moral position.
– Why? That must be in the minds of honourable senators opposite. I do not ask members of the Opposition whether they would trade with Communist China. Of course they would. They make no secret of it. They would have the same reasons for trading with Communist China as we have for trading with Communist China and which I have just expounded. And if they cannot see that there is any difference between trading with Communist China and collecting money to provide direct aid for soldiers in the field fighting our own soldiers, they would not prevent that.
– Tell us what the difference is.
– Senator Wheeldon, who is taking a great interest in the Vietnam affair, has asked me what the difference is between selling wheat and wool to a country with which we are not at war and which would get that wheat and wool anyway, and collecting money as a gift for direct aid to a government, which aid could be used for any purpose, not excluding the purchase of munitions for its troops fighting against Australian soldiers. I may not be able to convince Senator Wheeldon that there is any difference. He may be another member of the Labor Party who does not see the difference, thereby providing another justification for my argument that if Opposition senators cannot see the difference and if they agree that trade is a reasonable thing, then they would contend that collecting money to provide direct, aid for our enemy is also a reasonable thing. That is where we part company with Senator Wheeldon and anyone who may agree with him. What nonsense it is to suggest that wheat and wool and other materials such as that should not be sold to Communist China.
– The honourable senator is getting closer to saying steel.
– Very well, I will amend what I said. What nonsense to suggest, that wheat, wool, steel and other materials which can be used for beer cans and roof guttering - material which at the most is i of an inch thick, or .018 of an inch thick, which would be mighty steel plate with which to armour oneself - should be cut off from Communist China, but presumably continue to be sold to Communist Russia. Or is it suggested that the Government is inconsistent because it permits trade with Russia as well? If so, is it then inconsistent to allow trade with any of the Eastern European countries? ls this the suggestion that is put forward: That we should demolish our overseas trade altogether, or at least an enormous percentage of it, and hurt ourselves and not Communist China? This is not realised and recognised by the Opposition. Such action would not hinder China from carrying out the policies which we deplore. 1 want to finish on this point because to me the argument seems to be simple. The argument seems to me te be as I have slated: Is China a threat to Asian nations and are her policies under the present government - and no one knows precisely the sway of that government at the present moment - a threat to the countries around her. and subsequently, should that Government be successful in that threat, to Australia? As I said, I believe those policies are a threat.
Is there anything inconsistent in selling wheat, wool and the sort of steel that the Opposition mentioned to this country when it does not help that country to carry out its policies; when cutting off that trade would not prevent her from carrying out those policies or from getting the material; when cutting off the supply would damage our own capacity to grow? Is there no difference - as is inherent in the Opposition’s argument - between this trade with Communist China and direct aid, collected in Australia, for Vietcong troops? Can this trade in completely non-strategic materials, as it has been for years, be a help to the Vietnamese troops in the field, as is claimed by the Opposition? Is it suggested that the wheat anc? the steel are being sent down to Vietnam? One honourable senator did suggest that beer cans might be sent to Vietnam. The Senate can make its own judgment of the validity of that suggestion. I hope that when the lime comes - as it soon will - for us to give consideration to acting to prevent, or to seek to prevent, Australians from collecting money for direct aid foi- the Vietcong we will not hear that move opposed by the Opposition on the ground that there is no difference between that and the trade which has been going on - trade which has been not to China’s advantage but to ours.
– I am intrigued as to how this matter has suddenly become one of urgency. 1 have been directing attention to it in this Parliament for years. Apart from Senator Gair, I received no support at all in this House. Last year when wc were debating foreign affairs Senator Turnbull proposed a motion in terms almost identical with those of the matter of urgency now under consideration. He moved: . . the Senate censures the Government for ils lack of principle in having commercial dealings with the People’s Republic of China while it maintains that that Government is the main aggressor in the Vietnamese conflict.
Senator Turnbull looked to the Australian Labor Party in vain for one of its members to second his motion and the Deputy President ruled that as no honourable senator was prepared to second the motion it would lapse. I would like to know why it is that a subject which, twelve months ago, the Australian Labor Party did not think worthy of discussion has become a matter of urgency this week. T cannot help asking: Is it because wc are shortly to consider legislation to stop aid being sent from Australia to the Vietcong?
There has been talk of consistency. No person can accuse the Australian Democratic Labor Party of inconsistency in this matter. We have supported Australia’s involvement in Vietnam against Communism and we have opposed the considerable trade with Communist China, particularly in wheat. We have opposed that trade as a matter of principle because we recognise that trade with a Communist country is not just an economic matter; in the case of a country such as China, in particular, it is a political weapon. The Communists base their attitude on the statements of Lenin who said, on one occasion:
On another occasion Lenin said:
When the time comes for us to hang the capitalists, they will compete with each other for the right to sell us the rope.
So far as this trade is concerned, Australia’s position to some extent is based upon a decision made as long ago as 1951 when, after discussion in the United Nations, non-Communist countries agreed to impose controls on the export of strategic materials to the Communist bloc. Non-Communist countries decided that they should ban the export of not only arms but also industrial equipment and war materiel, and anything that could be used to enhance the war potential of the Communist countries. In addition to the adoption of this general list, Australia, the powers comprising the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Japan later agreed on a special list in regard to Communist China. The result is that the present situation appears to be this: Firstly, arms, ammunition and vehicles of a defence nature are banned; and secondly, under licence, a special list of goods and articles may be traded in. Under licence trade could be conducted in vehicles other than defence vehicles, machinery, and metals and minerals of certain types, but there was to be no trade in zircon, uranium oxide and certain types of steel. But there is free export in respect of grain, wheat and other foodstuffs, wool, tallow, hides and skins. Under that commitment, Australia has been trading with Communist China and I understand that the trade has included iron and steel products, plain and galvanised plate and sheet, tin plate, pipes, tubes, rods and castings, a second hand rolling mill, pumps, radios, aircraft engine parts, cars, tractors, road machinery, metal and motive power machinery, rutile, copper, zinc and lead.
Meanwhile, a number of nations which were associated with us in the adoption of that special list have baled out. The NATO countries and Japan have dropped the special list and are prepared to trade with Communist China in those particular articles or commodities in respect of which we, at the present time, will trade only under licence. The situation today, therefore, is that we occupy a position in this trade somewhere between the NATO countries such as Great Britain and the United States of America. To a large extent the USA has a ban but Britain trades fairly freely. We are in between. In other words, we do not go all the way with LBJ; neither do we tune in with Britain. We are in between.
I believe that this question of trade with Communist China is one which Australia should approach with the utmost caution. But the most serious trade - and the trade on which I want to concentrate in the short time at my disposal - is the wheat trade. I am irrevocably opposed to the dangerous extent to which wheat sowings in Australia are being increased, thereby placing Australia in a position where she could be subject to blackmail and to serious loss in the event of pressures being put on her by Communist China. China admits freely that she is importing her wheat not because she wants to trade with us but because it suits her strategic and political interests. Firstly, she says that she can export her rice and make a profit by replacing it with wheat that we sell her. That was said in the ‘West Australian’ on 2nd June 1965 by one of Communist China’s then leading economists, Yung Lung-Kuei, Vice President of the China Council for Promotion of International Trade. These are his words:
The point is that we import wheat from Australia, but we export rice to other countries. The arrangement is favourable to China. The export of one ton of rice pays for the import of 1.8 tons of wheat.
So, firstly, it is an economic proposition. Secondly, strategically it helps in that it enables the Chinese to divert manpower from agriculture to manufacturing. In order that they may buy our wheat, we in Australia have provided the Chinese with credit totalling about $400m in recent years. We have enabled them to solve serious problems connected with the internal transport of the wheat which we transport to their sea ports. So we in Australia are giving serious and considerable economic help to Communist China at the present time. The danger today is that when we in Australia, because of this particular trade in wheat, are pushing up the amount of our wheat sown we are subjecting ourselves to the possibility of blackmail because these people, having put us in the position of growing these huge quantities of wheat and relying on them for its sale, can at any time turn off the tap and say: ‘Do this or we will not buy your wheat, and your farmers will be bankrupt’. I remind the Senate that some time ago Chou En-lai said that if Australia did not stop her involvement in Vietnam, China would consider cutting off her wheat trade. We all know that certain firms in Australia which enable wheat to be sold to China, or who are concerned in the trade, have been pressured. We know that some time ago when Brazil took action against the Communist Party in that country, they were pressured to try and get the Brazilian Government to stop its actions.
One of the big objections to the selling of huge quantities of wheat to China is that we are selling it at less than the cost of production. The Australian taxpayer is being called upon to subsidise the wheat farmer to recoup him for any loss he might suffer because we are selling wheat to China at less than cost of production, lt is criminal that the Australian taxpayer should bc called upon today to subsidise the sale of wheat to China at less than cost of production; this means, in effect, that we are subsidising Communism. In those circumstances there is a very serious responsibility on our Government to examine the sale of wheat to Communist China. I know that the average farmer says: ‘It will be a catastrophe if we do not sell it. What are we to do if we do not sell it?’
I submit that, having got us into this situation, the Government should first intensify the search for other markets to lessen our dependence upon Communist China. Secondly, it should take strong action to increase wheat storage capacity against the day when China may decide not to take our wheat or when perhaps war breaks out and we are left with immense quantities of wheat. Thirdly, the Government should consider whether it should continue granting subsidies which are encouraging an enormous increase in the quantity of wheat grown here. Near Melbourne today wheat is being grown in places where it has never been grown before in the history of Australia. The Government of this country can no longer submit to pressures from the wheat farmers, many of whom do not realise the impasse they would experience if Communist China suddenly turned off its imports. The Government has to look at the situation. J hope it will do something about storages, f hope it will stop encouraging this foolish and even criminal increase in our wheat acreages to meet the Chinese market, and I hope also that it will look around for other markets.
– What about the under-nourished people of the world?
– There will be more of the under-nourished people of the world if we do not sell it to China. There are under-nourished people in India. I would much prefer giving it to the people of India to selling it to Communist China in the way that wc are selling it now. I regret that the honourable senator should endeavour to drag a red herring across the trail.
Let me say in conclusion that I am left quite cold at the suggestion from honourable senators opposite that they propose to apply the gag in order to force a vote on this matter. I am just as cold on it as they were 12 months ago when they refused to provide a seconder for Senator Turnbull who submitted a proposition at that time which put fairly and squarely before them the question as to whether they did really believe in what they raise here now. Let me put a challenge to honourable senators opposite. Let them propose a substantive motion in the Senate, or let them come to me and suggest that we propose a substantive motion for the purpose of stopping this particular trade, and wc will support it. Are they sincere? Let them propose such a motion if they are. Instead of forcing a vote on something that means nothing, let them put forward a motion that means something. But then, of course, it will be a different situation because the present controller of the Party would not allow them to vote against trading with Communist China.
– Who is he?
– The honourable senator ought to know, coming from the place where he does.
– We are not voting against trade with Communist China.
– I am glad to have Senator Cavanagh’s admission. He says the Opposition is not voting against trade with Communist China. The motion before the Senate is fundamentally a piece of hypocrisy because this week we will be discussing the question as to whether we should stop aid going to Vietnam. Let us not tie this particular issue up with the question of Australian aid to Vietnam. Let us debate the question on its merits. I challenge the Opposition to bring forward a motion to debate the matter on its merits. I know that if it were so debated the situation would be entirely different. Unfortunately for honourable senators opposite, they are playing politics on this particular issue, and I regret to see politics played on a matter which can be vital to the future of this country.
– I think we all arc- grateful for the comments made by Senator McManus. If ever there was a clear demonstration of how spurious this so-called matter of urgency is, it was given by Senator McManus. I, too, have made some notes and propose to show just how insincere the Opposition is with its proposal. Having listened to the debate, one might be led to believe that this trade with Communist China has only just become known to honourable senators opposite. That has been the pattern of the argument all through the debate, which was introduced by Senator Cant. lt is interesting to reveal that on 14th September 1966, just a few weeks before the last general election, Senator McClelland is reported on page 353 of Hansard as having asked a question on notice relating to trade with the People’s Republic of China in the years from 1960 to 1966. At that time there was a great silence about all this. It was not suggested then that this trade was something which could lead to great national consequences. I emphasise that the question was asked only two months before the last general election and at that time it would have been most embarrassing for the Opposition to have to be looking both ways in relation to this problem. Although the information was provided and was published in Hansard, it was never regarded as a matter of great urgency or of national importance.
Prior to that, in December 1965, I supplied an answer to the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall), who gave it to the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti). That answer contained figures on trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and mainland China. Then in September 1966 Senator Drury had the information incorporated in the Senate Hansard. At that time there was no suggestion that this was a great national problem or something that would stir the Parliament to tha discussion of a matter of urgency. Let me point out how fallacious it is to bring this forward as a matter of urgency. Reference has been made in several places today to a leading article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ which talked about this trade being carried on in secrecy. That shows that that newspaper’s leader writer does not do his homework either. There is no suggestion of secrecy about this matter. It is, and has been for a long time, Government policy to allow trade in non-strategic materials. There is nothing peculiar about that. As Senator McManus suggested, this matter has been brought forward in anticipation of another matter which is coming forward and which will acutely embarrass the Opposition. It cannot escape the fact that the policy of the . Government on this matter has been completely consistent.
If we consider the broad outline of the argument advanced by Senator Cant, who led for the Opposition, we see that he was driven along by his own eloquence almost to the point where he was saying that, no matter what was on the list, any commodity could be used for strategic purposes. He even went outside mainland China and talked about Hong Kong. If this argument is taken to its logical conclusion it means that we will not be able to trade with any country. If we cannot trade with a British colony without being criticised by the Opposition because we could be providing some material for mainland China, then we cannot trade with any country without being so criticised because the goods exported could be used in the ultimate in mainland China for strategic purposes, lt is a completely nonsensical argument.
Senator Cant drew attention to a number of items in the schedule. As a matter of fact, he said: ‘We have not been told what these articles are.’ But members of the Opposition have never asked to bc told. They are asking now only in a political climate, when they are putting on a political stunt. That is what the position is. There can be no doubt about that. About twenty different commodities were exported to mainland China in 1966-67. The document to which I am referring is a public document issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. It relates to the year ended 30th June 1967. Senator Cant took one item from this document and said: What do we know about this item? A whole $5,000 worth of chemicals not otherwise specified was exported. What does that mean?’ He visualised that the item referred to some deadly or vicious chemicals which would be used for purposes of war. In fact, this is only a classification term for items that are not stated in the other fifty-six classifications. Senator Cant attempted to base a powerful argument on that item.
– They are chemicals, are they?
