26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General tell me how much longer residents of Kalgoorlie and Geraldton in Western Australia will have to wait before they receive an adequate television service? Has a decision been made as to the power of the two stations concerned? When is it likely that applications will be invited for commercial licensees to operate in these two areas? Has any further consideration been given to the use of low powered package stations for these areas?
– The PostmasterGeneral made a statement in another place on 17th May concerning the extension of television services. That statement was tabled in the Senate. As was indicated in the statement, national stations are to be established at Kalgoorlie and Geraldton but in each case the establishment of a station is dependent on the provision of broadband communication facilities linking those centres with Perth. Planning for the stations is still in the preliminary stages and it is not yet practicable to indicate the likely date of completion. Decisions have not yet been made concerning the power of the stations. This will depend on technical studies being made. No detailed or definite suitable propositions have been received from commercial interests for the establishment of commercial stations of any type, including low powered stations, and therefore applications have not been invited. If any interests make out a prima facie case for successful commercial operation it will be carefully considered by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– I did read that two babies had died but I have nol heard that two more have since died. 1 shall bring the question to the attention of the Minister for Health and advise the honourable senator of the Minister’s reply.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator HENTY - The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Of course, all oyster leases, both in Australia and overseas, exhibit slight radioactivity due primarily to naturally occurring radioactive materials.
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
In relation to the determination of the value of property as assessed for social services age pension purposes, where such property is cither partly or wholly represented by investments in public companies such as H. G. Palmer, Cox Bros., Reid Murray and others in a similar position, and where the amount precludes entitlement to a pension even on a written down value, notwithstanding the suspension or cessation of dividends, will the Minister examine the quite urgent need, in many cases, to discount the value of these investments while they are and remain unproductive?
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answer:
The Department of Social Services adopts a realistic attitude where a pensioner’s property consists, in some measure, of investments in companies that find themselves in financial difficulties. Where the investment has no market value, or a market value which is so doubtful as to be unascertainable, it is the general practice to disregard the value of the investment. This procedure is followed even though there may be a reasonable prospect that the investment will have some value in the future.
Investors in such companies should seek reassessments of their pensions, or should apply for a pension if they are not in receipt of one and feel that they may be qualified. The Department has no automatic way of knowing of a pensioner’s investments as the information is contained on each pensioner’s individual file.
– Yesterday Senator Lawrie asked me a question about the distribution of imitation Qantas Airways Ltd overseas air tickets to various members of the Parliament and prominent people in the community by the Queensland Teachers Union. I undertook to obtain an answer for him from the Minister for Civil Aviation. The answer is as follows:
The Minister for Civil Aviation has advised that the Queensland Teachers Union, which produced facsimiles of the Qantas passenger ticket and distributed them to honourable senators and other prominent public figures, did so without the knowledge and permission of the management of Qantas. In fact the management of Qantas has objected strongly to the practice and the Security Manager of Qantas has visited Queensland to investigate the matter and determine what action should be taken.
– I have received from Senator Turnbull an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely:
The urgent need for the Federal Minister for Health to convene immediately a meeting of State Ministers for Health and the Federal AttorneyGeneral to prepare uniform legislation in regard to the manufacture, sale and distribution of LSD and other similar drugs.
Is the proposed motion supported?
More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places -
– If the honourable senator keeps that up he will lose a lot of his supporters.
– I will return to the subject of marihuana. I believe we should ask the Minister also to have action taken in regard to marihuana, because its use cannot be dismissed simply by saying: After all, it is just like alcohol. Let it pass’. We have to stamp this out. We are becoming a nation of drug addicts. We are helped by the Department of Health, of course, to perpetuate this by the free pharmaceutical benefits scheme, whereby everyone can get as many barbiturates as he wants. We have tried to cut it down to twenty-five.
– They have been cutting them down to twenty-five but if one orders half strength he can order four times as much. The mathematics of the Department of Health have not quite caught up with that one, so one gives them twice the supply that he could give under the old system. We in Australia are the greatest barbiturate takers in the world. Here we have an opportunity to do something against two far more serious drugs and I hope that the Commonwealth Minister for Health will do it. I do not know enough about LSD, except that it is an evil drug and one that needs to be stamped out.
I leave the matter to the Senate. I have had to move that the Senate adjourn to a different time in order to get the matter before the Senate. When all senators who desire to speak have finished speaking I propose to move that the motion be withdrawn so that we do not alter the time of resumption of the Senate. This will have given an opportunity to honourable senators to discuss the matter if they want to do so and I am sure that I will have the unanimous support of the chamber in my request for the Federal Minister to do something about this matter immediately.
Senator Dawe ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [3.32] - 1 rise to speak on the matter of urgency, which is the urgent need for the Federal Minister for Health to convene immediately a meeting of State Ministers for Health and the Federal Attorney-General to prepare uniform legislation with regard to LSD and other similar drugs. I would say to Senator Turnbull, who has moved a motion for the purpose of discussing this matter, that in the view of the Government there would be nothing to be gained by the convening of a conference such as that suggested by him. On the one hand, it would be highly inappropriate to call a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers to prepare uniform legislation. That is scarcely the task of Ministers. On the other band, I can assure the honourable senator that the public health and social dangers likely to arise from the abuse of LSD and similar hallucinogenic drugs are well recognised by the Commonwealth and State Governments and that strict legislative control over the manufacture, distribution, supply and use of these substances has already been taken or is in the course of being formulated.
There already exists, as the honourable senator will be aware, an expert joint Commonwealth and State body to consider the question of uniform controls over dangerous drugs, among other public health issues of national importance. This body is. of course, the National Health and Medical Research Council, which has thoroughly examined the question, of uniform controls over LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs. Its recommendations have been accepted in principle by the Commonwealth and all
State governments and either have been or are being legislatively implemented. All LSD and similar substances used legitimately in Australia are at present imported from overseas. Action has been taken by the Commonwealth Government to exercise strict control, under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, over the importation of a wide range of hallucinogenic drugs, including’ LSD, and of substances capable of being chemically converted into hallucinogenic drugs. These drugs and substances have been included in the Fourth Schedule to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, which means that their importation is prohibited unless specified conditions, restrictions or requirements are complied with.
The conditions specified in relation lo these particular substances are that their importation is subject to the written permission of the Collector of Customs, which is given only after reference to the Commonwealth Director-General of Health, in order to secure his endorsement that the proposed use of the drug is for valid and acceptable medical or scientific purposes. They may be imported for no other purposes, and they may be imported only by licensed importers who must keep them in safe custody and must account in detail for their disposal to persons approved by the Collector of Customs.
The Commonwealth has control over such imported drugs only up to and including their disposal by a licensed importer. Control over their use or further distribution or supply then becomes the responsibility of the State governments. The Stale governments are responsible also for controlling the local manufacture of such drugs, and their distribution, supply and use. As I have already mentioned however, at present no LSD or similar hallucinogenic drugs are being legitimately manufactured in Australia since their value even for medical and scientific purposes is, contrary :o popular belief, extremely limited. The quantities required for legitimate use are accordingly very small.
Although no statistics are obtainable on the illicit use of hallucinogenic drugs in Australia, there is no doubt that small quantities are being smuggled into the country and also illegally manufactured here, and that they are being used for nonmedical and non-scientific purposes. I can assure the Senate that the Commonwealth and State governments are well aware of the situation and that appropriate legislation has been or is being introduced throughout Australia in order to combat illicit manufacture, distribution, supply and use. The penalties for offences will be heavy. In the circumstances, the honourable senator may rest assured that appropriate action to ensure strict control over the manufacture, distribution, supply and use of LSD and similar drugs within Australia is well in hand and that the Commonwealth already exercises stringent controls over the importation of these drugs. Therefore, nothing would bc gained by a conference as suggested by the honourable senator.
– The honourable senator rolls his own cigarettes.
– Yes, I roll my own cigarettes, and I will not get lung cancer until my Maker wants me to go. Surely the Government has a responsibility for the health of the people and, in relation to drugs in general, to study people who become addicts. Mostly these people are of the frustrated type. Economic and emotional disturbances are associated with the addiction of some people who take drugs. I am not referring to those people who take a haphazard trip with drugs just for the experience. I am referring to those who do so deliberately and who, almost certainly, become addicts. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to set up an organisation which will conduct research in this field. It is no good doing this after people have become addicts and have committed what might appear to be crimes.
What will be the legal position if a so-called crime is committed while a person is under the influence of drugs? Will he be excused because he is under the influence of a particular drug such as LSD? If, as Senator Turnbull said, addicts jump out of a window and break their own legs then that may be their concern. But what if they fall on top of someone and an innocent person is killed? Will the addict be charged with manslaughter and have to serve a term of imprisonment or will he be excused because he was under the influence of a particular drug? Almost inevitably, the law will not excuse addicts because they had no right to be under the influence of LSD or some other drug which might predispose the commission of an offence. If we do not accept addiction as a crime are we going to adopt the permissive attitude and say that we will not interfere with the civil rights of an addict? Are we going to say that people have the right to take drugs because they are adults? Or are we going to adopt the sensible approach and say that this is a human problem and that it is one in connection with which every individual in the community has some responsibility? Should we adopt a curative approach? We should adopt the latter attitude. I should like to know, too, whether there has been an extensive educational campaign in connection with this problem. I have not seen much evidence of it. Some measure of publicity was given to the dangers of drugs some years ago, but the publicity we see today certainly cannot be called educational. On the contrary, it highlights the offence and if anything it tends to encourage those who may not be altogether stable to experience the taking of the drug. How are we to know that this one experience will not be the forerunner of many others that will eventually lead to a life of hopelessness and misery? 1 fail to understand why the Minister representing the Minister for Health will not give us an assurance now in connection with this matter instead of being content with merely saying that the National Health and Medical Research Council is interested in this and other similar problems, that the Commonwealth has prohibited the importation of all but a limited quantity of LSD and other drugs, and that it has completely prohibited the importation of heroin. That is not good enough when it is known that LSD can be manufactured comparatively simply. This drug can get into the hands of unscrupulous peddlers who it has been suggested are interested even now in purveying to the young marihuana, which is a comparatively dangerous drug. I appeal to the Government to change its attitude.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The child was only 4 weeks old.
– I think the honourable senator is right. The child was 4 weeks old. The mother laughingly reported the effects of LSD on her 4 weeks old infant, which she claimed was crawling and attempting to walk. If that is not a serious criminal offence, I want to know what is. The person responsible for that act should have been arrested and charged immediately and the child placed in proper care.
– Of course she had. Had she not been she probably would not have done this. In this morning’s Brisbane Courier-Mail’ it was reported that a young fellow was growing the plant marihuana, treating it and serving it on the Gold Coast. Surely all these things could not. go on if
Ministers and other responsible people were more vigilant than they are.
– 1 agree with Senator Turnbull. He is to be commended on bringing this matter forward. If this debate does nothing else, surely it will enliven the authorities in the Commonwealth and State spheres. This is a Commonwealth matter and a State matter. It is an Australian matter.
This idea of hiding behind someone else or of one person passing the buck to another is not good enough in a matter such as this. The morality, health and mentality of a big section of our community are involved. Unless there is a more expeditious handling of this matter by government departments - State and Commonwealth - and unless something more positive is done, we will see the destruction pf many young people whose lives could be preserved if they could be given some protection from the dispensation of these drugs which are doing so much damage.
There is not a lot involved in this motion of urgency. It merely asks that the Commonwealth Minister for Health convene a conference of his counterparts in the States; that he invite the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral to the conference; and that consideration be given to the introduction of uniform legislation. Is not that the usual way of initiating uniform legislation? As a former leader of a government in a State, I know that it is. If such a conference has taken place already, well and good. But what is the result of the conference? How long is it since the conference was held? Surely it does not take 12 months to have legislation on a matter such as this passed by the various State parliaments. There must be a common interest, a common concern and a common desire to correct and arrest this practice. Without any question, it is out of hand. This matter should not be delayed.
I support the proposal because I believe it is timely and that nothing but good could result from it. I hope that this short discussion on the matter here today will cause some people to get off their backsides with great rapidity and do something, instead of just sitting back with complacency and self satisfaction and saying that everything is all right when it is not all right. It is remarkable just how self satisfied some people can become. A national tragedy has to occur to galvanise them into action. Something terrible in the community has to happen before they will do something. Then excuses are advanced as to why nothing had been done. It is said that there was a deficiency in this Act or that Act or that it was a State matter and not a Commonwealth matter. Let us have a proper understanding on this problem. It is no more a State matter than a Commonwealth matter; it is a matter that should concern everybody. Uniformity of legislation might simplify the policing of this drug and the correction of an evil which has grown, without question, with great rapidity and which today is destroying the moral fibre and health of a lot of young people. Let us do something to correct the situation.
– The Tasmanian legislative programme is being undertaken in collaboration with the Commonwealth.
– To the extent that the States have had this matter under review, they are playing a role. The Commonwealth needs help from the State governments in this matter, it has set the pace. The legislation introduced here in the last sessional period was probably the most severe of its type in this particular field ever introduced into the Parliament. The United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs has recognised dangers inherent in the taking of soft drugs such as amphetamines and barbituates. Indeed consideration is being given to the question of whether such drugs should be brought under international control in the same way as hard drugs; for example, morphine. If this should occur the Commonwealth would consider introducing legislation to cover soft drugs, similar to the Narcotic Drugs Act which was introduced last session. The Narcotic Drugs Act provided for Commonwealth control over the manufacture in Australia of hard drugs. The power to do this derives from the Constitutional external affairs power because of the international convention to which Australia is a party. All honourable senators will be well informed on this, because, as I have indicated, the matter was debated during the last sessional period. I continued:
In the absence of such a convention covering soft drugs such as LSD the Commonwealth at present time has no power to introduce legislation to control manufacture in Australia.
The matter is clearly one for the States, and the States recognise that. Every State, with the exception of two, have passed legislation. On the information supplied to me, those two States have the matter very much in the forefront of their consideration.
– I do not know. I may be able to obtain that information. If I cannot, some subsequent speaker might be able to do so. The statement has been made that LSD does not lead to addiction. Senator Turnbull pointed out that here we are in a field of speculation. But general medical opinion is that LSD does not necessarily lead to addiction.
– It has a shocking effect on people, we all agree. The grave risk is that, having become adjusted to this particular soft drug, those taking it would be inclined to move towards a far more serious drug such as marihuana, or heroin which, in some instances, can put a person beyond redemption.
I want to make it quite clear that in my role as Minister for Customs and Excise I have to deal with the import of prohibited drugs. I have seen this particular drug. 1 saw a very minor quantity of LSD which was impregnated into a piece of blotting paper. That piece of blotting paper could be put on the tongue and swallowed. That illustrates the difficulty in preventing the importation of the drug. It also illustrates the inherent viciousness of a drug of that nature.
– I do not know. I will make inquiries about that. I should think that the matter would come into the same category as it does in the States. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has already made the point that a health author ity already has been set up to which the States and the Commonwealth are parties. I refer to the National Health and Medical Research Council. It has a responsibility in the matter of drugs. The States, with the exception of two of them, have put their houses in order in relation to this matter. As Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin indicated, the Commonwealth exercises very strict controls over the importation of drugs. In 1966 regulations were brought down controlling the importation of LSD and certain other hallucinogenic drugs. I have taken steps to prohibit by regulation the importation of other hallucinogenic substances such as lysergic acid, from which LSD is manufactured. The Governor-General on 18th August, 1967 signed the regulation prohibiting the importation of these additional substances. The regulations relate also to preparations containing the drugs themselves. As Senator Turnbull and Senator Dittmer would point out. lysergic acid is one of the essential ingredients in the manufacture of LSD. The only way that lysergic acid may be imported into Australia as a separate item is with the approval of the Comptroller-General of Customs, and then only after reference to the Director-General of Health.
So it is clear that at Commonwealth level we have done the things that we think should be done to prevent the illegal entry into Australia of these dangerous substances. The substance of the matter of urgency is that the Commonwealth should call the States together for discussions with the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) with a view to the introduction of uniform legislation. In that sense the Commonwealth does not enter the field of uniform legislation because the Commonwealth exercises control at the point of entry. We have taken that action. At the level of the National Health and Medical Research Council the States have been directed towards a degree of uniformity by the introduction of State legislation. As late as yesterday afternoon, if I read my newspaper correctly, two of the States had not taken action. The Premier of one of those States - New South Wales - indicated yesterday in the New South Wales Parliament that the relevant legislation was about to be introduced so that heavy penalties could be imposed on wrongdoers in this field.
Yesterday I had prepared an answer to a question that I thought might be asked about drugs. However, the subject was caught up in another question and in my reply I pointed out the absolute desirability for a completely uniform approach by the States and the Commonwealth in working together on this problem. I think we are rapidly moving towards that point and I believe that the Commonwealth Department of Health has co-operated well with the States. My Department has adopted a leadership role at a different level, and action has been taken by the States. I think we can come to grips with this very real problem which, if not taken on board as a serious matter, could do tremendous injury to the youth of our community.
– Such programmes might be more interesting than some of the current programmes.
– Yes. It has been stated by a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia that there is little doubt that in matters of public health, irrespective of an amendment to the Constitution, the Commonwealth has always had the right as a political entity to advocate public health measures for its citizens. Advertisements could be placed in newspapers and lectures arranged. All sorts of measures could be taken to dissuade people from using these drugs. The response of the Government seems to be much as it was to the suggestion of the Opposition about the dangers of cigarette smoking. Government supporters say that they are going to do things. They say that there will be an educational programme, but as far as we can see, it has never been realised. We would like some action to be taken in this matter. The proposal of Senator Turnbull is very sensible. It is of no use saying that the Commonwealth will leave it for action to be taken in accordance with the suggestions of the National Health and Medical Research Council. I have read reports of the Council.
– That is so. It is very disturbing to read in those reports many recommendations which have had to be repeated to draw attention to the fact that no action had been taken. So I do not think the Minister should say that the matter should be left to the National Health and Medical Research Council. It is necessary in matters such as this for the Senate to stir the Government into action. Senator Turnbull’s proposal is worthwhile and the Opposition believes that his motion should be carried by the Senate.
– What has the Government done in relation to its own territories?
– The real authority of the Commonwealth lies in dealing with importation and the possibility of persons getting hold of these drugs to use. Once a drug enters Australia, or if it is manufactured in Australia, it lies within the purview of the States to take action. The Leader of the Opposition should ask the Government of his own State of New South Wales about this matter. It has been most tardy on this question and has not taken any action. I suggest that he go back to his own State and get the New South Wales Government to do this. Senator Turnbull should go back to Tasmania and ask the Government of that State to take action. The Leader of the Opposition asked about the Australian Capital Territory. Legislation is now being drafted to provide for the full control of LSD in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, in accordance with the uniform recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council. At the present time the drug cannot be supplied except on a medical prescription. There is no evidence that it is being used illegally in the Australian Capital Territory.
I am sorry to see this matter taken into the political area. This is what has happened. I believe that the matter was proposed for discussion by Senator Turnbull in good faith. He suggests that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) should convene immediately a meeting of State Ministers for Health and the Federal AttorneyGeneral to prepare uniform legislation on this matter. I think what he suggests is that they should get down to some form on which legislation may be prepared by the proper authorities. Senator Gair was Premier of a State for many, many years. I know what his reaction would have been if we had stumped into Queensland and told him, as Premier, what he was to do in the State of Queensland. He would have been the first to raise his hackles and say: We will deal with matters that are within our constitutional authority’. I would not blame him because the State would be carrying the responsibility for that very thing.
– That is what is suggested at present. These matters have already been discussed with the States and all of the States except two are in the course of producing legislation. New South Wales is doing it now and I do not think that Tasmania will be very far behind. It is rubbish for the Leader of the Opposition to come into the Senate and, because the proceedings are being broadcast, say that it is up to the Opposition to stir the Government into action, when the Government has already acted in accordance with its constitutional authority to impose dire penalties on the importation of these drugs. I am sorry to see him adopt this purely political approach to what is a terribly serious problem. During seven and a half years as Minister for Customs and Excise I saw enough to know what a dreadful traffic this is. We should not spare any effort or neglect any opportunity to deal with people - some of them medical men - who illicitly make these drugs available. The matter of sale comes within the constitutional authority of the States. We are doing our job in the territory that comes under our jurisdiction. We have already done our job well. I commend the Minister for Customs and Excise for what he has done and I commend the Senate for passing legislation to impose heavy penalties on persons who import drugs.
– That is not what we said. We said that not sufficient is known about them. We did not say that they are not non-addictive.
– I did not say that the honourable senator said that. I said that he was informing the Senate of medical knowledge. I did not say that it was the opinion of the honourable senator or of Senator Turnbull. We are grateful to the honourable senators for their advice. 1 thank Senator Dittmer for his correction. He has told us that there is no informed opinion about this matter yet. But what if this embryo thought is true? What if a drug of this type is non-addictive? Might it not be that this drug leads to addiction and that the buying of it tends to take users on to heroin and the other deadly drugs that we know so much about? If that is not addiction or habit forming in layman’s language, then I do not know what is. Quite apart from the legal side of the matter, on the educational side the Government has a moral responsibility to push home to our young people that the taking of this drug is bad. Let us not worry about the degree of medical knowledge on the matter, if the end result of the use of this drug is to the detriment and not the benefit of those who use it
In the 18 years that I have been a senator I have never been very impressed about the constitutional position. After all, the Constitution was written in 1900. We all know that it is tremendously difficult to amend it. The Government ought to have learnt that lesson from recent events. The Government says that the constitutional position is that the Commonwealth deals with one section of this problem and the States deal with another section of it. To adopt this attitude is only to hide behind a piece of paper. The Government adopted this approach in the education field. For a long time it would not face up to the problem of education. If there is a job to be done in Australia, no government should rest on its laurels because of the constitutional position. It should find ways around the Constitution if the provisions of the Constitution hold up action which is good for the people of Australia.
Obviously in these circumstances it is not sufficient for the Government to say that it is worried about the growing use of drugs at certain levels or that it is worried about the health and morals of the Australian people. This should not be the attitude of a Commonwealth or a State government. Why the Government has taken this attitude towards the matter raised by Senator Turnbull is beyond me. The Government might have said to Senator Turnbull: ‘Look, this is not quite the thing to do at this time. It is inconvenient.’ The Government could have given some reason for its attitude. All the Government has done has been to state that everything in the garden is lovely, that the States are doing their part and the Commonwealth Government will do its part. Everything that has been said on both sides of the House during this debate has done nothing but confirm the belief that this proposal should be carried.
The Government follows some very dangerous lines in these matters. A few years ago I asked the then Minister for Health whether the Government was worried about truth in advertising drugs and all sorts of other things that are advertised on television. I wish I now had the letter in reply that I received. I do not want to misquote what was said. It was an amazing letter; so much so that I made sure I held on to it when I cleared other files out, as I do every 2 or 3 years. I do not want to be pinned down to the exact wording, but my recollection is that the Minister replied: ‘Yes, we are worried about the truth but, at the same time, there is an economic content in the advertising of these things’. It seemed to me to boil down to this: If the advertising was truthful a measure had to be made of the amount of money that the firm could make from its advertising. Then a nice balance had to be taken between these two things. Then the Government allowed this advertising to be pumped out.
No real argument can be advanced against the matter raised by Senator Turnbull. The Government has nothing to lose by calling all Ministers together to find out the general experience regarding this matter. This experience is growing. Whatever the Government has done in the past in this connection, it is obvious that it has not been sufficient for the future. I say this because of the emergence of the increased use of drugs and because of the attitudes that are adopted today by our young people. One of the most serious problems is that young people will not believe what they are told about these things. They think there is some argument in favour of the use of these drugs. They used to get what they wanted by cigarette smoking. Now they get it in a new form - the use of the drugs.
