26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 2. IS p.m., and read prayers.
– My’ question to the Minister for Customs and Excise relates to the recent increases in the prices of Japanese cars. Can the Minister advise the Senate how the increase in the landed’ cost is distributed between the Federal Government and the manufacturers or other authorities?
– In a recent statement to the Senate we announced increases in the prices of Japanese cars to avoid the imposition by the Government - of the duty that would have had to be imposed in accordance with the legislation relating to dumping. Speaking from memory, ‘ J think that the increases vary from $100 to $400 per motor vehicle..’- The increases were necessary to save the Australian car manufacturing industry and to avoid the high level of unemployment which would have resulted. 1 point out that the Japanese Government agreed to the proposed increased prices. The Australian Government’s proposal works in this way: If it costs say $100 to import a car into Australia, a duty of 45% is imposed and on top of that again sales tax and distribution costs are levied.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral been directed to a report that certain commercial television stations in Sydney have declined to indicate whether a particular programme has been televised previously when they supply information regarding their programmes pursuant to section 105 of the Broadcasting and Television Act? Has the Minister noted that when a Sydney Sunday newspaper recently decided to supply a guide for Australian viewers as to repeat programmes, commercial television station TEN 10 indicated that it had no intention of making information of that nature available to anyone, and it suggested that in the interests of the newspaper itself the practice of publishing its own list of repeats should be stopped? In order to protect the Australian community fully and to ensure that all commercial stations honour their obligations so far as the televising of Australian productions is concerned, will the Minister request the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to issue a direction to commercial stations that in their publications of programmes they should indicate which programmes have been shown previously by them?
– 1 am not aware whether the PostmasterGeneral has been acquainted with the matters that the honourable senator has raised in his question. I shall place them before the Postmaster-General and advise the honourable senator when I receive a reply.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry any further information concerning the recent sugar talks in Geneva? Can he inform the Senate whether there is any likelihood of the talks being resumed in the near future?
– 1 regret that I have not any information further to that supplied by the Minister for Trade and Industry in his statement. If my memory, serves me correctly, the Minister expressed the hope that’ something might come out of future talks. I do not know whether a. date has been fixed for the commencement of those talks.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for National Development indicate the details under the terms of the Chowilla agreement regarding the proportion of water to be received by South Australia in comparison with the proportions to be received by New South Wales and Victoria? Can he say whether those terms of water distribution would apply if the Chowilla Dam were not constructed at the present site? Can he give an assurance that if the storage is constructed upstream a proper agreement on proportions of water to be received will be arranged?
– Thinking that a question such as this would be asked, I have available the following information:
The River Murray Waters Agreement provides that, during a declared period of restriction before the Chowilla Reservoir had been declared effective, the available water would be divided in the proportions 5:5:3 for New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia respectively. After the Chowilla Reservoir hae) been declared to be effective the proportions would have been 5:5:5.
The proposed change in the allocation of water during periods of restriction was based on the results of behaviour studies of the system which showed that a greater quantity of water could be obtained with the proposed allocation than by using the present one.
In cither case it is proposed that the South Australian entitlement could be available in all years without restriction. The result of the proposed change in allocation, therefore, was that, although the other two States were subject to somewhat more severe restrictions in the worst years, the overall average supply was increased.
However, in the studies carried out by the River Murray Commission in recent months, the effects of varying the allocation during restricted periods have been further examined. This matter will be given due consideration when recommendations regarding the next major storage are made.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer had his attention drawn to an article which appears in the Australian Financial Review’ today and which shows the number of company registrations in the Australian Territory of Norfolk Island as having risen from 1 in 1961 to 178 in 1967 and to 208 so far this year? Will the Treasurer examine this situation with a view to determining whether this trend is in the national interest?
– 1 have not had the advantage of seeing the article in the Australian Financial Review’ to which the honourable senator referred. 1 most certainly will refer the question to the Treasurer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Government any information confirming reports of the increasing aggressiveness being shown by the armed forces of North Korea against the people of South Korea? Is the Government aware that the Prime Minister of North Korea was reported on 17th December 1967 to have stated that North Korea was the revolutionary base for accomplishing the national liberation? Has the Government any information to suggest that the South Koreans wish to be liberated by the Communists?