– They are just chemicals not elsewhere stated. Just to relieve Senator Cant’s mind - I am certain that he will have nightmares tonight, worrying about this $5,000 worth of chemicals exported to mainland China - I propose to tell him what the chemicals were. I do not promise to be able to do this in respect of all fifty-seven items in the course of this debate. A certain amount of research has to be done in order to bring out such information. But I was intrigued by this item and I decided to find out what these chemicals were. I find that they were wheaten textile size rust remover and liquid flux to a total value of $5^032, and that special approval for the export of these products to mainland China is not required. If that is a good basis on which to build an argument in the National Parliament of Australia, all I can say is that we are degenerating into a small town, parish-pump approach to politics and the national interest.
– What about steel?
– If the honourable senator wants to build his argument around steel, that is all right with me. I come back to the point that I made earlier: Steel has been exported to mainland China for years. Senator McClelland asked a question about it last year. There was no reaction then. The Commonwealth Statistician has been publishing the figures on this trade in his annual statistical returns. Until now the Opposition has not shown any anxiety complex in relation to the figures.
Senator Willesee - Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise to order. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) has been interjecting from outside the Senate. Is that in order? If it is order does that apply to all honourable senators, or has the Leader of the Government special privileges?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laught) - I am not aware that the Leader of the Government has been interjecting in the manner indicated by Senator Willesee. There is no substance in the point of order.
Senator Willesee - I am informing you - any honourable senator on this side of the chamber could do so - that the Leader of the Government has been interjecting from outside the Senate. I give you that assurance. I thought you could have heard him, but evidently you could not. I am pointing out that he was interjecting continually from a position entirely outside the seats set aside for senators. I suggest that on this occasion you take my word for that - it could be backed up by everybody else - and instruct the Leader of the Government, as a warning to all honourable senators, that he must not interject from outside the Senate. Frequently it has been ruled that a senator may not interject from outside his seat.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I am not aware that the Leader of the Government has been interjecting from outside the Senate. However, I warn all honourable senators that it is quite disorderly to interject at all, whether from inside or outside the Senate.
– I think we all would agree that that was a very profound ruling, Mr Acting Deputy President. I am sure that we all agree with it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - J ask the Minister to proceed with his speech without canvassing the ruling.
– It must be apparent that the Opposition is beginning to feel the penetration of logic and basic facts. There is a tendency to delay this debate. Let me go back to steel, to which reference was made by interjection - no doubt an improper interjection. I refer to steel because, as I said before, in each annual statistical return figures have been given on exports of steel to mainland China. I have supplied an answer in this place on the figures and I have also supplied an answer to a question asked by Mr Luchetti in another place. Never before has this been an issue. But now it has become an issue or matter of urgency. We all have a fair idea of the reasons why that is so. Senator Cant should not put up his hand, as he is doing now. We are not in class now.
– I wish to ask one question.
– I am making my speech and Senator Cant will have to be a good boy. I wish to refer to the 54,110,000 worth of steel that was exported.
– Did the Minister issue the licence?
– Yes, I issued the licence. There is no doubt about that. I always act consistently with Government policy when 1 issue licences. I now wish to refer to the quantities involved. In regard to galvanised sheet - which can be corrugated, water cans etc, - the gauge was 0.047 inches to 0.012 inches, the quantity was 24,889 tons and the value was $1,600,000. In regard to black steel sheet suitable for motor bodies and furniture, the gauge was 0.062 inches to 0.015 inches.
– lt could be used for tanks.
– Senator Cant’s knowledge of these matters would be a little limited, but he has his story and he is stuck, wilh it. The quantity of black steel sheet exported was 12,629 tons and the value was $2,400,000. In regard to tinplate waste suitable for can making and toy making, the quantity was 518 tons and the value was $59,000. The total value was $4,110,000.
The point about all of this is that, despite the fact that, as Senator McManus pointed out earlier, Labor Party senators would not stand up and support Senator Turnbull when he wanted to have this matter debated, despite the fact that these figures in relation to exports to mainland China have been published in official documents every year; despite the fact that I gave the information in this place, to Senator McClelland just prior to a general election - if it were a political issue the Opposition certainly would have taken it up at that time, but for the fact that it would have been an embarrassment to them; and despite the fact that I supplied the information in another place, suddenly, out of the blue, today we come to a climate and atmosphere in which certain proposed legislation will obviously be an embarrassment to the Opposition. So they put on this counter effort.
– lt is just a fizzer. It is a Chinese hunger.
-Senator O’Byrne has given me the answer. It is a fizzer; it is not a sincere urgency motion, lt does not go to the issues at all; it is only put forward as a political stunt. For these reasons I suggest that the Senate should not have a bar of it. The only other point that I want to make relates to Australia’s exports of steel in relation to the exports of other countries. I propose to quote the figures for 1966. They are not complete figures, but they are sufficient for the purposes of this debate. In that year imports by mainland China from Japan amounted to 628,000 long tons, from Italy 159,000 long tons, from Germany 155,000 long tons, from the United Kingdom 86,000 long tons, from France 76,000 long tons and from Australia 38,000 long tons. Australia’s export of steel to mainland China accounted for slightly less than 2% of the total. As has been said by my leader. Senator Henty, and by my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), quite clearly a world pattern in relation to the importation by mainland China of non-strategic materials has been established and that Australia in exporting such materials is only doing so as part of a pattern, with the exception of the United Slates of America. Such trade does not call for a motion censuring the Government. For that reason I urge the Senate to disregard this so-called urgency motion and to disregard all this nonsense about applying the gag before the debate is finished, which ls a negation of everything that the Australian Labor Party has professed to stand for ever since the formation of the Party.
– 1 have been very confused listening to the arguments that have been put forward by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) and the Deputy Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator McManus). In the past I have deplored that the apocalyptic views of the Democratic Labor Party towards the present situation.
– What sort of view was that?
– Apocalyptic. The honourable senator will find that word in any dictionary.
– Just give me five minutes to look it up.
– The honourable senator may need longer than that. The view that the Democratic Labor Party has taken is that we are on the eve of a third world war, that soon we will be involved in a mighty conflict with China, the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Cuba, the Waterside Workers Federation, Monash University and the other mighty powers that are threatening our security. The Democratic Labor Party not only has supported the sending of troops to Vietnam but also has opposed the sending of Australian materials to China and also, I gather from what Senator McManus has said, to the Soviet Union or any other such country. Therefore I am rather puzzled that it seems, from what the honourable senator has said, that his Party does not intend to support the proposal which has been put forward by the Australian Labor Party. I propose to refer to a report in the ‘Age’ of 28th August. I hope that Senator McManus was not misquoted. The report states :
The Deputy Leader of the DLP in the Federal Parliament (Senator McManus) said last night the question of trade with China was ‘bound to come to a head - and it looks as if this week may be the time.’
As I understand what the honourable senator said, this question of trade with China is coming to a head and that he would welcome the chance to do whatever he could to assist it to come to a head so that everybody could stand up and be counted and we would know where everybody stands. For that reason I would have thought that this so-called gag which we propose to apply - it is not in fact a gag - would have been welcomed by Senator McManus, and that he and Senator Gair would have been among the first to support us in moving it five minutes before the conclusion of the time allotted for the debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.4S to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I commented that I found it somewhat strange that the Democratic Labor Party senators, who apparently were so distressed because the Australian Labor Party had not supported the resolution previously proposed by Senator Turnbull, had not welcomed the opportunity to discuss the matter this evening. If the DLP senators felt so strongly on the matter, I could not understand the view expressed by Senator McManus as consistent with that feeling that we are, in some way, gagging the debate. We are not gagging the debate. We are giving an opportunity to the Senate to express its opinion on this subject. We believe that the Australian people are entitled to know what the Senate believes on this subject. If the time of the debate is allowed to expire without a vote being taken, the Australian people will not know what is the belief of the Senate on this subject. I believe that Senator McManus should be prepared to stand up and be counted in support of the motion that the question be put.
The question has been asked: Why has this subject suddenly been raised now? The answer is simple. It is being raised now because of the disclosures over the last couple of days in the report of the Commonwealth Statistician that over $4m worth of steel was exported to Communist China last year under a licence from the Commonwealth Government. Steel is clearly a strategic material. We were told the other day of a university student who behaved most reprehensibly - and I do not disagree with that view - by saying that he did not care if a bullet which shot an Australian conscript in Vietnam bore the badge of the Monash University Labor Club. We believe that if that student is due for censure, so are the people who allow to develop a situation in which an Australian conscript in Vietnam can be killed by a bullet bearing the stamp of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd or Australian iron and Steel Pty Ltd. That is a much more serious matter because those organisations are controlled by grown-up men - or apparently grown-up men. They control vast resources within Australia. They are the people who provide funds for the election campaigns of the present Government and they are also the people who are providing the weapons to a nation which the Government describes as our enemy. lt has been said very speciously this evening that in fact there is no evidence that the sort of steel which is being exported from Australia to China may be used for weapons to be fired against Australian troops. Indeed, I have not heard any evidence produced that the type of steel being exported from Australia to China cannot be used against Australian troops. However, the very fact that Australian steel is being exported to China reduces the pressure upon the Chinese steel industry and means that the Chinese people, by using the steel exported to them by Australia, are able to devote a greater measure of their own steel industry to the manufacture of weapons to be used against Australian conscripts. This is the fundamental point. Steel is one of the basic interests of any economy which is being geared to the carrying out of war. irrespective of whether the steel imported from Australia is itself directly used for killing the conscripts that Government supporters - including the grinning Government Whip (Senator Scott) - voted to send to Vietnam, the very fact that it is being exported to China enables China to gear its steel industry towards the killing of Australian soldiers.
The Australian Labor Party has been completely consistent on this issue. We are not opposed to trade with China. The ALP favours trade with every country in the world. We believe that if Australia trades with other countries, this is a benefit to our economy and to all people of the world, lt is something which in itself helps to produce world peace. The Australian Labor Party does not produce propaganda showing red arrows pointing at Australia from China, with a text saying that Communist China is dedicated to the overthrow of Australia. That tactic of the Government com pletely exposes its moral corruption. It uses propaganda that the war in Vietnam is being carried on by the Vietcong at the direction of Communist China, and that because the Australian Labor Party is opposed to the sending of conscripts to Vietnam, in some way we are traitors. Yet at the same time the Government provides material for weapons to the people it describes as our enemy to assist them to kill the conscripts that the Government is selling to China.
The argument has been produced by the Government that if we did not send China steel, somebody else would. What a magnificent argument. It may_ be said that if the Monash University Labor Club did not send something to the Vietcong, somebody else would. But that is not the point. The point is that a nation which is supposed to be engaged in a conflict with another country should not provide weapons to the people it considers to be the enemy. Such actions expose the moral corruption of the Government. If the 7,500 Australian troops the Government has sent to Vietnam were not there, somebody else would have provided them. Either the United States Government would have provided them or the flunkey government in South Korea would have provided them. They would have been there. No Government supporter has seriously argued that our 7,500 soldiers are making any difference to the outcome of the war in Vietnam. The sending of Australian troops is supposed to be a great moral gesture by the Government which shows its solidarity in defending Australia from the downward thrust of Communism. If the gesture of sending 7,500 conscripts to Vietnam is important, surely it is equally important that the owners of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, Australian Iron and Steel Pty Ltd and John Lysaght (Australia) Ltd are making profits by sending to Communist China materials which can be used directly or indirectly to kill our conscripts. That is the point which is being made throughout this debate by the Australian Labor Party. That is our position on this subject. Honourable senators opposite cannot have it both ways.
As 1 have been able to understand the argument presented by Government supporters in support of the Government’s action in Vietnam, it is that what is happening in Vietnam is part of a world-wide Communist conspiracy. When the argument has been put that the conflict in Vietnam is a civil war amongst the Vietnamese people, we have been lord that that is not so. Spokesmen for the Government have said: ‘Remember what Mao Tse-tung said in 1927, what Chou En-lai said in 1933, what Karl Marx said in 1848, and what the Vice Chancellor of Monash University said three weeks ago.’ Other such notorious figures are quoted as evidence of this great conspiracy.
Representatives of the Australian Country Party have remained remarkably silent during this debate. I would have expected some wit and whimsy from our rural representatives on this topic but so far deadly silence has overcome them. Last year when I was in the Northern Territory leaflets were distributed there in support of the Australian Country Party candidate for election to Federal Parliament. The leaflets asked: ‘What is the real issue?’ My friend Senator Mulvihill has just provided me with a sample of the same sort of literature. It states: ‘It is your choice. Where do you draw the line against Communist aggression?’ This very serious document comes from Watson electorate where apparently the people are in equal danger. It seems that Mr Peter Lowe was an unsuccessful Liberal candidate for Parliament and in the leaflet I hold he sets out the various things we have to worry about - the thirtysix faceless men and other original contributions that Mi Lowe makes to the great controversy. He makes a call for resistance to Red aggression. This leaflet which was given to Senator Mulvihill, apparently with the compliments of Mr Peter Lowe, contains a map of China. At least, it appears to be China although I do not think the artist has strictly followed the McMahon Line in drawing the boundaries. Arrows are shown pointing in all directions; - apparently into Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and India. Where are all the arrows coming from? They are coming from China. Why should a person vote for Mr Peter Lowe? Evidently a person should vote, for him to stop Communist aggression, in order to stop the Chinese coming into India, coming into Burma, coming into Cambodia, coming into Thailand and coming into the electorate of Watson. This is the reason for voting for Mr Peter Lowe. These are the issues which were facing the electors of Watson. Yet we find the very Government that terrified the little old ladies in white tennis shoes living around the shores of Botany Bay into voting for the Liberal Party, because they had to resist the aggression of Communist China, selling steel to Communist China.
I did not realise it before, but Senator Gorton evidently speaks with a lisp. He found great difficulty in pronouncing that word. He kept talking about wheat, wool and other commodities. What we are worried about is steel. That is the issue. It has been raised by the Press throughout Australia. It is a matter that is causing the Australian people concern. It is causing concern to the mothers and fathers of young Australians who are being sent to Vietnam to be killed. John Lysaght Ltd, the Broken Hill Pty Co. and Australian Iron and Steel Ltd are making colossal profits out of selling steel which enables bullets to be made to kill the sons of these mothers and fathers - sons who have been forced to go overseas and fight in this war. It is this Government which is doing it. We talk about the Government going all the way with LBJ but can the Government show to us any instance of steel being sold to Vietnam or China by the United Stales of America? Of course it cannot. Whatever may be said about the policy of the United States, at least it is consistent. What this Government is doing at the same time as it is terrifying people with its cries of Communist hysteria and at the same time as it is sending people to be killed in Vietnam is to continue to enable its supporters to make colossal profits out of this war.