The attitude of the Government today in giving leadership to the Australian people on this matter is not sufficient. The raising of this matter is eminently timely. Senator Turnbull could not have timed this matter better, particularly when we see newspaper headlines of the type that I have quoted and when we see that two States are about to introduce legislation regarding drugs. Is it not time that the Commonwealth Government called the States together? Should not the Commonwealth draw from legislation that is already enacted, from the experience of Commonwealth and State Ministers, and from the experience of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department concerning the criminal side of the matter? Should it not move into the law enforcement side of the problem or initiate a health campaign before it is too late? In some of the other countries of the world it is now too late to take any action on this problem at all.
– They are not leaving it alone. They are introducing legislation in their own areas where they are entitled to do so. The honourable senator knows that.
– I know that but unless there is uniform legislation the drug cannot be beaten. There must be uniform legislation, and that is the reason I have proposed the motion in its present form. 1 do not want to argue any more about this. The Minister’s statement which was prepared for her by the departmental officers did not surprise me, but it is a sad state of affairs when politics, if I can use Senator Henty’s word, come into a matter of public health and that everything depends on the side of the Senate from which any proposals emanate.
I said earlier that I would withdraw the motion. After having heard the Minister’s reply, I felt like changing my mind. However, having gained my point by having this matter debated, I now ask leave of the Senate to withdraw the motion. 1 leave this to the Senate to decide.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
-(New South Wales - Minister for Customs and Excise) - by leave - Honourable senators are aware that regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations prohibits the importation of blasphemous, indecent or obscene works or articles. Honourable senators also know the regulation provides that even though a book is prohibited under regulation 4a the Minister may approve any application to import such works provided a report has been received from the Chairman of the Literature Censorship Board or the Director-General of Health.
When regulation 4a was introduced in 1963 the then Minister undertook to report annually to the Senate in respect of books released in accordance with the above provisions. This report, the fourth to be pre sented, covers the period 1st July 1966 to 30th June 1967. During this 12 months a total of forty-eight applications was received. Of these, one was withdrawn and twelve were refused. The remaining thirtyfive applications were approved. Details of these releases are as follows:
Medical, Psychiatric and Sociological works 17 to university researchers 1 to medical practitioners 1 to a clinical psychologist 1 to a final year medical student 3 to social workers 1 to a solicitor 1 to a police lecturer 1 to a public library 1 to a patient on medical advice
Fictional Works 7 to university researchers
– Will we be sent some samples?
– I cannot answer that question. I suggest that we have two methods which can be used to provide partial protection for this industry. Firstly, we can and do, as far as I know, prevent foreign prawning ships replenishing supplies or bunkering at our ports. This limits the degree of their operations. Secondly, we can, and do, deny them Australian based facilities for processing their catches. This is only a partial remedy because it is possible for foreign prawning vessels to operate from a mother ship. They can take their catches to the mother ship and have them processed there. If this is done we have no present legal control over their operations, but because it is a more expensive operation there is some protection for Australians.
In addition to the activities of overseas prawning vessels, recently there has been a further intrusion into this industry because some Australian interests are combining with Japanese interests to provide joint capital and fishing vessels in the hope that they can thus overcome the problems I have just mentioned. In the Sydney ‘Sun’ of 20 April it was reported that Japanese and Australian interests would build canneries in Papua and New Guinea if planned joint fishing operations in that Territory proved a success. There is quite a deal of information in this article which I will not take the time to read but it did state that marketing operations, staffed by Australians, were based in Brisbane and that sales would be on a world-wide basis. I would do everything that I could legally do to prevent this lucrative business being taken from Australian operators. When I refer to Australian operators I am speaking not only of the large processors but also of the smaller people, those Australian fishermen who have invested a great deal of money in special prawning vessels in order to operate in these areas. Because I was so interested in this operation I spent some days talking to the Australian fishermen. They are most keen to see some type of protection introduced to ensure that foreign operators do not intrude too far into this industry of theirs. It was rather interesting for me to note in yesterday’s Sydney ‘Sun’ an article headed: ‘Three-mile Limit no Barrier. Japs Can Sell Catches Here.’ The article reads:
Japanese fishermen can legally sell in Sydney fish they catch outside the three-mile limit.
This was revealed today by the Chairman of the NSW Fish Authority, Mr M. E. Joseph.
There is nothing in the Fisheries Act to prevent outsiders selling their catches in NSW, he said.
There is nothing in the Fisheries Act to prevent them; but they cannot legally do this because they are debarred not under the Fisheries Act but by section 4b of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations to which the Minister referred., in another context a little while ago. I therefore have to make the point, as strongly as I can, that the Press statement which I have just read is quite erroneous.
I should like to move on now to examine whether there are any other methods we can adopt to preserve this industry for Australian fishermen, remembering that it could grow into one worth $10m a year. Before putting forward certain proposals, I point out that on 8th September next there is to be held at Perth a conference at which all State Ministers in charge of fisheries and the Commonwealth Minister for Primary Industry will be present. That conference will discuss ways and means whereby the fishing industry of Australia can be protected. I therefore think it is important that I make my proposals now, before the conference takes place.
The first suggestion 1 make is that the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government, acting in concert, should delineate specific land processing bases in the Gulf confining processing exclusively to those bases, that they should also introduce a system of licensing of processors which shall be under rigid supervision and that they should allocate to each of the licensed processors suitable prawning grounds. My second suggestion is that they should then grant processing licences exclusively to wholly Australian owned processing companies and that one of the conditions imposed should be that they shall take no catch from any but licensed Australian fishermen who have exclusively Australian crews. I think that is of vital importance.
The third proposal is that they should then define and exercise supervision over acceptable methods of conservation to be practised by all processors. They can do this if the processors themselves are licensed and rigidly controlled. Fourthly, I suggest they should prohibit any but licensed Australian operators from using Australian territory as a base for spotting planes used to locate shoals of prawns. This might sound a relatively unimportant condition. It is in fact a very important one. It is only through the use of spotting planes that the processors themselves can discover where the prawns are at a particular time. They cannot find them very easily in any other way. Indeed, it was by the use of spotting planes that they were first able to start exploiting this operation. I strongly urge that that prohibition be applied.
My fifth proposal is that they should rigidly exclude all prawning vessels other than Australian owned and licensed vessels from the use of Australian shore facilities for bunkering, processing or any other purpose. As I said earlier, if they do this they will make the operation by foreign operators so much more difficult and so much more expensive that it will become uneconomic and the industry will be preserved to Australian operators rather than foreigners.
Sixthly, because even with the safeguards that I have enunciated Australian fishermen and processors will still be subjected to severe foreign competition, I also urge that the Commonwealth Government fully implement for this industry its stated and avowed policy, as frequently enunciated by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), to provide public facilities which will enable private enterprise to develop effectively the industrial potential of northern Australia. Mr Fairbairn has told us on many occasions that this is the policy of the Government. I have enunciated that policy on behalf of the Government on many occasions. I come now to the stage where not only am I enunciating it but I am pleading that it shall be done because, to process prawns correctly so that they are acceptable on the overseas market, we need a great deal of water and many other facilities which it should not fall within the province of the private operator to provide. We need housing, and we need roads or other facilities for getting the catch out in suitable time. I maintain that these public facilities should be provided by the Commonwealth Government, in view of the fact that here there is an opportunity to develop an export industry worth $10m a year or more.
Having made those points, I would now mention that I have informed the Commonwealth Minister and the State Minister of the interest I have in this matter, and 1 am certain, from the discussions I have had with them, that they themselves are very favourably disposed towards assisting this industry. I hope that they will put into operation the suggestions I have made. When I spoke of processing bases in the Gulf I visualised possibly five or six being available. I have no doubt in the world that there will be Australian processors who will be quite willing and anxious to take advantage of these licensing arrangements which
I am suggesting. If we do what I have suggested, and do it quickly, then I am sure we shall retain most of this industry for Australia. If we do that then I suggest it will be good for Australia, especially for the northern part of Australia in which 1 am particularly interested.
I come now to another matter to which I referred on 1st March last in this chamber. On that occasion, I went to some trouble to quote rather extensively from reports which I had with me. I refer to the problem of the toll of the road. Frankly, 1 do not understand why we as Australians take it so philosophically. Today sixty people are killed every week, most of them in the younger age bracket. Also about 1.600 people are injured on our roads every week. Many of them are injured seriously and quite a considerable number of them are never able to take full employment thereafter. Most of them are young people. Surely this is a tragedy that we cannot afford to overlook or about which we cannot be complacent. I am sorry to say that there is too much complacency about this subject. One-third of the beds in the surgical wards of our major public hospitals are occupied constantly by people who are injured on our roads, and we are taking no real positive steps to overcome this problem. As proof of that statement, I point out that the road toll is growing every moment. This year it is higher than it has been previously, at least in some States, in terms of numbers. It is also higher in relation to the number of vehicles on the road. A young country such as Australia cannot afford to allow this situation to get worse and worse without using the most rigid methods to control it.
On 1st March 1 quoted from very authoritative reports of top level investigations. One was made under the auspices of the National Health and Medical Research Council, and another was made by the Australian Road Research Board. 1 also quoted from the report of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety presented in I960. Every one of those reports underlines that one of the major causes of the road toll is that people are mixing driving and the consumption of alcohol - that people are driving when they have been affected by alcohol. In fact, one report stated that up to 70% of the people injured in road accidents had consumed alcohol within a short time before the accident in which they were involved. Today we heard a speech by Senator Turnbull. I thought I would have an ally in him because he spoke of alcohol as a great danger. So it is.
On the previous occasion I said, summarising the reports, that if we could stop people driving vehicles when they had partaken of alcohol we would reduce the death toll by 30% or 40%, or possibly 50%. Thai is stated in the reports that 1 have studied, and I believe that it is so. So why are we not doing that? I believe that we are not doing it because it would be possibly the most unpopular action that any government could take. I remind the Senate that the Department of Civil Aviation will not allow any pilot to take charge of an aircraft if he has taken any alcohol within 12 hours before he is due to fly. I am not suggesting that the control on drivers should be as rigid as that; but I do suggest that it should be rigid to a satisfactory degree.
I am mighty proud of the fact that a few days ago the Police Commissioner of Queensland warned people that the police would make a very special effort to try to reduce the toll of the road. I quote the following from a report of his statement:
A special warning lo drivers on drink was made today in a new, stern statement on the road toll by the Police Commissioner (Mr F. Bischof). In his statement Mr Bischof announced new police moves throughout the State to enforce the traffic laws and special attention at hotels, clubs and other places where drivers were likely to leave in cars under the influence of liquor.
I venture to suggest that that is a courageous statement by a police commissioner. I am proud to be able to acknowledge that. But, unfortunately, the next day quite a lengthy statement was made on this subject by a parliamentarian. I do not want to name him. but I show the Senate a report of the statement. Being in Opposition, this parliamentarian attacked the State Government. The report states that he:
His statement was given great headlines.
– I prefer not to identify him because he qualified that statement by referring to ordinary road accidents. He did not relate his statement to driving under the influence of liquor. I make that point very clear because I dc not want to mislead anybody.
I quoted the statement to show the Senate that this is a very hot political potato. I am afraid that it is such a hot political potato that we can get action in only one way. I have only 1 minute in which to conclude my speech; so I will have to confine my comments on this matter. In the light of the seriousness of this problem, the Federal Government should invite all Ministers in charge of the enforcement of traffic laws and all Leaders of the Opposition to come to a conference; it should have this problem removed from the position of being a political football; and it should obtain general agreement from both sides of politics. I know the leaders of all the governments in Australia and most Leaders of the Opposition. I believe that if they were asked to try to face up to this problem they would approach it seriously enough to make it a non-party matter and would agree to introduce legislation to make it illegal for a person to drive a vehicle if he had had even one drink within 2 hours prior to taking the wheel of a car. I realise that that would be very severe action. But on the basis of all the reports that I have read I am satisfied that it is the only type of action that would be effective. In conclusion I make this appeal: Let us make this problem something apart altogether from politics so that we can make a dramatic approach to it and achieve dramatic results in reducing the dreadful toll of the road.
Senator COHEN (Victoria) (5.17]- The Senate is debating a motion moved by the Leader of the Government (Senator Henty) to the effect that the Senate take note of the Budget Papers. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). We condemn the Budget for many reasons, but particularly for the following reasons:
This Budget is the budget of a weak and faltering government, a tired government, a government barren of ideas. It is a budget produced by a government of guilty men - men guilty of the shameful squandering of this country’s resources, both human and material; men guilty of hopeless confusion about their own aims and objectives.
This is a time of great challenge for Australia. The question to ask about any government in a testing time is whether it is proving capable of meeting the challenge with purpose and direction. Australia today needs national leadership from its national government. We face a new defence situation as the result of the British Government’s announcement of its plans for a phased withdrawal of forces from Malaysia and Singapore. We are so placed that, sooner than many of us think - certainly sooner than members of the Government parties think - we may be called upon to make important decisions about our involvement in Vietnam, just as that kind of reassessment is being made in the United States today.
We are at a stage where national development demands high priority and where the public sector of the economy must be expanded. We face the need to spend greatly enlarged resources on education, health, housing and social services. What we have to assess in this Budget debate is the reaction of the Government of Australia to these challenges. I suggest that the Government’s performance borders on the pathetic.
In the Senate yesterday the Opposition proposed a motion of urgency in terms which placed fairly and squarely upon the Government the responsibility for explaining its inconsistent attitude in relation to trade with mainland China. We condemned the Government for its inconsistency in asserting that China was a threat to Australia and at the same time permitting large scale trade with that country in steel, chemicals, wheat, wool and other goods. The Government made a pretty poor fist of its case. We heard from three senior Ministers - the
Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty), the Deputy Leader of the Government (Senator Gorton), and the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson). They all wallowed in embarrassment and confusion because they had been caught red handed and red faced, allowing the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and John Lysaght (Australia) Ltd to send $4m worth of steel to mainland China, which they claim is the greatest menace to Australia’s security. Clearly they were not capable of handling the argument. The Government could not say very much, in the position in which it was placed. That debate emphasised their confusion. It showed that when history began to catch up with the Government, the Government was left without positive arguments.
The lesson should have been learnt a few weeks ago, in the Corio by-election that it is no longer possible for the Government to rely on the old smear standby as a substitute for positive policies. The Government has not learnt its lesson. It is obvious, from the debates during the Budget session, that the chickens are coming home to roost The Government has tried all sorts of diversionary tactics which have not succeeded. The Government has not had the drive, the momentum, the dynamic or the initiative to offer constructive leadership to this country; it has fallen down on the job.
The Government is still talking in yesterday’s terms about the greats things that are happening in relation to the war in Vietnam. The Government is talking as though there was not considerable movement of opinion all over the world. Minister after Minister in this chamber and in another place rose to defend the bombing of North Vietnam and to pin himself to following whatever course may be decided upon by President Johnson. Those speakers defended the escalation in the bombing of North Vietnam. At the same time the United States Secretary of Defence, Mr McNamara, was giving evidence before a United States Senate Committee and was questioning whether bombing is likely to lead to negotiations. The change in public opinion on this issue has been brought about because people are coming to realise some of the moral issues involved and are coming to believe that this is the time for an agonising reappraisal.
The Government simply ignores all this The Government is insensitive to the ferment of opinion and refuses to face the fact that before long it will have to come to grips with real questions. The ‘New York Times’ only this week said this:
The Vietnam elections, however they turn out, will provide a perfect opportunity for a basic reassessment of the American role in Vietnam. In our judgment-
This is the judgment of this very responsible journal, which is perhaps the strongest and most independent newspaper in the nation - and apparently in the judgment of most of the candidates in the election itself - the setting will be right for a halt in the bombing and a serious new attempt al peace negotiations.
But whatever the specific course to be followed, it is time for Congress to act on the President’s suggestion and establish clearer guidelines on the authority it wants Mr Johnson to have. It cannot take over direction of the fighting but it can bring a new initiative for peace and set boundaries on a military mandate the Administration now interprets as ‘ceiling unlimited.’ 1 draw attention to that kind of sentiment because it seems to express the very serious questioning that is going on not only in the United Stales but also in this country. The Government is making a great mistake if it thinks that it can sit pat on last November’s election results and dismiss all constructive endeavours in this field as in some way being less than helpful or even, at their worst, less than loyal. 1 want to direct attention to some features of the Budget. This Government conducts its operations as though it was a large scale public relations enterprise. It is much more interested in the effect that words create than in the actual results of policies. It uses words and statistics as part of its political bag of tricks. The Budget illustrates this fact most dramatically. The Government talks as though the so-called affluent society had spread a warm blanket of well-being over the whole community. The Government ignores one of the starkest problems in Australia today - the problem of poverty. Sometimes the Government uses words and statistics as a deliberate technique to hide the fact that for too many Australians - perhaps 10% of our people, according to the latest surveys by bodies such as the Institute of Applied Economic Research at the University of Melbourne - the affluent society is at the best a grim joke and at the worst a life without comfort or purpose.
Sometimes the Government does this in inexcusable ignorance simply because it does not know how the other half lives. Whatever the reason, the fact is that the Government completely lacks the determination, the dynamic and the wilt to change the situation, to remove the stain of poverty in a measurable period of time and to use its powers and resources to achieve the end.
If that negative outlook was not its basic philosophy how else in this Budget could the Government have brought itself to ignore completely the position of the pensioners? How could the Government have brought itself to give a tax concession to people who could afford to strengthen their insurance cover by increasing their premiums from S800 to $1,200 a year and yet give not. a cent to the pensioners of Australia? lt is a most cynical feature of (his Budget that those two things go side by side. If there is one feature above all others for which the Government stands to be condemned, it is this feature. The Government has not given a thought to the little people, lt has treated the poor people, who desperately need some help from the community, wilh contempt. Sooner or later those people will give their answer. Can anybody disagree with the description by the Secretary of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Association that the Budget, is a malnutrition Budget, with their stricture that the Government, has left them for dead in this Budget, or with the statement by the Federal President of the Returned Servicemens League, Sir Arthur Lee, that the Government has let the war widows and the repatriation pensioners down because there is nothing for them in this Budget? These are serious questions. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) pals himself on either his back or his stomach - I am not quite sure which. In dealing with the Budget he has displayed a complete air of complacency. He indulges in elaborate word spinning. He said that taken as a whole the export performance over the past year has been splendid, the best we have had; that consumer spending, normally about threefifths of all expenditure, also revived; and that after making full allowance for price increases there was an increase of between 5% and 6% in national production, close to the best for many years. How hollowly those words must ring in the ears of this vast army of aged, invalid, widowed and repatriated pensioners who were waiting to hear what the Government had to oiler them in this Budget. The answer was a lemon - nothing. Presumably the answer was: ‘Wait until next election year.’ A government which can talk about prosperity in such terms and can offer the underprivileged groups in the community nothing at all stands completely condemned. Last year the Treasurer was on a somewhat different track He said:
We have had to put aside some popular and desirable measures.
He was drawing attention to the heavy impact of defence on last year’s Budget. He went on:
We have not, however, been prepared to put aside the claims of those who, through age or illness or other misfortune, are in need of help.
This year the Government was not quite so sensitive. It was prepared to put aside the claims of those people who through age, illness or other misfortune are in need of help,
I wish now to turn to other matters in the Budget. There is a claim - almost a proud claim - by the Treasurer that this year the Government is estimating that it will spend $194m on education. That is considerably more than last year in absolute terms. The Treasurer says that it is a rise of 35% on the figure for 1966-67. But, to look at the matter another way, it represents exactly 3% of the total Budget expenditure, compared with 17% of the estimated total Budget expenditure to be spent on defence. Back in 1961-62, when the absolute expenditure on education was less, the percentage of Budget expenditure on education was 3.2, so that with all the millions now expected to be spent on education, in fact in the first year of the new Ministry of Education and Science we can manage a slightly lesser percentage of the total Budget expenditure for education than we could 5 or 6 years ago.
I took the opportunity to mention to the Minister for Education and Science that I wished to say one or two things about education and I am pleased to see that he has now entered the chamber. This is the first Budget in which one of the new departments of State to be catered for is the newly created Department of Education and Science. The responsibility of the Commonwealth for education is expanding. I think all honourable senators recognise that, although we differ as to the rate at which it should and can expand. We differ perhaps also as to the directions in which it might expand. However, this is the first year in which the Department of Education and Science has formed part of the Budget Estimates as a separate department.
The Australian Labor Party for many years pressed for the establishment of the Department of Education and Science as a separate government department. There has been such a department in Britain for many years, and in advanced countries all over the world. There is no advanced country which does not have such a department. The difficulty in Australia was that under a federal system, with the primary responsibility for education resting with the States, the Commonwealth Government hesitated for many years to move into a direct field of responsibility for education, except in relation to universities. I believe that we may live to regret those years of delay. The Commonwealth should have been actively interested in non-university education fields long ago. When Sir Robert Menzies was Prime Minister he declined to accept Commonwealth responsibility for education except in the field of universities. Many opportunities were neglected before the step was finally taken. Now we have the Department of Education and Science and I hope that it will assume an increasing importance in the life of this country.
I think it is fair to ask the Government whether we can yet have some clarification from it or from the Minister as to what will be the basic objectives and functions of the new Department. We are aware that the Commonwealth had some responsibility and engaged in some activity in education prior to the setting up of the separate Department. I and other Opposition senators would like to know what new horizons will be set by the Department. Is it simply to be a financial roof under which to house the various assorted items of Commonwealth responsibility in a number of educational fields, or is it to be the starting point for a new look at Australian educational problems? There is no doubt about the position of the Australian Labor Party on this issue. We give education very high priority in all our national objectives. We believe we have to think big about education and that we have a tremendous responsibility to open up new horizons.
Whilst no doubt the primary task of maintaining and administering systems of education is with the States, the Commonwealth as the financially ascendant partner in the Federation has to assume greater responsibility as time goes by. I believe that the Minister for Education and Science is sincere and is trying hard to get things moving in the Department that is his responsibility, but I say that the Government as a whole is not interested in education. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) makes many speeches. He berates the Opposition and speaks on many topics, but I cannot remember his making a speech on the subject of education. His predecessor spoke on education on many occasions, but I cannot remember when the Prime Minister, the Treasurer or the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) ever made a speech in which any of the great problems of education was canvassed. No doubt that is a difficulty with which the Minister for Education and Science has to contend.
By now we ought to be getting answers from the Government as to the way it sees the job of the new Ministry. Many people have been asking questions. During the autumn sessional period I asked a couple of questions on the subject myself. I have noticed a great deal of comment by many educationists as to where we are going and what it is we seek to obtain. One such comment was included in the editorial of the February issue of ‘School Bell’, the journal of the Victorian Council of State School Organisations. The editorial asks a number of questions and I think it is proper to repeat them here because they seem to me to be apposite. The editorial states:
We await with keen interest an official declaration of the new Minister’s objectives. Some are self-evident: the administration of Commonwealth scholarships, science grants, university grants, assistance to foreign students etc., will presumably be taken over from the Commonwealth Office of Education.
But these are almost routine housekeeping matters. What of the more fundamental activities by which posterity will judge the effectiveness and wisdom of the new Federal Ministry? Will the Ministry take a leading role in guiding State education systems towards national objectives, or will it merely give advice when asked? Will it be a strong champion of education in Federal Budget discussions, and ensure that the States have the mean* to accomplish their educational programmes? Will it take the initiative in ensuring that teacher training is planned on a national scale?
These are clearly responsibilities of the Ministry. I support very strongly the view that we are entitled in the fullness of time to expect from the Minister a definition of his Department’s objectives. It is all very well to talk about millions of dollars. There are times when the magnitude of the sums involved merely obscures the magnitude of the problems left unsolved. I do not wish to withhold a full measure of credit for what has been done so far, but we have completely to alter our concept of education.
We have moved from the kind of society in which education was a matter for the. elite, for those whose job it was to govern the country, for the establishment - if one likes to use the modern expression. We have gone well beyond that. We have advanced to the stage at which the education system must provide an opportunity for every citizen in the community, at which the average citizen in the community needs education not as a luxury but as a way of earning his living and of taking his place in the adult community, conscious of the many responsibilities of citizenship both at home and in the expanding, very complex world in which we live. That is the purpose of an education system and the mere fact that we are spending millions more today than we spent 10, 20 or 30 years ago does not of itself answer any questions. We ought to be spending a great deal more on the education system, because this is part of the country’s commitment to its own future. We cannot do it by half measures and we cannot do it with parsimony. I suspect that, leaving the Minister aside for the moment, there is not enough big thinking at the top of this Government ever to allow it to face up to its responsibilities in this field.