– I have not any specific information on the subject matter of the question asked by the honourable senator but it is notorious that the forces of North Vietnam are continuing to be active. We have only to rely upon the Press of the world to know that at the present time they are making a cruel assault on Saigon. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to what is going on in Paris, where it is being suggested by the-
– I referred to North Korea.
– The honourable senator was talking about North Korea? I am sorry. I have no information on the matter.
– The ‘ Minister should have a look at a map.
– I am quite well aware of Korea. I have had much more association - bitter association - with Korea than anybody else in this place. But as for times of peace, I have not been informed of the situation. I regret that I understood the question to be directed to the situation in North Vietnam.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I refer to reports of evidence given by Mr Duckmanton, the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to the Public Accounts Committee. Mr Duckmanton was reported as having said that no-one in the ABC was allowed to remain working in the sensitive area of current affairs if he publicly espoused a political cause. I ask whether, it is true that Mr Alan Ashbolt; the head of the ABC’s Special Projects Division, was a signatory to a petition advertised in the ‘Australian’ of 18th May, protesting against proposed amendments to the National Service Act. If so, what action is the ABC taking to honour its statement to the Public Accounts Committee?
– I shall take up with the PostmasterGeneral the matter that has been raised by the honourable senator and obtain a reply for him.
– Will the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities confer with the Queensland Government for the purpose of having Mon Repos Beach, near Bundaberg, become a protected rookery for various types of sea turtles and, as a consequence, a valuable tourist attraction?
– I acknowledge the honourable senator’s courtesy in having provided me with a very graphic magazine that shows the advantages of this rookery for the culture of turtles. I shall be very glad to direct the attention of my friend and colleague, the Honourable John Herbert, Minister for Tourism in Queensland, to the matter. It may interest the honourable senator to know that the Minister was good enough to send me last week quite a deal of the Queensland legislative provisions in relation to wild life and the protection of the Barrier Reef. I am anxious that the Senate should understand that my interest in tourism is really related to the connection between Australia and other countries. I wish to make it quite clear that matters that pertain to the preservation of scenery and places of tourist interest - unless they are of a national stature - are the primary responsibility of my opposite numbers in the State sphere.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I refer to discussions which I imagine must be had in the near future in arranging the details of the forthcoming Budget. Is the Government fully aware pf the importance of giving immediate encouragement to the harvesting and storage of water and stock fodder so that these important items in the primary producing community may be replaced following the recent drought? Will the Minister request the Treasurer to give full consideration to benefits which would flow to this nation from allowing primary producing industries double deductions from income for taxation purposes in respect of the cost incurred in erecting water storages and in the conservation of fodder and tha adequate coverage and storage thereof?
– As I indicated in reply to a question asked by the honourable senator yesterday, matters relating to the future welfare of the Commonwealth and the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth are taken into consideration at all levels prior to Budget time. The honourable senator and all other honourable senators can be assured that every aspect, whether it be related to aid to primary industry, aid in the field of social services or aid in any other field is taken into consideration when the Treasurer shapes his Budget and presents it to the Parliament during the Budget sessional period.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he has noticed that yesterday the Public Accounts Committeee was discussing and making decisions relating to the programming rights of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Is the Committee acting within its mandate in doing this?
– There are soma members of the Public Accounts Committee in the Senate, lt is some time now since I last looked at what the honourable senator calls the mandate of this Committee, but I am quite certain that the Committee would not go beyond its normal functions as a public accounts committee. This is a continuing committee. It deals with questions relating not only to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board but also to all Government departments and it makes reports on them to the Parliament. The Committee makes its report to the Parliament on a particular matter and this would be tha time for honourable senators to rise in their places and comment if they felt that some of the matters dealt with by the Committee were not within its mandate.
– Can the Minister representing the Treasurer advise what upward adjustments, if any, will be made in taxation zone allowances in remote areas of Queensland in the forthcoming Budget?
– I feel that I have adequately answered questions relating to the Budget. The Budget is an expression of Government policy. It will be presented to the Parliament during the Budget sessional period and all matters relating to the welfare of the Commonwealth will be taken into account when it is being framed.