The point has been made also that the leaders of the Australian Labor Party have not spoken in this debate. They do not need to speak. We have a capable backbench. It is very interesting to note that no backbenchers on the Government side have spoken in the debate. Obviously the Government could not trust them to speak. I would like to hear what some of the Government backbenchers do have to say about this issue. This complete moral irresponsibility of the Government will cause hatred and contempt for the Liberal Party and its satellite, the Country Party, throughout Australia.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired!
- Mr President. 1 am coming to the conclusion - one which you have probably reached already - that there is in the atmosphere, of Western Australia something which is inflammatory. This debate began with an inflammatory speech by Senator Cant. We have just listened to another inflammatory speech, this time by Senator Wheeldon. At least other members of the Opposition who have spoken have taken some sort of temperate line to try to persuade us why this resolution should be supported. The essence of the resolution moved by Senator Cant lies in the word inconsistency’. Now, there has been no inconsistency on the part of the Government relating to its attitude to the Government of the People’s Republic of China. As I said some two and a half years ago in a debate in the Senate, 1 draw a distinguishing line between the oppressed people of China and the Chinese Government. The 700 million people of China at least are entitled, in a world where humanity should dictate the means by which governments should attend to these problems, to receive wheat if we have surplus wheat, just as the people of India are entitled to this surplus wheat. It should be available to prevent starvation. 1 want to return to this question of inconsistency. We have never been inconsistent on this subject of the menace of international Communism centered in the People’s Republic of China administration; that is the Communist Government of the Republic which worries not only the people of Australia but also the people of the rest of the world. The concern of the Australian people is evident if one moves around instead of living in the detached intellectual atmosphere in which Senator Wheeldon spends his time and apparently in which Senator Cant spends his time. At least the Australian people acknowledge that there is such a thing as an international Communist conspiracy. That there is such a thing as a conquering Communist imperialism is evident in South East Asia from the borders of Tashkent right round to South Vietnam. lt is evident that Chinese Communism inspires fully owned ancillaries of the People’s Republic of China in other countries such as India where riots arc occurring at the present time inspired by the Communist Party of India. It is attacking the integrity of the Burmese Government in Burma at the moment, lt is terrifying the wits out of the Government of Cambodia, lt has almost a fully owned subsidiary in Laos. We know it has supported and sustained through the Hanoi Communist Government of North Vietnam an intrusion into South Vietnam. These are internal conspiracies supported and sustained by outside agencies. They are termed national liberation wars. So, the old concept of the open casus belli state of war no longer exists. It has been amply demonstrated in the Senate from time to time that there is a new conspiracy which is known as the national liberation war. This is one held by the Communist parties wherever they are.
I wish that Senator Cant and Senator Wheeldon had developed the argument about exports to and trade with China rather more widely than they have. For example, it is only in the last week that Mr Doyle of the Transport Workers Union in Melbourne has been exported to Peking by the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labor Party. I think at the last moment there was a shift to the container system. Mr O’Shea, who is the acknowledged head of the Communists and Secretary of the Tramways Union in Melbourne, stood down to allow Mr Doyle, to go to Peking. The Government did not impose an embargo on Mr Doyle going to Peking. Thas is just as much uri export as some iron and steel. If we are to talk about iron and steel it is fair enough to talk about the export of Mr Doyle, who, incidentally, is an interesting man who sits on the Victorian Executive of the ALP and who selected Senator Poyser who sits here. The Government members here might just as well propose a matter of urgency alleging there is inconsistency existing in the Opposition. Indeed, there is. That inconsistency is very substantial.
What is totally overlooked in this matter is that trade anywhere in the world cannot be prevented unless an embargo is imposed on the country that one wishes to be prevented from receiving goods. This is the simplest of all problems in terms of international law. It is known as the law of blockade. It is not possible to stop any material that the Chinese wish to buy from reaching China. Wheat could be purchased from Australia by the Chinese Government through an agency. Let us take the United Arab Republic as an example. The United Arab Republic might buy wheat from the Australian Wheat Board. It would pay for the wheat and put it on a ship. The moment that ship left Australia, it would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government. This is what is involved in the problem of blockade. The moment a ship is outside territorial waters, the country chartering the ship, which owns the wheat in the ship, can divert the ship to any port it likes. That is the point. Wc cannot prevent trade moving to its end destination unless we impose a blockade.
This is the reason why two lists of materials have been drawn up in relation to trade with Communist China. There are those materials which are clearly and determinably strategic goods and which could be used against Burma, India, South Vietnam or South Korea. Senator Wheeldon spoke about the flunkey government of South Korea. It is not doing so badly at the present moment. South Korea has the highest income per capita of any country of Asia with the exception of Japan, and is now called a flunkey government because the ruinous Communist government of the North is not doing so well at all.
Let us pursue this matter of trade a bit further. Is it the intention of the ALP to say - and it is saying this - that we should prevent any scrap iron, tinplate, or whatever it is, from going to china? That is what the ALP is saying. That is the point of the great dramatic speech that Senator Wheeldon has made; we are not to allow any scrap iron to go to China.
It does not matter whether it is tinplate or what it is, or what it is to be used for. This is a non-strategic item. By some high flown phrases used by Senator Cant and Senator Wheeldon it is converted from its non-strategic concept into bullets and mortar casings. They say that to be consistent we should not allow this scrap to go to China. But it is equally true that we should not allow any iron ore to go from Western Australia to Japan because it is the end destination of that iron ore that we have to consider.
– Should we have a strategic list of goods at all?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) has made it available and he has had the list of strategic materials incorporated in Hansard. If we are to accept the arguments of Senator Cant and Senator Wheeldon we must accept the necessary consequence that flows from their arguments - that is, that we must have regard to the end destination, for example, of Western Australian iron ore going from the port of Dampier to Japan. How are we to prove that this is not going to China?
– That is the Government’s problem.
– It is not our problem at all. To be consistent in the Opposition’s terms we should prevent all iron ore from going from Western Australia to Japan. Exports of steel from Japan last year amounted to 628,000 long tons. I do not say that all of it went to China but a great deal went to China. So it is said that to be consistent on this side we should, as Senator McManus said earlier in the afternoon, carry a resolution requesting that the Government forbid the export of iron ore from Western Australia and prevent the export of wheat from Western Australia, or whatever else it is.
– That is the mess that the Government is getting itself. into.
– I am going to be consistent. The Australian Labor Party’s platform was highly revised in Adelaide the other day. The book containing the platform has, I think, a rather menacing looking photograph on its cover. The only thing missing is the balcony. I had a look at the platform this afternoon. The Labor Party states that it supports the United Nations. It is our duty to support the United Nations. We supported the United Nations in setting up the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. Are we to reject the second principle in the first draft of the charter of UNCTAD that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of differences of socio-economic systems? The charter has not been worked out in its final and conclusive form; this exercise is to take place in Delhi next year. The whole matter is wrapped up in this problem of world trade. The Opposition this afternoon has not demonstrated in one single iota that there is an inconsistency in Australia’s trade with China any more than there is an inconsistency in the trade of New Zealand with China. There is no inconsistency, surely, in the trading of other countries of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation with Communist China. The main thing is that we are not exporting strategic items to Communist China. No evidence has been adduced that there exists a trade in a single item of strategically valuable materials that are necessary to arm and sustain the Chinese forces. This has not been made clear.
I reject in total the assertion’ that there is an inconsistency on our side. As a government we have been consistent in relation to Communist China for the last ten to fifteen years.
Finally, it gets down to this afternoon’s challenge by Senator McManus from which the Opposition ran away. I have had many discussions with Senator McManus. He docs not agree, I know, with what I am arguing this evening but at least he and Senator Gair are consistent in this. They do not believe that we should be trading in wheat with China. Senator McManus challenged the Opposition this afternoon saying: ‘Propose a motion that we do not trade with China, and we will support you.’ Unfortunately, 1 must ask to be forgiven because I made a statement this afternoon which the Minister for Customs and Excise has reminded me he did not make. I have no desire to make a statement that is untrue. The Minister, as I recollect it. said that a list was available to anyone who wished to export to China to show whether or not a material was strategic. On the basis of the evidence available not one piece of steel that can be regarded as strategic material is being sent to China. Wheat cannot, in my opinion, be regarded as a strategic commodity. It was demonstrated by Senator Anderson that the alleged chemicals of which Senator Cant made so much were not strategic materials.
This has been one of the most dubious matters of definite public importance that have ever been raised here in my memory.
It has been used for flagrant electioneering purposes and nothing else. Honourable senators opposite think that it is an opportunity to embarrass the Government. I am quite willing to go out and fight the next Senate election on the question as to whether or not we should trade with the People’s Republic of China. I am willing to stand on a platform with Senator Wheeldon or Senator Cant to argue the case. If it will be of any benefit I am willing to go to Western Australia and argue whether or not we should suspend trade with China. I am quite sure that the voters of Western Australia will reject the argument as they have successively rejected Opposition arguments in past elections. The debate Ls coming to its end. It has been forecast to us that a device will be used to try to pressure the Parliament and to make Senator Gair and Senator McManus prisoners of the Australian Labor Party. It is said that there will be a vote. The object of the exercise is to try to put a bomb under Senator McManus and Senator Gair. It is a pretty despicable sort of move, directed not at the Government but rather at embarrassing the Democratic Labor Party. Senator McManus dealt with the subject pretty adequately this afternoon.
– I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to this motion. At the outset may I say that while we all admire the qualities of Senator Cormack in self expression I have never heard him labour under such difficulties as he did tonight. He finished by saying something which I think is palpably absurd - that is, that the Opposition is trying to put a bomb under the two senators who sit before me at the present time. It is quite unworthy of him. I do not think it is really worthy of an answer. The fact is that Senator McManus and Senator Gair have been at least consistent on this subject. From the very outset they have opposed the sale of commodities generally to Red China and for that reason I do not think that we can criticise them in that regard. I agree that the Government is inconsistent, as stated in the matter that is before us. That is why I have risen to speak on the subject.
Senator McManus. in his opening remarks, referred to a similar matter that was brought before the Senate, perhaps last year- I have just forgotten when. I suggest that the circumstances were entirely different. Last week Senator McManus raised the need for action under the Crimes Act and/or other applicable legislation against persons in Australia proposing to solicit and send aid to the National Liberation Front in Vietnam. Sir, we had a long debate on that subject similar to the one that we are having now. We heard views expressed across the chamber as to the merits of the proposal brought forward by Senator McManus. The whole thing degenerated into a sort of witch hunt in regard to those people who supported the Government on Vietnam and those who did not. I did not agree with what was said by Senator McManus last week but it was in accordance with the attitude of the honourable senator and the Democratic Labor Party. The Government came in right behind them.
This has been highlighted now by the announcement by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited that it has sold something over $4m worth of steel to Red China. Last week the Government and Senator McManus criticised anyone who opposed the proposal relating to the action of students at Monash University, despite the disclaimer by the Opposition that it did not support the students. The Opposition’s position was made quite clear, but the charge was levelled time and time again at honourable senators on this side of the chamber who disagreed with the Government’s policy on Vietnam that their views were similar to those of the university students. Nothing was further from the truth.
The sale of steel to Red China by BHP has highlighted the question, lt is interesting to read the leading editorial in today’s Sydney Morning Herald’. I think it is worthy of repetition but I will not read all of it. 1 will read only the first paragraph so that it can be recorded in Hansard. It is in these terms:
One feels rather sorry for the Prime Minister today. Through no fault of his the Government hus got itself into an impossible muddle over trade with China. It would take a much more eloquent speaker than Mr Holt to explain convincingly why the Government should have been secretly permitting the sale of Australian steel to red China, which the Minister for External Affairs never tires of describing as the main danger to South East Asia and the chief support of the
Communists in Vietnam. The Government, so to speak, has been caught red-handed - or at least red-faced.
I agree unhesitatingly with that paragraph in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ editorial. The Senate knows my view on Vietnam and on trade with Red China. The Senate knows where I stand in regard to operations in that region of the world by both America and Australia. I should like to read a couple of extracts from a speech I made on 9th March this year in relation to my stand on Vietnam. My statements then substantiate to a very large extent what I am saying now. On that occasion I said:
Another fallacy, as far as I am concerned, is this so-called domino theory about which we hear so much. We hear that there is the threat of Communist China and that inexorably it will spread down through South East Asia. The domino theory is that one country will fall after the other.
I then went on to explain the different forms of Communism as I understood them. Later in my speech I said:
We have singled out China as our great enemy. In this regard we have followed the American tine. In my opinion it is deplorable that we have done so. We should not adopt a policy under which we look upon China inevitably as our future or potential enemy. … I suggest that to single out China - a country which we value as a trading customer, which absorbs a tremendous quantity of our wheat and whose purchases of other commodities will probably increase over the years - as our inveterate enemy is not conducive to the maintenance of peace in this area.
I want to make clear that I am all for trade with Red China. I have never said otherwise. I believe that trade such as the Government is engaging in at the present time is right. For people to be hypocritical and say that we are doing something of a heinous nature by trading with Red China and to criticise a few students who sent an infinitesimal amount of money to a suspect area - I say ‘suspect area’ because we do not know the actual destination of that money - is nothing more or less than inconsistency.
The Government has been inconsistent in this matter. 1 disagree entirely with what Senator McManus said about our sales of wheat and other commodities to China. No country in the world can prevent Red China getting wheat. The only way to prevent a country obtaining material, warlike or otherwise, is by applying (sanctions and a blockade. We did that with Germany in the First World War and the Second World War and we are doing it now up to a point with Rhodesia. But it is completely unrealistic to think that we will stop Red China obtaining these materials, and I suggest that the action of BHP in selling steel to Red China is nothing more or less than a deal with a trading customer who will obtain this deal elsewhere if he does not get it from us. As I have said, I regard the point of view expressed by Senator McManus as completely unreal.
The subjects of Vietnam and China are very closely interwoven, as we well know. Over the years we have been led to believe that China is the arch enemy. For my part, I will never look upon China as our arch enemy. Undoubtedly she is a potential enemy, but there are many countries in the world which can be described as potential enemies. We will not do any good for ourselves by antagonising China by refusing to trade with her and by branding her as an aggressor. We say that China is supporting North Vietnam in its attempt to subjugate South Vietnam. I believe that China has given assistance to North Vietnam and 1 think she will continue to do so. So have other countries given assistance to North Vietnam. I do not doubt for one minute that the material which finishes up at Haiphong comes from many and varied sources. We are dealing with a highly complex question which cannot be described as being simple of solution.