I ask the same question of the Minister in relation to science. It is a department not only of education but also of science. I think it is fair to ask: What is the Government’s science policy? What evidence is there that the Government has deeply interested itself in the role of science in the community, the contribution in relation to research and science planning? What targets has the Government set itself? What broad review has it made of the nation’s science aims? Is there any sign yet, for example, that a body on the lines of an Australian science council, which Labor has been advocating for many years, is in the offing or is near to creation? We think of an Australian science council as having a rotating membership of senior academic, industrial and government scientists to assist Parliament and the Minister on science and technology. What areas is this department going to cover? I think that we ought to be getting reports of what has been done so far in Australia and what other leading countries are doing in terms of top level science planning. I would like to think that our Ministry was interesting itself in those problems and that ultimately it was going to produce some kind of science policy which would indicate that it was accepting its responsibilities in this new and rapidly growing technological age.
We want accurate information on these things. I would like to know, for example, how much research is being done in Australia and where and how it is being carried out. I do not know. There are departments like the Department of Supply, with wide ramifications involving defence science and involving research science at many levels. We do not know what the relationship is between the proportions of government spending on that kind of activity and on scientific research in the universities. These are tremendously important problems and 1 have yet to hear any statement which would allow Australians, which would allow the rest of the world, which would allow men of scholarship and men of government in other places, to assess what Australia is doing. Assume that we leave education out of it altogether. What is the Ministry of Science doing? I think the Minister would concede that these are fair questions.
This is the first Budget since the Ministry was established and it is perhaps the first occasion on which it has been possible to press with some deliberation this set of interrogatories about the role and function of the Department. I hope that he will respond or that somebody will respond in due course on behalf of the Government and indicate some answers to these very important questions. We cannot have a Ministry of Education and Science and not tell the people precisely what its broad social objectives are in both wings of the Department. I hope that these comments will be regarded as constructive. They are not meant to dampen enthusiasm; they are meant to raise enthusiasm. I shall be very pleased if it turns out that the Department is either doing or planning to do its work on a very wide basis so that it will bring the benefits of all that is best in modern learning, science and technology to our people.
Like the honourable senator who spoke before me, I am chasing the clock. 1 want to say in conclusion that if the next generation of Australians is looking for constructive national leadership they will not get it from a government that is capable of producing a Budget as poor as this. They will be looking for new initiatives, for new determination, for national leadership, which is completely missing from this document. This is a document that is dreary, that is unimaginative, that lacks punch and drive, that is complacent, that does not refer to these great sins of omission and commission that we have caught up with in recent times. We have managed to nail this Government against a wall in recent times. The Government has been condemned for its waste and extravagence in defence spending, especially in the way in which it orders overseas equipment - the Fill and the other items on which it has been properly the subject of attack in the Parliament and outside it. Its chickens are coming home to roost for the way in which it has conducted its double faced policy in relation to China. It has failed us in the international sphere and it is hopelessly inadequate to cope with our problems in the domestic sphere. For these reasons, we have placed this strong amendment on the notice paper, condemning the Government for this Budget.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
– Dear, oh clear.
– Does the honourable senator agree with it? At least he has not the courage to say yes or no. My reply to Senator Murphy’s statement is that he is not only irresponsible but he is also espousing a dangerous line which can bring comfort only to Labor’s bedfellows, the Communists, and the long haired, bearded troglodytes who march along Martin Place in Sydney, and through other capital cities, protesting against the Government’s defence policies which are aimed at protecting the people of this country from external threat. That is another illustration of the woolly thinking of the Leader of the Opposition.
Senator Murphy criticised the Government for the purchase of the Fill aircraft. Let me cite some facts to the Senate. Since the end of the war Australia’s defence system has undergone extraordinary and drastic changes. No longer are we able to fall back on Great Britain for aid as we have been accustomed to do for very many years. We have had Indonesian confrontation and the Communist threat in Malaysia. Do Opposition senators claim that there was not a Communist threat in Malaysia? I repeat, we were faced with a Communist threat, in Malaysia and Australian forces 9891/67- S- El 6) look a direct interest and played an important part in the elimination of that threat. We all know that it took a very long time to overcome that threat, and it will take a long time to overcome the Communist threat in South Vietnam. Then there was Korea. Australia was one of the first nations to respond to the United Nations appeal for forces to stem the downward onslaught of Communism.
– Does the honourable senator suggest that we should not have stopped the downward thrust of Communism? Is that what he is suggesting? That is the interpretation one would place on his remark. Nearer home there was the Indonesian takeover of West New Guinea. I say takeover’ because Indonesia has not fulfilled its undertaking to the United Nations to hold a plebiscite in the country which it has virtually annexed. Now there is Vietnam where Australia is heavily involved, and on top of all this is Britain’s policy of withdrawal east of Suez. Those are some of the things that the Government of this country has had to contend with over the past few years. Thank God we have had a government of our political colour to deal with them.
In the light of these developments is it any wonder that our Government has been compelled to place our defences on the highest possible level consistent with our capacity to defend this country in concert with the United Slates? I say ‘in concert’ because our Government at least can rely on America for help. While 1 am on the subject of our association with the United States let me digress a little and refer to the North West Cape fiasco of 4 years ago.
– Senator O’Byrne was one of those who opposed the setting up of the North West Cape naval communication station but he was not the only one because Labor was hopelessly divided on the question. In the main, however, Labor opposed it. Now we have Labor’s conditions for the withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam, a decision taken by the Federal Conference of the thirty-six faceless men last month-
– Does not the honourable senator like this?
– The honourable senator had an opportunity to make his speech. He said things that we did not like and did not agree with so it is my turn now to point out some things to him. The honourable senator might not like it but he will have to lump it. How could the United States trust an Australian Labor government in view of Labor’s present policies? The United States could no more trust a Labor government today than it could trust the Labor Government which was in office after the Second World War when America refused to share her secrets with Australia. Recently two Labor men, a member from the other place and a senator from this place, went to America and lectured against participation in the war in Vietnam. What would we say to people who came here and did the same thing?
– The honourable senator should have been wilh them. In the first place, I thought it was like their hide to go to a friendly country, our very strong ally, and do that kind of thing. Yet those two men would be members of an alternative government. No wonder the Australian people will not trust Labor. The United States would be quite entitled to say to a Labor Government: ‘Sorry, no business’. And I think that is what America would say.
Reverting to the extraordinary changes which have taken place in our defence position since the last war, let me make these points: Our purchase of the Fill was far sighted and the only logical step to take. It is true that costs are rising but that is inevitable when a sophisticated aircraft is ordered from the drawing board. Competent defence experts say that once we have the Fill we will have the most powerful defence force we have ever had in peacetime. Only the other evening- the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) in the other place mentioned that it packs five limes the power of the big bombers used in the Second World War. So much for the Fill.
Now let me quote from a penetrating editorial which appeared in the ‘Sunday Telegraph5 of 27th August. I believe it states the position correctly and succinctly. The article, in part, said:
Had Australia’s defence planners not ordered the Fill we would now be equipped with old Canberras and with other strike aircraft which beside the Fill would resemble a T-model Ford.
As I mentioned earlier, the long hairs and (he beards would be quite happy if we were not able to defend ourselves.
– It is possible that the honourable senator and others opposite would like to be bracketed with those morons?
– The honourable senator docs not sound very convincing in his reply to my question.
– 1 am entitled to make my speech in my own way, as did the honourable senator, and once again I must tell him that if he does not like it he can lump it. lt is not sufficient, as Senator Murphy claimed on behalf of the Opposition, to develop industries and not worry about defence. That is what he said in essence and no one can deny it. Surely to goodness Labor learned a lesson from India. We all recall what happened there. India had a policy of non-alliance and believed that because of that policy she would not be subject to attack by any hostile nation. How wrong was she proved. It was not very long before the United Kingdom and the United States of America had to pour arms into that country to save it from perishing. This again is a lesson to bc learned by the Opposition. Later in his speech Senator Murphy said: . . security depends on industrial strength and industrial strength is weakened when a country’s resources arc over-committed in order to purchase military equipment from other countries.
Did Senator Murphy mean by this statement that Australia should not purchase any military equipment from overseas? Does he mean that we should down tools on every industrial development in Australia and divert the whole of our resources to the manufacture of a highly sophisticated aircraft such as the Fill? How many of these aircraft are we getting? About twentyfour. This shows the fallacy of the words of the Leader of the Opposition because if his words can be taken at their worth, that is what they mean. That is the meaning 1 read into his speech. Imagine what would happen if Australia were to divert all its industrial resources to the building of the Fill here. Our exports would suffer to begin wilh and great industrial undertakings such as the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd - and do not forget that before we suspended for dinner tonight Senator Cohen decried this great industrial concern - and the motor car industry would cease to function.
– The honourable senator did. If he looks at his speech tomorrow morning in Hansard he will read what he said. As I said, these great industrial undertakings would cease to function. lt would be these industries which would be called upon to Hil the vacuum filled at. present by the United Stales aircraft industry. Senator Murphy referred to higher taxes. Again I say to the Senate, what irresponsible talk and utter rot. But is not the Australian Labor Party a high lax parly? So much for defence, as Labor would have it.
Another point raised by Senator Murphy was the means test. He referred to the Federal Labor Party Conference decision to explore the complete abolition of the means test within the life of two parliaments. The Conference charged the Party’s economic planning committee to cost and outline a working programme to achieve this end. lt was a Labor Government, under the late Mr Chifley, which rejected a caucus committee plan to abolish the means test. This happened about 1947 or 1948. The cost of abolition then would have been in the vicinity of $100m. lt could well be that abolition, of the means test is a worthy objective for any government to pursue but I am not too sure that there was not a ring of insincerity in what Senator Murphy said, particularly, as 1 have pointed out, as the last Labor Government rejected a similar proposal.
– But honourable members opposite never change. They are still living in the horse and buggy days. Another statement made by Senator Murphy when speaking about the Budget was:
Senator Cohen condemned this aspect of the Budget today. I would point out that there are quite a lot of people who are selfemployed and who have no means of superannuation. By taking out insurance premiums they can, out of their own pockets, set aside a superannuation fund. What do the public servants think of this criticism by Senator Murphy of the Government’s action in increasing this amount? As for Senator Ormonde, who is seeking to interject, if he were not a member of this place he would think that this was a pretty good idea. What do the people think of Senator Murphy’s criticism? This increase is a Godsend to many people.
I cannot let a statement in Senator Murphy’s concluding passage go without comment. He said that the Government was financing the defence vote at the expense of pensioners. Not only is that statement irresponsible, it is reprehensible. I was asked to say something about the pensioners. No government has done as much as ours for the pensioners. Compare their situation today with that of 1949. 1 might add that no non-Labor Government has reduced pensions as did a Labor Government some years ago. This was mentioned by Senator Scott in his speech a couple of days ago. The Opposition does not like what I am saying but it has to lump it. 1 will now turn to Vietnam. Labor Party policy was outlined at Adelaide at the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party. I will not mention the thirty-six faceless men again. Labor’s policy would impose impossible conditions on the United States. Firstly, a Labor Government would demand that the allies unilaterally cease bombing operations in North Vietnam. Secondly, it would call for the recognition of the National Liberation Front. Thirdly, it would transform operations in South Vietnam into a holding operation and thereby avoid the involvement of civilians in the war; cease the use of napalm and other objectionable materials of war. and provide sanctuary for anybody seeking it. If the
United States were not prepared to meet these demands - and I would not blame it if it were not - an Australian Labor Government would simply say that it must withdraw. In simple terms, it would abandon an ally. That is what the Conference said in fact. Time and time again in this chamber when measures have been brought forward relating to the defence of Australia, we have seen the Opposition doing its best to put a spoke in the wheel.
– We are not the only ones. It is not the first time this country has been in a jam. Once again I say thank heavens that the present Government is controlling matters in Australia. The policy of honourable senators opposite is to abandon our American allies - nothing more nor less. The Opposition cannot deny this. The United States could not be expected to fulfil the conditions imposed by the Labor Party because any peace in Vietnam would put the National Liberation Front in a dominant position in that country. The United States has said that it is willing to cease bombing once North Vietnam has indicated its willingness to talk about negotiations for peace. But so far North Vietnam has failed to come to the party. We all know this. The former Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party, Mr Calwell, hailed the Whitlam-Barnard Vietnam policy as a vindication of the stand he took at the last general elections. The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has gone on record as saying that no matter what Mr Whitlam or his Deputy, Mr Barnard, say about Vietnam, Labor has a precise policy which is the withdrawal of our armed forces if the United States does not cease the bombing. That is what Dr Cairns said, although he has denied it since. In other words, Labor’s policy is precisely the same as that rejected by the people at the last general election. The newly elected Leader of the still divided Party, just before he became Leader of that Party, referred to some of his top men as ‘twelve witless men’. We still hear members of the Opposition, even in this chamber, referring in derogatory terms to our national servicemen. I am sorry that the particular senator concerned is not present tonight. I would dearly love to hear an interjection from him.
There is one thing I would like to mention in the concluding few minutes that I have in which to speak. I think there is a need to remind our young people today of what Australia and the world owes to the United Kingdom. That country is in its present position today because of the sacrifices she made during World War I and World War II. At that time, for months and even years, she was almost on her own. It is saddening indeed for those of us who know what Great Britain went through to see her brought into the economic position that she is in today.
– The honourable senator knows that we helped Great Britain as much as we could. To sum up my remarks tonight, the Government snowed in this Budget that it is concerned about the welfare and security of the whole nation; its economic stability and progress; its internal and external defence. The Labor Party has shown its failure to expound an acceptable defence policy. It has shown that it is bankrupt of economic, financial and fiscal policies and ideas. It has demonstrated once again its irresponsibility in the eyes of the electorate. It has condemned itself as an alternative government for this country.
– Then get on with it.
– I propose to do that. I propose that the following words be added to Senator Murphy’s amendment:
And the Senate is of opinion that the Budget should be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for-
increases giving justice to pensioners of all kinds to compensate for higher living costs; and
no postal increases pending reconstitution of postal administration under a statutory authority.
They are the two big issues on which this Budget has to be fought. They are the two issues in relation to which the Labor Party is telling the people outside this Parliament that it is opposed to the Budget. I say to the ALP: ‘You call upon everybody to man the barricades against this Budget. Senator Gair and I are prepared to man the barricades. When we do we will look round to see where the Australian Labor Party is.’ We saw the pensioners up here at the time when the Budget was presented. It was a pitiful sight. They came here hoping for some small increase in their pensions but they got none. What loads of sympathy, what buckets of tears were poured over them by the representatives of the ALP. I want to know whether they meant it. Are they going to stand up to those professions of sympathy when it comes to the vote on the Budget?
What about the postal charges? I do not intend to go through all the reasons for opposing the postal charges. On a previous occasion 1 pointed to the effect of increased postal charges on the country people. We talk about decentralisation and helping the country people. Will the increases in the cost of telephones and telegrams help the country people? On the previous occasion 1 produced evidence to the effect that these increased postal charges will have a catastrophic effect on the publishing industry, on the small Press, on the trade papers and the religious newspapers. Senator Gair was the first to say that this was so vital an issue that we must stand the Government up.
The Australian Labor Party followed us. Then the ALP said: ‘Look, we Want to lead. We will first of all knock out these postal charges. We will call back the whole Senate if the Government tries to introduce them.’ The Government did try to introduce them, and we came back. Any political party which, after doing that, is prepared to sit back and let the postal charges go through can only convict itself of insincerity and can only become the laughing stock of the whole community.
– All I can say is that the Australian Press is remarkably well informed about happenings in Labor’s caucus. The Australian Press published this statement in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ under the name of Herschel Hirst:
The Australian Labor Party will not try to force a snap election by attempting to reject the Budget in the Senate. Caucus decided yesterday that the Party would not oppose the Budget although it increases Post Office charges.
The Opposition Leader, Mr Whitlam, told the Party that Labor would go to a forced election at a disadvantage.
If that statement was not true, the ALP would have declared that it was not true. Why did not the ALP issue a statement that it was not true? I am told now that the matter is suspended between Heaven and earth like Mohammed’s coffin, that Senator Keeffe has produced a motion suggesting that (hey do go to the polls and fight.
The Party had a meeting today. The biggest issue is what it proposes to do about the Budget. The latest leakage 1 have is to the effect that at this juncture, when the whole of Australia is wanting to know what the Australian Labor Party intends to do about the Budget, the Party spent the whole morning discussing the important question of old men’s homes. I saw a statement in ‘Labor Talks’, which is a column that appears regularly in the Melbourne Press and expresses the views of the Australian Labor Party. I take a keen interest in it because I wrote it for 5 years. I still read it although there has been a marked decline in its literary quality. Some time ago after we met here for 1 day to knock out the increase in postal charges, I made the statement that the Australian Labor Party would run away, that when it came to considering the Budget the ALP would not be prepared to vote against it. I received a resounding rebuke, I presume from Mr Hartley, the Secretary of the ALP in Victoria, who said that my charge that the ALP would run away from the postal increases was so much malarky. He said:
If Senators Gair and Mc Manus want to be June lions when disallowing postal regulations, and August lambs when finding reasons to support the Budget, after all that is their business.
That is good stuff. I hope that the members of the ALP will not be June lions and August Iambs when it comes to voting on the postal increases. Further on. he said:
If the Government refuses to accept the verdict of the Senate on the iniquitous postal increases - increases which add to inflationary pressures and place intolerable cost burdens which, when passed on, will affect the whole community - then it will have to take the consequences.
Later he paid a tribute to Senator Murphy. T do not resent it when the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who gets so little favourable publicity, does something for which he is paid a glowing tribute by one of his supporters. Mr Hartley said:
Labor’s Senate Leader, Senator L. K. Murphy, Q.C., who is dubbed the Minister for Confrontation and who is so used to cliff hanging that he is unlikely to bc terrorised by either the Government or the Democratic Labor Party put the issue beyond doubt when he said: ‘Even if the charges were contained in a money Bill Labor would have opposed them”.
That is good enought for me. I welcome that clear and definite assurance from the Australian Labor Party that it will man the barricades with us, that it will defeat the postal charges, that it is not frightened of an election. That is the sort of thing we want to hear. 1 would welcome that strong and powerful attitude, which the Party ought to adopt if it is going to stand up to its declaration. But, unfortunately, the whisper around Parliament House is that when the retention of their seats in Parliament by members of the Australian Labor Party is put against the welfare of the pensioners, the pensioners will run a bad second. I hope 1 am wrong. Even at this late moment the Australian Labor Party has made a decision to let the Budget go through and let the pensioners down. I appeal to its members to stand up to their principles, to do what the Australian Council of Trade Unions wants them to do, to do what the Trades Hall Council wants them to do - that is stand firm and defeat this Budget.
Having dealt with a matter of internal significance, I turn now to a matter of external significance. I believe that at the present time it is becoming more important than ever before. I refer to the question of the involvement of the Australian people in Vietnam, which is affected by the Budget and which, of course, affects the Budget because of its impact on the financial situation in Australia. Today we are involved in two wars. We are involved in an external war in Vietnam, where our troops, the South Vietnamese people and the troops of the United States and our other allies are doing a magnificent job and will win in spite of all statements to the contrary.
We are also involved in a second war inside Australia. We are losing that war. It is the war of propaganda. Some of the people on the other side, no doubt, are misguided idealists. I will give them that credit. But many of them are subjected to influences that have never been for the benefit of this country. Many of them are dominated by people who are merely agents of Communist foreign policy. Today these people are winning the war of propaganda because they are putting more into it than are the forces on our side.
We have seen the continual spate of propaganda. There are different campaigns. At one time the campaign took the form of teach-ins. The latest form is the campaign to aid the National Liberation Front. All of these form part of a perpetual campaign of propaganda which is having its effect in this country and which is not being countered by the Government of this country as it should be. The Government has at its disposal means, forces and media of propaganda which should be used to put our side of the case but which are not being used in that way.
– 1 do not think the Cabinet has gone pink. I do not think it realises that the people of this country are being influenced by this propaganda to a tremendous degree. The Cabinet does not realise that it is necessary to counteract this propaganda. I believe that more has to be done. The propaganda on our side, from the Government and others, is sporadic and uninspiring compared with the permanent campaign that is being waged by the forces against us.
At this stage 1 make a plea for the Government to do more than it is doing to place before the people the facts as to why we are in Vietnam; what our troops arc doing; and the kinds of forces against whom we are fighting. Is it not a fact that as we move around the community we are often staggered when we meet people who have been convinced by propaganda that the North Vietnamese and members of the Vietcong or National Liberation Front are merely courageous nationalists; that they are merely democrats; and that they are merely fighting for freedom in the same way as we understand freedom?
Let us look at some of the truth about the North Vietnamese and their leaders. North Vietnam today is a Communist dictatorship. We are told continually that South Vietnam has an unsatisfactory and unacceptable form of government. All the publicity in the world is given to the elections in South Vietnam and all the allegations in the world are made. But do the North Vietnamese have elections? At least in South Vietnam there are political parties and Opposition candidates in the forthcoming elections. But there are no Opposi tion candidates in North Vietnam because it is a Communist dictatorship. Yet people tell us that they should assist North Vietnam because it stands for freedom.
The dictator of North Vietnam today is a gentleman by the name of Ho Chi Minh. The propaganda media make him appear to be a kindly father figure. They refer to him as Uncle Ho. They try to make out that he is merely a kindly father figure fighting for the freedom of the people of North Vietnam. But he has been a Communist since 1920. He was a Communist teacher. He ran a school for Communist leaders in Whampoa in China in the late 1920s. He was so firmly a Communist that one of his activities - there is actual proof of it - was this: When there was any danger that, any nationalist leaders in his country might rival the claim to leadership of the movement of the Communist Party in his country he betrayed them to the French and then pocketed the proceeds which he used for the purposes of the Communist Party.
Then he acted in the same way as other people do on a lower level. In some trade unions Communists obtain power by getting members of the Australian Labor Party and other people to Tun on tickets with them. When the independence movement wis formed in North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh pretended that the Communist group was merely one element in a wide united front seeking freedom. Anybody who is associated with Communists in a trade union or anywhere else knows that one thing on which they insist is the leadership. Ho Chi Minh took the leadership because he had superior drive and the backing of the organised Communist forces.
Today North Vietnam is a Communist country, dominated by the Communist Party, under a Communist dictator. We are told that the people of South Vietnam want to be under that kind of rule. When the French left Vietnam 860,000 people left everything, including their homes, in North Vietnam and went to live in South Vietnam. Will anybody suggest that those people wanted to be ruled by Communists and still want to be ruled by Communists? I am afraid that unfortunately many of the people who are supporting the North Vietnamese today adopt the attitude that whilst Communism would not be any good to us it is good enough for Asians. They would not live under Communism themselves, but they are prepared to support Asians being ruled by Communism. They are some of the people who pretend to be great humanitarians with the interests of the Asian people at heart.
What has happened since Ho Chi Minh became the ruler of North Vietnam? This should be of interest to the land holders and farmers of Australia. Bernard Fall, one of the well known authorities of the relevant period, says that at least 50,000 landlords in North Vietnam - a person who was a farmer was a landlord - were executed and that at least twice that number were arrested and sent to forced labour camps. He also says:
Local Party officials began to ‘deliver’ veritable quotas of landlords even in areas where the difference between the largest and the smallest village plots was a quarter-acre. Special ‘People’s Agricultural Reform Tribunals’ began to mete out death sentences to individuals who in any case were not landlords, and who in many cases had loyally served in the war against France. … By the summer of 1956 the Lao-Dong was for the first time confronted wilh a severe internal crisis: A menace to life and property from whose arbitrariness no-one any longer felt safe . . .