– In addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, .1 direct attention to the reported unanimous decision of the United Nations Organisation to impose a total ban on trade with Rhodesia. Will Australia implement this ban? If so, is it not monumental hypocrisy to take such action when racial minorities in Nigeria and the Sudan, for example, are being massacred and treated infinitely worse than in Rhodesia and in view of the fact that Australia has a trade mission at the present time in South Africa seeking more trade?
– I ask that that question be put on notice. The matter lo which it relates is still under consideration by the Government.
– I address a question to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Appreciating the Minister’s genuine creative work and realising that his responsibility in expanding the tourist industry is to attract overseas visitors to all Australian States, I ask: Can he inform the Senate whether the Japanese travel agents due to arrive in Australia shortly will be
– I am pleased to be able to tell the Senate that the Australian Tourist Commission, in conjunction with Qantas Airways Ltd has arranged for no fewer than three groups of Japanese travel agents to visit Australia in the next 2 months. The total number of travel agents visiting Australia will be 38. Their itinerary will take in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, the Great Barrier Reef, northern Australia, South Australia, the Gold Coast, Adelaide, the Barossa Valley, outback sheep stations and some wild life sanctuaries. I am not able to assure the honourable senator that
Tasmania will be included in the itinerary, but I can assure my colleague that attention will be focused on the matter so that the lovely tourist attractions of Tasmania will be brought to the knowledge of our Japanese visitors.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, who represents the Treasurer here, ls the Taxation Branch at present examining the financial affairs of the late Joe Borg whose will was made in favour of the Prince Edward Dog Home in Sydney? Has the Government any power to see that Borg’s widow and son now residing in Malta are not excluded as beneficiaries under that will?
– I am not informed nor would I be informed as to whether an investigation is being made by the Taxation Branch of the affairs of an individual or the estate of an individual. That information would not be made public. I did see in one of the Sydney newspapers this morning a report along the lines mentioned by the honourable senator. I would have thought that the matter of what the particulars of a certain will are would come within State jurisdiction, lt certainly is not within my competence to give a judgment on the matter because, as I understand the position, this would have no application in Commonwealth law.
– My question, which 1 direct to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, refers to the Chowilla Dam. I ask the Minister: Has bis attention been drawn to reports in all the daily newspapers today which represent the Minister for National Development as ‘having clearly indicated that the Chowilla Dam project on the River Murray was likely to be scrapped? If this is not the position, will the Minister seek a clear statement from the Minister for National Development on all aspects of this project? I ask the Minister also: Does he consider that the statement as reported today is consistent with the ministerial statement that he introduced into the Senate yesterday?
– We must remember that the honourable senator is referring to the Press report of a statement made by the Minister for National Development. I should say that full notice must be taken of any statement made by the Minister. The other part of the question refers to the statement that I made in the Senate yesterday about a group of people belonging to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority looking at a site on the Mitta Mitta River and making an examination of that area for the River Murray Commission. 1 remind the honourable senator that the report on this matter will be available, I understand, towards the end of this year. At that time the Minister for National Development, as Chairman of the River Murray Commission, and the three Commissioners will make recommendations to the various governments concerned as to which scheme shall be built.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry advise me when I can expect to receive further information relative to a question that 1 asked some weeks ago regarding the case of a farmer near Colac in Victoria who alleged that he had purchased some of his own gift hay from New South Wales early this year?
– The honourable senator will recognise that I cannot supply an answer to a question until I have received that answer; but 1 will remind the Department, of Primary Industry again that I have noi yet received an answer to the question asked by the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls the person responsible for most company promotion schemes on Norfolk Island a former member of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives? Is he still a member of the Liberal Party? Does the Government approve of his activities on Norfolk Island?
– The answer to the question is: 1 do not know.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise seen a recent Tariff Board report in which the Board has decided that, if dumping of goods from Communist China is not taking place on the Australian market, serious irregularities are occurring in the invoicing of these goods? Earlier this week, the Minister said that he had not acted to stop dumping because he had not had ‘any’ or ‘many’ objections from Australian industry, although a friendly nation, India, had objected. How many Australian car manufacturers objected to the so-called dumping by the Japanese motor industry? Why are the Minister and his Department and the Minister for Trade and Industry and his Department so unconcerned about Chinese dumping of goods in Australia when they have done their utmost to damage severely AustralianJapanese trade? Will he assure the Senate that he will act as promptly in this matter?