The Government is completely wide of the mark and acting contrary to facts when it opposes a motion such as the one before the Chair by suggesting that what it has done and what it is doing are not inconsistent. That is why I support the motion. I believe that the Government is inconsistent in its attitude towards Red China. It is to be deplored that the Government, on the one hand, should say that China is our arch enemy and. on the other hand, oppose the motion which indicates that the Government is doing something which has been shown quite clearly to be inconsistent.
– I want to correct a statement made by the last speaker, Senator Hannaford. He said that an announcement was made by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd that it was exporting steel worth S4m to Communist China. That statement was not made by the BHP. The honourable senator obtained that information from Common wealth statistics which were presented to the Senate some time ago. The information was presented openly so that honourable senators and all other persons interested in the subject matter could look into it.
– The statistics were never published in the Press?
– I am not responsible for what is published in the Press. The information was presented to the Parliament and it was available to anyone who wished to look at it. A number of senators began their contribution to this debate by saying that they were confused. To use the word ‘confused’ is to put it mildly. Senator Cant opened the debate on behalf of the Opposition. He is a Western Australian senator and since his first appearance in the Senate he has on numerous occasions acted as spokesman for the Australian Labor Party on matters affecting primary industry. Time and time again, when Bills affecting the primary industries have been presented in this chamber, we have been able to count on a contribution by Senator Cant. Again, he always makes a contribution on matters of national development and criticises the Government for what it has not done. He comes from Western Australia, a State of vast area, a million square miles; a State with a small population; a State which is isolated from the rest of the Commonwealth; a State which, in the past, has been unable to set up an industrial complex. For its development in the past Western Australia has been dependent on primary industry for about 90% of its earnings. Yet today we heard Senator Cant, supported by two other Western Australian senators, condemn Australia’s trade in wheat and wool with Communist China. He did not say whether he supported the trade or whether he did not support it.
– Two Western Australian senators stated what they supported.
– I am speaking about Senator Cant. He came into this chamber today and condemned this trade. Yet when he was pinned down he said he was not against the primary producers but was against the trade in wheat with Communist China. Australia commenced selling wheat to Communist China in 1960. What has he done about this conviction of his? Has he asked questions or has he spoken in debates to condemn our trade with that country?
– The Opposition does not condemn it.
– What does the Australian Labor Party say about it?
– We say that the Government is inconsistent.
– All right. .1 will show the Opposition how inconsistent it is. In recent years the Government of Western Australia sought assistance tfrom the Commonwealth Government to build a broad gauge railway in order to move iron ore from Koolyanobbing to Fremantle for export overseas. This project is to cost the State Government $130m or $140m. The work is creating tremendous development in Western Australia and will be a great boost to employment in that State. Let us consider the situation further north. In the Pilbara area hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on the development of iron ore deposits. People are rushing from all over Australia to get work on this iron ore development project.
– The Japanese are getting all the jobs.
Japanese are buying this iron ore, millions of tons of it, and will continue buying it for another fifteen years. When we look at the figures dealing with exports of steel to Communist China we find that Australia exports only $4m worth. The Australian export works out at about 2% of Communist China’s total steel imports. Japan provides something like 80% of China’s requirements. Yet Western Australia is supplying the iron ore to Japan. Surely, if the Opposition was sincere in its convictions it should be calling on the Commonwealth Government to write into the agreement covering the export of iron ore to Japan prohibitions to ensure that Japan would no’ use that iron ore for the manufacture of steel sold to Communist China. We found out when Senator Wheeldon spoke that the Labor Party, according to him, would trade with any country. I take it that if the Labor Party came into power it would have no qualms about sending to Communist China all the steel it could export, war or no war.
– There is no war.
– There would not be a war then.
– Of course not, because the Labor Party would allow the Communist hordes to come right down to Australia.
– Where do the Communist hordes get their steel from?
– They would get it from Australia if the Labor Party were in power. I think the whole debate is ridiculous. It is quite apparent that the Labor Party is not interested in trade with Communist China but is merely creating atmosphere in order to be in a position to defend legislation which will probably come before this House at a later date.
– The honourable senator is anticipating things a little.
– The Labor Party is inticipating things a lot. Let us consider these wheat sales to Communist China. The sales have meant a great deal to Australia. Last week the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), devoted a great deal of his Budget speech to Australia’s development. He said we should develop Australia at a faster rate. How can we develop Australia at a faster rate, provide the people wilh better social service benefits and better health and medical benefits unless first of all we earn the money with which to do so? The way to earn this money is to derive more earnings from overseas. This is to be done by producing more wheat and more wool - the two things that the -Opposition says the Government is not doing. Yet the Opposition claims that Australia should not trade with Communist China. 1 believe in the wheat sales to Communist China. 1 believe that the Australian Wheat Board is doing the right thing by selling every grain of wheal that it can sell.
– At a price which is below the cost of production?
- Senator McManus says that it is being sold at a price which is less than the cost of production. Last year Australia produced 462 million bushels of wheat. Of that production, the Government guaranteed the price for 210 million bushels. The remaining quantity was sold on the world market for what the growers could get. I further remind the Senate that two years ago when Western Australia had hundreds of tons of undergrade wheat we could not do anything with it. The wheat was put in special bins but no-one would buy it because it was well under fair average quality. Then the Chinese representatives came and bought it. This meant a tremendous difference to the wheat growers and to the man in the street. At that time Australia was suffering from the effects of a drought. The business world of New South Wares was looking with a very grim face at the future of this country. We have only to go into the towns in the wheat growing areas and see the modern business premises that have been erected there to gain some idea of the confidence that businessmen have in our future. They have that confidence because of the wheat industry. Let me emphasise that if the people in country areas had no confidence in the future then certainly the people in the cities would not have any and, overall, no-one would feel confident about our future prosperity.
– We heartily agree with you on that.
– There are some who do not agree. I remind the Senate further that in 1954 the future looked grim in that we were faced with a huge carry-over. A wheat crop of about 157 million bushels was harvested but at the same time a group of wheat buyers overseas who normally bought the Australian crop were disinterested and dissatisfied with the product they were getting because it had been in the storage bins of this country for so long that the weevils had got into it. So serious was the situation that the Australian Wheat Board asked the Commonwealth Government to guarantee a repayment of £7m to the Commonwealth Bank. In 1957 the position became so grim that Sir John Teasdale, the then Chairman of the Australian Wheat Board had this to say:
The Australian wheat industry faced a crisis unequalled since the depression of 1930. Wheat growers should turn to stock raising more than they had previously.
I note that Senator McManus agrees with me. Sir John continued:
World production had restricted markets for Australian wheat and flour. Factors affecting im mediate overseas market prospects for Australia were large surpluses in most producing countries, bargain prices offered by the United States of America and the possibility of a 21 million tons exportable surplus in France.
The crisis is no passing phase. The only remedy is to reduce Australia’s wheat production.
The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ published a leading article which supported Sir John, but many people did not agree with him. For example, the ‘West Australian’ declared that his fears could be unfounded but that it would be foolish to ignore them and that any idea of bureaucratic control of wheat acreages would be repugnant.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laught) - Order! the honourable senators time has expired.
– Owing to the limitation of time, I shall bc the last speaker in this debate. Therefore now is the time to clear up some of the misconceptions that have been created, some deliberately, during the course of the debate. Let mc explain Labor’s policy. At the Adelaide Conference the Labor Party arrived at this decision in connection with the Vietnam situation:
Labor rejects the Government’s thesis that what is really involved is the thrust of Chinese power. This thesis is never pressed to its logical conclusion in terminating trade with China, so that trade with an alleged enemy becomes a major feature of government policy.
The Labor Party does not agree that China is an enemy or that it represents a threat to Australia. The Government suggests that it is. as does the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Because we do not regard China as being our enemy, we of the Labor Party have no objection to trading with China. Because we do not object to trading with China, we could not support the motion put forward by Senator Turnbull relating to this matter some eighteen months ago.
The proposal we have submitted today does not ask the Government to terminate trade with China; it asks that the Government’s inconsistency be condemned. One thing we have learned from the debate is that Senator McManus is not prepared to condemn the Government’s inconsistency. Whether he is expressing .the view of the DLP caucus or is merely expressing his own view I do not know but we do know that he is not prepared to condemn the Government’s inconsistency on this question.
While we of the Labor Party support trade with China and do not look upon China as an enemy, we gather from what Senator Gorton and Senator Cormack have said that the Government does look upon China as an arch enemy or as the spearhead of a threat to Australia from international Communism. The DLP also sees that threat but it is prepared to go further than the Government and would ban the export of all commodities to China. The Government, on the other hand, is prepared to trade with China in what it calls non-strategic commodities, commodities that cannot be used in the prosecution of a war. Senator Wheeldon correctly pointed out that anything we supply in the way of steel relieves the pressures on China’s own steel supply. If in fact these people are our enemies, then it is surely unethical, cowardly and brutal to supply them with munitions or anything that can be made into munitions. In 1966, when the subject of trading with North Vietnam was being debated, Senator Henty said that what we were exporting were humanitarian commodities. Therefore, we have three kinds of trade - open trade, the restriction of exports to non-strategic materials and the restriction of exports to commodities to be used for humanitarian purposes. In 1965-66. North Vietnam received $65,000 worth of materials from Australia. Whether they were all commodities to be used for humanitarian purposes I do not know, but I do know that in 1964-65 we exported $155,000 worth of tallow to North Vietnam. Tallow is one of the components used in the manufacture of gun powder.
If it is argued that we are at war with North Vietnam and that therefore we cannot send to that country anything other than goods which are to be used for humanitarian purposes, if because we say we are at war with Vietnam we flatten the cities, destroy the factories and eliminate all sources of potential armament production, and if, because we realise that the Chinese are supplying this enemy with munitions we bomb towns within 10 miles of the Chinese border to stop the supply of these munitions, then surely we should stop any trading with those who are supplying munitions to be used for slaughtering the conscripts we are sending to Vietnam. I ask in all sincerity whether the Government thinks it is ethical to continue sending over these supplies.. Have we ever supplied materials of any description to an enemy at any time before this? Did we do that in either of the world wars? It can be said that China will obtain these goods from someone else if we do not supply them. But the time has arrived when we must look at the ethics of this matter and say that the Government is inconsistent and that its inconsistency justifies condemnation.
I refer now to the gag. The question must bc put or this debate will lapse in 3 minutes time. I have 10 minutes of my time left; so if 1 move that the question be now put the only person to whom the gag will be applied is myself. We cannot bc accused of applying the gag to anyone else because no-one else will be able to speak on this matter. So much for the accusation about applying the gag. A similar question arose last week when we were challenged to stand up and be counted. Tonight we challenge honourable senators opposite to stand up and be counted on this important issue. The lives of Australians are being sacrificed by the Government in that it sent Australians to Vietnam, but at the same time it is supplying weapons to the enemy. Accordingly, I move:
That the question be now put.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister
Majority . . . . -
Question so resolved in the negative.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! The time allowed for consideration of this motion under standing order 64 having expired, the Senate will now proceed to other business.
– I pre sent the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an act to amend the Australian National University Act 1946-1966 to provide for exemption from the payment of fees in certain cases.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Billis to amend section 29 of the Australian National University Act 1946-66 to define the classes of students at the University to whom the University may remit fees. At present the University is authorised under the Act to remit fees, or a portion of fees, to students holding scholarships awarded by the University itself. It will continue to be able to do this.
The University is also empowered at present to remit fees in the case of students holding scholarships awarded by a State, or by a body established by or under the law of a State, for the purpose of pursuing studies at the University in relation to forestry. This came about because, when the Australian Forestry School was administered by the Commonwealth, it was agreed between the Commonwealth and the States that students selected by the States to study at the School would not be charged fees. When, in 1965, the Australian National Uni versity took over the Australian Forestry School from the Department of National Development, this concession was continued by the insertion of an amendment, the present sub-section (1a) of section 29 of the Act. It is not proposed that this concession be changed. It is proposed, however, to repeal sub-section (1a) and to insert a new sub-section (1a), paragraph (a) of which will continue the concession to forestry students. The new paragraph (b) of the sub-section empowers the University to remit fees in respect of full time staff in its employ, thus bringing the practice of that University into line with the practice in other universities in Australia.
In the result the University will be able to remit fees to holders of its own scholarships, to forestry students awarded scholarships by a State or a State instrumentality and to its own full time staff. It will not be empowered to remit fees to any other persons. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Tangney) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 24 August (vide page 246), on motion by Senator Henry:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1967-68;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for year ending 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the service of the year ending 30June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1968;
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1967;
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics, for income year 1964-65;
Upon which Senator Murphy had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add the following words: but condemns the Budget because -
it places defence costs on those least able to pay them;
– When the sitting of the Senate was suspended before dinner on Thursday last I was referring to the urgent necessity for the Commonwealth Government to take much more interest in the decentralisation of industry and population. I had quoted figures and the opinions of people who I considered were well qualified to express an opinion on the seriousness of the very bad imbalance between the large capital cities and their environs and the rural areas. Because of this imbalance a bad economic atmosphere is being created and the economic consequences for the Stales, and the Commonwealth in the final analysis, will be very serious.
I want to deal with one aspect of decentralisation about which I have been particularly interested. I refer to rural universities, and more specifically to the proposal and the agitation for a rural university in the Riverina. I am well aware that the Australian Universities Commission believed that one of the problems associated with the establishment of a university or a university college in this area was insufficient population and prospective students. We all recognise that governments must take note of the recommendations of their advisers. But if all our thinking and actions followed this pattern, as I tried to point out recently, the continual trend to the cities will mean that tertiary education, if not all our education, will finish up in the city areas. I believe that the Government must take the initiative in these matters and try to bring about greater decentralisation in all fields, including education, even to the point perhaps of there being an element of risk in doing so. In other words, in the final analysis, the establishment of a university may not be quite as beneficial as it seemed when it was established. Because of the development that has taken place in the Riverina, with which I am very conversant, brought about largely by irrigation, this area could have been given greater recognition in the establishment of at least a university college.
This area - the figures and facts were established at various meetings in the area - has an increase in production probably unequalled to that in any other similar part of Australia. These facts were brought forcibly before the Australian Universities Commission when it visited that area last year. I hope the Commission will give greater recognition to this fact in the near future. The establishment of a university would help to bring about greater production in the area, more local industry and more basic workers and more people to serve these basic workers and more young people slaying in the district. These people would be helping to create employment and a greater development of the area. I believe that those people who are still advocating the. establishment of a university would have been very happy for a university college to have been established as a start; it would have served to provide advanced education. No doubt the college would grow into a full university, providing people in this area with the opportunity to do research of a special nature peculiar to irrigation and rural problems generally.