Even one of the leaders of the Communist Party admitted that. One of the leaders, General Vo Nguyen Giap, said:
We attacked the landowning families indiscriminately, according no consideration to those who had served the Revolution and to those families wilh sons in the army. We showed no indulgence towards landlords who participated in the Resistance, treating their children in the same way as we treated children of other landlords.
We . . . executed too many honest people. We attacked on too large a front and, seeing enemies everywhere, resorted to terror, which became far too widespread . . . Worse still, torture came to be regarded as a normal practice during party reorganisation.
I am sure that the farmers of Australia will be interested to know that that is the kind of regime that some people want to fasten on the people of Vietnam.
Recently I read that one gentleman, who is interested in helping the North Vietnamese and who originally said at the University of Melbourne that all forms of aid would be sent to the National Liberation Front because the morale of the National Liberation Front had to be strengthened to keep them lighting, has now changed his mind. He is merely engaged in an exercise of human compassion and when he sends aid it will be to the Red
Cross and the Catholic Archbishop of Hanoi. Let us learn something about the Catholic Archbishop of Hanoi. To me it was amazing to know that a Communist Government would permit a Catholic Archbishop to do something so pleasing to the ordinary people as distributing foreign aid. I have never heard of a Catholic, Protestant or Lutheran Archbishop or a Moslem leader or a Jewish religious leader being allowed to call his soul his own in a Communist country. This suggestion that this Catholic Archbishop was to be allowed to go around the country and conciliate the people by handing out aid interested me. The Reverend Patrick O’Connor, who was in Vietnam and who is an authority on these matters, writing in a Melbourne Catholic paper, said:
For years Archbishop Joseph Trinnhu-Khue, of Hanoi, has nol been allowed to visit parishes outside the city limits.
All the Archbishop’s schools have been taken over, and his seminary for training priests has been closed. The strangulation of religion in the towns and villages has been done crudely and openly. Two bishops-elect have been prevented by the Communist authorities from receiving consecration. When Monsignor Georg Huessler, the general secretary of German Caritas, a Catholic relief organisation, visited Vietnam with German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller, the Monsignor was not permitted to see the Archbishop, although the Archbishop’s home is around the corner from the hotel where the delegation was staying. Any suggestion that the Catholic Archbishop of Hanoi or any other religious leader in Hanoi is in a position to take advantage of (his particular aid is a straight out attempt to deceive the people of this country by telling deliberate lies.
The people of North Vietnam were forced to admit for a time Theodore B. Blockley, a Canadian representative on the International Control Commission for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Mr Blockley, in contrast lo the people who say that the people of Vietnam are thirsting to be under Communist rule, said:
Many of the North Vietnamese whom I met expressed the hope that one day the Americans would again liberate them from tyranny and oppression. The previous liberation, in their minds, was from the Japanese.
The Canadian diplomat revealed how thousands of North Vietnamese had stormed the Canadian delegation’s office when a mistaken rumour was spread that it was possible for them to obtain exit visas to leave the country. That is the extent to which they are enjoying the kind of government that some people are telling us ought to be foisted on the North Vietnamese.
In 1961 President Kennedy pointed out the extent to which North Vietnam had deliberately plunged the area into war by attacks upon the Government forces in South Vietnam. He said that within 12 months 4,000 Government officials in South Vietnam had been murdered. One would expect that. The Communists realise that if they go into an area and kill the teacher, the village policeman, the postal official, the Government official and the head man of the village, then the whole administration breaks down and the country becomes impossible to govern. That is what the Communists have done in Vietnam. Some people would try to tell us that those who do this kind of thing are noble hearted philanthropists. The final point that thos people make is that the North Vietnamese people, with all their faults, want peace. Professor Norman Harper of the University of Melbourne, who is by no means a right winger and who is regarded as a man of considerable impartiality in these matters, recently said:
North Vietnam, with its monolithic Communist Government, has never been willing to look at the problem realistically. South Vietnam, with a number of different governments reflecting in a democratic way the differences of opinion in South Vietnam, has always been prepared to try to find a solution to the problems of the divided Vietnamese State.
The Professor went on to say:
The central point in the discussions over the future of Vietnam is that the peoples of Vietnam should be given the opportunity of determining for themselves their own political future without any outside interference. The United States has repeatedly expressed its willingness to enter into unconditional discussions about the future of Vietnam.
North Vietnamese leaders have been somewhat ambivalent in their replies to American proposals for unconditional discussions. Recent reports from Hanoi have suggested that Ho Chi Minh and the other leaders of North Vietnam may be willing to modify their earlier unyielding opposition to any kind of negotiated settlement. These reports suggest that the four points made by Hanoi are essential conditions to be met in any settlement rather than demands to be satisfied before discussions can take place. On the other hand Hanoi is insisting that discussions cannot be considered until bombing of North Vietnam stops unconditionally.
South Vietnam, America and Australia are prepared to meet and negotiate for peace. What are the North Vietnamese doing? They say: ‘No. This has got to be done and that has got to be done.’ When you meet to negotiate with Communists you always find that if you concede certain conditions that becomes the jumping off place for fresh conditions. I am disgusted when I sec a deliberate campaign being waged in Australia by the kind of people who wrote to me recently and wanted a donation to bring to Australia an American general who is on their side in regard to Vietnam or who advertise that they arc bringing out to Australia a professor who is on their side. Probably it is one general in 500 and one professor in 1,000. But these people seem to be able to obtain the money to bring them here to tell one side of the story. The story on the other side is equally as good; indeed I think it is a lot better. I look forward to the Government and ourselves - because the ordinary people in the community also have their responsibilities - doing something to put the true story in regard lo Vietnam. This story has to be put in these days when we are asking our young men to go to Vietnam and fight for freedom.
To return to my original point. I again say that I am opposed to this Budget. I move this amendment:
At the end of Senator Murphy’s amendment add ; and the Senate is of the opinion that the Budget should be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for:
increases giving justice to pensioners of all kinds lo compensate for higher living costs; and
no postal increases pending reconstitution of postal administration under a statutory authority.’
The PRESIDENT- Is the amendment seconded?
Senator TURNBULL - I second the motion and reserve my right to be heard later.
– How many persons are out of work in the United Kingdom?
– I will come to that in a moment. The emphasis in the United Kingdom was on an increase in expenditure in the public sector. To get money for increased spending in the public sector it is necessary to take it from the incomes in the private sector. If too much is taken from the incomes in the private sector and put into the public sector, this is basically inefficient. It is demonstrably inefficient even in our Australian history.
The socialists end up in the position where they have not the means to carry out the promises they made when they started off. They end up with none of the benefits that they promised the electorate. They mesmerised the electorate by projecting the image of a new young leader in the United Kingdom, a pragmatic economist surrounded by experts. The people were sold the bill of goods that this would all be accomplished by investing in the public sector and that the Government would be able to provide great social service benefits by taking money away from the private sector. What happened? Senator Webster indicated this in his interjection. The United Kingdom is a textbook illustration. When you destroy all enterprise you end with 500,000 people unemployed. According to projections received from correspondents of the Australian Press, it is expected that in the forthcoming winter - which is not so far away as it is autumn now - the United Kingdom will have three-quarters of a million persons unemployed. This is the interesting thing. The same promises are being put forward by the Australian Labor Party at the present moment as were put forward by the sterile Socialists in the United Kingdom 3 years ago and this is what has happened: Three-quarters of a million people are expected to be unemployed. The country is broke and is in trouble meeting its balance of payments problems.
Finally, an ironical and cruel paradox evolves from this. You can guess it, Mr
President. I can see it in your face. The socialists have to dismantle the social service benefits that were existing at the time when they came into office. It is not only a question of not obtaining the increased social service benefits that were promised. They are in the process of dismantling the benefits that existed at the time when they took office. These are the facts that are inherent in the motion that was moved by Senator Murphy and in the posturings that are seen in another place. But do not let me go to the northern hemisphere to look at an example of this. Let us turn to our sister dominion, New Zealand.
– It is in a mess, all right. The New Zealand economy was not based on the acknowledgment of the capacity of the community to earn money to sustain the structure of the society that had been erected in the welfare state. It was based on the principle that welfare must come before profits and national income. The result is that our unfortunate sister dominion, which is only 1,300 miles away from Sydney, is in a state of financial embarrassment of the highest degree. How are the New Zealanders getting out of it? They are attempting to get out of it by dismantling their social service benefits.
– I remind Senator Cavanagh that it is only 2 years since one of the most prosperous States in Australia, for reasons which are best known to the electorate, overturned a government that had administered South Australia well for many, many years - over 20 years. The very first thing the present Labor Government did when it took over in South Australia - led first by Mr Walsh and then by Mr Dunstan - was to take the emphasis away from the private sector where the profits were being made to sustain the advancement of South Australia, and to divert it to the public sector. What has happened? South Australia is broke and has unemployment higher than that of any other State of Australia.
The Australian electorate is being confronted with the sterile approach of doctrinaire socialists on the one hand - they appear to be in the majority in the Australian Labor Party at the moment - and on the other hand some pragmatic men of long experience who say: ‘Do not push this thing too hard.’ It is easy for us in the Parliament to identify the doctrinaire and sterile socialists. These are persons who, oddly enough, are not interested in people. They are interested in principles. One of the principles in which they are interested is the theoretical concept that if everything is socialised everyone benefits by it. I have demonstrated very clearly in three areas - the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and one of our Australian States - that when a government enters into this area and diverts resources emphatically from the private sector to the public sector certain events flow.
- Senator Cavanagh can have his say in his own time. He supported the policy followed by the South Australian Labor Government. He is one of the men who advocated the diversion of South Australia’s resources into the public sector. He can accept responsibility in relation to this problem of unemployment. He has his problems and he should not try to worry me with them.
Last year the gross national product, as the Treasurer stated in his Budget Speech, rose by from 5% to 6%. There is no other country in the world, with the possible exception of Japan, in which the gross national product rose at that rate. This is not the gross national product based on extreme terms. This is corrected to take account of price rises and so on and it is accepted by the best of economists in Australia today. The Australian Labor Party will not deny this. Gross national product rose by from 5% to 6% last year. What does this indicate? lt means that Australia is on the move as it has been continuously since 1951.
– The Treasurer said 5 to 6% and I prefer to accept his assessment of the rise in the gross national product than that of some itinerant senator who has wandered through the hails of this Senate like a swallow and will one day go out the window. This has occurred notwithstanding a drought in Queensland and northern New South Wales. This extraordinary performance is in essence in economic terms one of the wonders of the world. The growth of Australia, the means by which an equipoise has been maintained with a fair balance of resources since 1951, is gathering momentum and the real wealth of the nation is increasing almost boundlessly each year. The situation is described by the Leader of the Opposition in another place and echoed by his faithful fan bearer, Senator Murphy. I saw some of these fellows in Africa. There is always a big, tall man going round in great robes with some little squirt behind them - I am not referring in these terms to Senator Murphy - carrying an ostrich fan and waving the flies off the leader. This is the picture that comes to my mind.
There is an enormous pressure on the resources of this country so the balance has to be maintained. The whole of the Budget is geared and organised in order to maintain this balance. The best judgment is that one does not stop fertilising the area in which the growth is occurring. The real growth is occurring in the private sector, not the public sector. Of course, there is growth in the public sector in terms of an increased number of people who are providing necessary services. That is a function of government. But the ability to produce profits at an efficient level to make Australia competitive in the world comes from the private sector and not from the public sector.
The witness to this fact is Senator Benn who spoke in this Budget debate. He is a Labor senator from Queensland. He described in most eloquent and quite just terms the tremendous development that has taken place in Queensland. He referred to the vast coal deposits which are being developed, the great railways which are being built to carry the coal, and the ports which arc being developed to take the great ships which will transport the coal from that State. Honourable senators have demonstrated from time to time the great events which are taking place in Western Australia. A vast operation, almost as great as the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, is taking place there. A vast iron ore deposit is being developed. Two hundred miles of railway are being constructed and a large port is being developed. This will have happened in a period of from 18 to 20 months. It is being undertaken by the private sector, not the public sector of the economy. As a result of these developments welfare will, accrue to Australia, because Australia will be paying its way. Australia can pay its way by producing such things as wool, minerals, coal and aluminium.
– Yes, and steel too. The only way in which Senator Cavanagh will be able to meet the rising standard of living which we all hope for is to allow the private sector of our economy to produce the revenues to sustain the social welfare to which we all devoutly aspire.
Finally, whether we like it or not we are involved in the problem of a world that is dangerous to Australia. The United Kingdom, for a great number of reasons that have been canvassed in this place from time to time, has had to divest itself of the responsibilities which it has upheld in the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean for over 200 years. We have a limited capacity to demand the assistance of our ally, the United States of America. We have a tremendous role to assume on behalf of the less developed nations in the South East Asian area. We have a tremendous defence commitment to meet. The Australian Labor Party may argue that some of the social benefits that it demands can be obtained by chiselling away at the defence vote. But this is playing with the national wellbeing and the safety of this nation. The Australian people will not allow that to happen.
We have to do two things. We have to develop our own country and we have to defend it. When it comes to the final test, we do this by obtaining from the productivity of the Australian people the revenues with which to sustain the effort of the Australian people for we deploy our money into the semi-sterile sector of public expenditure. If this is what the forthcoming Senate election is to be fought on, then I declare without any shadow of doubt where I stand. The judgment of the Government in relation to the management of the economy of this country is just and proper. I am willing to fight the election on that issue.
– What is the publication?
– It is the ‘Directory of Overseas Investment in Australian Manufacturing Industry’. It is produced by the Office of Secondary Industry of the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Industry al Canberra.
– I have only put the facts to substantiate what my leader has said. I was not going to comment. I was trying only to give some information on the question of ownership. We are disturbed by the trend. If Australian ownership was of the order of 51%, that would be an entirely different proposition because in that event overseas investment would be of the order of 49% . The Australian Labor Party would approve of overseas investment so long as Australian control was retained. 1 come now to the budget. Senator Morris has said that he has heard twentyfour Budget debates. 1 do not think all of them took place ii. this Parliament. I have not before had an opportunity to speak in a Budget debate and I admit that it is quite a task. In previous years I have discussed Budgets but not in places where I would be quoted. In those circumstances I could enjoy myself, as I think Senator Cormack does at times when he takes part in Budget debates.
– I thought that the honourable senator was enjoying himself this evening.
– So am I, now. I have analysed the Budget and have tried to get in my mind a picture of what is going on. It seems to me that the amount of money that the Government has to control falls roughly into five equal parts. The first goes to defence Services, where the expenditure is slightly below one-fifth of the total Budget expenditure. The second, payments to the States, which is slightly above one-fifth. The third is for the National Welfare Fund which is slightly below one-fifth. A number of smaller expenditures comprise the other two-fifths of the total expenditure. They include public authorities, other special appropriations, departmental running expenses, repatriation services, business undertakings, capital works and services and so on. I do not have sufficient time or ability to deal with each of those items but perhaps I might in passing refer to businesses undertakings which comprise the Commonwealth Railways, the Post Office, broadcasting and television services and overseas telecommunications. Although overseas telecommunications is not included in Statement No. 1, it appears in the booklet issued by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) with the Budget Speech.
In Statement No. 1 it is shown that expenditure for business undertakings last year - Commonwealth Railways, the Post Office and broadcasting and television services - was about $372m. The actual income, which appears on the next page, was about $490m. Income exceeded expenditure by about $118m. I decided to check that position because it did not seem to agree with the story we were told about postal charges. I turned to page 250 of the Auditor-General’s Report where he comments on the Treasurer’s Statement. There I found that the same figure appears as is shown in the Budget Statement, but in the Auditor-General’s figure he has included the annual appropriations for capital works and services. So I take it that in arriving at the position of the Post Office, the Commonwealth Railways and broadcasting and television services the Treasurer includes capital works in his complete picture of business undertakings. But it seems to me that these are capital expenditures and that the Post Office has been functioning during 1966-67 at a profit of about $1 18m.
I turn now to defence Services, the item about which I am really concerned. The appropriation has been increased considerably over last year’s expenditure. The amount that was spent last year disturbs me greatly because, as has been pointed out by Senator Murphy, defence expenditure has increased from $428m five years ago, or about 300% in a short period. It must be disturbing to the people of Australia to be loaded with- expenditure of that magnitude. If it is warranted, it is a different matter, but I am not sure that it is warranted. In order to illustrate my disquiet I wish to give three illustrations which I have attempted to check. I cannot obtain actual figures, but I think honourable senators will find that I am correct. I have checked them as well as I could in the short time available to me.
I turn first to the Royal Australian Navy. I am concerned about the amount that has been spent on the Ikara anti-submarine missile. It has been developed by the Department of Supply. In a booklet issued by the Department of Supply reference is made to the Ikara missile. The Department states that the current missile will be phased out next year and a new version with improved performance will be introduced. I had in my mind an idea that one missile was to be eliminated from each destroyer, which would be left with one instead of two. This might be in line wilh what I have been able to find out; that is, that the Ikara missile launching system is such that we cannot have more than one missile in the air at a time. If another missile is fired while the first is in the air and before it gets to the submarine, the second missile will be directed at the first by the launching system on the destroyer. This is the set up. We have to wait till the first has landed before we can send a second.
– It is to try to get the submarine. The second locks onto the first one. We get one following the first and if the first lands we lose two. This is an interesting point because I find that Indonesia has placed orders with Russia for destroyers that are. faster than the ones that we have equipped with Ikara missiles. I am not sure of the figure but I understand that they are 8 knots faster than ours, and these will be pretty fast. On the Indonesian destroyers there is to be a missile system which will enable two missiles to be in the air at once. This might be what the Department of Supply is referring to when it says that Ikara is to be phased out at the end of next year and replaced by something else. To my mind money continues to be spent without adequate reason when it is found that new developments are possible, that better items can be obtained and that we could be saving money.
– Senator Cormack is correcting me, he believes. My information is that that is also an antisubmarine missile. Let us go to the Air Force. I am concerned about the Mirage aircraft of which 70 have been delivered at pretty high cost. These are combat aircraft. There is no question that they are meant to be fighter planes. The main feature of the Mirage is that to be effective, because it flies so fast, it has to be operated within range of a radar system which can direct it towards its target or towards other aircraft in the air at the same time. It will be appreciated that when a Mirage is flying at a speed in excess of the speed of sound and it meets another aircraft coming towards it at about the same speed, if the pilot of the Mirage sees the other aircraft at all at a distance of about 7 miles - it is extremely difficult to pick out an aircraft at that speed - in one second the aircraft will have passed each other. The Mirage is not capable of quick manoeuvrability. It takes about 20 miles to make a 90 degrees turn. It cannot turn quickly. This is one of the main problems. It is not a defensive piece of equipment; it is offensive. It is quite obvious that it is meant for attacking something coming towards us. That is fair enough.
Now let us look at the F11IC. This is a bomber aircraft of the most modern swingwing type. It is able to go a fair distance and drop a bomb load. Therefore, it is an offensive weapon; it is not defensive. The fact that we are spending so much money to try to protect Australia with a weapon that is unnecessary is something that needs looking at very, very closely. I suggest that we could protect ourselves very much better with a slow moving aircraft at a very much lower price capable of dealing with any landing craft that might be coming to Australia. We have water all around us. We do not need a bomber of the F111C type. A smaller aircraft that can carry the necessary armament to deal with landing craft that might be coming towards us is all that is necessary. We could have hundreds of these aircraft for the price that we shall be paying finally for the twentyfour aircraft.
– Yes. In 1963 the price was $10Om. The latest figure is $237 .75m. We do not know where it will finish. Imagine what we could buy if we put that money into smaller fighter-bomber aircraft. If we had a couple of hundred of these instead of the twenty-four aircraft that we have ordered, look at the personnel that we could keep in flying training and the advantage that these would be to the north west. If we were opening up the north west these aircraft could be used as dental service aircraft or health service aircraft. We would know when there was likely to be any sort of attack upon us, which would have to be made by sea.
Let me now turn to the Army. There is one item of equipment that I want to mention particularly. It is pretty ancient. I refer to the Centurion tank. Twenty years ago we bought 120 of these and we are still keeping them in very good order, I presume, because there is now talk of sending a small number to Vietnam; perhaps these are all that are left. These were obsolete perhaps 20 years ago. Labor might have bought them when it was in government. They were never intended for use in this climate. The Centurion tank has its engine alongside the crew and keeps them nice and warm in our summer climate. This is absolutely ridiculous. Another aspect is most surprising. We pin a lot of faith on these tanks because we still have them. Their mileage on a full fuel tank is 72 to 75 miles. Whenever they travel this distance they have to stop at a bowser and refuel. This is no way to carry on a war. lt has been demonstrated to the Department of the Army that we can produce in Australia a tank which would be considerably lighter than the Centurion and which would have a range of up to 1,000 miles on a full tank of fuel. Of course, that is not an ordinary fuel tank such as one has in a Holden motor car. This would be a more versatile unit for the Army to have. This matter disturbs me. How much of our present vote of $1,1 18m is being wasted on things of a similar sort? 1 do not know. I am not prepared to accept that this expenditure is all right until I find out more about it, and 1 cannot find out what is to happen.
– That would be the Centurion tank. I do not think that there is a bridge on the River Murray that would take them. I think one-third of them are in Victoria and the other two-thirds are in New South Wales. If we wanted to put them on one side or the other of the River Murray we would have to drive those that are in Victoria down to Melbourne, put them on to a barge and take them to Sydney. That shows how ridiculous is this way of conducting an army. I do not say that we have not modern weaponry that the soldiers use at the present time, but unless I know something more definite I am not prepared to accept that the proposed expenditure of $1,1 18m is necessary. It is all very well to be critical like this without being constructive.
I have tried to be a little constructive in relation to some of these things. If we were to look at this matter particularly we would be able to see how money could be saved and how that extra $50m might be available to give pensioners another $ 1 each.
Senator McKellar said earlier tonight that the newspapers of Australia eulogised this Budget. The editorial that I wish to quote did not. It is from the ‘Daily Mirror’. The Age’ was not very happy about the Budget and I recall that the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ was not happy about it either. The editorial in the ‘Daily Mirror’ refers to some remarks made by Mr McMahon and states: we repeat what be said at the weekend: I have sympathy for the pensioners because they have been left out.
Last year 1 was able to give them a dollar. On this occasion 1 doubted if the economy could afford it. Once we touch them they cost us within the order of about $50 million. This was an investors’ Budget.’
If the Government had looked at the matter more carefully and if it had understood what the Services intended to do with the amounts they sought, it might have been able to find some money for the pensioners.
Let me look at the question of defence a little further in the few moments that remain to me. International relations are changing. For some hundreds of years we have been working on the theory of power politics. We believed that if we could get desirable alliances and could hold the balance of power we could obtain peace in the world. We have not obtained peace, but that is what we have been trying to do. Over the last 5 years quite a change has taken place in the thinking of scientists who are really concerned about the situation in which we find ourselves. International relations have now assumed quite different proportions to those which have obtained over the last couple of hundred years. This is because of the development of the thermonuclear weapon.
Three revolutions have taken place in the last 20 years. Firstly, that we have found that we can develop a missile which can practically wipe out any country on this earth. We can direct it from any point and we can direct it at any point. This has changed thinking on international relations quite a bit. The second revolution is this: Wherever we look Communism has demonstrated that at least it is a stable form of government. This we see in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Other countries also have demonstrated that they have a stable form of Communist government, whether we like it or not. The third revolution is that over the last 10 or 15 years many States have been created in what were colonial or dependent areas. These have thrown off their colonial or dependent status and become independent States. All of these revolutions have brought about an alteration in the traditional thinking of the older States. We do not rely so much now on collective strength. Honourable senators will find that no country which has the atomic bomb is prepared to enter into any sort of alliance or to be dictated to by a group such as the United Nations. This is why up to the moment the United States has not been prepared to take the question of Vietnam to the United Nations forum.
– The United States has not taken the matter there. No country has taken the Vietnam question to the United Nations.