– The honourable senator is well aware of Press reports of statements by Australian car manufacturers that sales of Japanese motor cars in Australia were having an effect on the Australian motor vehicle industry. The Government took notice of those statements and acted on them. When Senator Gair asked yesterday about the complaints of the Prime Minister of India concerning the dumping of Chinese goods on the Australian market 1 answered to the effect that no matters had been brought to my notice concerning such activities. I said that when such matters are raised, no doubt action will be taken.
– I address my question to you, Mr President. I ask: Have you noticed statements that the Victorian State Executive of the Australian Labor Party has called on Victorian ALP parliamentarians in both State and Federal parliaments to contribute 4% of their salaries to a body outside parliament, namely, the Victorian State Executive of the ALP? Would you consider it a proof of compulsion that the Victorian Executive rejected the parliamentarians’ view that such contributions should be put in a special fund under the control of trustees, and insisted that they must go into Party funds? Will you inquire into the matter and determine whether this procedure is a breach of privilege? Would an increase in salaries of members of Parliament in those conditions involve an increase in contributions from Commonwealth finance to the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party?
– I rise to a point of order. I invite you, Mr President, to consider, before giving an answer to the question, whether you ought to allow your office to be used for political statements of the character involved in the question which is, I suggest, an attempt to involve the President of the Senate and his high office in matters that may be the subject of legitimate political discussion outside this chamber, but not inside it.
– I feel compelled to rise to speak on the point of order, Sir, before you answer the question. I consider that the honourable senator’s question is directed to an area of privilege. The honourable senator asked whether privilege is involved. He seems to me to have made out a prima facie case that privilege is involved. I think you should consider that aspect before proffering an answer.
– I wish to make it clear, Mr President, that I merely raised the question of whether privilege is involved. I have not asked you for a direct answer. I have asked you, Sir, whether you will inquire to determine whether privilege is involved in the procedure.I think that is quite -a legitimate inquiry.
– Answering Senator Cohen’s point of order, I do not propose to uphold the point of order he has taken. I believe it is my responsibility to consider the matter.
(Question No. 230)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answers:
Of the students who have accepted awards, 5,953 are in training in university courses in 1968. Three hundred have deferred their studies and 174 have transferred to the Commonwealth Advanced Education Scholarship Scheme.
(Question No. 23.1)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answers:
There are some twenty-five additional offers for which acceptance is awaited.
(Question No. 254)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
(Question No. 268)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the fol lowing answer: 1 and 2. The. Commonwealth Statistician has advised that premiums receivable in respect of marine insurance policies issued by companies in Australia amounted to $26. 5min 1966-67 and that claims on marine insurance policies issued by those companies amounted to$14.7m in that year. The Statistician points out that insurance on exports and imports represents only a part of the category marine insurance’ and this category is not further dissected in the statistics. The Statistician has mentioned that, in estimating the net marine insurance payments made overseas in respect of Australian exports and imports - for purposes of balance of payments estimates - he makes an allowance for marine insurance premiums and claims on policies issued by companies in Australia in respect of Australian exports and imports. He adds, however, that for this purpose he utilises incomplete information supplied to him confidentially under the provisions of section 24 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905-1966. Accordingly, statistics relating to those transactions are not available.
(Question No. 282)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies:
No. The policy is that private overseas students should be permitted to come to Australia for courses of study or training which are not available in their own countries and to obtain qualifications which will be of positive value in those countries upon the students’ return there. It follows that students are, in general, expected to return home on completion of their courses but’ a request for resident status by a student who has qualified is nevertheless considered in the circumstances relating to his particular case. For example, if it is clear that the qualification acquired is not in positive demand in his home country, and the applicant meets immigration requirements in other respects, resident status is granted.