I repeat that 1 am well aware that decentralisation is basically a State matter. But unless all instrumentalities - State, Commonwealth and local government - Strongly support decentralisation, particularly adequate financial assistance from the Commonwealth to reverse the movement of population to city areas, serious economic and social consequences must result. A tremendous amount of lip service has been given to decentralisation, but not much tangible evidence has been given that governments in the Commonwealth and State spheres are prepared to do much to bring about a greater degree of decentralisation. Many people will say that constitutional difficulties arise, and we all would admit that. But there have been constitutional difficulties about other matters. 1 believe that ten or fifteen years ago these difficulties would have been mentioned in relation to education and what the Commonwealth could do to help the States. We know that a tremendous reversal has occurred; the Commonwealth is paying a great contribution towards education in Australia. I believe that a greater degree of decentralisation can be brought about under section 96 of the Constitution. This question, which I raised last Thursday, particularly as it affects the concentration of population and industry in the metropolitan area, seems to me to be of great importance to the nation. I trust that at a very early date the Commonwealth will come forward and give al the assistance that it can to reverse this situation where we find people concentrated on the coast and our great inland areas more or less thinly populated, with industry in a like state.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate (Senator Murphy). I would like to make a number of references to two or three of the matters outlined by Senator Murphy. We condemn the Budget because it places defence costs on the people least able to pay them. It fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance. As I proceed 1 will enlarge on those matters. It defers and retrenches development projects and allows social services recipients and war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens. This Budget is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated by this Government. It has been drafted in spirit, if not otherwise, by the faceless men who control the strings and puppetry behind the Government.
– The honourable senator does not have very many of his Party behind him at the moment.
– If Senator Lawrie listens a little longer I will tell him about the great hoax for which his Party is responsible and perhaps then he will be less voluble. I will also tell the honourable senator about the international oil cartels as I proceed. Some time ago a great statement was made about how the Government would control oil prices. In fact, the Government fixed a subsidy so that country people would be able to obtain petrol at a price comparable to that at which it is sold in city areas. Incidentally, that was Labor policy at the time and had been for some years previously. The Government merely copied it from our policy. Since then the oil industry has run wild. One is almost frightened to think of when the next increase in the price of petrol will occur. And the Government sits idly by. In the background, the oil companies tell the Government which policy it ought to follow and Government supporters are not game to stand up to them and repudiate them. We have heard excuses made for the last price increase. It is said that shipping delays in the Suez Canal have brought it about, but when that problem is eliminated, will the price of petrol be reduced? Of course not. The Government Parties need the support, financial and otherwise, of the oil companies in order to stay in office.
The handling of oil from Barrow Island is one of the disgraces of this country. It is being sent to Singapore to be refined and will be brought back here in its refined state. In a speech outside Parliament I mentioned recently that if the profits of the oil companies cannot be kept in this country, at least we should handle the processing of oil to provide employment for our people. That oil from Barrow Island has gone to another country to be refined is an indictment of the Government.
Within the last few days complaints have been made by Dr Cotter Harvey, who is President of the Australian Council of Smoking and Health, and Dr B. S. Hansen, President of the Australian Cancer Society, that the voluntary code of advertising on television of cigarettes and tobacco products is not being observed in the way that it should. This concerns another great group of companies who control the strings in the background of the Government. They are a further brigade of faceless men behind the Government, controlling its policies. A request for an educational film on smoking and health was placed with Mr Swartz when he was Minister for Health. That is a long time ago, but the request has not yet been acceded to. There has been a lag of about 18 months somewhere along the line in furnishing a reply. Perhaps this can be understood in the light of the fact that the tobacco industry is a very important source of revenue for the Government. The amount involved is about $200m a year.
Today there is sufficient evidence to prove fairly conclusively that smoking, if not the direct cause of lung cancer and other ailments, at least is a contributory cause. It is quite obvious that the voluntary code of advertising of cigarettes and tobacco products on television has failed completely because the Government has not the moral courage to enforce it or to see that the persons responsible for drafting the code do enforce it.
In the Senate we have just concluded a debate which showed up the hypocrisy of the Government in another area. When the story burst about the Monash University youngsters and a few other people collecting funds for civil aid in Vietnam, certain people proved to be very smart in their tactics. But when the story broke about exports of steel to Communist China, the Government bent over backwards to prove that its policy was right. That is because there is behind the Government a group of faceless people who are making huge profits from the sale of material which possibly will be used against Australian soldiers who are compelled to serve in Vietnam. So we have two standards: It is quite wrong for people to raise a few shillings for the relief of wounded on both sides of the line in Vietnam; but it is a different story entirely when somebody is making a substantial profit out of steel that possibly can be used as a weapon of war.
I wish now to cite figures relating to export to Communist China in 1966-67. Plate and sheet metal was exported totalling 24,900 tons; coated plate and sheet metal was exported totalling 12,600 tons; and tinplate waste was exported totalling 500 tons, making in all 38,000 tons. This is a different figure from the outlandish figure cited by honourable senators opposite in the debate which has just concluded. The exports totalled in value $4,110,000. Other major exports to mainland China in 1966-67 included wheat to the value of $1 15.9m. Since 1960 we have exported wheat to mainland China to the value of $820m.
– Where is the honourable senator’s Party?
– There are not. many members of the honourable senator’s Party in the chamber either. They are not very interested in what the Government Parties are presenting as the Budget for the financial conduct of this country for the next twelve months. Textile fibres and waste valued at $10.7m were exported to mainland China in 1966-67. Perhaps I should add that wheat sales are very highly subsidised. The subsidy ranges between 6c and 10c per lb and is lost in the fairly large subsidy that is paid by the Government indirectly to the wheat growers. It is obvious that there is a complete loss of control within the coalition Parties. Mr McEwen, the Deputy Prime Minister, is in very deep water with the Basic Industries Group. This indicates a loss of control in seeking the objectives of the Country Party. Perhaps as I mentioned to my friend Senator Lawrie a few minutes ago, it would be educational for him to read a publication I have here entitled ‘The Great Hoax’. Senator Lawrie has always been a great defender of the dairying industry but he never does very much about it apart from talking. The publication tells how the Country Party has failed to face the challenge of the modernisation and reform of a great industry. I think it is appropriate for me to read a couple of paragraphs of this publication. It states:
The Country Party and ‘The Establishment’ have conveniently overlooked the human suffering and privation their shortsighted and electoral policies of smokescreen and neglect have caused.
They have thrown dairy farmers a bone with the subsidies; they have kidded dairy farmers with the high home price and give away export prices; they have hidden their own lack of real help and planning behind the giant ‘smokescreen’ of publicity and controversy. In short they have sold the dairy farmers and their families down the river and for this they have been re-elected time and time gain to the comforts of Canberra and their official positions in the dairy industry organisations.
If you don’t believe this, ask yourself this question - ‘Has your position improved over the last 18 years of Country Party Government? Can you truthfully face your families and say ‘Yes’?’
I think Senator Lawrie would be the first person to agree with the sentiments expressed in that publication. I come now to some points which are of particular value because they explain the apathy of the Government and its failure to produce a budget that would make a real contribution to our economy and to the welfare of our people who have helped to keep industry on a stable basis.
The Liberal Party has been progressively infiltrated by an organisation that is unAustralian in outlook and objectives. That is the National Civic Council, lt *s fantastic to see the growth of this organisation in the Queensland branch o-! the Liberal Party. It is equally fantastic to see that this infiltration has occurred as much in the Victorian branch as in the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party and there is evidence of it in other States too. This infiltration is showing up in the names of people who receive the most publicity as a result of annual conferences. It is showing up in the type of resolutions which are being carried. It is not so long ago - some senators may be quite clear on this - that a certain Victorian candidate was selected who now sits in another place in this Parliament, and at the very least there was more than a strong suspicion of the manner of his election because of the way in which people were kept out of the meeting room on the night that he was elected. 1 think that we ought to have a look at these sorts of things because they are serious and could become more serious in the future, lt is all right for Senator McManus to pass remarks about the matter. We had the same problem in our Party at one time but we do not have it now because the members concerned have either left us or been thrown out of the Party.
I wish to point ot.t now the hypocrisy that has permeated the debate on two matters of urgency which have been considered recently by the Senate. The first is in relation to the matter raised by the Australian Democratic Labor Party last week and the second is in relation to the attitude of the Government concerning the matter of urgency that was raised by the Australian Labor Party today. The Government talks about the importance and the value of democracy that we are supposed to be standing up for and also speaks about the things that are right and free in this community. But when it comes to taking a vote on these matters when they are debated, the Government is not prepared to stand up and be counted. That sums up the whole matter. It is not much use for the Government to adopt those views which it thinks will go over well with the electors. I would say that on neither of the occasions to which I have referred has the Government gone over very well with the electors at all.
Now I wish to make reference to various aspects of the Budget and to enlarge as I progress on some of the points that I have already touched on. An examination of the Budget reveals that the gross national product for 1966-67 rose by 9%. Again, this is part of the great hopes of the Government. I think that a proper analysis of this figure will indicate quite clearly that in fact this is a mathematical myth and is not the true growth rate of the gross national product. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) when he introduced the Budget in this chamber made a particular point of the matter when he said:
The number in employment in 1966-67 was 3.5% greater than in the year before. This was a smaller increase than has been usual . . . The lower migrant inflow has been a factor in the smaller rise in civilian employment.
This is very true indeed. Perhaps the Government itself is to blame for the lower migrant inflow as referred to in the Budget. Perhaps some of the policies of the Government - apart from the weakening of the economy - such as lack of housing, lack of suitable employment in many instances, lack of school facilities and lack of hospital facilities have militated against a successful immigration policy. Perhaps we can look at the other side of the matter and consider those responsible for some of the dishonesty at the migration point in Great Britain. There have been instances recently, as reported in the Press, of people of military age in Britain who have not been given information concerning the fact that they are liable to military call-up when they arrive in Australia. Nor have the parents of these young people been told of this fact either. On the other hand there are other people who would know of this possibility from other sources, if the Government is not politically honest enough to tell them the facts. Perhaps they have heard from other sources that they are likely to face military call-up when they arrive in Australia. This is no way to encourage the migration of the great group of young people that the Government needs to assist in the continuing development of Australia.
I turn now to a reference to what I think is a very important point in the Budget. The Government points out that there has been a loss of $177m in external reserves. Reference is made also to the consumer price index. Let us examine these two aspects. In the Budget speech, we are told:
The Government excuses this by saying:
The offsetting increase in our drawing rights in the International Monetary Fund and the credit extended to New Zealand reduced the net adverse movement to S125m.
Whether the amount is $125m or $177m, it is obvious that this has not been based on sound business principles. This has been a problem of the Government right from the time it took office in 1949 when it dissipated our overseas reserves which had been built up by the previous Labor Government. The Government has been in continual trouble with its balance of payments position almost every year since that time. This situation has applied also in relation to our overseas reserves. Australia’s imports have always remained at a very high level, except in 1960-61 when the Government decided to bankrupt a lot of people in this country and recovered only by its boots and gun way, politically, to some degree at that time.
The Budget speech points out that the Budget provides for a total expenditure in 1967-68 of $6,483m. Total revenue and similar receipts will total $5,887m. The speech continues:
Thus, the estimated gap to be financed from borrowings of various kinds is 5596m.
The Government intends to bridge this gap by various types of borrowing. It is significant, I think - and we should remember this - that this amount is $61m in excess of the amount borrowed in the previous financial year, 1966-67. At the height of the credit squeeze in 1961 the Australian Labor Party said that if it was elected to office it would bring in a supplementary Budget in February of the following year. The Government said that its proposal was bad accounting, and would weaken the economy and cause uncontrolled inflation. But in the last financial year and in this financial year the Government was able without any trouble at all to find money that did not exist. In 1966 when we said that this type of financing was sound the Government told us that it was unsound. The Government told the Australian people this. It hoodwinked them to the degree that probably frightened some of them into continuing to give their political support to the Government. Nevertheless, the effects of these policies must come home to roost, as it were, sooner or later. It is obvious that the Government, whilst it feels that this policy is wrong when we propound it, believes that it is perfectly right when adopted by itself. The Government should take a serious look at this matter. Because of the size of the financial gap between expenditure and revenue, the Government could be getting itself into some trouble if loan and other moneys are not available to it. If there is a small recession of any sort this set of circumstances could come about.
As we progress through this Budget speech we find that most of the money raised is to be used for war purposes. It is to be used not for defence purposes but for war purposes outside this country. The Leader of the Government in the Senate also said:
Let us now consider the prospects for the other main segment of private spending, that is, capital expenditure. Expenditure on dwelling construction has been increasing steadily. There are no signs of slackening. The flow of finance appears to be keeping up.
The Government is not very hopeful about it. I feel sorry for the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) when she has to carry out her housing programme for the present financial year on the hope that:
If anything, the year ahead might see some further increase in dwelling construction.
It will be a sad state of affairs for our growing population if there is no increase in dwelling construction. The Government ought to be acting to ensure that dwelling construction does increase. If the Government is not acting in this direction it is not interested in the progress of Australia.
The Budget speech continues:
An increase in non-residential construction also seems likely.
This statement seems to me very much a long range weather forecast. The forecast has been made but there is no guarantee that it will be accurate. There is no guarantee that the Government knows that in fact there will be an increase in home building. The Economic Research Committee of the Housing Industry Association, a group which is closely associated with the building industry, said that by modern standards between 200,000 and 250,000 dwellings in this country are not fit for human habitation. This applies equally to every State but it applies particularly, perhaps, to outback areas where in many instances substandard dwellings are the order of the day. This particular aspect of home building is a government responsibility. The Association says that the minimum annual requirement for new dwellings is expected to rise from 124,000 this year to 171,000 in ten years’ time.
I have heard Government supporters say that the serious fall in the birth rate in this country - it is more serious in some States than in others - has been brought about by the use of modern means of contraception, particularly by the famous pill. I suggest that this is not true. In many instances the reason why young couples are limiting the size of their families or delaying the start of their families lies in economic conditions whereby both husband and wife are compelled to work in order to make a living and to find the deposit for a home or to furnish a home when they have been able to obtain one. If they are unable to get suitable home accommodation it is obvious that they will not take the risk of having a family in these circumstances. Morally the onus is fairly and squarely on this Government to see that some rectification takes place in this field in the immediate future and not to continue to adopt a Micawber-like attitude of waiting for something to turn up and saying that perhaps it will happen tomorrow.
The Housing Industry Association also suggests that the limit on housing loans by banks and life insurance companies should be $9,000 or 95% of the valuation, that banks as well as other lending institutions should be encouraged to advance more funds on new homes, and that the Federal Government should increase allocations under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement on condition that such new funds are directed to lower income earners only. The greatest problems are being encountered in this field of the lower income earners. I went into detail on that matter a few moments ago and it is unnecessary to reiterate the problems. The Government, of course, blames cost problems. I like the way in which this Government usually has a slash at the wage earner in every possible field. The Minister stated:
Already rising wage rates have created a cost problem which is worrying for all . . .