– The matter has never been taken there. Whether it is powerless to act is a different matter. I said that the subject has not been taken there. I turn now to the value of the deterrent. There have always been deterrents. Even in the days when bows and arrows were used, the group with more bows and arrows was considered to have a bit of a deterrent. Now we have a deterrent which can destroy the world. I do not think that this provides any solution in international relations. But it emphasises the seriousness of the situation and points out that if we want to do something about international relations we have to do something about the present set up.
All that the second and third revolutions to which I referred do - this is most significant - is to create new thinking on the subject. We need to look at Communism and not consider it only from what we have seen in Russia. The new emerging states are developing the new idea of nonalignment. They are getting somewhere. These smaller States without any collusion and without forming alliances, are able to exercise quite a bit of pressure. This is an important matter which we ought to consider and which any government should consider. I would hope that the Labor Party would do this if it came to office.
In my first speech in the Senate I mentioned the importance of peace research or conflict resolution and said that something should be done on these lines. This theory is being looked at more and more by scientists in most countries of the world but not very much in Australia. This is one of the things into which we could put some of our expenditure. I suggest that we should save some of the expenditure on defence and that we should use some of the money so saved for pensioners. A small amount would be left and this could be used for peace research or conflict resolution. It seems to me that this is a positive sort of thing for a government that is being constructive to do instead of just going along with what the defence chiefs ask for. The adoption of this idea seems to me to be the solution to making Australia better and more secure for our people and also to making a better world, because this action would be a contribution to the people of the world. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I took only three instances.
– Yes. I believe that this Budget will keep Australia developing on the right track. Unfortunately many areas in this country are still feeling the after-effects of the drought that we have experienced. This drought is affecting many inland towns. Because of the circumstances of primary producers in many areas, some of these towns have been losing population. Land owners are heavily in debt. They have had to obtain finance to save their flocks and herds. It will take a long time for them to get out of debt and to get back to the stage where they can develop again.
The fall in wool prices must have an effect right throughout the economy, particularly hi rural areas. Wool is our main primary export. I point out, as did some previous speakers on the Government side, that our exporting primary industries have been fighting a losing battle against rising costs. Only by a big increase in efficiency over the postwar years have our country industries been able to keep pace with and overcome the problem of increasing costs. But there is a limit to this. Costs in many of our industries are becoming almost too great a burden to bear. i want to refer to the Budget as it relates to defence. Much has been spoken already about defence. This Budget, as has been pointed out, provides $1,1 18m for defence, an increase of 18% over last year’s allocation. We have been criticised for this but if we have helped to bring security and stability to this part of the world I believe we will have achieved a good deal. We will have obtained security not only for Ourselves but also for our many neighbours not far distant from us in the South Pacific Who are looking to Australia for guidance and leadership. In the past we have helped to bring stability to Malaysia and Korea, and I hope it will not be too long before the same conditions exist in Vietnam.
Now let me refer to the development which is taking place in Australia, particularly in some of our northern areas. On the industrial side, a recent highlight was the opening of the Queensland Alumina Ltd plant at Gladstone. To date this plant has cost $115m and the refinery has already had to be expanded. In fact, work on the expansion of the plant is going on now. An undertaking like this in that part of Australia was never thought possible. Here we have a combination of the experience and know-how of three of the world’s biggest alumina companies - Pechiney of France, Alcan of Canada and the Kaiser Aluminium Company of the United States which, with their Australian partners, have made possible the development of Gladstone into one of Australia’s industrial giants. Incidentally, this has proved to be a windfall for a couple of other industries. Soda is being used in large quantities in that plant and about 20,000 tons of grain sorghum, a locally produced product, will be used each year in the refining process. Apparently that is the cheapest and best way of getting the starch content needed for the refinery.
I want to mention the connection between the Gladstone plant and Weipa. There is now a nice modern town with all amenities where there was none before in an area where population is very scattered and light. But, as I have said many times previously, Weipa will not become a big town until it has good road access. The beef roads being constructed in the area must ultimately be extended to Weipa. In the Gladstone area we have big coking coal deposits at Moura and Blackwater. A railway spur line to the mine has been completed and the main line to Rockhampton is being strengthened. The mining company is developing Blackwater into a very nice town. A unique feature in that area is that on top of the coking coal is a fairly large seam of steaming coal which is of no use for export to Japan. It appears as though that coal, which is mined by the open cut method, will have to be dumped. The Queensland Government is now looking into the prospect of building a thermal power station on that field where the steaming coal will be made available for the generation of power at very low cost to the Queensland Government. A new railway line, one of Queensland’s biggest and completely new projects for many years, is in sight of completion. It will be brought into use next year. That is the short line from the Moura field to Gladstone. I believe that other industries are sure to follow in the Gladstone area.
We have large areas of coking coal In Queensland and of iron ore in Western Australia. At present both these commodities are going out of the country to be used in the production of steel, but it is only a matter of time before the coking coal is taken to steel mills in Western Australia and the iron ore is brought to steel mills in Queensland. Then we will be able to sell our finished steel instead of our raw materials. 1 think that has to come and I hope it will not be too long before we see it.
Now let me refer to another possible mining development near Rockhampton where it appears that we can have nickel mining in a big way. Nickel made New Caledonia very prosperous and a newly discovered field near Rockhampton is in process of being proved. I hope that some development can take place before too long. Speaking of Rockhampton, my home town, let me mention that the authorities there are putting a barrage across the river. The Harbour Board does not want the river any more for navigational purposes so one of the largest bodies of fresh water in Australia will be available for industry. There is literally a river full of water which needs only to be pumped out. That must attract industry to that part of Australia.
In the same general area is the site of the proposed Nogoa Dam and irrigation works at Emerald. This project is the No. 1 priority of the Queensland Government for Federal assistance. The scheme is estimated to cost $26m over 7 or 8 years. It will make about 130 farms possible, each farm having an average area of about 400 acres. As the Federal Government has already announced that it will make $S0m available for water conservation projects in the States over the next 5 years, it is hoped that an early decision will be made about the Nogoa Dam project. Mr McMahon and Mr Fairbairn have already inspected it. Thorough investigations have been made, and there is already a road and rail complex as well as power, air services and a sizeable town.
Many uses can be made of the irrigated areas there. Pilot farms have already been running for some time and I understand that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics has reported on the project. It may be very attractive because fodder can be grown in those areas, and they are much nearer to the sheep areas of western Queensland to which so much fodder has had to be railed in recent years to save the livestock, it has been proved that many other crops can be grown there. It is eminently suitable for cotton and various grain crops. It is interesting to see that Queensland, out of its own resources, is to start on a big expansion of the St George irrigation scheme. This is to cost $8. 6m. The original St George scheme started some years ago with a dam on the Balonne River.
– 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.
– ls this the station which the Labor Party opposed?
– 1 wish the Labor Party had opposed it harder. If it had, there might be decent working conditions there. Perhaps some of the hillbillies could go to that area and have a look at the station. They might then understand what is going on. The point is, Mr President, that for the first time we allowed a foreign nation to establish itself on our soil without making any provision for the protection of the work force that would be employed in conjunction with American naval forces. Establishment of this communications station was used as a political gimmick in 1963. It is quite clear that this happened because Senator Gorton, who was then Minister for the Navy and Minister assisting the Minister for External Affairs, on 22nd May 1963, when introducing the
United States Naval Communication Station Agreement Bill 1963, said:
Although the Australian Government has constitutional capacity to sign the agreement without further parliamentary authority, the Government, as the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) announced some weeks ago, has decided to submit the agreement to the Parliament for approval before exchanging with the American Government its instrument of approval. This bill therefore seeks the approval of the Senate of the agreement which is set out in the schedule to the bill.
There is no doubt in the mind of any person why the agreement on the communication station was brought into this Parliament. It was nothing more than a political gimmick. Further on in the second reading speech of the Minister it was stated that this agreement was to assist Australia’s defence. At page 661 of Hansard the Minister is reported as having stated:
For the deterrence of aggression in that area and the performance of the obligations of the United States and ourselves in relation to that treaty area, this naval communication station has undeniable significance.
But the agreement did not bind the
American naval authorities or the American Government to apply any of the industrial standards generally applicable to workers in Australia. At page 662 of Hansard the Minister stated seven broad principles which each government had recognised. The seventh principle was:
The position was made a little clearer than this further on in the Minister’s speech but the only way that wage rates and working conditions could be obtained for workers in the area was by mutual agreement. A mutual agreement has been entered into between the Trades and Labor Council of Western Australia, sixteen signatory unions and the United States Navy. It is a matter of opinion, or course, whether the agreement could be enforced if any dispute arose. At page 663 of Hansard the Minister said this:
By Article 7, the United States agrees that it will conform to the provisions of applicable Commonwealth and State laws, including quarantine laws and industrial awards and determinations and that its personnel will observe such laws and regulations. The language of this clause is designed to ensure that the United States does not compromise its sovereignty or submit itself as a government to the jurisdiction of Australian courts. It agrees to conduct its activities in conformity with Australian law, that is to say as if it were, though as a government lt is not, bound by such laws and regulations.
At present the unions have entered into the agreement but it is debatable whether it could be enforced in any Australian court. No agreement has been entered into with respect to workers’ compensation or common law claims for damages in cases where negligence by the employer can be proved. On 27th January the unions signed an agreement with the United States Navy. They were reluctant to sign it without some arrangement with respect to workers’ compensation and common law claims. They indicated this to the US naval authorities. On 16th December last the Secretary of the Trades and Labor Council wrote to Mr Higgins of the US Navy saying:
Several unions who intend to be parties to the proposed North West Cape Agreement with the United States Navy have expressed their reluctance to become signatories to the document unless some firm assurances are given by the Navy in respect to the following matters.
The relevant Workers’ Compensation Act under which employees of the US Navy will be covered.
The authority who shall determine disputed Workers’ Compensation claims.
The legal position in regard to claims for damages where a worker suffers death or disability as a result of his employer’s negligence.’
The letter states further on:
You have indicated to our representatives that the United States and the Australian Governments are currently endeavouring to reach a satisfactory solution to this problem but we are concerned with the welfare of those workers who you intend to recruit for employment in this area in the near future.
In order that some protection may be afforded to these people, we suggest that your Department confer with representatives of our Council to discuss this question prior to the agreement being signed.
That letter was never acknowledged by the US naval authorities. In fact, they refused to acknowledge the receipt of any correspondence from the Trades and Labour Council. The US naval authorities do, of course, on receipt of a letter from the secretary of the Council, get on the telephone and inform him that they have received the letter; but that is the last that is heard of it. At the signing of the agreement the Trades and Labour Council indicated to the US naval authorities that it wanted agreement on these particular matters within 3 months. In order that the Australian Government would know what the difficulties were, on 21st
December 1966 the secretary of the Trades and Labour Council wrote a letter in the following terms:
Except in the matter of workers compensation, including civil Jaw action, the Agreement has been finalised and is about to bc signed.
The Unions have now decided that they are reluctant to sign the Agreement until such time as the compensation question has been finalised.
We are aware that the US Navy is immune from the laws of the Commonwealth and the State in respect to this question, and to date they have not brought forward a proposal which will adequately cover and protect the rights of the workers they will be employing, particularly in the area of civil law suits.
As we consider this is a vital and fundamental question, we proposed to you at yesterday’s conference what would be the view of the Commonwealth Government to accepting liability as the employer for the purposes of compensation claims including civil law action on behalf of the United States Navy to overcome the present impasse.
Failing the acceptance of this proposition, 1 would appreciate your Government giving earnest consideration to assisting the parties to solve this question so that the matter can be finalised and the proposed Agreement ratified without undue delay.
That letter, which was addressed to Mr Fogarty, Acting Regional Director, Department of Labour and National Service, was sent on to the Head Office of the Department of Labour and National Service, but to this date it has not been acknowledged by that office. The three months grace given to the United States naval authorities expired on 24 April 1967, and to date, although there has been no real trouble, the unions are constantly being worried about the matter.
A further letter was written to Mr Higgins of the United States Navy on 21st December, informing the Navy that at that stage the unions were prepared to sign the agreement. The final paragraph of the letter reads:
I would appreciate your confirmation of the above proposals, which as you are aware, are designed to cover, to some extent, the problems facing the parties until a final solution is arrived at.
In conclusion, 1 wish to stress once again the need for early finality on overall compensation indemnity.
The present situation is one quite distinct to the rights enjoyed by other Australian workers, where by Acts of Federal or Slate parliaments they are covered for standard compensation and civil suits.
That letter, too, was not acknowledged.
On 18 July 1967, the Trades and Labour Council met to consider what action it should take with respect to this procrastination by both the United States Navy and the Department of Labour and National Service. On 21st July, the Secretary of the Trades and Labour Council wrote to Mr Robertson, Regional Director of Labour and National Service in Western Australia, as follows:
Industrial Agreement 1967
I have been instructed by the Trades and Labour Council of Western Australia to convey to you its decision of the 18 inst. in relation to the abovenamed subject.
That in view of the decision reached by the unions connected with the US Navy Agreement concerning employment conditions of Australian workers employed at the North West Cape in January this year, to sign the Agreement subject to review within three months if adequate overall indemnity coverage had not been effected, and the fact that little progress has been made since that time, the Council decides:
That the US Navy and the Federal Government be informed that unless a clear and concise agreement satisfactory to the Unions is effected within fourteen (14) days to give adequate compensation and other legal coverage to Australian workers - a right under normal Australian laws - the Unions shall bc called together to give consideration to withdrawing from the Agreement and advising workers at present employed at the base to withdraw their labour from the project’.
The Council on behalf of the unions wrote to Mr J. Higgins, US Navy, on this question on the 16th December, 1966, pointing out the fact that several unions had expressed reluctance to sign the Agreement until this question had been settled.
We wrote again to Mr Higgins on 21 st December 1966 stating that the unions were prepared to sign the agreement on the condition it would be subject to review after three months if the negotiations then being conducted were not satisfactorily finalised. We concluded our letter of that date by stressing the need for early finality. We also wrote to the Acting Regional Director of the Department of Labour and National Service. . . . lt could not be said that we have not been tolerant on this matter. 1 have been able to influence the unions to bc patient up to now, but 1 do not intend to isolate myself from the views of the unions any longer; it is my duty to obey the instructions of the unions concerned.
It has been said in some quarters that our tolerance on this matter has been interpreted by the US Navy and the Commonwealth Government as a sign of weakness and indifference, and has been exploited. 1 am inclined to agree with this view.
On the very day of the resolution to call the unions together to consider withdrawing from the agreement and withdrawing labour from North West Cape - 18th July - Sir Henry Bland somehow got information that the resolution was to be carried, because he sent a telegram to the Secretary of the Australian Labour Council. This was about the most amazing telegram one could get. It said:
As promised have taken up personally outstanding matter of workers compensation North West Cape project with Government authorities concerned. Discussions being held today my Department and US Navy. Will be pursuing with other departments Canberra with view to utmost expedition.
The hypocrisy of that telegram from Sir Henry Bland can best be described by the letter I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) in connection with this matter. I do not think it is right or fair for Sir Henry Bland to say ‘as promised’ when, in fact, all he did was to ignore the correspondence. He did not promise anything. Under date 26th July I wrote to the Prime Minister as follows:
I am enclosing herewith copies of the correspondence from the Western Australian Trades and Labour Council to the WA representatives of the US Navy and the Commonwealth Department of Labour and National Service. You will note that all the correspondence has originated from the TLC. The reasonfor this is neither the USNavy nor the Department of Labour and National Service has considered the matter of sufficient importance to warrant a reply. This is an absolute departure from the accepted standards of courtesy and reveals a complete disrespect and contempt for a generally recognised lawful organisation formed and supported by the vast majority of workers and their registered Industrial Unions in this State.
It is with some regret that I call in question the activities of the Department of Labour and National Service but you will note that this Department was addressed on 21.12.66, to which address no reply or acknowledgment has as yet been received. On the very day that the TLC agreed by resolution to institute action to withdraw labour from the project at North West Cape Sir Henry Bland forwarded a telegram to the Secretary of the TLC which telegram is open to considerable criticism. It commences ‘as promised have taken up personally outstanding matter of workers compensation North West Cape project with Government authorities concerned’.
Where and at what time did Sir Henry promise to do anything other than to ignore the representation that had been made to his Department? It cannot be said that he could not have written a reply, replied by telegram or made contact by telephone, because 7 months elapsed between the despatch of the letter and the receipt of his telegram. Even if in his own mind he had thought he had promised to do something to assist, what has been done in this 7 months period? It is of little use asserting at this stage that a promise to do something has been made when in fact nothing has been done. I might mention here that the neglect to do anything in this matter has seriously damaged the high standard of relations that has existed in the past between officers of the Department and the TLC. They will not be quickly repaired.
Sir Henry Bland goes on to state:
Discussions being held today my Department and USNavy’.
This statement was made in the telegram dated 18th July 1967. It is now 26th July 1967 and no communication has been received from Sir Henry. He has not stated whether the discussions have in fact taken place, whether they are continuing or whether they have concluded and what was the result. Surely in view of the loss of time and the exhaustion of the patience of the TLC Sir Henry would have concluded that urgent action to advise the TLC of progress or otherwise of the discussions if in fact they did take place and if they did not take place the reason for this.
Sir Henry Bland went on to state:
Will be pursuing with other Departments Canberra with view to utmost expedition’.
I point out that it is now 30th August, and still nothing has been received. My letter continued:
Not one word has been received relative to which other departments are involved, and whether they have been contacted to date, it is conceivable that at least the Defence and External Affairs Departments would be involved but to date nothing has been heard from them.
Looking at this complete inactivity by the several Commonwealth Departments 1 am of the opinion that urgent action by yourself is warranted at the earliest possible moment if industrial action by the Union is to be avoided.
You will note that in the first instance the TLC was quite generous in entering into the industrial agreement subject to an agreement on workers’ compensation and common law claims being arrived at within three (3) months of signing the industrial agreement. The three (3) months expired on 27.4.1967. They have in my opinion been over generous in extending this time to 2.8.1967 on which date they propose the only industrial action available to them (the withdrawal of labour see resolution of 1 8.7. 1 967).
I am sure that you will appreciate that the processes of law in Australia, Arbitration, Workers” Compensation or Common Law, are not available to the TLC against a foreign Government. Therefore the good offices of the Australian Government are required to assist in the settlement of the dispute. If it is rightly stated that the Communications Station at North West Cape is an adjunct or assistance to Australian defence then action by the Australian Government becomes more urgent.
I think it must be stated here that the TLC is of opinion that the Australian representatives of the US Navy have been as helpful as their activities allow them to be, but that the fault lies in the
United States. Be that as it may, the Australian representatives of the US Navy cannot be excused for failure to acknowledge correspondence from such a representative body as the TLC.
Industrial protection for Australian workmen is an Australian birthright and will not be lightly discarded even if it involves head on collision with a foreign Government. Industrial protection for workmen will not be sold to the Australian Government in the name of relations with a foreign power or in the name of defence. Furthermore Australian workmen should not be expected to subdue their dignity in this manner. It is therefore the task of Government to see that every action is taken to prevent what could develop into serious conflict.
I received from the Prime Minister’s Department the following reply by telegram under date 31 st July:
Your letter 26th July just received.
My letter had not just been received by Mr Holt because at that time he was away in Queensland. The telegram continued:
Questions you raise arc under active consideration and some resolution of the problems is expected to bc forthcoming in the near future.
It was signed: ‘Harold Holt’. I persuaded Mr Whitlam to support my application to the Prime Minister and he sent a telegram on 3rd August which stated:
Sir Henry Bland wrote secretary of Western Australian Trades and Labor Council 31 July that Ministers would shortly consider arrangements between Commonwealth and United States Governments concerning workers compensation for Australians employed by American Government at North West Cape (stop) Council has been extremely forbearing since it wrote to Labour and National Service Perth 21 December and did not receive communication in reply until 18 July (stop) Believe it just and prudent to give prompt consideration to this matter
The Prime Minister replied to that telegram on 7th August 1967, through Sir John Bunting of his Department, to this effect:
The Prime Minister has asked me to inform you that he has received your telegram about the question of workers compensation for Australians employed by the American Navy at North West Cape. He has asked me to assure you that full consideration is being given this matter and he will arrange for a further communication to be sent to you as soon as possible.
Nothing has been heard in this matter since then. This is important because at any time there may be a serious accident affecting the life or limb of a workman employed there and he will have no redress and nowhere to go for compensation or economic relief for himself and his family. I say quite frankly that Sir Henry Bland has neglected his duty; that he has placed the Government in an embarrassing position by not attending to the correspondence as it should have been attended to; and that he is deserving of censure for allowing this position to deteriorate for a period of 8 months.
Again the question becomes confusing as to whether there is any redress available to the Trades and Labor Council or the unions with employees at this station because in the preamble to the schedule of the United States Naval Communication Station Agreement this statement is made:
Considering that the two Governments are entering into an Agreement concerning the Status of United States Forces in Australia, which Agreement is lo be read wilh this Agreement;
I will do that in a little while. Article 3 states:
Yet we are still unable to get these people to a conference table and to get from them an acknowledgement of the correspondence.
Article 12 of the Agreement states:
In cases in which the Australian Government or the Government of the Stale of Western Australia is required to pay claims for which it is liable under Australian law arising out of the operations or activities of the United States Government or United States personnel who arc in Australia for the purposes of this Agreement, the appropriate authorities of the United Stales Government will seek necessary legislative authority to reimburse the Government concerned.
These are the conditions that the Prime Minister said, at the time the Agreement was entered into, would not be binding upon the United States Navy.
Article 12 paragraph (7) of the agreement concerning the Status of United States Forces in Australia states:
Except in the case of claims arising out of the use of official vehicles of the United States (‘“ones insured in accordance with the requirements of Australian law claims-
It was apparently more important to insure a motor vehicle than it was to insure workers. The agreement continued: other than contractual claims and those to which paragraph (9) of this Article apply arising out of acts or omissions of members or employees of the United States Forces done in the performance of official duty, or out of any other act, omission or occurrence for which the United States Forces arc legally responsible, and causing damage in Australia, other than damage suffered by one of the two Governments, shall, unless the interested parties otherwise agree, be dealt with by the Australian Government in accordance with the following provisions:
where the United States atone is responsible for the damage, the amount awarded or adjudged shall be distributed in the proportion of 25 per cent chargeable to Australia and 75 per cent chargeable to the United States;
Reading that Article of the agreement concerning the status of the United States forces in Australia, we see that the onus is placed on the Australian Government to satisfy claims; yet the applications that have been made by the Trades and Labour Council to the Department of Labour and National Service for some relief and assistance in its difficulties are completely ignored.
The Government is avoiding its responsibility in not advising the Trades and Labour Council that it is bound to satisfy the claims that are made. The unions cannot be expected to be patient any longer. My last advice from the Trades and Labour Council was received a fortnight ago. It was that, in view of the telegram that had been sent to me by Mr Holt, the Council had agreed to extend the time to consider this matter.
I want to lay the blame squarely where it belongs. The blame for any disruption at the communication station clearly lies at the door of the United States naval authorities and the Department of Labour and National Service. If, because of inactivity on the part of either or both of them, the unions are forced to withdraw labour from the communication station and if the communication station is vital to the defence of Australia and as a result of the withdrawal of labour Australia’s capacity to defend itself is endangered, the blame must lie squarely with the United States and the Commonwealth Government.
I ask the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) to take this matter up with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) to see whether the dispute can be expeditiously settled. Though we on this side of the Parliament opposed the establishment of the base at North West Cape we are not revolutionaries. We accept the majority decision and the fact that the communication station is now established on Australian soil. We are aware, of course, that 28 acres of Australian land are fenced off and Australians are not allowed to put foot on it. Even remembering all this, we are the last ones who would want to see industrial trouble put the base out of operation. If, in the course of time, the unions are unable to have their just demands settled in any other way and the station is put out of operation by industrial trouble, we will not accept responsibility for that. We intend to advertise as widely as possible the inactivity of the Commonwealth Government and the complete avoidance by the United States naval forces and the American Government of responsibility for Australian workers. If industrial trouble occurs at North West Cape, the blame will be placed squarely where it belongs.