This situation would occur as a general rule only with students who were admitted initially some years ago. In more recent years, the future availability of useful employment in the student’s own country has been one of the factors taken into account in considering, in relation to the course of study proposed, an application for student entry. Consequently students who now return home should have every expectation of obtaining employment in the area in which they are qualified.
It follows then that Hong Kong students who may wish to remain permanently in Australia are, in pursuance of the policy of providing opportunities for the acquisition of skills of positive value to their country, expected to return home on completing their course of study. They would not need to go to China and if they did so, this would be a loss to Hong Kong not contemplated by the private student programme.
According to information available to the Government, the Hong Kong authorities are not aware of any returning students who have actually gone to Communist China after failing to find employment in Hong Kong itself.
(Question No. 308)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 315)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answer:
No. After study in association with Department of Supply scientists, this weapon is not considered to be suitable for the Navy’s patrol boats.
(Question No. 318)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answer:
Naval planning includes plans for replacement of existing ships used on oceanographic work but no decisions have been made to proceed with new construction. Should such a ship l>e included in a future naval programme it would be designed by or under the direction of Australian naval architects and I would expect that it would be built in an Australian yard.
Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral advise as to the Department’s policy in relation 10 the removal of public telephone booths from areas in which they have been attacked and damaged by vandals? ls the Minister aware that there is considerable concern in the community, nol only among private individuals but also among municipal authorities, who consider that
I he removal of public telephone booths in many areas greatly inconveniences local residents?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply:
The Post Office has been forced to withdraw some public telephones from use when experience has shown that they are rarely available for service to the public because of continued acts of vandalism. I do appreciate that removal of a public telephone would ordinarily inconvenience nearby residents but 1 should think it even more inconvenient for them to go to a public telephone only to find it so often out of commission because of continual vandalism.
The honourable senator may be assured that a decision to withdraw a public telephone is not taken lightly, lt is not the practice to withdraw public telephones following isolated cases of vandalism.
– I refer lo a question without notice which was asked by Senator Henty on 7th May. The question was in these terms:
I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Further to the answer given by the Minister lo representations made on behalf of the Tasmanian apple and pear growers for a subsidy on export fruit, in which he slated that the Government would experience a constitutional difficulty in granting a subsidy to an industry in only one State, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Does this debar the apple and pear industry of Australia from making further representations for assistance in connection with losses caused through devaluation of the British currency or by the continuity of the present low market returns from overseas? Will the Government give further consideration to any request for assistance from the Australian industry? In any further review of the. situation, will the Government ensure that Tasmanian interests are fully represented, bearing in mind the significance of the apple and pear industry to the economic welfare of Tasmania?
The Acting Minister for Primary Industry has furnished the following reply.
The honourable senator will now bc aware of the announced Government decision to make a payment to the apple and pear industry as devaluation compensation in respect of 1968 season’s fruit exports to the United Kingdom and other markets which devalued their currencies in November last year. The rate of payment will be 50c per bushel on apples and 53c per bushel on pears exported to the devalued markets during 1968. The Government will make the payment to the Australian Apple and Pear Board which will be charged wilh the responsibility for distributing it to the industry.
As to whether the Government will consider an approach by the Australian industry for assistance due to unfavourable market conditions overseas, the Government’s policy is well known, lt is that it is always prepared to give consideration to a proposition which demonstrates the need for Government help, meets the requirements of the Constitution, is administratively practicable of implementation and enjoys the substantial support of the industry concerned.
– In answer to questions asked by Senators McManus and Poyser on 29th May, the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) now has made available copies of the transcripts of the applications and appeals by Simon Townsend concerning his applications for registration as a conscientious objector. These transcripts, including the judgments, will be available for perusal by honourable senators on the table of the Parliamentary Library.
– On 14th May Senator O’ Byrne asked whether the Government was contemplating any action to alleviate the problems of fruit growers in Tasmania resulting from marketing difficulties overseas. The honourable senator will now be aware of the announced Government decision to make a devaluation compensation payment to the industry in respect of its exports during 1968 to the United Kingdom and other markets which devalued in November of last year. The rates of payment will be 50c per bushel for apple exports and 53c per bushel for pear exports. A lump sum payment of the amount involved will be made to the Australian Apple and Pear Board’ which will be responsible for distributing it to the industry under arrangements approved by the Minister for Primary Industry.
asked me a question earlier in relation to hay. I am very happy to inform him that the answer is presently being processed and should be available tomorrow.