He has not made any reference anywhere to the problem of balance sheets that have shown an increasing profit which is not causing any worry in relation to rising costs in this country. The Government is worried about rising wages. The Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party have the habit of blaming rises in wages for all increasing costs. Perhaps we could look at some government departments and the inefficiency that has crept in in many places. lt might be wise to suggest to the Treasurer that he look first at his Department, because it is one of the worst offenders in this regard. There are some other interesting matters associated with the Budget.
– Whom does the honourable senator blame for the inefficiency that he is talking about?
– The departmental heads and the responsible Ministers. The honourable senator does not care if they help him to sell his weevilly wheat to China. If he will let me finish my speech I will talk to him about it later. The report of the Auditor-General really rocked this Government. The AuditorGeneral very legitimately, made criticisms that shocked some sections of the Government into action. He is a very efficient Auditor-General. In my book the responsible Ministers are the first people who ought to be blamed. If they do not know what is going on in their departments they ought to be removed and someone should be placed there who does know what is going on. Defence expenditure proposed for this year represents an increase of 18% on the expenditure in 1966-67. Last year the increase ran at about 27%. The Menzies plan for an adjusted programme of defence - honourable senators will remember that this was announced in 1963 - was expected to cost $539m this year. In reality the expenditure will be $1,1 80m, or over twice as much as was programmed by the Government only three or four years ago.
During this period external costs have increased. The Treasurer states that in the current financial year they may be more than $350m. Five years ago they amounted to only $100m. So expenditure on defence outside this country has increased more than three times. Defence bungling overall has resulted in a loss of millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money, but not one Government supporter has turned a hair about this. The Government has passed off Press complaints and it has passed off complaints from the Opposition in this Parliament about its bungling in this regard as though this was something that had not happened or something that the Government could not help. We shall look al each of the Services in turn. I can recall that in 1963 a very strong statement was made about a major refit being carried out on the aircraft carrier ‘Melbourne’. It still has not been carried out. Later this year Melbourne’ will be taken to America to take on new aircraft. Does the Government think that it will be refitted next year or that it will be necessary next year to send the carrier to Vietnam or to some other place overseas to engage in one of the Government’s private wars?
When I first came into this Parliament I made the statement that the Royal Australian Navy was little more than a fishing fleet. I have seen nothing since, apart from the purchase of two or three ships, to change my opinion of it. Only a few days ago I asked in this Parliament whether the destroyer ‘Duchess’, which is on loan to the Australian Navy, was to have a major or a minor refit. Unfortunately the Government has not been able to dig up the information. This sort of information ought to be available to honourable senators within twenty-four or forty-eight hours. 1 have a further example of that sort which I shall tell honourable senators about later on. Perhaps the scandal of defence expenditure and the waste in the field of defence has caused the Government to scrap the plan for fitting the destroyers Vampire’ and ‘Vendetta’ with the Ikara anti-submarine missile system. This will save the magnificent sum of $20m. But the Government is to waste an additional sum of about $1 lm on its secret VIP fleet, which it refuses to separate from the rest of the Royal Australian Air Force, still leaving it as part of the defence system - even though no members of the Services ever use it except, perhaps when they are able to hitch-hike with a Minister of the Government.
What this country needs, as the Australian Labor Party has said on numerous occasions, is a modern aircraft carrier. Whether it costs $300m or $400m, if it carries the appropriate complement of aircraft, equipment and everything else that goes with them, it will be well worth having. There is nothing to be seen in the foreseeable future that will cause this Government to change its mind in this regard. By July of next year we may have the third guided missile destroyer HMAS ‘Brisbane’. When this ship comes from America it is scheduled to visit Brisbane first. The submarine Oxley’ which has carried out a tour of the Australian coast is the first submarine to be constructed for the Royal Australian Navy in thirty-seven years. I heard a Government senator skiting about how long his party had been in office in Australia. Perhaps when honourable senators opposite start to skite they should bear in mind some of the things they have not done that they should have done.
Almost all of the development in the Army has been brought about by the Government’s illegal involvement in the Vietnam conflict. Some honourable senators on the Government side would be better off if they did a little soul searching and cross-examined themselves as to whether our continued and our projected commitments in Vietnam are is popular as they thought with the people who were prepared to go all the way with LBJ. A gallup poll in relation to this matter was conducted recently in America. I will not quote everything that the poll covered but I will refer to some of the more important aspects of it because they indicate that not only the American Government but also the Australian Government could be left hanging on a limb.
There is a growing tendency in Australia towards decreasing support for our involvement in Vietnam, and the same tendency is apparent in America. According to the gallup poll, in July 1966 some 35% of the American people interviewed did not approve LBJ’s handling of the Vietnam war. In July this year, twelve months later, the percentage of people interviewed who did not approve LBJ’s handling of the war had increased to 52%. The Government is very fond of quoting gallup polls and saying how accurate they are. I go further. In August 1965 some ?4% of Americans interviewed thought it was a mistake to send troops to Vietnam but in July 1967 this percentage had grown to 41%. According to the same poll, 34% of Americans interviewed believed that progress had been made, 10% feared that we were losing ground and 46% claimed that we were standing still.
On the question whether the number of troops should be increased from 460,000 to 560,000 only 40% of those interviewed were in favour, 49% opposed the proposal and 11% held no opinion. It is certain that this is a growing trend. Remember, only a limited number of countries are involved in the Vietnam conflict anyway. Let me read the policy of my Party in relation to this private war in which the American
Government, the Australian Government and the New Zealand Government - all of whom are controlled by conservative groups - plus a couple of other countries which have been blackmailed, are involved. In relation to Vietnam our policy is in these terms:
The Labour Party is opposed to the continuance of the war in Vietnam, and to Australia’s participation in it. The Party will work to end the war and to end Australia’s participation in it.
The war has ceased to have rational objectives. lt was claimed that it would give the South Vietnamese people a chance to decide their own future free from the pressures of terrorism.
In fact, by the methods of counter terrorism, a power struggle is sustained between Southern generals who, even if sincere and patriotic, are not aiming at freedom for ordinary people.
The preamble to our policy goes further but that is the essence of our policy in relation to this conflict. It concludes with these words:
The ALP, on achieving office, will submit to our allies that they should immediately -
cease bombing North Vietnam,
recognise the National Liberation Front as a principal party to negotiations,
transform operations in South Vietnam into holding operations thereby to avoid involvement of civilians in the war, cease the use of napalm and other objectionable materials of war and provide sanctuary for anyone seeking it.
– What a lot of rubbish.
– If the honourable senator were to walk into this chamber wearing jungle greens and were prepared lo go to Vietnam, that would give him, as a supporter of the Government, the authority to classify our policy in those words. Until such times as he does that, I suggest he remain silent.
– A similar statement could apply to Senator Wheeldon also.
– I will deal with the Minister when I come to repatriation. Further examples of lack of support for our involvement in Vietnam can be found in statements, which have been countered only in some quarters, to the effect that of American servicemen in Europe over 1,000 a year are prepared to shoot through, to use the old Army term, rather than run the risk of losing their lives in Vietnam.
Shall we look at other aspects of the wastage of taxpayers money? According to current estimates the cost of additions to the VIP flight has increased from $11.4, as announced last year by the Minister for Air (Mr Howson) in another place, to $21. 6m, the additional $L0.2m being for spares mostly for the BACIII.
– They provide luxury travel.
– They are for the use of selected persons. Now I shall raise a matter which, in my view, is something of a major public scandal. Honourable senators on the Government side will remember the arguments which arose when the Government decided to purchase the Fi 1 1 aircraft in preference to the British TSR2. If this Government had been prepared to place orders for the TSR2 other countries might have been encouraged to do the same thing and Great Britain might have been able lo go on with its programme of constructing that aircraft. Perhaps some of them might have been delivered by now. On 30th April 1967 1 asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question in relation to the Fill and on 22nd August - think of the time lapse - I received a reply which I think is worth quoting to the Senate because it shows the shocking inefficiency of the Government when information is sought by Opposition members concerning matters of importance to the people of this country if not to the Government. My question was in these terms:
With reference to recent reports that Britain has agreed to pay additional labour and materials costs on the Fill fighter-bombers on order from the USA (a) has the Government agreed to pay the increases, (b) what is the total amount to be paid for each Ft 1 1 fighter-bomber on order for the Australian Government and (c) what is the date of delivery for the first of these aircraft?
The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) favoured me with the following reply:
The conditions under which our aircraft are being procured provide that the Commonwealth will pay a unit price based on the average unit cost of the total Fill programme as contemplated at the time of delivery of our twenty-fourth aircraft.
This is not the time of delivery of the first aircraft; it is the time of delivery of our twenty-fourth aircraft which will be our last one. The reply goes on:
In these circumstances variations in labour and material costs will be reflected in the price charged. The total amount to be paid for each aircraft is at present estimated at JUS5.95m subject to increases in labour and material costs from a base date of 5th April 1965, and the cost of major engineering changes made to the aircraft. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in July 1968.
If the Prime Minister is still in office in July 1968 and the first Fill arrives in this country, I think all members of the Government Parties should take him out and get him drunk on champagne.
Many months ago the Opposition enquired about the progress of the manufacture of the Mirage aircraft. We were informed in the most blase terms: ‘It is going fine, thank you very much. There is nothing wrong with the programme.’ Now we have been told that Williamtown and Darwin are the only stations which have the right kind of radar installations for this aircraft, but they have only short range radar so the Mirage is practically useless if it is any distance away from those bases. In any case, only a little over one-half of the required number have been assembled to date.
I omitted to mention earlier that a further problem which has arisen in relation to the development of the Fill is that great difficulty is being experienced in finding suitable engines to power the plane, so perhaps the time will come when we will see Government supporters in Air Force uniforms sitting in the planes and firing bows and arrows - something which will not rock the plane too much.
Let us consider now a matter which seriously affects most of the people of this country. I refer to the Government’s complete neglect to do anything about social services. The Government made a magnificent gesture to the pensioners of Australia. It was really fantastic. The Government said it would provide some hearing aids for them on what virtually is a type of hire purchase arrangement. The Government said it would have a discussion with the State Governments over assistance for deserted wives and the wives of prisoners. But the Government is still talking about this matter. Nothing concrete has been done. There is nothing to suggest that the Government will do anything after these talks have been held. The Government also announced that it would provide some benefits for the mentally retarded. I suggest that such benefits ought to be handed out first to the members of the Government because it is they who are mentally and politically retarded in their attitude to the problems of the under-privileged in Australia.
The Government really spread itself when it came to handing out child endowment. It decided to pay an additional 25c a week for child endowment for the fourth child and upwards. In these days the average family comprises 2.5 children. The number of people who will benefit from this increase in child endowment will be very small indeed. If the Government intended to make a concession of this nature why did it not make the increase SI or something worth while for the bigger families who are struggling to live on the basic wage or a little more, or on fixed incomes? Then, perhaps, there would have been some value in an increase.
But there was no increase for the pensioners. The Government continually handicaps these people by removing drugs from the free list. Every so often it removes a drug from the free list. The supply of these drugs is very important to elderly people. On the day the Budget was to be presented a large group of pensioners met outside Parliament House. They were addressed by members of the Opposition and by at least two members of the Government. If one could only repeat the honeyed words of Government representatives who hinted that there would be something in the Budget for the pensioners. They could not really tell the pensioners what benefits there would be because they had not been told themselves. It was hinted that the Budget would not be so bad. This, I think, was a shocking state of affairs. If they knew that there was to be nothing in the Budget for the pensioners, why did they not say so? These people stood outside in the cold, or lobbied in this Parliament. They came hundreds of miles - thousands of miles in some cases. Why did the Government not tell them in the first place that it was not going to give them anything at all in this Budget? Why did it not tell them that it hoped to eliminate a few more thousand pensioners before the next Budget; that it was going to starve them out or bring about their deaths, directly or indirectly, by malnutrition?
The weekly payment for a pensioner is $13. A Minister receives well in excess of this as a living away from home allowance and has to live on it for only one day - just one day. If we multiply that sum by seven we realise that he does magnificently in a week. On his weekly living away from home allowance a Minister would be able to keep ten pensioners. This is an illustration of the miserly attitude of the Government to the pensioner section of the community which has never bad a fair go from the Government from the day it was elected to office.
– That is nonsense.
– It is not nonsense. It is true and the honourable senator knows it. The honourable senator has not the moral courage to face up to it. In the field of repatriation, nothing is given except in cases where the father is deceased. In these instances the Government is giving the splendid sum of 50c for children. If the child is an orphan, the benefit is to be extended to $1. What else did the Government do for ex-servicemen? Again we have seen the sorry spectacle of the Returned Servicemen’s League and other ex-service bodies, but particularly the RSL, handing in their requirements, lt is equally significant that apart from a couple of babies on the first day the hierarchy of the RSL has made no further appeal to the Government for benefits. This is shameful. It represents connivance with members of the Government. I made my accusations in this regard last year and I still stick to them. I am not referring to sub-branch officials who work themselves to the bone for exservicemen. I am not talking about the rank and file members of the RSL. I am talking about that handful of people who sit at the top and do nothing about agitating for benefits apart from formally handing in their applications for pension increases.
Some time ago the photo of a young lass, Mrs Lorraine Gillson, appeared in the Press. She turned twenty years of age earlier this year and had the dubious distinction of being Australia’s youngest Vietnam war widow. Her husband was one of the first soldiers to be killed in Vietnam. He was twenty years of age and had never seen his son, who was born after his departure from Australia. 1 suggest to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) that a moral responsibility devolves on him to see that something is done at some time during this financial year to help people who come within the sphere of operations of the Repatriation Department. This year there were no increases in total and temporary incapacity or totally permanent incapacity pensions and there was no increase in disability pensions. There was no increase in war widows pensions. Provision was not made for free medical treatment for surviving diggers of World War I or the Boer War. Those survivors are getting smaller in number every year. It would not hurt the Government to do something for them.
But the Government opened its heart by increasing to some degree the benefits for conscripts. I had a difference of opinion with the Minister last year on this subject. I do not want to become involved in personalities. I thought that after our words across the chamber on that occasion he would come into this Parliament wearing jungle greens bearing the insignia of a hygiene corporal. He did not do this. I assure him that if he had all honourable senators would have stood up in this place and sung the song: ‘Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye’.