– The provisions of the Commonwealth Employees* Compensation Act are being applied but there is no redress in the case of a disputed claim.
– There is no appeal to a court against a decision of the Commissioner. The other point taken is that the United States Government is not amenable to a claim for damages as distinct from workers compensation. This is the problem that is understood to exist. The Australian Government has not been inactive in dealing with the matter. It is a complicated one, however. Clearly, all Australian workers should have the same protection no matter where they are employed in Australia, and we must find some means to ensure that the same protection is extended to all. I shall bring the honourable senator’s speech to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service tomorrow. I believe that the Minister, on reading the speech, will see for himself the sense of urgency with which the honourable senator is imbued. I would only say that I consider that some of the remarks made about the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service are quite unfair. It has been stated that a letter was sent, not to the Secretary, but to the head of the Perth branch of the Department by the unions in, I think, December.
– As stated, it is correct that that was not acknowledged or replied to but 1 think as stated it gave, a completely wrong impression of what in fact happened. As I understand it, discussions had taken place between the Perth head of the Department of Labour and National Service and the unions and the Perth departmental head had said to the representative of the unions: ‘So that we can have the exact picture of the problem as you see it, will you write it down for us and send it to us in a letter?’ That was done, and that is the letter referred to. It was written at the request of the Department so that the Department would know exactly what were the problems of the unions as they saw them. I think the writer of the letter would agree that the letter having been sent as a result of conversations, no formal acknowledgement was forwarded. Subsequently it was made clear that the letter had been received.
I think it is also unfair to attack by implication the Secretary of the Department over a telegram sent on 18th July which said that as promised he would take personal charge of the problem. It seems obvious that he had not been taking personal charge. It had been dealt with by the Perth head of the Department or possibly the Assistant Secretary, but not directly by Sir Henry Bland who earlier in July in Perth realised after discussions with some union representatives - I think that is so, but again I may be wrong - that the problem was becoming one of some urgency. He then promised that he would take personal charge of attempts to secure a solution. The telegram said that as promised he was doing that. But that is by the way. I will bring to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service the substance of the problem as set out by Senator Cant tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.43 p.m. 9891/67 - S - [tTJ
Formal Motion for Adjournment
– I formally move:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till tomorrow at 11.15 a.m.
I have had to use this form of the House to bring what I regard as an extremely urgent matter to the attention of the public and of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes), who could deal with drugs such as lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD, as it is commonly known, which has come to the notice of many people. Although this drug may do some good, unfortunately it has far greater potential for evil than any other drug that has ever been placed on the market in Australia. I believe that action should be taken right now to restrict its use. When I say right now I mean even tomorrow.
The Federal Minister for Health should call a conference of all State Ministers for
Health and the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral to draft uniform legislation to stamp out this evil. I ask the Minister to do this because I can recollect thai in the fight against tuberculosis the State Ministers for Health met together and the Commonwealth assisted with a draft Act, which each State implemented, lt is useless for one State to try to carry out preventive measures in regard to LSD. Uniform action should be taken by all the States and the Commonwealth so that we can stamp it out. Unfortunately LSD is not a drug like heroin, the supply of which can be stopped by import regulations. LSD can be manufactured quite easily in any laboratory. The ingredients are here. The attack on the drug has to be made on the basis that only those who receive a licence should bc allowed to manufacture LSD, and anyone who otherwise has it in his possession, distributes it or has anything to do with it should have extremely severe penalties imposed upon him. It is doubtful whether the drug is an addiction drug. It is a hallucinatory drug. There are many other such drugs; that is why I have included at the end of the proposal the words ‘and other similar drugs’. Addiction is doubtful. I do now know enough about the question and the people to whom I have spoken do not know much more about it, because although it is not a new drug its current use is new. But some people believe that there is an addiction to it.
I cannot give the Senate any definite information on this. I understand that some work has been done on the chromosomal effects of this drug and that some defects have occurred in experimental animals. Then there is the heredity factor in using the drug excessively. I am not an expert on this drug and I cannot tell the Senate much about it, except that it is unpredictable. No one can tell how it will affect him. Some people can take large doses of it and nothing happens. Other people take small doses and they have what is popularly known as a trip. The fact is that it is unpredictable. Another factor is involved in that a person may try the drug once and take a trip - or have an hallucination, to be more correct - and think that is the end of it. But that is not so. It has happened on many occasions that people who have had one taste of the drug and have then left it completely alone have had several further trips as a consequence of taking the initial quantity of the drug. That is its most dangerous quality.
Another dangerous quality of LSD is that lt makes people believe that reality does not exist. I shall give an example. A man who has taken the drug may stand on the third floor of a building, knowing that he is on the third floor, but can have it firmly fixed in his mind that he is standing at the same level as the road. He knows that that is absurd, but eventually he reaches the point that he believes that he is standing at the level of the road. He will step out of the window to prove his point. I understand that the orthopaedic wards in San Francisco hospitals receive many patients from that source - people who have stepped out of windows on upper floors, believing they were at ground level, even though they had the knowledge that they were on upper floors. A San Francisco orthopaedic surgeon told me that people stepping from windows on the fourth floor or higher floors do not present problems in the orthopaedic wards because they do not enter them.
The problem of LSD must be taken seriously and something must be done about it. Dr Wyndham, the New South Wales Director-General of Education, has said that he will institute measures to stop drug taking amongst children and university students. But the problem goes further; the practice must be stamped out altogether. Now is the time to do it, before it really takes effect. I blame the Press for the public attitude that it is a facetious matter. People say jokingly: ‘We will take a trip.’ It becomes a joke and young people believe that it offers for them nothing but excitement. They say: ‘Let us experience it.’ But once they start experiencing a drug such as LSD they are prepared to experience other drugs. That is another danger in the use of LSD.
I believe that the only way to control the use of LSD is to license its manufacture so that it cannot be made legally except under licence. Persons breaking that law should be subjected to extremely heavy penalties. The Minister for Health should get on to the problem tomorrow. I do not believe that we should delay. A group of people in the United Kingdom have been saying that there is no reason why the practice of taking cannabis - or marihuana or hashish, or whatever you like to call it - should be stopped, lt depends on one’s attitude. It is true that the use of marihuana produces effects no worse than taking a drink of whisky or brandy, or whatever alcohol is preferred. There is no difference between alcoholism and the effects of smoking marihuana. There is no greater addiction to marihuana than there is to alcohol. However, any honourable senators who have seen the effects on a family of an alcoholic parent will appreciate how deleterious they can be. There is nothing to me more pathetic than an alcoholic father or mother in a household. From that point of view alone I believe we should clamp down on marihuana. I do not agree with the people in the United Kingdom who say: It is no worse than alcohol and we should not ban it’. We should ban it. In fact, we should ban alcohol if we really want to get down to total health measures. Every drug, of course, has its good and bad uses.
– They have been cutting them down.
– I am afraid that the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) in the Senate, adopted a rather cursory approach to this problem. The Minister gave the Senate her assurance in all sincerity. 1 almost said ‘in ignorance’ but that would not be characteristic of her. She would have given that assurance in all honesty and sincerity. But if what she says is so, why is so much publicity being given at the present time to the particular drugs mentioned? Are the newspapers completely wrong? When the newspapers deal with politics we know that they can be quite unreliable. But this is not really a political issue. I am certain that Senator Turnbull would not have raised it if it was a political issue.
We are interested in this matter as it relates to the welfare not only of the middle aged and young adults, but also of the adolescents. It seems that there is an increasing diversion or spread of this and other drugs to adolescents. Previously it was in the 30-year and 40-year age groups that we found drug addicts. Now addiction to drugs is being found in the 20-year age group. The use of drugs is becoming increasingly rampant among adolescents. We will find that in the process of time drugs will be used at a much younger age.
The drug LSD has been known for a number of years, more particularly in the United States of America. It has been used for legal and illegal purposes. We know that other drugs have been used also. We in the medical profession do not know what drugs lead to addiction. But it is commonly accepted that any drug, however common it may be, can lead to addiction if its use is practised. Even aspirin can lead to addiction. People think that they need to take an aspirin tablet. They take a number during the day. Then they feel a bit fuzzy in the head and think that an aspirin will cure their fuzziness.
Another drug is APC. It is sold over the counter, and people carry it in their pockets. This applies more particularly to women who cannot go out without a dozen APC powders in their bags. Senator Turnbull has mentioned a certain component of this powder. Persons might be addicted to this drug. The number of deaths from its use are comparatively small. But if drugs are used, then deaths will occur. The only solution, apart from Government action, is an educational programme. Since the dawn of history man has exhibited an inherent genius for devising things to help or hinder himself. Probably with the exception of the Australian Aboriginal, man has been able to produce an alcoholic beverage from fruit and vegetables. From that beverage comes his exhilaration and, in turn, his suffering and disability, but he still has not learned a lesson from that suffering and disability.
Let us now do something reasonable. I think it is a reasonable approach to the problem to have a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health and, with the advice of the Attorney-General, devise legislation which will at least limit the prevalence of the utilisation of particular drugs, not only LSD, marihuana, the amphetamines and so on. We have gone to a lot of trouble so far as morphia and its derivatives are concerned. The importation of heroin is forbidden although some doctors still maintain that it is particularly useful and so are opposed to a complete embargo on its importation. I appeal to the Minister representing the Minister for Health to adopt a more reasonable and rational approach to this problem and to realise the likelihood of the prevalence of addiction from habit usage. Mention was made that the importation of the drug is forbidden. Of course it is. We all know that. However, some is smuggled in. In any case, this drug can be manufactured here comparatively simply and I understand that it is not a criminal offence at present to do so. There is no embargo on its manufacture or, more particularly, its use.
The effects of marihuana are supposed to be well known. Cerebration is one effect which is known and the ultimate effects of the drug are also known. Recently the United States decided to increase the funds allocated for the investigation of the effects of this drug, its derivation and so on from $200,000 to $500,000. We in Australia are doing nothing.
I now turn to the important subject of drug addiction. We have peculiar people in our community. Not so many weeks ago we saw on television in Sydney a psychiatrist - I take it he was a registered specialist - who advised young people to take a trip on LSD. Last year during orientation week at the Australian National University Mr Carey, a senior lecturer in psychology from Sydney, told students that in the process of time chastity would be as much a virtue as malnutrition. As I have said, we have peculiar people in our community. The Commonwealth Government has an obligation to ensure that restrictions are placed on drugs which can have a deleterious effect, as so many of them can. The over usage of any drug, particularly the one now under notice, can be particularly dangerous but, judging by the remarks made by the Minister representing the Minister for Health, the Government is taking only a cursory interest in this subject.
What attitude will the Government adopt towards drug addiction? Will it adopt the punitive approach and tell the unfortunate addict that he has committed a crime in the eyes of the law? Will it adopt the permissive approach and consider whether it is interfering with his civil liberties if it takes away his drug? Or will the Government be reasonable and adopt the curative approach and try to cure the addict? There is no question that addicts bear a terrible burden. Surely the Government has a greater responsibility than merely to say: We have these drugs so, in the process of time, we inevitably will have addicts’. The Government should conduct a scientific investigation into the basic cause of addiction because only when we know the basic cause of addiction will we be able scientifically to formulate a cure.
Responsibility has been shown by Senator Turnbull in bringing this important matter before this chamber. The Government in its turn should accept its responsibility. It controls the financial sinews of this country. The Government should not say, as it said about cigarette advertising in newspapers, that this is a matter for which the State Governments should be responsible. The Commonwealth Government has complete authority over radio and television and it has done nothing about cigarette advertising. The Government said that it arranged for a code of advertising to be adopted. I have not noticed any difference in the extent of advertising of any particular brand of cigarettes. In all cases the advertisements are most attractive. They show athletic young men and attractive young women smoking Escort* cigarettes, or some other brand. It does not matter which cigarette is involved. I am not trying to differentiate between one cigarette and another as to which has the greater tar content or which is more likely to cause lung cancer. At the present time, irrespective of what doctors say, it does appear that there is a statistical relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and between bronchitis and heart disease, but the Commonwealth Government has done nothing about it. I do not know that it has even asked the State Ministers for Health to make any approach to limit cigarette advertising. If the Government did so I think the State Ministers would be entitled to tell this Government to mind its own business because it is not even looking after its own house and putting its own affairs in order.
In regard to drugs the Government has a real responsibility. Mention has been made of LSD and other drugs known to be used by addicts. We have a responsibility to investigate drug addiction more thoroughly. It is quite apparent from general reports that there is an increasing number of addicts. More and more people are temporarily or permanently using drugs. Is there any suggestion as to why they use them and as to how they get possession of them? Some people, as Senator Turnbull said, take drugs for a challenge. Some take them for a trial. How many people who take them for either reason are going to become addicts? A person who takes a drug initially docs not know whether inherently he has the basis of addiction in his makeup. It is unfortunate that one cannot tell. Some can take a drug and then just forget about it. They have had the experience. Some people have told me that the initial experience of LSD might be quite hallucinatory but subsequently the experience is not so soothing. They say it is worse than the alcoholic hangover. I have not had either so I cannot speak from experience.
– If the Minister representing the Minister for Health (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) and other members of the Commonwealth Government and, for that matter, the members of State governments are satisfied with the snail-like speed with which they are dealing with this important question, let me assure them that every responsible citizen in the community is not satisfied. They want more expeditious action in dealing with this very important problem.
I took the opportunity to speak about drugs in the Senate some few months ago. 1 emphasise today thai there is ample evidence to put beyond doubt the fact that there has been a very rapid increase in the illicit peddling of drugs within the community. There is also evidence that the authorities, whether they be the Department of Health, the police or any other department charged with the responsibility of dealing with those who peddle drugs and make them available to adolescents and other young people in the community, are not working fast enough. This trafficking in drugs is out of hand and something has to be done about it urgently, lt is all very well for the Minister to come into this chamber and, with characteristic complacency, to suggest that everything in the garden is lovely. Everything in the garden is not lovely. Nor is it good enough for the Minister simply to say that legislation is in the course of preparation and that there have been repeated conferences between the Commonwealth Minister for Health and his officers and their counterparts in the States. What has been done beyond that? Every day we can pick up a newspaper and read of disturbing and alarming cases in which young people have been fed these drugs in restaurants, dance halls and other places in which young people gather. Only a week or so ago I read a report that an irresponsible mother had fed LSD to her child aged 4 months and had laughingly reported-
– She had been on LSD herself.
– Surely that is a State matter. The Commonwealth could not move into Queensland.
– Senator Gair has adopted an attitude which is not in the spirit of the proposal introduced by Senator Turnbull. Bv inference, if by nothing else, he has criticised the Commonwealth Government. That criticism was completely unfounded. I remind the Senate that during the last sessional period, with the aid of all senators, a Narcotic Drugs Bill was passed to control the manufacture of narcotic drugs so far as the Commonwealth was concerned. Also some very stringent conditions were introduced into the Customs Act, including a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment for anybody who illicitly imported drugs, including LSD and other soft drugs. As Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has very properly pointed out, a responsibility lies with the States. The Commonwealth has a function at the point of entry. In answer to a question yesterday I made it perfectly clear that the Commonwealth’s role was at the point of entry and that with the aid of the legislation passed last session it was doing its part in relation to this problem. Let us admit that there is a necessity for a high degree of co-operation with the States in this matter. Let us make it perfectly clear that the risks involved, as portrayed by the mover of the motion, are very real. The honourable senator referred to the National Health and Medical Re search Council. I understand that that body met in April last year and that it had this and other matters very much before it.
All the States have passed legislation, with the exception of New South Wales and Tasmania. They are the only two States which have not passed legislation to provide firm and effective control over the use and manufacture of LSD. There I am talking about action which is essentially within the province of the States, not about the smuggling of drugs into the country. As I have said, all the States, with the exception of New South Wales and Tasmania, have passed substantially uniform legislation. As late as yesterday a motion was proposed in the New South Wales Parliament, and the Premier indicated that legislation Was to be passed by that State to bring it into line with the other States. From information just given to me, it would seem that Tasmania has indicated its intention to do the same. The States are aware of their responsibilities in relation to this matter.
– How long since the other States introduced legislation?
– It has a deleterious effect.
– Has an ordinance been introduced in the Australian Capital Territory?
– We are discussing a sensible proposal which has emanated from a private senator, yet it had an unsympathetic response from the Government. The Government in its arrogance has adopted the attitude that it will reject any suggestion, however worthwhile it is, which comes from the Opposition or even from independent senators. If the motion is carried it will alter the meeting time of the Senate tomorrow by only a quarter of an hour. It will not disrupt the business of the Senate, but it will make the Government and the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) aware of the importance attached by the Senate to this question. Therefore I ask Senator Turnbull not to endeavour to withdraw his motion. In any event, for that course he would require leave of the Senate. 1 ask that the Senate carry the motion. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) has indicated that certain action has been taken by some States on this important matter. Some States have not acted. The Commonwealth has passed no relevant legislation. The position of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory should be considered and the Commonwealth ought to be giving a lead. It seems to be a case of all talk and no action. From what the Minister read from a document he had it appears that when a world health body comes to the view that action should be taken on this matter and an amendment is made to an international treaty or convention, then Australia will act on this matter.
Why should not the Commonwealth bring together the State Ministers of Health to see what action can be taken? At least the Commonwealth could say: ‘This is the type of legislation we think should be passed’. A lead could be given in the Commonwealth Territories by the introduction of ordinances. At a conference the question could be considered of educating people against the use of dangerous drugs. An educational programme could be undertaken on television or radio, over which the Commonwealth has power. As everyone knows, or should know, the Commonwealth has every power to engage in advocacy of public health matters throughout the whole of the Commonwealth.
– And the first people to disregard those reports are the people in the Department of Health.
– I would like to correct one or two points raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). It is very easy to say that the Government ought to do this and ought to do that, but if the Government does not have constitutional power, it is not so easy. The authority for the sale and distribution of these drugs with in Australia is within the constitutional power of the States. It is not good enough for the Leader of the Opposition to say that the Opposition has to stir the Government into action. The Government took action on this matter in this Parliament only 2 months ago. We introduced legislation, as the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) has said, providing the direst of penalties for the importation of these dreadful drugs. I myself, after 71 years as Minister for Customs and Excise, know full well all that lies behind the tragic trade that is engaged in by people who look to the making of huge profits out of the weakness and ill health of others who are placed at the mercy of drug sellers. It is not good enough for the Leader of the Opposition to say these things when in fact we have passed legislation within the last few months to deal with one aspect of the trade, namely, the importation of drugs.
– The Minister would not want to do that. It would be the wrong approach.
– When Senator Turnbull proposed his motion for the special adjournment o£ the Senate he said that he would withdraw it later, but having found how the matter for discussion was treated by the Ministers on the front bench he has decided, quite properly, to test the feeling of the Senate and to take the matter to a vote. Like Senator Turnbull, I am shocked at the attitude of the Government towards the honourable senator’s proposition. I have been sitting here and asking myself: ‘Why not vote for it?’ Generally if one looks at a proposition one sees pros and cons in most arguments. When I look at this one I see all of the pros and it is very hard to see any contras Here is a situation that surely disturbs the mind of any thinking, decent person in any part of the civilised world. I know that Senator Henty was disturbed about it during the years when he was Minister for Customs and Excise. Senator Anderson properly pays credit to the people who passed the Narcotic Drugs Bill a few months ago. That legislation provided tough penalties, but they were not nearly tough enough. Nobody questioned the need to be tough on people who engage in this trade. This matter goes far beyond the question of constitutionality. It goes far beyond the question of writing something into the statute books and laying down severe penalties Vo be applied when somebody is finally caught.
Senator Anderson gave a very graphic illustration when he held up a piece of blotting paper about a quarter the size of a postage stamp on which there could be impregnated a dose - whatever the word ;s - of a drug. I thought this was a complete argument for doing more than we, as Australians, are doing about this drug trade which is rapidly growing. I wondered whether we had not been showing the same type of apathy as did people in the United States and elsewhere when this kind of thing was allowed to get out of hand and become the terrible blot on the community that it is today.
We are not saying that the Government has not taken certain action. Inherent in the matter raised by Senator Turnbull today is whether what has been done is sufficient. We have another matter which is somewhat parallel to this one but not nearly as bad. I do not think that the Government has the right attitude towards the whole question of the deleterious effect of certain substances on young people. The other day [ heard read out the code that is applied to the advertising of cigarettes on television. What was to be done was absolutely laughable. The code provided that no great athlete had to be shown smoking cigarettes, yet on every one of these television advertisements about cigarettes one sees a vigorous game of football, hockey or something else and then sees people smoking cigarettes. This is to sow in the minds of young people that these were the heroes of the athletic world and that it was manly or womanly to be smoking in this atmosphere of physical effort and prowess on the sporting field. This is a complete disgrace.
One argues with young people about the effect of smoking and how it can become habit forming. I have had young people say to me: ‘What is the Government doing about it? The Government does not worry, ft lets this sort of thing go on. It supports cigarette advertising.’ These people have not read the results of medical research. Every country has come up with the same answer. When one gets into a certain group, smoking a certain number of cigarettes a day, he is in the danger zone. We are always impeded in our arguments because of the television and radio advertisements and the Commonwealth Government and other governments are not doing very much about it. It is not good enough to say that this is a constitutional field, that the Commonwealth has its rights and the States have theirs. We used to hear this sort of thing in relation to the field of education up to a little while ago but now the Government is very proud of its record in education. Two States have been mentioned by both Ministers but neither of these States has yet taken action. Two newspapers have been handed to me by Senator Drury and and Senator O’Byrne. In one we find the heading:
Askin to rush bill on drugs.
Referring to Mr Askin, the article from this afternoon’s Press states:
He said that priority would be given to the legislation on drugs over all other legislation.
In today’s ‘Mercury’ we find the headline:
State to jump hard on dream drug peddling.
The article states:
Tasmania will introduce stiff penalties for unauthorised possession of dream drugs such as LSD.
If the two States mentioned intend to bring down legislation on this matter, is this not the very time when the Government, because it is the central authority - quite apart from its constitutional position - ought to try to get all States together to bring down legislation? Because of the traffic which can pass between the States under the provisions of our Constitution, some attempt ought to be made to bring down uniform legislation. After all, the Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health hold a conference each year and at this meeting all sorts of other matters relating to health are discussed. So, no great problem arises in the machinery of getting the Ministers together.
The use of these drugs is growing. Their use is proliferating day after day. Surely in these circumstances our police forces ought to be advised, through the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and the Department of Health, of the concern about this problem. Our police forces must be coming across it every day. New experience of this problem must be gathered by the authorities in each State day after day. Surely a round table conference with the authorities involved could do nothing but good; it would help them to move in on this problem.
This is not only a question of law. It is not sufficient for the Government to say that the Narcotic Drugs Bill 1967 has been passed and that it provides for severe penalties. That does not meet the whole problem. We cannot bring to the understanding of young people today the dangers of cigarette smoking. They do not believe the advice they receive. They say: ‘The old fellow is getting a bit old in the head. Because it did not happen in his day he does not want it to happen today.’ They are not accepting our arguments. 1 have argued with young people on this matter. They say: ‘LSD and these other dream drugs are different from the ones that you know about. They are different from heroin. They do not hurt you. They arc not habit forming.’ I tried to follow the reasoning of the two honourable .senators who are doctors. They said that it is known medically that these drugs are not addictive or habit forming but that they are inclined to lead a person into taking stronger drugs.
– I must say that I am completely surprised by the reply of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who is the Minister representing the Minister for Health. I am not only surprised but also disgusted. If the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) wishes to accuse the Opposition of making political capital out of this motion he may do so. Let me point out that political capital was made out of this matter by the Minister in her reply. The attitude of the Government is that anything said by the Government is absolutely correct and that anything said by anyone else must be wrong. The Government should be ashamed of that attitude. 1 do not want to attack Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin, because she only read the speech handed to her by the Department of Health. Let me say that I think the remarks of Senator Gair should go straight to the Director-General of Health. He should be told to move off his backside, as Senator Gair said, and do something about this matter.