– by leave - The Senate will be aware of the circumstances which preceded the recent visit of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to the United States of America. Briefly restated, they were that the visit had been envisaged before President Johnson made his speech of 31st March. In that speech he announced that he would cease bombing over a significant area of North Vietnam - the most populous area - in the hope that this restraint might lead to similar restraints by North Vietnam, and to the opening of talks with North Vietnam which might lead to the achievement of an honourable peace. At that lime the President also announced that as an earnest of his sincere desire to achieve a just and honourable peace he had decided to devote his energies to that end and would relinquish his chances of re-election by withdrawing his name from nomination as the Democratic Presidential candidate at the next elections.
The Prime Minister was in doubt, in these circumstances, as to whether his projected visit should take place. But President Johnson urged himto come and because the visit would give him a chance to get to know the man who will be President until 20th January 1969, and to get to know some of the men who may succeed him in that office after that date, the Prime Minister thought that it would be of value to himself and to the Government and to Australia to make the visit. He believed that the visit justified that judgment. The Prime Minister had the opportunity to speak to, and to get to know, the President and members of the present administration - the Secretary of Defence, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury and many others. Indeed he had, in all. six separate meeting periods with the President, either alone or with members of his Cabinet.
These, the Prime Minister thinks, covered an amount of time which had not previously been set aside by any President for a visit of an Australian Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister did not believe that the visit would result in any new, dramatic, developments but he did think that it would give him an opportunity to assess the fears, sometimes experienced and expressed in this and other countries, that the United States might lose interest in the area of South East Asia, might return to a form of isolationism. He has had the opportunity to assess the validity of those fears. He believes they are groundless. In developing his reasons for that judgment, the Prime Minister would like to quote first from the remarks which he made on arrival at the White House, and secondly from the speech in reply which the President, later that day, gave. On behalf of the Australian Government the Prime Minister said:
As Australians see it, the problems of the future, although worldwide, are likely to be most acute in Asia. We see there an area which needs an economic and technical base such as Europe already has. We see there an area where development and progress arc essential if the peoples of these divergent nations are to support and defend something dynamic and developing - not something stagnant. We see there an area crying for technical skills, a more experienced administration, a more equitable sharing of an increasing income - and we see there an area subject, above all. to the threat of subversion terrorism and aggression.
Perhaps, Mr President, though I don’t think so, we Australians sec this out of perspective - because it is here that we. contiguous to Asia - part of the South East Asia region - live and breathe and have our present and our future. It is here (hat we feel that we can best contribute to stability and progress and to preserving political freedom which has economic freedom as its goal. It is here that we can play our part - but we cannot effectively play it alone.
The Prime Minister hopes the Senate would agree that this is Australia’s approach to the region of Asia in which we live; it is certainly the Government’s approach, and the Prime Minister believes it to be the proper approach - that we should want to see stability in the region to our north, that we should want to see economic pro-‘ gress in the north, that we should do what we can to achieve those objectives, but that we cannot alone see (hem effectively achieved in the time in which they ought to be achieved. That was an expression of the Australian Government’s interest in the area and of what we believe should be done there, and indeed an indication that we feel the United States has a duty to help in that approach and that attitude in that area. That night the President replied to these remarks and I quote two passages from his speech:
I know there are some in Asia and elsewhere who arc wondering tonight whether the United States will maintain its commitments in Asia; who arc wondering tonight whether the strain of the struggle in Vietnam will lead the United States to withdraw and leave two thirds of humanity to ils fate without American assistance or American support … 1 cannot speak for my successor but I can speak for myself and the answer is no.
America will not withdraw. The second passage I quote from the President’s speech is this:
In the years ahead we in the United States hope that the new Asia that is being born will be increasingly organised to shape its own destiny. It should be able to do more for itself and rely less on the US. But 1 have no doubts that there will be no return here to isolationism.