In the field of education, again the Government has done nothing. This demonstrates in very concrete form the sorry pass that education has come to. I received recently in the post a circular from a branch of the Young Liberals. It was addressed to me personally. When a political organisation writes to its political enemy to expose the weaknesses of a government to which it normally subscribes then it is a pretty sad state of affairs. It must be about the final straw. I will read the first and last paragraphs of that circular. I feel that they are very well put. The circular states:
Well, it finally happened. Despite the Utopian chatter that has been characteristic of newspaper and Government articles written by Queensland Ministers, the State now finds itself caught up in a massive educational crisis. Students in Queensland schools are without teachers and numerous class groups are being supervised but not taught, simply because there are no qualified teachers to teach them.
The concluding paragraph states -
In conclusion this branch expresses its complete lack of confidence in the Queensland Government in general and the Education Minister in particular in dealing with the educational problem. In doing so it particularly deplores the lack of courage of Liberal members and their total lack of preparation or foresight.
I noticed that the Slate President of the Young Liberals, who is a member of the other House in this Parliament, took this Young Liberal branch to task. But one can understand the branch’s frustration and why circulars of this nature have been distributed for propaganda purposes in order to bring to the notice of responsible members of the community the plight of school teachers in my State of Queensland and in almost every other state in Australia. I know that -his action has upset Government members very much. Nevertheless it was found necessary and was carried out by people who have been agitating for more money for education, for the provision of proper teaching facilities and for the right of teachers to have a decent wage.
During the past twelve months the Government has disposed of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. It is no use the Government making cringing excuses and saying that it did not do this. Large numbers of the most qualified personnel working with the Authority had left its employ apparently of their own volition but in reality they were forced to leave because there was no security of employment and no guarantee that their services were to be properly used in Australia. They left the Authority in order to work in other States and other countries. Yet the Government is proud to say that this year it is reducing expenditure by the Authority to less than $42m, which is $7m less than the expenditure for last year. No doubt the Government has diverted that $7m into the Vietnam conflict - ‘not to help pensioners or to some other field like that. The Government could have used that S7m in order to carry out preliminary work associated wilh northern development, such as the Burdekin Dam scheme or work in the central area of Queensland. There are plenty of places in Queensland where that money could have been spent as part of preliminary planning for water conservation. What does the Budget provide for northern development in Queensland? Indeed, what provision does it make for northern development throughout Australia? It makes none at all. The Government boasts about $3m for beef roads in the Northern Territory. Queensland still has need of funds for the construction of beef roads. I should have thought that with a Senate election ahead of us the Government would have opened its heart. Perhaps it will do so when nominations are called for. Perhaps then it will provide a few million dollars. But for the moment the State of Queensland, and indeed the whole of northern Australia, has been ignored in the Budget. Does the Government think that it can afford lo be complacent because it won two or three seats in electorates north of the tropic of Capricorn in 1966? I can assure Government members that, irrespective of whether or not they are complacent, the Government has no chance of holding those seats.
By way of referendum the people of Australia have voted for a recognition of rights of Aboriginals. We are told that this matter is now under careful consideration by the Government. That is the only concern the Government seems to have for the Aboriginals. I venture the opinion that it proposes to do nothing for them. I also venture the opinion that if this country is still unfortunate enough for this Government to be in office this time next year, nothing will have been done for the Aboriginals by then. There may be an interim report, but that is the most wc can expect.
The Government’s generosity in the income tax field is fantastic, lt proposes to increase the allowable deduction for insurance premiums and superannuation contributions from $800 to $1,200. It is looking after only those people who are in the higher income group. The man on the basic wage will get the equivalent of a few shillings while the man who is earning $7,000 or $8,000 a year will do very well indeed. The Government may be looking after some of its friends, but it is certainly not doing anything for the people whom we represent. Post Office charges have been a bone of contention in recent months, and the Government is persisting in its proposal to increase costs in this field. The Labor Party has stated its attitude towards the proposed increases.
Let me conclude by saying that although the great majority of Australians do not get anything out of the Budget, perhaps the Prime Minister and his Cabinet enjoyed compiling it. Just before this sessional period began a booklet entitled ‘Keeping Fit’ was produced. This was a deliberate attempt on the part of the Prime Minister to emulate as completely as he could the late President Kennedy who embarked on a campaign to urge all unfit Americans to make themselves physically fit and those who were physically fit to keep fit. We have seen the perambulations of the Prime Minister to various places for skin diving and spear fishing. We also have read of the horrible incident during his last overseas trip when his trousers came off and when he said that everything was all right because no ladies looked at him. Let me say that under this Budget the pensioners will have no worries about keeping fit. There will be no chance of their becoming overweight because the pension which they will receive from this Government in the forthcoming year will not be enough to enable them to keep body and soul together, let alone put on excess weight. Again, they certainly will not have any spare cents to spend on cigarettes, so there is no danger of their suffering from lung cancer. Nor will they have a dollar or two to spend on alcohol. We can be sure, therefore, that they will not develop any liver complaints, either.
Then there is the disabled soldier. He will receive no increase in pension, nor will he receive any increase in disability allowance. In fact, he will receive no assistance in any direction at all. He too is going to keep fit. Even the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner will have to try to earn a_ few shillings on the ‘side, especially if he has a dependent wife and children. This argument can be extended into the field of young people in Australia. If they are fit, then the Government is assured of more conscripts. In the Government’s eyes it is terrible that so many young men have to be exempt now on the grounds that they are medically unfit. I have no doubt that under the inspiring leadership of the Prime Minister the young people will take regular daily exercises and will keep themselves nice and fit so they can be classed as medically fit for service. Then the Government will send them to Vietnam or other theatres of war in order that they may sacrifice their lives so that the Government and its friends may live in comfort for a little longer.
The mothers of this country ought to engage in this fitness campaign, because only those with very large families are to receive any benefit by way of increased child endowment. The mother of a family of fewer than four will be forced more than ever by rising costs and galloping inflation to go out and earn a few shillings on the side, in many cases under slave conditions, so that she may have a little more to provide for the needs and confort of her family. As I said at the outset, the Budget for 1967-68 is a great hoax. It makes no contribution to the progress of this country. In fact, I do not think the Government wants to see the country progress at all.
– I have listened now to twenty-four successive Budget debates and I am bound to say that never in all my experience have I heard such an exaggerated hysterical outburst as that which we heard from Senator Keeffe tonight. I realise that it is the responsibility of the Opposition to oppose. All governments look to the Opposition to make constructive comments on the Budget and to offer constructive criticism of it but never until now have I heard a speaker spend nearly 60 minutes without advancing one constructive proposal.
Certainly at one stage Senator Keeffe sought to have us believe that he was a military expert, that he was a naval expert, and that he was an expert on the equipment that should be supplied to the Air Force. He also criticised every type of installation that has been provided by the Government. Indeed, if one took him seriously one would be led to believe that there was not one thing which the Government has done in any field of administration that is deserving of a word of praise. I do not think that type of contribution is of any value in this or any other chamber. I must confess that I had a lot of sympathy for his colleagues of the Opposition because, as he proceeded, their heads drooped further and further. Every one of his colleagues was hanging his head in shame. And no wonder.
Senator Keeffe also demonstrated that he has not the slightest understanding of the basis on which every Treasurer must formulate his budget. He criticised the fact that the Treasurer gave estimates of revenue. Heavens above, we know that estimates are the very basis of the formation of a budget. The Treasurer is obliged to get from the Ministers administering the various departments figures relating to their estimates of income and expenditure for the forthcoming year. It is on the figures which he receives from those Ministers that he formulates his estimates of expenditure for the year which we are just entering. Apparently Senator Keeffe does not believe that the Treasurer should make any estimate at all wilh relation to the forthcoming year. I say emphatically, therefore, that it is perfectly obvious that Senator Keeffe has had no experience whatsoever of general government administration and that he might do belter if he listened to other people a little bit more.
I said a while ago that i believed that it was the acknowledged responsibility of an Opposition to oppose. That leads me to mention something which I have noted over the years. One characteristic that is common to every budget that is introduced by any government in any parliament in Australia is that budgets never completely satisfy either members of the opposition or supporters of the government. Do not let us be under any illusions about this. On every occasion on which a budget has been brought down by a government of which I have been a member - sometimes a very modest member, sometimes a more senior one - there have been things which have not been included in the budget and which I would like to have seen included. 1 believe that that goes for government and opposition members alike. But it is not purely on that basis that we judge a budget.
We judge h budget not only on what it gives but also on the manner in which the Treasurer of the day is able to use the finance at his disposal in the best possible way. If we judge this Budget on that basis. I believe that we all will say, as other people have said, that it is a very successful one. Because I do not want to be misunderstood I repeat that in respect of every budget there arc fields in which all government and opposition members find that they arc not satisfied in every regard. It would be completely impossible to satisfy everybody in every regard because it would mean on the one hand such an astronomical increase in expenditure and on the other hand such a phenomenal reduction in taxation that we would simply be living in Utopia.
Only this morning 1 received a pamphlet called ‘Canberra Comment’, lt is the official organ of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, r find it a very informa tive pamphlet. I look forward to receiving it month by month. The first page of the issue for August 1967, which arrived today, opens with this comment: 1’he Budget presented to Parliament on Tues day had many solid virtues. Not the least of them was the emphasis it placed on continued stability as a prerequisite for sound long term growth and the attempt it made to moderate the rati: of growth of public spending.
That is a very sound comment by an organisation composed of people who spend their lives examining balance sheets and that type of thing. That is their judgment. I believe thai one of the prime responsibilities of any government is to ensure that the economy of th: country is sound, because if the economy of the country is sound the economy of the individual is sound. That is basic common sense.
I move from that point lo the next, which is that the Australian economy is sounder today than it has ever been while Australia has been in existence. The true wage ot the individual is higher today than it has ever been in Australia’s existence. In my speech on the Budget last year I said that we could ascertain the state of the economy by considering the amount of lime that a person must work to provide for the necessities of life. If we examine the economy in that way, as I did rather fully last year, we find that the average man has to spend less of his working time in the provision of a suit, a car, a house or anything else today than some years ago. That means in ordinary language that he is more wealthy today than he was some years ago. I believe that this should be the basic method of judging a budget.
What I deplore most is that criticism always attracts much more Press coverage than is the case with our Press reports of speeches on the Budget by Government and Opposition members. We see the criticisms highlighted, but very rarely do we sec any reference to the good aspects of the Budget. If we sec any reference at all. it is very minor. I believe that some aspects of this Budget are outstandingly good. First of all, 1 remind honourable senators that slightly more than 20% of the total expenditure this year will be on social services, health and repatriation. That is something of which we can be mighty proud. When we realise that about one-fifth of the total expenditure of more than $6.000m goes to help the people who are most in need of help, we have no need to be ashamed of the Budget.
I wish to refer to other features of the Budget. The first is the introduction of a new concept in relation to men serving overseas. This appeals to me very much. I refer to the promise of the availability of defence forces retirement benefits to all troops serving overseas. Provision for this must be made by legislation. It has not been available before. For men who are unfortunate enough to be injured or for the widows and families of men who are killed, this will result broadly in the payment of practically twice as much as before this change was made. Surely this is something of which we have every reason to be proud and which we should recognise as a very good feature of this Budget, especially for our overseas servicemen. I do not say that it is not timely. It is timely. But at least let us recognise that it is being done. Let us give credit where credit is due.
Another feature of the Budget which I regard as being of extreme value, although Senator Keeffe seemed to consider it of little moment, is the provision of hearing aids to pensioners. People who have not been troubled with deafness do not realise just what the provision of hearing aids means. I realise it because I have had deafness as a result of war service ever since the end of the Second World War - for nearly 25 years. I know that it is one of the greatest handicaps in ordinary social living that anyone can have to endure. I also know that the person who is deaf automatically misses and loses a great deal of the general conversation within the home. That creates difficulties. Unless deafness can be overcome by the provision of a hearing aid, it can have very grave results in family life. That these are to be provided is, to my mind, excellent.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I want to intrude on the time of the Senate to deal with certain aspects of the administration of the Quarantine Act, 1908-56, and for the purpose of illustration I want to deal with a case in which the prime character is a Mr Paul Kersikla, a former Snowy Mountains Auth.rity employee, who had eight to ten years’ service with that Authority and subsequently migrated to New Zealand to work for Dillingham and Stevenson at the Waiuku Steel Mill site. Like a lot of other people who possess a dog, he was anxious that his dog be trans-shipped across the Tasman to New Zealand to be on the site with him. On 8th May Air New Zealand trans-shipped the dog on TE flight 222. The dog was brought to Sydney and consigned to Auckland. The difficulties began there. When the dog arrived at the Auckland airport the New Zealand authorities claimed that the documents accompanying the dog were insufficient in detail and as a result the dog was put back on the Air New Zealand aircraft flown back across the Tasman. Mr Kersikla’s friend in New South Wales, Mr Victor Berkovec, was contacted at Greenacre near Bankstown in the Blaxland electorate. He had to come into Sydney the following day. He lost time from his employment and had to pay for several trans-Tasman telephone calls for the purpose of having the documents revised. Then the dog made its third journey across the Tasman. The dog in question was a brown kelpie called Sandy.
I am dealing with this case to prove that these inefficiencies, which ostensibly were the responsibility of the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, Mr Chaffey, have become rather commonplace. I have given to Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin certain documents to which I will refer. I hope to prove that the responsibility apparently is now in the hands of the Commonwealth Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). Following these incidents Mr Kersikla wrote to me. I immediately wrote to the New Zealand Minister of Agriculture. I refer Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin to the reply of 27th July 1967. I shall not read the entire document to the Senate. The last paragraph is what I would call a very pregnant one. It says:
The New South Wales Department of Agriculture is well aware of our requirements as there have been other occasions when my Department has had to take up the matter of incorrect documentation in Australia.
In fairness to the New South Wales authorities, it is true that the dog resided in Cooma and then in Sydney, and if it had lived in a certain tick infested area of New South Wales the State Government’s concern would have been valid. The point is this: Mr Kersikla, met the requirements of the law; so he was in the clear. He had arranged for a veterinary surgeon in Cooma to certify that the dog had been tested for worms and other ailments and that it was in good health. Those facts were contained in the certificate that accompanied the dog across the Tasman. The major error was made at the offices of the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture. The officers there simply put on the document: ‘New South Wales, Australia’. When the document arrived in New Zealand, the New Zealand Government insisted that there was no detailed record as to where in New South Wales the dog had resided for the last six months. Judging by the paragraph quoted from the letter written by the New Zealand Minister of Agriculture, this was not the first inaccuracy; there had been a number of them. Mr Kersikla was the first individual to experience the hard iron policy of the New South Wales Department.