What sort of Minister for Health have we in the Commonwealth sphere? He will not do something about this matter. He should have been the one to initiate this action. He should have started it months ago. But no, the Government waits. Then it tries to shelter behind the National Health and Medical Research Council and say that it is doing this work. The Government says that the Council has said such and such a thing. But when it suits the Government, it lakes no notice of the Council. It did this in regard to the recommendations of the Council on smoking. The Government has not carried out any recommendations that the Council has suggested except in minor details. The Department of Health, which should be the greatest advocate of preventive medicine, apparently has no interest in it. The Department will not get off its backside to do anything about this matter. That is too much to expect.
Most of the speech of the Minister representing the Minister for Health, which was handed to her by departmental officers, related to the fact that there are import controls. Senator Anderson’s speech also related to import controls. To quote his own words, the Minister for Customs and Excise said yesterday that control of the manufacture and distribution of locally produced LSD was a matter for State governments. There we see an evasion of responsibility - passing the buck to someone else. It does not matter how many Australians suffer, let someone else be blamed. That seems to be the attitude. Why cannot honourable senators opposite act like decent citizens and do something to try to help Australians? But no. It is someone else’s business every time. They say: ‘Let us evade our responsibilities and do nothing about it’. Yesterday Senator Anderson said:
Much of what we have regrettably been reading in the last few days relates to matters which are clearly the responsibility of the States.
That is the reason I proposed the motion now before the Chair. Do not let us get into technicalities. I suggested that Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health should meet and draft uniform legislation. Of course everyone knows that the Parliamentary draftsmen do the drafting. We all know how the details of these things are handled. I stated the proposal in that way because the most successful venture in public health was the control of tuberculosis, and that is how it was handled. Senator McKe’nna, who is still a member of this Senate, was one of the instigators of the scheme. A meeting was called, uniform legislation was drafted by the Commonwealth and passed on to the States. The State Ministers for Health agreed at their conference that they would adopt the legislation but some States did not implement the proposals. In that case, that was a responsibility of the States concerned, not the Commonwealth, because the Commonwealth did its best to implement a scheme of preventive medicine.
It is a sad state of affairs that any suggestion which does not emanate from the Government side of the Senate is treated as having no merit. It is of no use saying that this State is doing this and that State is doing that. They are not doing the same things about the manufacture of LSD. It is obvious from Senator Anderson’s statement that LSD can be manufactured locally. It is common knowledge that anyone can make LSD in any laboratory because the necessary chemicals are available. Irrespective of whether an import licence is needed for the separate ingredients, these can be obtained. Once the ingredients are obtained the drug can be manufactured. LSD is a shocking drug. There should be no complacency by the Department of Health. It should be the first to try to do what it can to prohibit its manufacture. Instead we are told: ‘We are telling the States to do this and they are doing it. Leave it alone’.
Debate resumed from 29 August (vide page 332), on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1967-68:
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 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June1968;
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1967;
Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics, for income year 1964-65;
National Income and Expenditure1966-67.
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;
it fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance;
it defers and retrenches development projects; and
it allows social service and war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens’.
– When this debate was interrupted last night by the adjournment of the Senate I had almost concluded the comments I wanted to make in relation to the Budget itself. I had pointed out that the Budget contained many very favourable factors and facets which had been virtually neglected not only by the Opposition but also by the Press. I also pointed out that criticism is apparently highlighted for public consumption and that the good aspects of the Budget are neglected. This inevitably leads the general public to feel that the Budget is a bad one. I have maintained, and I repeat now, that this is a very successful Budget because I believe it will assist a continuation of the economic stability which has been a feature of this Government’s administration for so long. In addition it has facets which are extremely valuable to many aspects of community life. I have mentioned several of them and I will not repeat them all again.
I turn to that portion of the Budget Speech which relates to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. The Treasurer in another place (Mr McMahon) said:
We propose to seek an amendment of the legislation governing Defence Forces Retirement Benefits to give common entitlements to all servicemen on full-time continuous duty for periods of twelve months or more by admitting to the benefits of the scheme those now excluded.
This is a sweeping reform. It will apply to all national service trainees as well as to our permanent soldiers. At this point I should like to commend the work that has been done in this sphere by Senator Wright. He has lost no opportunity to point out the desirability of this reform and I am pleased to pay tribute to him. I am also extremely pleased to see its inclusion in the Budget.
I move to another matter which I think is of major importance to Australia, particularly in relation to the development of our northern areas. Because of that it is pretty dear to my heart. I will introduce what I want to say by advising honourable senators that it was reported in the ‘Courier Mail’ on 25th August, just a few days ago, that the Queensland Government is introducing very severe restrictions and the closure of areas containing prawning grounds along about 250 miles of coast line. The Queensland Government is doing this because the prawning grounds off the eastern coast of
Queensland have been almost worked out due to over fishing at injudicious times and concentrated fishing. I commend the Queensland Government for the action taken. It is notable that others commend the action, including the Queensland Professional Fishermen’s League. That body is right behind the Government in the work it is doing to conserve the prawning grounds off the eastern coast of Australia.
The export sale of sea food has grown enormously in the last few years. There is probably no other commodity for which there is such a constant demand overseas as there is for prawns caught in Australian waters. I. think it is right to say that it would be impossible to supply the whole market that has developed. Because of this, fishing is a very significant dollar earner and therefore Australia should take a lot of interest in it. One business organisation which has been interested in the export of prawns - banana prawns, tiger prawns and other large varieties - is a company called Craig Mostyn and Co. Ltd. This firm exports a wide range of primary products. The principal of this company believed that the Gulf of Carpentaria could provide huge catches of prawns of a type attractive to the overseas market. Some five years ago they decided to make a survey of the Gulf waters. Certainly, they were assisted to a degree in this work by the Queensland Government, by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and, I believe, by great moral support from the Fisheries Branch of the Department of Primary Industry. This firm has spent a fairly large sum of money, well over $500,000, on research into prawn fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria. For four years it looked as though the money spent on this work would be lost because the search was not successful in the early stages. However, the leaders in this industry are persistent people. They persisted in this work and finally proved that certain areas of the Gulf of Carpentaria are teeming with these types of prawns which are acceptable on the overseas market. The company is showing to other people that there is a huge potential in this area.
I think it is being conservative to say that as a result of the work by Craig Mostyn and others associated in the research it appears that an export market worth $10m a year can be built up very easily. This is quite a substantial market in Australian terms. It is a matter which is extremely important to Australia as a whole but even more important to the development of the northern part of Australia. It becomes even more important still when we realise that there has been over exploitation of waters off the eastern coast of Australia. Therefore, urgent approaches have to be made to develop this industry.
Australia at the present time has legal authority to control waters within an area 3 miles from our coastline. But according to advice given by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann), he will be introducing legislation in the near future to extend this limit to 12 miles. I hope that that legislation will be introduced some time this year. Unfortunately, this prolific area of prawns in the Gulf of Carpentaria will be outside the 12 mite limit. It is well into the heart of the Gulf. Therefore, this area which is so rich in sea food is open to exploitation by international operators.
I think we should examine this situation to see whether we can protect Australia’s interest in this field. If the northern points of the eastern and western coastlines of the Gulf of Carpentaria were only 24 miles apart Australia could legally close off the whole gulf. But because the distance exceeds 24 miles this is not legally possible. I understand that prawning vessels from Japan have been moving into this area since the company of which I spoke proved the presence of suitable prawns. There is also some suggestion that prawning vessels from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics will also move into the area.
– Why cannot we know the identity of the man who issued that warning?
– I join with members of the Government in supporting the motion for the printing of the Budget papers and in opposing the amendment moved by the Opposition. The way in which the debate has gone up to this time has proved one thing very conclusively - that the Opposition is unfit to govern Australia. I think that I can give evidence of this a little later on. First of all, I wish to deal very briefly with one or two aspects of the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) prior to the suspension of the sitting.
Senator Cohen twitted the Government and said that it had learnt the lessons of the Corio by-election. We all recognise this as being a reference to the by-election that was fought recently in which the total Government votes were not very far behind the total Opposition votes. The by-election resulted, as we all know, in a victory for the Australian Labor Party. After all, I suppose it is nice to have a victory occasionally. Everybody likes to have a victory. It gives encouragement to keep on trying. But this was a by-election. The seat had been held previously by a man with a great sporting reputation in the person of Hubert Opperman. I understand, although I have not had the pleasure of meeting him, that the new member for Corio (Mr Scholes), is a popular local man. So I do not think that a lot can be learnt by the Government as a result of the outcome of that byelection. The reason why the Opposition is still in opposition is that over the years it has not learnt the things that the Australian people will not tolerate.
Senator Cohen was critical of some of the decisions of the Government. He was limited by time, just as I will be, but he referred to quite a number of them. I wish to point out one matter to the critics, who are to be found not only inside this place. If the criticism of a critic is to bear any weight, that critic should be in possession of all the facts. Nine times out of ten - perhaps even more than that - these critics are not in possession of all the facts; but the Government is in possession of all the facts and this leads it to make the decisions that it makes. All those who listen to critics should bear this in mind.
Let me turn now to some of the matters on which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) condemned the Government. First of all, he condemned the Budget as a whole. I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that he is in the minority when he criticises or condemns the Budget. This Budget received almost universal acceptance. Indeed, I recall few budgets that have had the same acceptance as the present Budget has had. Almost without exception newspaper editorials have praised the Budget. It has been acclaimed. It has been praised by financial writers and others, such as financial editors, who take an interest in questions of finance.
A study of the Budget speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate has brought me to the conclusion that his criticism is both loose and reckless. He made no attempt to analyse the effects of the Budget; he certainly did not make any attempt at all to offer alternative suggestions. Indeed I have not heard one speaker on the Opposition side attempt to do this. So again I say that we have been given very definite proof indeed that the Opposition would not be capable of governing Australia.
The speech made by the Leader of the Opposition was not constructive. It contained a lot of carping criticism not befitting a party leader who, naturally enough, aspires one day to join with his colleagues in occupying the treasury bench. Surely the people and his supporters were expecting something good from him. What did he produce in his first Budget speech as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate? I think that his speech can be described in one word only - it was a ‘fizzer’. Let me give some examples of the reckless statements made by Senator Murphy. He said:
The Budget is an open go for private investment even though it is not for the welfare of Australia.
Surely this is an incredible statement for a Leader of the Opposition to make. Surely he does not believe it. It was quite irresponsible. But possibly the most reckless in a long tedious series of unsubstantiated observations was his statement that the Budget means for the States a lack of proper finance to carry out their essential functions on behalf of the people. If we take this statement to its logical end, the only conclusion that can be reached is that Senator Murphy believes that the States are bankrupt. Surely no person in Australia would support him in this contention. Development in the Commonwealth sphere and in all of the States has never been at a higher level. Tax reimbursements to the States are at an all time high. There have been record State loan allocations. It is pure poppycock to say otherwise. This is another of Murphy’s furphies.
Another of the reckless statements made by the Leader of the Opposition was that the States are being treated as though they were foreign countries. He said also that foreign countries owned Australia, or words to that effect. Surely to goodness that must be the most irresponsible statement ever offered by a Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. To say that foreign countries own Australia shows how far one will go in trying to get a point over and how bankrupt of ideas one must be before one makes a statement of that nature. It is true that many hundreds of millions of dollars and pounds sterling have been invested in Australia. It is very fortunate for us that this money has been invested here; it has contributed to our national growth and development. But it is iniquitous for a senator in such a responsible position as Senator Murphy occupies to state unequivocally that foreigners own Australia. I can only say that such a statement is unworthy of him. For the Leader of the Opposition to say that our country is becoming an economic colony demonstrates the length to which the Opposition will go to give the wrong picture to the Australian people and to the rest of the world.
This is dangerous talk. Australia needs overseas investment. My Party is opposed and has always been opposed to wholesale takeovers. For years we have pointed out the danger of Australia getting into the position that Canada is in today. This is something on which even Senator Ormonde, who is trying to interject, would agree with me. ft would be calamitous if this ever should happen. We pride ourselves that the economy of this nation has been managed in such a manner that no danger of this happening exists. While this Government continues in office there will be no danger of this happening to Australia. But the Government does regard overseas investment as an integral part of the continued growth of Australia. I say ‘continued growth’ because never in our history has there been such dynamic growth and development as we see today.
It is a rather sickening experience to continue reciting Senator Murphy’s diatribe against our closest ally and the people who have had sufficient confidence to invest in this country. I could well understand if what Senator Murphy said was something I had read in the Communist ‘Tribune*. Here is an example of his statement: Development is now to be determined by the directors of foreign corporations.’ 1 hear honourable senators opposite interjecting. Apparently some of Senator Murphy’s colleagues go along with him. Where else would one read such drivel but in the Communist Press, where it belongs. One would not expect to hear it coming from the lips of a Labor senator. There are one or two members of the Labor Party from whom I would expect to hear it but 1 did not expect to hear it from Senator Murphy, the Leader of the Opposition in this place. 1 could go on repeating Senator Murphy’s irresponsible statements but I shall turn to another aspect of his speech which is reported on page 167 of Hansard of 23rd August 1967. He said:
In the Western world we-
That is Australia- are now devoting more of our resources per head to the military vote than all countries other than the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France.
At that stage 1 interjected: ‘Is this a good thing or a bad thing?’ Senator Murphy replied: ‘It is a bad thing.’
– Wait until Shirley Temple takes over in America.
– Cut it out.
– This is old hat. Is this the best the Minister can do?
– They said that in the United States more people opposed the war than is the case in Australia.
– No, I would not.
– Why does not the Minister stick lo the Budget?
– I did not decry BHP.
– That was 20 years ago.
– The Government is in a jam over Vietnam.
– The Minister’s Government could have helped her a bit.
– I am unable to agree with the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) who said that this Budget had been well received throughout the community. Perhaps we move in different circles. I have been told by the people 1 met that they find the Budget colourless and unsatisfactory. The principal reasons for condemning this Budget were outlined by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) a week ago. Representatives of the Australian Labor Party have also stated their reasons why they regard this Budget as entirely unacceptable. The ALP, through the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) announced a month or two ago that it regarded itself as the political mouthpiece of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, when opening its congress just recently, said that this Budget must be defeated. I am a Victorian senator. Last Thursday night the Melbourne Trades Hall
Council unanimously decided that this Budget must be defeated in the interests of Labor supporters. In view of those strong expressions of opinion, I was amazed when I saw the nature of the amendment which the Australian Labor Party proposed. The amendment contains a mild rebuke about defence costs and a milder rebuke about administrative waste and extravagance. It says that the Opposition does not like retrenchment of development projects, and it has a tender word of sympathy for those who are suffering because their pensions are not big enough.
But it does not even mention postal charges which were such a big issue that the Opposition brought the whole Senate back to Canberra, at immense cost to the country. Having read the Australian Labor Party’s proposal 1 have come to the conclusion that the average pensioner upon whom the ALP poured so much sympathy some days ago would want the ALP to put up a proposition against the Budget that had a little more bite in it. We need a proposition with teeth. There are a hundred issues on which one could talk in criticising the Budget, but there are two main issues which ought to be discussed.
– Who said we were?
– Does the honourable senator think the Cabinet has gone pink?
– lt is always very difficult to stand on one’s feet and enter into a debate after listening to Senator McManus. That is particularly so tonight. Senator McManus reminded me of a biblical analogy in that he is a man who once lived in a den of lions. Having lived in a den of lions one finds oneself, to use the modern jargon, with a trauma - a dislike of lions. I have the same dislike of lions which the honourable senator has. In the Senate tonight Senator McManus appeared in the role of a Daniel who had come to judgment - a Daniel who was judging the Australian Labor Party for its sins of omission and its sins of commission.
Men who have lived in Parliament for a long time, or even for a short time, develop an instinct, as it were, as to what is happening in the Parliament. I think it is worthwhile for me to recapitulate some of the aspects and events of this Parliament in the last week or 10 days, which have been reinforced by Senator McManus this evening. It is perfectly obvious that a great deal of posturing is going on inside the Australian Labor Party at present. As all honourable senators are aware, there are two groups inside the Australian Labor Party. They can be easily identified by their interjections from time to time and Senator McManus can designate them with great clarity. One group in the Australian Labor Party believes that this is a time when action should be taken by a parliamentary device through the temporary majority which can be manoeuvred by the Opposition in the Senate to defeat the Government, which was re-elected by the Australian people only a short time ago. The ALP has in the Senate a long term, arithmetical advantage, which is only temporary, but it hopes to use the powers of the Senate to suppress the House of the Government, which is the House of Representatives. It is quite clear that there is a division in the Opposition as to the tactics to be used.
This evening before the suspension of the silting Senator Cohen postured as the future - he hopes but not everyone hopes - Minister for Education and Science. Senator Murphy is quite anonymous in these manoeuvres because he does not know on which side the gifts of ministerial appointments will lie. Some members of the Australian Labor Party wonder whether it is a reasonable political or constitutional device. Finally there is the curious amalgam in another area where, as I have mentioned before in the Senate, there is a type of schizophrenic or split personality operation concerning the leadership of the Party. An attempt is being made to create the image of the new leader who shall be half the late President of the United States and half the present Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I mentioned only last night that a new platform of the ALP has been published and widely disseminated. It carries on the front cover a photograph of the new young Leader, the young President as it were. It is a very dramatic photograph and you will recollect, Mr President, that I said last night the only feature missing was a balcony on which the figure should be seen standing.
An attempt is being made in the ALP at the moment to project the most ancient of all legends; that is of the infant Hercules, who in this case has moved into the Australian Labor Party to clear out its stables of dung and corruption. That is the attempt being made by the Australian Labor Party at the moment. While its members are seeking to project the image of an infant Hercules clearing up the corruption in the Australian Labor Party, another more amusing aspect is occurring which has not yet been discerned by the Australian electorate. I think it will be my duty to make it clear to them. A lot of men, Senator Keeffe not being the least of them, are harrowing stuff in from the other end of the stable so that the harder the man works to clear out the stable of corruption inside the Australian Labor Party, the more ideological corruption is harrowed in from the other end. That is the background to the manoeuvres of the last week. That is the reason behind the motion which has been moved by Senator Murphy. It is the reason for the posturings of Senator Cavanagh. It is the reason for the operations proceeding in another place at the moment. It is all a carefully calculated manoeuvre to set in being the conditions under which it is hoped the Australian Labor Party will be able to achieve the means of bringing about an election - by using the device of a temporary majority in the Senate.
The Opposition has chosen to attack the Budget, which is the financial means of conducting the country over the next 12 months. The Opposition quarrels with the Budget. Senator Murphy has moved a motion for a carefully calculated amendment and one after the other honourable senators opposite will rise to support it. I do not know whether the current gossip of the Parliament is correct, but it is that members of the ALP because of a division in their ranks cannot make up their minds as to whether they should use the majority they can manoeuvre in the Senate to defeat the motion that the Senate take note of the Budget Papers. They cannot make up their minds because there are two groups. This is one of the reasons for the manoeuvres that have been taking place over the last 10 days. They are an attempt to set in being circumstances which the ALP hopes to use to obtain political advantage, not, mark you, for the well being of this country and its people, but for the well being of posturing, ambitious men on the other political side who have no political experience other than that dedicated to a sterile philosophy of Socialism. I will demonstrate this very clearly and precisely.
What is the motion moved by Senator Murphy? He refers to failure to curb this and that and states that what concerns his Parly is that emphasis has been placed on private expenditure - on the private sector of the economy - and not enough emphasis has been placed on the public sector of the economy. No-one objects to this reasoning, because this is the issue - whether the revenues of this country shall be used to place emphasis on spending in the public sector or whether they should be placed more emphatically in the private sector. That is the issue and I do not run away from it. No honourable senator on this side of the chamber runs away from the issue because it is central and cardinal to the Budget. The issue is whether at this juncture more emphasis should be placed on the public sector and less emphasis placed on the private sector. A fallacy is involved in this reasoning because the dividends by which this country lives are derived from the energy in the private sector. That is what the Budget is about. The means by which the people of this nation sustain themselves are obtained from dividends created in the private sector and are therefore taxable. There are no dividends in the public sector except those we can extract, for example, from Trans-Australia Airlines, Qantas Airways Ltd and the Australian National Line under the management of this Government. The vast sums of money used by society to sustain itself are raised by taxation levied on enterprise in the private sector. That is the cardinal issue involved in this debate.
It is interesting to examine some of the background to the fermentation at present occurring at the bottom of the ALP. Exactly the same claims that are being made by the Leader of the Australian Labor Party (Mr Whitlam) in another place and by Senator Murphy and his aspiring Ministers who hope before long to sup the sweets from the glass, were made in the United Kingdom 3 years ago by Mr Harold Wilson who is today the Prime Minister of that country. He said: ‘Wc have to reduce the emphasis on the private sector and increase spending in the public sector and we will gel the United. Kingdom out of the rut in which it lies and rests’. That claim was made by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 3 years ago and it is the claim made by the new young Leader - the Hercules - of the Australian Labor Party. I think it is fair to study the United Kingdom and see what has happened there. The steel industry has been nationalised. That is transferring the private sector to the public sector and spending millions of pounds on the nationalisation of steel. The British aircraft industry is being dismantled by the exertion of government pressures. In the modern sysem you do not go about blindly nationalising. As the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom docs, you use all sorts of other systems through the socialist structure, apart from outright nationalisation. You can achieve your ends by. ending the capacity of the private structure, for instance, of the British aircraft industry.
Two factors are involved tn this concept of paying attention to the public sector. One is lo nationalise or socialise or destroy. The other thing that you must do if you are Prime Minister of the United Kingdom - this is the textbook pattern of what has been postulated by the Australian Labor Party - is to promise that there shall be endless bounties on the social services level. That is (he second thing that you do. It is all on record in what the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has said. We had one of his Ministers sitting here in the Senate. The Senate consented to his being seated here and the President gave him a seat. He has been translated to a radio or television authority. He failed in his job and a lot of others have failed. The policy is to nationalise and socialise and then go into the social services area, lt is said that when we have nationalised such a tremendous benefit will accrue to the economy that there will be increased social service benefits for the whole community. This is the story.
– Look at the mess the Conservative Government of New Zealand is in.
– So is the Government here.
– The honourable senator has convinced himself.
– It is 3.5%.
– And steel too.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). At 8 o’clock this evening, we saw a responsible Minister in the Senate, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), rise to his feet to speak on the Budget. I, as a returned soldier, in common with many thousands of returned servicemen throughout Australia and the Returned Services League, expected to hear from that Minister some explanation as to why no rises in the pensions of returned servicemen were included in this Budget. We expected to hear him give an explanation and information as to the reasons why he has continued to refuse to give hospital benefits to all returned soldiers from the Boer War and the First World War who are now over the age of 70 years. These are the demands that the RSL has made. These are the benefits that it has sought continually from the Government in recognition of the service that these men have given to this nation. For 30 minutes the Minister emulated a famous senator in the United States of America. He used his time to sneer and to smear the members of the Opposition. The object of his exercise was to put himself in a position in which he would not be forced to defend the indefensible attitude of the Government in relation to the returned servicemen of this nation.
The Minister also adopted the old tactic of quoting words out of context. He referred to Hansard and particularly to an interjection that he made during the speech delivered by Senator Murphy when he opened the Budget debate on behalf of the Opposition. Senator McKellar claimed that by interjection he asked Senator Murphy:
Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
This was when Senator Murphy was referring to the expenditure on defence in this financial year. He then said that Senator Murphy replied:
It is a bad thing.
The Minister took completely out of context the answer that Senator Murphy gave him. I deplore this action on the part of a responsible Minister of the Government who sought to use this tactic to try to smear the well respected Leader of the Opposition.
Senator Murphy made this remark in reply to the interjection that came from Senator McKellar: ls it any wonder when our military expenditure is characterised by waste and mal-administration?