The President went on to point out h.iw in Administration after Administration since 1941, whether, the Administration had been Democratic or Republican, the same thread had run through the approach of all the United States Presidents, that there was a duty and an obligation to maintain an interest in this part of the world, ‘.o give, where it was required, military assistance against attack, but above all to seek to raise the economic living standards of the peoples in the area so that they would be the more able themselves to resist any threatened attack, so that they would be the more able themselves to help themselves to provide a better standard of living for their peopl’e.
Mr Deputy President, these public statements, and the private conversations with the President and his Cabinet which occurred, have left the Prime Minister in no doubt - and this is a judgment which is only to be taken as a judgment - that the present Administration will continue the struggle in Vietnam until a peace which assures the South Vietnamese a chance to choose to elect their own Government, free from threat, is secured. And they have left him in no doubt that the present Administration will continue its interest in, and its help for, the South East Asian region. But this is an Administration which is in office only until January next year - although this is some 7 months away - and it is a reasonable and proper question to ask: What will the attitude of the United
States be after that date? The Prime Minister can only say that he has had the opportunity to hold face to face discussions with Vice President Humphrey, who is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, with Governor Rockefeller, who is a Republican candidate for nomination for President, and to hold a conversation - unfortunately by telephone, not face to face - with Mr Nixon who is the other Republican candidate for President.
After these contacts, the Prime Minister’s own assessment - and that is all it can be - is that he does not believe, should any of these candidates be successful, that there would be any basic change in the interest of the United States in this region. He does not believe that there would be any retreat to isolationism, and if this assessment is true it is an important factor on which Australia’s future decisions should be based.
The visit helped us in getting background to assist in the formulation of our own decisions as to what we can and should do in this area in the future, for our security in the future is bound up with, and cannot be disentangled from, the security and stability of the whole of the region in which we live. It is necessary for us in those circumstances to make our own decisions as to what we can do to bring about security and stability in the region; but in making those decisions we cannot but be affected by judgment as to what others will do for the same purposes in the same area.
The assessments which the Prime Minister has made have helped us, he thinks, towards formulating those future decisions so important for the area and so important for ourselves. There are other matters still to be judged and still to be assessed; other discussions still to be held - such as the five power talks in what we will participate - but at least the Prime Minister feels that some of the imponderables, some of the unknown factors of which the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) recently spoke, have, as a result of this visit, been able to be better assessed by the Government.
The talks held in Washington ranged over a wide compass. They covered the present situation in Vietnam, they covered the progress or lack of progress at the preliminary talks at present proceeding in Paris, they covered the broader aspects- of regional security - not . only military but economic security - and they covered the problems caused by the announced British withdrawal from South East Asia. They were essentially private talks in many aspects. But I would say to the Senate that the Prime Minister formed a judgment firstly, that the United States, as he has said, would continue to have a’ presence and an interest in the area of South East Asia; secondly, that the Paris talks were making little or no progress but at least were continuing and that the United States was not prepared to accede to what President Johnson has called a fake peace in Vietnam; thirdly, that the United States was as interested as we are not only in providing military assistance to threatened countries but also in helping them to help themselves economically; fourthly, that the British withdrawal from the Malaysia-Singapore area caused them some considerable disquiet in that they felt that the stability in that area might by that withdrawal be impaired; and fifthly, that the ANZUS pact has a real and genuine meaning and is the greatest guarantee that Australia itself has against aggression. Its application to areas outside the Pacific area is not so definite as is its application to ourselves; but neither should its application to areas outside the Pacific area bc discounted.
Mr Deputy President, these may be modest conclusions from a visit of not long duration but the purposes of the visit were themselves modest. Those purposes were to seek assessments of the matters of which the Prime Minister has spoken which were amongst, but were not all of, the imponderables and unknown factors of which the Minister for Defence spoke in his speech on defence. But the conclusions reached, together with those which we shall draw in the future from the progress of the five power talks shortly to be held, will be those conclusions on which our future defence and economic assistance plans will be predicated. Those plans cannot be projected into the future yet for the future is as yet too unknown.