I wrote a second letter to Mr Talboys, who reiterated the suggestion of 27th July that the people in Australia were at fault. 1 then received a letter from Mr Chaffey, the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, who made this point:
It is unfortunate that the Now Zealand authorities were not prepared to hold the dog at Auckland until inquiries were made as to the exact district of origin, since there was no doubt the dog originated from New South Wales and proposed no serious disease risk.
In effect the New South Wales Minister admits that there had been other mistakes, that his Department gambled on the fact that the New Zealand authorities would hold the dog in quarantine for two or three days till they received a trans-Tasman telephone call or an express delivery document saying that all was well. While the New Zealand Government was perhaps a trifle rigid, it is undeniable that maladministration continually takes place in the trans-shipment of dogs to New Zealand by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture.
Perhaps the Senate is wondering where the Commonwealth has responsibility. The punchline from Mr Chaffey is in the last paragraph of the letter of 22nd August, which states:
As my Department is acting as agent for the Commonwealth in this matter, the question of the reimbursement to Mr Berkovec for a loss of one day’s work, as well as two trans-Tasman telephone calls, does not appear to come within my jurisdiction. It is suggested that should you wish to take this matter further, it be referred to the Hon. A. J. Forbes, M.C., M.H.R.. the Federal Minister for Health.
In effect, the New South Wales Minister claims that his Department is virtually acting as an agent for the Commonwealth and, therefore, the ball is in the Commonwealth’s court. That is one of the reasons why I have raised this matter in the Senate tonight. I could quote from Henry Lawson’s poem The Cattle Dog’s Death’ the passage about the dog’s eyes growing human with gratitude because of the master’s solicitude for it. I do not think there is any need to do so. k is quite obvious that under the Federal system under which we operate, Commonwealth authorities constantly have to look over the shoulder of State departments which act as agents for them. While this incident involves a kelpie dog, it could have involved an Alsatian. Senator Ormonde is the patron of our Alsatian group. It could have been a wire-haired terrier like my own dog. I am making this plea in respect of all types of dogs. I believe that this maladministration is continuous. It is time chat the Commonwealth health authorities called in all the State instrumentalities and explained the position to them that rather than have this administration war between the New Zealand Department of Agriculture and our various State authorities, uniformity should be obtained.
When one looks at the problem from the lowest level, as it were, the law relates to every citizen of the Commonwealth. In this case the citizen went to a veterinary surgeon, obtained a certificate to say that the dog was in good health and nol from a tick infested area, and his friend took it to the Department of Agriculture in Sydney. That Department deals with the New Zealand Government. When the New .South Wales Department gave the OK. the owner presumed everything was right. Instead of that the dog virtually became the Australian equivalent of the sputnik dogs that have been orbiting around above the stratosphere. The only party that emerged from this with any credit was Air New Zealand. As Senator Anderson knows, Air New Zealand has waived the treble freight cost involved. If it was good enough for Air New Zealand to do that, it should be good enough for the Commonwealth Government to reimburse Mr Berkovec for the day’s pay and two telephone calls. It is poor consolation to have Mr Chaffey assume the role of Pontius Pilate by washing his hands and saying: ‘It has nothing to do with me. We are only agents for the Commonwealth Government.’ I have here a transcript furnished by the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation which broadcast the whole story. We must consider the Australian image and it is obviously bad advertising for publicity to be given to the gap between the point where the responsibilities of a State authority end and the point at which the Commonwealth takes over. 1 am sure that Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin will take this matter up directly with the Minister. She has the documentation. I would like to see an immediate conference with State and Federal authorities so that in future the various State agencies will be aware of their responsibilities. If a private feud is being conducted with the New Zealand Minister of Agriculture, it is pretty poor that as a result individuals can become shuttlecocks being hit over a net, as it were, in a dispute about regulations. We live under a Federal system. If Dr Forbes will call together the State Ministers for Agriculture and explain to them what is wanted, and also consult with Mr Talboys of the New Zealand Government, this problem need not arise again. This afternoon the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) referred to an expansion of his Department to deal with narcotics because obviously he believes there is need for supplementation of State activities. I think the time is not far distant when Dr Forbes will have to place his Commonwealth quarantine officers at every airport, rather than leave inspections to the ineptitude of a State authority as typified by the inglorious performance of Mr Chaffey in this case.
Sandy, the kelpie, is coming back to Australia next Friday or next Monday. I warn Senator Scott, the Government Whip, with all sincerity that I am quite capable of conducting another filibuster in this chamber if there is another mixup. However, I have every confidence that Senator Anderson and his officers will prevent that happening. We talk a lot in this chamber about the Australian image and what the general public think about governments and parliamentarians. Not long after I arrived here Senator Wright said that the Senate is a forum where injustice done to individuals can be discussed. That is the crux of this case. It is a simple case of apathy under the Federal system between Canberra and Sydney or between Canberra and Melbourne. It is the type of case in which the Commonwealth Government has to crack the whip. I hope that following these representations Mr Berkovec will be compensated and that for the sake of the good name of the Commonwealth no more such cases will arise making it necessary to impose on the generosity of Air New Zealand.
[10.44] - The first point I would like to raise in reply to Senator Mulvihill is that the document I have deals with a Corgi cross female whereas his papers refer to a kelpie cross female. I presume that the same dog is involved because the papers are signed by the same person. The certificate refers to a Corgi.
– ft is a kelpie.
– Mr Berkovec signed in Sydney for a Corgi, but it appears to be the same dog. Difficulties arose over the export of a Corgi cross female dog to its owner, Mr Paul Kersikla in New Zealand by his friend, Mr Victor Berkovec. of Greenacre, New South Wales. The dog was presented to the Division of Animal Industry of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, which acts for the Commonwealth Department of Health in these matters, soon after 9 a.m. on 8th May 1967. Details of the shipper’s declaration, which forms part of the prescribed certificate of health, were filled in by the relieving counter clerk, and the declaration was subsequently signed by Mr Berkovec in the presence of a justice of the peace. Although the declaration provides a space for the name of a town. Mr Berkovec filled in ‘New South Wales’. This is where the trouble started.
The dog was inspected by the Division of Animal Industry and the veterinary certification of the form was completed. Inquiries reveal that the dog was consigned by Air New Zealand to Auckland aboard Flight TE222084 which left Mascot at approximately 11.15 a.m. on 8th May. At about 3.45 p.m. a representative of Qantas Airways Ltd, which acts as agent for Air New Zealand in Sydney, contacted the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and advised that a teleprint message had been received from Auckland which indicated that the New Zealand authorities would not permit the dog to land as the health certificate did not indicate the town or towns in New South Wales in which the dog had been domiciled for the previous three months. Immediate inquiries were made and revealed that the dog had been located at Jindabyne and at Greenacre during this period.
An attempt was made at 3.55 p.m. that day by the State Department of Agriculture to contact the port veterinary officer at Auckland to discuss the matter and to verify that the animal had been domiciled in a tick free area for the prescribed period. Attempts were made to contact the veterinary officer in Auckland on that day but to no avail. The dog was returned to Sydney aboard Ait New Zealand Flight TE 899005 on the same afternoon, arriving at Sydney at about 7.35 p.m. I wish to point out again that an attempt was made immediately to contact the veterinary officer in Auckland. On removal from the aircraft the dog remained in the Qantas cargo bond until the next day when arrangements were made for the Sydney port veterinary officer to meet Mr Berkovec at Mascot at about 9.30 a.m. so that a second certificate could be completed. The dog was then reconsigned to Auckland aboard Air New Zealand Flight TE 896005 on 9th May, departing at or about 3.45 p.m.
On a number of occasions dogs have arrived at Mascot airport from New Zealand with some deficiencies in the health certificate. In these cases the animals have been held in Sydney and the necessary verification has been received within twenty-four hours, following which action has been taken to permit the detained animal to land. Unfortunately, in this case the verification which had been omitted from the original certificate could not he given to New Zealand before the dog was returned to Sydney on the same afternoon as it arrived. Of course, attempts were made, but the dog was sent straight back. I have noted again the points raised by the honourable senator concerning the last paragraph in the letter of the Minister of Agriculture. I will pass them on in the Minister for Health.
– And Mr Talboys’ criticism of the inaccuracies in the last paragraph of document A.
– I will see that the Minister for Health is informed of al) the points raised.
– 1 wish to raise an urgent matter relating to the dismissal of Post Office employees in Adelaide. A report from employees of the mail sorting exchange in Grenfell Street, Adelaide, is that ninetyfour dismissals are to take place at the rate of ten a month. Ten mail sorters have already received their dismissal notices, lt is further reported that 1 20 postmen in South Australia are to be dismissed together with an unknown number of linemen. They are to be replaced by permanent staff because the employees threatened with dismissal - and those who have received dismissal notices - are not permanent staff. Permanent appointment involves passing an examination in spelling, English and arithmetic.
A report from the South Australian Branch of the Postal Workers Union states that it has been notified by Mr Church, personnel officer of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Adelaide, that in the examination for permanent appointment held in May of this year, twenty-five members of the staff passed and seventyone applicants who are not on the staff of the Postal Department also passed. Places must be found for those seventy-one successful applicants. Therefore certain employees are to be dismissed - these arc employees who are not on the permanent staff - in order to make places for the seventy-one persons who have been able to pass the examination. 1 have here a petition, the signatories to which protest at the proposed sacking, lt is signed by I SI employees of the Postal Department who query the value of the examination to select for permanent employment in the Post Office persons for such jobs as postman, mail sorter, etc.
Some of the employees involved have up to tcn years experience in the Post Office in Adelaide. They joined the Post Office during a period of shortage of manpower when few were seeking employment of either a permanent or a casual nature in the Post Office. At times when they could have obtained better jobs in outside employment, these men, from a sense of loyalty to the job and without any desire to become permanent officers, remained in that employment. Now, after ten years service, they find that they are to be replaced by others who have passed an examination and who have yet to be trained to do the work. These men will have to surmount two barriers. They will be required to pass two further examinations. The first is to ascertain whether they are suitable for the particular work. The second is a medical examination. They must pass this before they are finally appointed to the permanent staff of the Post Office. They must be trained after they have passed the examinations. They are paid $40 per week for six weeks while they undergo training to make them efficient in the work that they will have to do. In other words, the training will cost $240 per person. As I have said, seventy-one positions are involved. The new appointees will replace employees who are efficient and whose efficiency has resulted in upgrading in the Department. These men will be replaced simply because they have not passed this examination.
Many individual cases have been cited. One involves a postal sorter who is fortynine years of age. He has served three years in the Post Office in Adelaide but had seventeen years experience in the United Kingdom Postal Department. Quite a number of British migrants who have had Post Office experience in the United Kingdom are involved. The man whom I have just mentioned has a good recommendation from his superior officers, yet he is to be thrown out of employment. He will find it very difficult at his age to obtain other employment as the only field in which he has been trained and of which he has experience relates to Post Office activities. No other vacancies are available to him in the Post Office and he has not the qualifications to get a job with any other employer.
Another man has had twenty years experience in the Post Office in the United Kingdom and a third man has had twelve years experience in the Post Office in the United Kingdom and seven years experience in the Post Office in Australia. While some of these men may be able to sit for the examination for appointment as permanent officers, it is believed that another examination will not be held until May of next year, by which time these men will be out of the service of the Post Office. Quite a number of those who will be displaced will not be able to sit for the examination because they are over the age limit of 51 years. Some will not be able to pass the examination because they do not know arithmetic. They cannot add up. Nevertheless, these men have been good postmen, good mail sorters and good linemen. One of the subjects on the examination that they must pass for permanent employment in the Post Office is arithmetic. A man can be very capable in this employment yet not have the the ability to pass the examination.
I took this matter up with the Postal Workers Union and asked about its attitude to the examination. The Union is not happy about the whole matter and queries the value of the examination. It refers to what would happen in private industry. Here we have men who are suited to the occupation and given loyal service. Why should they be displaced by other men and why should the Commonwealth incur the expense of training them when the employer is completely satisfied with the service given by the present employees? Nevertheless, this procedure is laid down in a regulation. It is an instruction and has been sent, I believe, from Canberra. The instruction is that this is to happen. The Union seeks to have the men retained in their employment because they will find no other employment when their dismissal notices take effect.
The men concerned - among them are the 181 who signed the petition that I have mentioned - suggest that if the three nights per week overtime that is worked in the postal sorting exchange at Adelaide were eliminated, many of those who are to be dismissed could be retained in employment on a normal working week. The Department has agreed to the dismissals taking place at the rate of ten per month. If overtime were eliminated, and the mcn were employed at the exchange, this would render unnecessary the dismissals that otherwise arc to take place between now and the Christmas period.
The Union takes the attitude that the Department has a policy of preference to male employees. Part-time female staff is being employed in many post offices in the suburbs of Adelaide. The women work when they can get away from their housework for a few hours or after sending their children to school. The stage has been reached where there is a surplus of trained male officers. Those men who are to be dismissed should be given the opportunity, in accordance with the policy of the Department, to transfer to suburban post offices which are being operated at the present time by part-time female staff.
I bring this matter to the notice of the Minister - whatever the questions of policy or regulations concerning appointment of permanent officers may be - and ask him to say in all fairness whether he considers that this course is the correct one to take. Is is right that a person with twenty years service in the Post Office field, including seven in the Australian Post Office should, at the age of forty-nine, be dismissed? Other jobs are not available to him. His work has given satisfaction. He has a recommendation from his superior officers. But he is to be dismissed from the postal service, as are seventy other men, because someone else can pass an examination which has no bearing on the work that the man carries out. The employee concerned is either ineligible to sit for the examination or cannot pass it. I ask the PostmasterGeneral to give early consideration to this question as it is important and to provide an early reply as to whether something can be done for the individuals concerned.
[10.58J - Mr President, I have listened very carefully to the comments made by Senator Cavanagh. Indeed, as the honourable senator paid me the courtesy of indicating that he intended to raise the matter, I sought some information on it. However, at short notice, I was not able to obtain any information. That is no reflection on the staff of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). It was a little late to obtain the information. However, I will faithfully convey the comments that the honourable senator has made on this problem to the Postmaster-General.
I think that the honourable senator made his points with clarity. I certainly am sure that all the points that the PostmasterGeneral will need in order to investigate the matter and to give an explanation of the departmental procedures are available in the exposition that the honourable senator has given. It is indeed a serious matter for a person to find that, after he has given faithful service to the Post Office, he is to lose his job because he is not a permanent employee. At the same time he is to be replaced by a permanent officer. Also he finds that he is no longer eligible, because of a Public Service regulation and because of his age, to sit for the examination lo select officers for permanent appointment. I am sure that the Postmaster-General will look at this matter very carefully indeed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m. 9891/67 - j - [j5j
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 August 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670829_senate_26_s35/>.