The answer to Senator McKellar’s interjection is that it is a bad thing.
Then Senator Murphy went on to indicate the reason why he claimed there was waste and mal-administration. He specifically referred to the purchase of the Fill aircraft on which we are expending money that we never expected we would have to spend. The record is now straight and the answer that Senator Murphy was able to give to the interjection from Senator McKellar is complete.
Many adjectives have been used to describe the Budget which is now before the Parliament. The pensioners have one adjective to describe the Budget. They call it the malnutrition Budget. They have every right to call it the malnutrition Budget. For the second time in 3 years this Government has seen fit to deny them any pension increase whatsoever. The Government has said to the aged, the widowed and the sick: Once again we will deny you the right to live in dignity. We will deny you the right to have decent shelter, clothing and food. The direct reaction of the people who are hungry has been to term this Budget the malnutrition Budget.
Many reports have been made by responsible people who have carried out research on this state of affairs. The reports show that the incidence of poverty has risen. I recall that nearly one million people - I think that is the figure - are not enjoying the standard of living that we would expect every person in this country to enjoy. 1 have made some investigations into the history of the Budgets that have been presented over the last 9 years. I find that over the last 9 years the Government has given the pensioners of this country an average rise of 50c. This is the nice round figure on which the Government operates every now and then irrespective of whether or not there is a clear cut case that the amount should be much more than that. But the situation is far worse than that. In relation to the aged people of this nation, the Government has played politics in a manner that I did not think any government would.
I will show this by presenting to the Senate the history of pensions from 1961 to the present time.
In August 1961, the 1961-62 Budget was brought down, lt was a general election year so the Government awarded a flat increase to pensioners of 50c. The following year, 1962, was not an election year so the pensioners received exactly nothing. However, 1963 was again an election year so the Government gave the pensioners an increase of $1. The Government denied an increase of 50c in 1962 so that it would be able to increase the pension by $1 the following year and make it look a good thing for the pensioners. I repeat thai 1963 was the year of a general election.
In the August 1964 Budget the pensioners received another 50c but 1965 was not an election year so they again received nothing. There were no increases in pensions for the sick, the aged and the widowed. In 1966 the Government again came up with a $1 increase. That was another election year so the bait was handed out to the pensioners. Now in the 1967 Budget the pensioners have again received exactly nothing. The average increase in pensions over the past 3 years has been 33c compared with the average of 50c over the past 9 years. In effect, the purchasing power of the pension is being reduced by the tactics adopted by the Government in an endeavour to win votes from the pensioners in an election year.
I have examined the position and the miserly amount of 33c a week will not buy (hem a pound of butter, a pound of meat or a dozen eggs, it will probably buy them a couple of hot pies or a small packet of fish and chips. That is why these people are suffering from malnutrition. If honourable senators think that this is just in my own imagination, let me refer them to an article which appeared last week in the Melbourne ‘Age* following a visit by a reporter to a meeting of the Combined Pensioners Association at Oakleigh. The article carries the headline ‘Pensioners life below meat and fruit line’. The reporter questioned the pensioners very closely and I shall quote just a small extract from the article. For the information of the reporter the president of the organisation asked certain pensioners the question: ‘How many of you have had steak recently? The replies were as follows:
One woman: “I had a T-bone the other day, but that’s because my grandson’s a butcher.’
Another woman: ‘I had a chop at the weekend but 1 have eaten no meat during this week. It’s too dear to buy.’
A third woman: ‘I went and asked for a pork chop, but when the butcher put it on the scales he told me it would cost 40 cents. That was too much for me.’
Similar answers were given to questions relating to the nutritious fruit that each and every one of us should be eating. Many people fob off this aspect by saying that aged people do not need to eat as much of the foods that younger people need. In reality they should be having far more nutritious foods as they get older to counter the illnesses from which they suffer at that time of life. This is the kind of existence we are forcing on the pensioners of this nation. An increase in pensions is a tactic used by the Government to win votes in an election year. This is an unanswerable situation.
Now we hear double talk from the Treasurer (Mr Mc Mahon). In one statement he claimed that there was great prosperity in this country and that it would be even greater but in the same television interview he told us that he could not afford lo increase pensions in any way. A newspaper article carries this report:
He said he had sympathy for the pensioners because they had been left out of the Budget.
Last year T was able to give them an increase of one dollar. But when saw the deficit I had - and the other people I thought we had to look after - 1 had to recognise the difficulties.
On this occasion I doubted if the economy could afford it.
I did this against a background - which I do noi like mentioning - that once we touch them they cost us something in the order of $50m.’
It is amazing that in a Budget of almost $7 billion we cannot find an additional $50m to ensure that the pensioners will be able to buy a little meat, a little fruit and the foods that we believe are absolutely necessary for them if they are to be healthy and useful to the community.
In some cases widows are even worse off than are age and invalid pensioners. There is a large section of widows who I choose to regard as being in no man’s land. They are the widows who are not eligible for class B pension because they have not yet reached the age of 50 years and have no children or dependants under the age of 16 years. This great nation which will spend such a fantastic amount of money this year has told those widows that if they want to exist they must go and find a job because they have no pension rights after a period of 26 weeks following the death of the breadwinner. Many hundreds of pensioners are today almost permanently - indeed some are permanently - in receipt of the unemployment benefit. They must go to the employment office every Monday and present the required form indicating that they have searched for employment and have been unable to find it. They then receive $8.25 which has to last them for the week. That is the amount on which these widows are expected to live.
I know many of these people who are not employable because of illnesses that are not assessed at the 85% disability which is necessary for a person to be able to claim the invalid pension. We play that trick on widows who are between 40 and 50 years of age and who no longer have dependants to look after. If we were to reduce the age limit for the class B pensioner - this is something which should be done as a matter of urgency - we would have to pay them the magnificent sum of SI 3, almost $5 more than they are getting now. But as things stand at present the widow of 45 years must exist on the unemployment benefit which has not increased in value in any way since 1961. It is 6 years since there was any increase in this benefit and the magnificent sum, as it was then, of £4 2s 6d is the same as they are receiving now. As soon as they reach 50 they become eligible automatically for the higher rate of the widow’s pension. Many of these people are unfit to be employed and many are going through a period of life when illness strikes them and they are unable to obtain gainful employment.
This is a matter that the Government should look at because it is quite clear that these are the forgotten people in our community. They have been forgotten completely by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair) and by the Treasurer. They have not received an increase in their pension for 6 years. How a widow can pay the rent or the rates, feed and clothe herself and live in any kind of dignity on $8.25 is beyond my comprehension. 1 think the Government should be strongly condemned because of this. This problem can easily be rectified and it would not cost a great deal of money to rectify it.
There is another anomaly in respect of widows’ pensions: When a woman becomes eligible for a B class pension, although she may be a single pensioner she does not receive the additional benefits that are available to an age pensioner who is single. I would like the Government to tell us why there is a differentiation between the widow and a single pensioner who gets these additional benefits. In reality, food and clothing cost the same for each and there is no lower scale of costs for the widow. I make, a strong appeal to the Government to rectify this anomaly during the period covered by this Budget. It is a glaring anomaly and it should not continue.
We also read in the Budget Speech and in subsequent Press announcements that the community is to receive some taxation concessions. These concessions are based on additional amounts of money which can be claimed as deductions for a wife and a child. Let us consider the scale of additional benefits which will accrue to thu ordinary wage earners and take the case of a man who has a wife and two other dependants. If he is earning the average of $40 a week he will save the magnificent, sum of 20c per week as a result of this great concession. The system of taxation operating under this Government bears out the fact that the higher the scale of earnings the more that a wage earner will save. The main benefit from this concession will not go to the people who need it.
The Labor Party believes that there should be a complete reassessment of the system of taxation in Australia. It believes that people in the lower income bracket should pay much less taxation than they are paying today and that those in the higher income brackets should pay more. The present position is unrealistic. In the days of Labor governments people with dependants receiving the basic wage did not have to worry about paying taxation al all. If a worker earning more than the basic wage had dependants he might not have to pay tax at a rate higher than that applicable to the basic wage. In this clay and age we find that the Government is waxing fat on the inflation that it has created itself within the community by the increases in taxation that have occurred. An excellent article appeared in ‘The Taxpayers’ Bulletin’ published this month criticising the Government and attacking the weight of taxation imposed on workers. I will read this article because I think it is important that it be recorded in Hansard. lt clearly shows the Government up for what it is. The article states:
No increase in the rates of personal income tax was announced in the Budget. There was no need to!!! This is because of the inbuilt growth factor in our existing progressive scales. The cost of living goes up, wages are increased and the worker finds himself in a higher tax bracket.
Actually the only increase in the rates of personal income tax over the past ten years was the 2i% surcharge imposed in the 1965-66 Budget But year after year the collections from personal income tax have risen and risen. Employed taxpayers paid $1,160 millions in 1965-66, $1,323 millions in 1966-67 and are expected to pay $1,484 millions in 1967-68- $160 million more than last year.
Over the past len years the burden of Income Tax has increased substantially on the small wage earner. This is because, as award rates have increased to meet the increases of living costs, the worker is put into a higher tax bracket.
Tcn years ago a basic wage earner paid 41 weeks wages in Income Tax . . . in other words he worked that time, virtually, for the Government for nothing. Now a basic wage earner works 6 weeks a year to pay his Income Tax. The Commonwealth Statistician gives tables of the average weekly earnings of the employed males. Ten years ago this ‘average’ man worked 5i weeks to pay his Income Tax. Now he has to give away eight weeks wages. The family man is even worse off because the tax allowances for dependants have not kept pace with inflation.
Tcn years ago the breadwinner could deduct $260 for his wife - now he can deduct $312; he was allowed $156 for his first child- now $208: for other children $104 - now $156. Over the 10 years the consumer price index has risen by 23% while the allowance for a wife has only increased by 10%.
That is not the complete article but I think it makes sufficiently clear to the Senate that the additional few dollars which the Government will allow as deductions for taxpayers next year is a spurious trick. If inflation continues on its merry way the Government will be collecting this year the same as or even more than it collected last year from the people in the low wage bracket. This demonstrates the spuriousness of the claim of the Government that it is making a valuable and generous concession to the people.
The Government did make one remarkable concession in my opinion; that is that persons now able to pay $24 a week to a superannuation fund or to an insurance company will be able to claim that amount as a deduction from their taxable income at the end of the year. This sum represents more than the net earnings of many people in the community. Why cannot the Government have a real look at the situation facing people in the lower income bracket and at the situation of people living on social service benefits? If there is Si 8m available, instead of making a gesture such as the one I just spoke of, the Government should give it to the people who need the money in order to exist. In Australia we proudly boast to all and sundry of the great prosperity we enjoy at this time, and yet at the same time, in this Budget, we condemn our returned soldiers, our widows, our children, our aged and those who are sick to an existence that none of us could possibly tolerate personally.
In regard to housing, we have 250,000 dwellings in Australia which have been declared as unfit for human habitation. No radical change is outlined in this Budget to assist the building of more homes or to demolish the tremendous slums in most of our capital cities. All we find is that additional millions of dollars are being made available in order to kill our youth, and mcn women and children in Vietnam. We have the wealth within our community to ensure at all times that we can look after the people that are needy. The Budget is the avenue through which this can be done. There is no excuse whatever for the situation that I have been able to describe in the time 1 have been speaking tonight.
I ask the Government, even at this late stage, to have another look at the position and to do something for that section of our community which has received no benefit whatever. I do not believe the Treasurer’s statement that he could not afford to grant additional benefits in the current Budget. As I indicated earlier, I do not believe his statement that to touch other matters at all would mean raising another $50m approximately. Total expenditure this year will be $6,500m. I hope that when the Government re-examines the Budget in the light of the revelations made during this debate it will withdraw the Budget and rephrase it so that the people who need assistance will get it in no uncertain terms.
– I forget the context in which he referred to it, but Senator Poyser mentioned the drift of population lo the capital cities of the Commonwealth. In my view, that is one of the worst features of the Australian economy. The honourable senator spoke about this great evil which, if it continues at the present high rate, can have disastrous consequences for the development of the Commonwealth. Only recently figures were released which indicated a continuous buildup of the big centres of population. They indicated the percentage rate of increase over the past few years compared with the percentage by which the population of rural areas had been depleted. Although one’s voice might be only a voice in the wilderness on this question, I agree with Senator Bull who said that something should be done urgently about the matter on a CommonwealthStatemunicipal basis. Very serious consideration should be given to arresting these trends which are not healthy and which, if they continue, will result in the greater percentage of the Commonwealth’s population being congregated in a few areas only a few miles wide.
Having said that, I pass on to the Budget. I welcome the proposed improvements in repatriation benefits. I welcome also, although not enthusiastically because the amounts are so small, the tax concessions that are to be granted to the taxpayer for his dependants. I also welcome the child endowment benefits that are to be granted to the family man with the large family. I am not enthusiastic about them, because in my view the amounts should have been greater. Having regard to the very large amounts that are expended by this country on its immigration programme, sometimes not as successfully as we would like, it certainly behoves the powers that be to do what they can for Australian born families.
During the course of his Budget speech, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said:
One reason why we have drawn the reins on public spending more tightly than before is to provide room for balanced expansion of the private sector.
That Fs a pretty good concept, especially for a private enterprise government. It is one that has had good results over the past 17 or 18 years. Under it we have achieved one of the lowest unemployment levels in the world and tremendous expansion in the development of the latent resources of the Commonwealth. We have also had what one might call a mighty increase in population. I repeat that, if carried out as it should be, it is a pretty good concept.
But Senator Murphy will have none of it. He says that insufficient money is being spent on education, health, water, sewerage, housing, power, transport, communications and so on, despite the fact that in most avenues of government expenditure considerable increases arc proposed for this year. It is claimed that in education alone there has been an overall increase of 35% in the amount to be expended. If we add to this the proposed increases in expenditure that would be necessary to give effect to the whole ambit of the Labor Party’s proposals on social services, and if we appreciate the increases that must take place in taxation as a consequence and appreciate that the Labor Party looks askance at the introduction of overseas capital into this country and apparently would impose such restrictions as would scare it away, we must wonder where the money is to come from for the development that must take place if this country is to progress. Under Labor’s concept our economy must surely reach a state of complete stagnation.
Senator Cormack referred to New Zealand and the United Kingdom. I have always been interested in New Zealand because I have visited there a good deal over the years. I am reasonably familiar with the social services that were introduced over there years ago by a Labor government and that have since been carried on by subsequent governments. I have seen figures - they arc hard to believe - which indicate that New Zealand spends 57% of her revenue on social services - on these allegedly free things which, far from being free, are in fact uncommonly expensive. I well remember that years ago a panel of economists who inquired into the economic position of New Zealand said that only in a time of great economic buoyancy could such a burden be carried by the community. I really believe that one of the reasons for the present crisis across the Tasman is the undue burden placed on the people by the amount of taxation it is necessary to levy to pay for the whole ambit of social services that obtain in that country. New Zealand has not the natural resources that we have in Australia although it is a country of great productive capacity. Her productive capacity per acre is infinitely greater than that of this country. Most of her production is sold on the markets of the world. But in spite of her productive capacity, assets and advantages, her economy is in a state of crisis, as it has been continually for several years past.
Senator Cormack also referred to the United Kingdom. Only a week or two ago I read an article by an economist. Sometimes I am a little suspicious of articles written by economists because, like the rest of humanity, economists are not right on the ball all the time. This economist said that the United Kingdom had reached such a farcical position that the higher the Government raises the scale of taxation the less revenue is received. It has reached saturation point because an increase in the scale of taxation brings about that little extra stagnation and cripples that little extra incentive as well as causing taxpayers to readjust their affairs in order to avoid the increase. Only in today’s Press I read that the British Government has announced that in order to avoid wholesale unemployment this year it proposes to make reductions in taxation.
I make these points because 1 have heard it said so often that the burden should always be placed on the income tax payer and that the man who is better able to pay these imposts should be the one to pay them. That is a comforting thought as long as the saturation point has not been reached. It is an easy philosophy. But the trouble with it is that the Government can go only so far, and if it goes beyond that point it brings about a condition of stagnation such as that which exists in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In other words, a balance has to be struck between the public sector and the private sector. An attempt has been made to do that in this Budget. After all. the private sector does most of the employing in our community and we must look to it for further expansion and development. There is no doubt whatever about that.
It is a fact that in Australia, with our 11 ½ million people, we just have not sufficient resources to provide the capital that is needed to bring about the expansion and development that we all want so urgently, lt is no use saying that overseas interests own this, that or the other industry. The simple fact is that, standing on our own feet in isolation, we just have not sufficient money to bring about the development that is so very necessary in Australia, especially if we embark on wholesale expenditure in the public sector from revenue raised from the taxpayers, as the Australian Labor Party envisages.
I noted that the Treasurer said in his Budget Speech:
Wage rates have increased strongly: Over the year to June, minimum weekly wage rates rose by about 7%. As to prices, the consumer price index rose in the first three quarters of 1966-67 at an annual rate only a little above 2%. However, in the most recent quarter, the rise approached an annual rate of 5%.
In spite of the fact that we hear so much to the contrary, those figures would seem to me to indicate that increases in wages have at least kept abreast of increases in prices.
It is a tragedy that every increase in the basic wage and every consequent adjustment made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission reduce the income of the primary producers. That is a fact of simple arithmetic. How this problem is to be overcome I do not know. Various concessions have been granted to primary producers by this Government. Without them I do not know what the position would be. The primary producer in Australia is like a man standing on the end of a queue. The burden is passed on down the line until it comes to him. He is the last in the line; he has no-one to whom he can pass it on; he just has to take it. When his profit margin evaporates altogether as a result of consequent increases in his requirements, that will bring disaster to the whole economy.
Let it be borne in mind that 80% of Australia’s exports are primary products. These figures have been quoted on many occasions. Mr McEwen has said that 80% of the income from those exports goes to paying for the plant, raw materials and so on that are necessary for the expansion of secondary industry in this country. So, if anything very adverse happened to our exports - do not let us forget that this is threatened - it could have very widespread repercussions on the economy.
If any man in the community is entitled to have a growl, it is the primary producer. For years he has been absorbing these costs without having anyone to whom he can pass them on. Since 1948-49 wages and salaries have increased fivefold, whereas net farm income has increased by only 60%. The primary producer is called on to bear ever increasing costs in order to produce. I believe that centralisation in this country is accelerating. Because of the recent drop in the price of wool, our most important exportable primary product, and because of continually increasing costs the margin between the cost of production and the sale price is narrowing. It has ceased to exist for some commodities.
In the main the farmers in Tasmania have small concerns. I often hear the query raised: ‘Who is going to produce the food if the present situation continues?’ The farmers reply: ‘What can we grow to make a profit? What can we do?’ Knowing that this situation exists, I look askance at some of the profits that are accrued by companies engaged in secondary industry. It is not because I no not believe in profits; I do. If profits were not made no money would be available for the expansion and development that are so urgently needed. It can truly be said that the farmer is the very basis of the economy of this country. Two or three years ago the average farmer in a certain area - I think it was called the temperate rain area - was accruing a profit at 1% on his investment. That figure was contained in a report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. How many companies would look at such a proposition and undertake it? These people are largely responsible for Australia earning its living in the world, which it has to do, and for paying for the imports necessary for secondary industry to function. How long can this state of affairs continue when one section of the community has its increment increased fivefold and the other section by only 60% over the same period?
Only a week or two ago an authoritative statement was made on these lines: With primary products in our trade to the United Kingdom and the Continent, prices we have received over the last 10 years have risen by only about 2%. That 2% can be cancelled out now because some things have slumped. Costs of production and transport, however, have risen much more sharply. In the case of freight rates on these products the rise has been about 50%, whereas the actual value of the product has risen by only about 2%. This continual foolishness of wages chasing prices - that is all it is - is only defeating itself. It must eventually defeat the economy of the country and bring about the dire consequences about which 1 have spoken.
In spite of the deficiencies that I have mentioned, the Budget is a reasonable Budget. I would like to have seen greater increases in those sections which I have mentioned. ‘Canberra Comment’ . for August 1967, which is circulated to all members, said:
The proper relationship of government to business can only be viewed against the background of our democratic system - a system which operates on the basis of influence and persuasion rather than by directive and control-
That is what Senator Murphy was advocating - a system typified by representative government and freedom of association and expression: one that places a high value on individual freedom, individual effort and reward and the exercise of individual responsibility.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). Before 1 deal with the matter in the Budget with which I am directly interested, I should like to refer to the criticism levelled by Senator McKellar and Senator Lillico - Senator Lillico did not press the point very much - at the ownership of enterprises in Australia. Senator Murphy made this statement in his speech on the Budget:
More and more our national resources - whether they be natural resources or whether they be our primary and secondary industries - are not owned by the Australian public; they are owned not by Australians individually but by foreign corporations.
Senator McKellar took exception to this statement. The “Directory of Overseas Investment in Australian Manufacturing Industry’ lists all the manufacturing concerns in Australia. It is produced by the Office of Secondary Industry, Department of Trade and Industry, Canberra, and covers a number of facets of industry. I have selected three pages at random to give an idea of the amount of overseas equity in Australian companies. The first page to which 1 refer is page 4. 1 do not propose to read all the names because that would be only wasting time. 1 will just give the percentages shown on pages 4 and 5. Conzinc Riotinto has capital amounting to $150m invested. The other firms do not have quite as much capital as that invested. I can see at a glance figures of $89m and $145m. Scanning down the page the percentages of overseas equity are 92.5, 85, 47, 100, 100, and 51.86. I do not think I need to read out any more on that page. The figures I have cited give an idea of the extent of investment by overseas companies. The next page I wish to refer to is page 38 which sets out investment in electrical goods undertakings. The percentages of overseas equity are 100, 100, 100, 100, 50, 50, 100, 100, and 75. The third page to which I wish to refer, for the benefit of Senator McKellar, is page 92 which relates to ‘other manufacturing’. It covers all types of manufacturing concerns and honourable senators will appreciate that the capital involved is not as large as in the other industries to which I have referred. However, business, the details of which are given, has capital of $10m. The percentages of overseas equity are 65, 10, 100. 100, 51, 100, 100, 100, 100, and 100. I did not go through the book in order to select the cases I have cited. I chose four pages, because I did not have time to select any more.
– Has the honourable senator decided on his Party’s reason for opposition to overseas investment in Australia?
– What does the honourable senator mean?
– No, I am deadly serious.
– What is the object of the first missile?
– Just let me interrupt. The Ikara missile is an anti-submarine missile and the Komar class gunboat of the Indonesians has a surface to surface missile system. The honourable senator is confusing the two.
– We could pay for tha Israeli Air Force with its French aircraft.
– What were the tanks that they could not get over the bridges in New South Wales?
– It has.
– The United Nations is powerless to act.
– I support the Budget and oppose both amendments that have been moved. I believe that it is a good Budget. It will help to stabilise Australia, and help to keep the country developing and progressing along a steady course. The Opposition has not offered any constructive criticism. Nothing but destructive criticism has come from the Opposition right through this debate. According to Senator Wilkinson, everything is wrong with our defence forces. We have the wrong type of equipment everywhere.
United States Naval Communications Station
– Mr President, I apologise to the Senate for keeping it late tonight but I did endeavour to speak on this matter last week. The subject I wish to bring to the notice of the Senate is of considerable importance. Honourable senators will be aware that in 1963 the Australian Government came to an agreement with the Government of the United States of America to allow the Americans to establish a communications station in Australia.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, the matter raised by Senator Cant comes within the direct responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). 1 have not devoted as much time to it as my colleague has and I know nothing of its details. I understand that the honourable senator has accurately stated the problem that exists in relation to some Australian workers who do not have as full a coverage for workers compensation as do Australians working elsewhere. I thought there had been some settlement though perhaps not complete agreement. However, I may be wrong. I understand that workers compensation provisions were to apply except that there would be no appeal to a court from a decision of the Commissioner for Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation.
– On 21st December.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 August 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670830_senate_26_s35/>.