But the Prime Minister thinks - and on this note I conclude the report of the visit - that some progress has been made in helping us to assess and to judge data on which we shall in the future make our decisions. Those decisions, based on this and the other conclusions which we draw from other discussions, will lead us at the appropriate time, when we have what we regard as sufficient on which to make judgments, to come to the Parliament and to present to the Parliament what the future plans of the Australian Government will be for the protection and the advancement of the region in which we live. And this is of the essence of the protection and the progress of the country which we represent.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
– 1 move:
That Notice of Motion No. 1, Government Business, standing in my name, be postponed until tomorrow.
I do this for the reason that by tomorrow
I hope to be in a better position to inform the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair) and Senator Turnbull of the concluding day of the present sessional period. 1 submit that would be preferable to having a spirited debate on the matter’ today. Tn any case, the matter has no significance today in that, in the normal course, we sit until
I I p.m.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by ‘ Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[3.17] - [ move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Last year in the Budget Speech the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) announced the Government’s intention to enter into discussions with the States with the object of working out mutually acceptable arrangements for the assistance of wives deserted by their husbands and wives whose husbands are in prison during the first 6 months of desertion or the first 6 months of the husband’s imprisonment. During this period these women do not qualify for a widow’s pension under the Social Services Act. These discussions have now been held and the Bill before the Senate gives legislative effect to the arrangements made. Indeed, I am happy to tell the Senate that the proposals incorporated in the Bill go beyond the arrangements foreshadowed last year as the Bill includes within its scope additional classes of mothers not then referred to.
The Bill makes provision for deserted wives and wives of prisoners to be ‘persons to whom this Act applies’ during the 6 months before they qualify for a widow’s pension and provides that further classes of women may be included by regulation, lt is intended to make regulations so that the benefits of the Bill will apply also to deserted dc facto wives with children, de facto wives with children, and other unmarried mothers.
The Commonwealth now provides social service benefits for broad categories of people throughout Austrafia while the States, for both historical and practical reasons, carry out certain financial programmes for the relief of individual hardship and, in addition, offer a number of welfare services more particularly directed towards the welfare of children. To a large extent Commonwealth and State services are complementary to each other.
Where a wife has been deserted by her husband it may be difficult to establish during the first 6 months that desertion has in fact occurred. The husband may well decide to return and indeed Government action should not be taken in a way that might impede any reconcilation. In these circumstances, administration of relief requires a detailed knowledge of the facts in each particular case, and should not rely upon general principles that might be inappropriate to a particular set of domestic circumstances. Mothers to whom the Act will apply have in the past turned for assistance to the government of the State in which they reside, and that State government has met the entire cost of the help given. The degree to which the various States have developed their welfare services and made provision for cash payments and other assistance has in the past varied widely from State to State. One aim of this legislation is to pro- vide the incentive for a more uniform level of assistance, with the Commonwealth sharing half of the cost involved. This will establish the basis for a substantial increase of benefit in most cases, particularly in Queeusland, where the general level of State assistance in this field has been markedly below that obtaining in other States.
Honourable senators will notice that the Bill provides that the Commonwealth will bear one-half of the total cost of these benefits. Initially the States put forward the proposition that the Commonwealth should bear the whole cost, but this was obviously out of the question if the administrative machinery were to remain in State hands. Where a high level of individual discretion is necessarily involved, to free the administering authority of any responsibility for expenditure would be unreasonable. Therefore, the Commonwealth had the choice either of assuming the whole function and setting up duplicate machinery to supersede that of the States, or on the other hand leaving in State hands some part of the expenditure. We chose the latter alternative for reasons which arc plainly sound.
As the Commonwealth’s offer is one of cost sharing, discussions took place with the States to work out arrangements that were mutually acceptable regarding the form and scope of the assistance that will attract a Commonweatlh grant, lt is with satisfaction that I. am able to inform the Senate that the Bill before us embodies principles agreed to by all State governments with the exception of Victoria.
The special position in Victoria requires some reference. In that State assistance to persons in the eligible categories is related to the number of children in the mother’s care. A maximum of $4 per week is paid for each child, subject to certain ceilings. The State maintains that no assistance is given for the mother and that the assistance granted is given solely for the benefit of the children. The decision was taken in 1947 by the Commonwealth Government of the day that deserted wives and wives of prisoners in Victoria should be paid special benefit at unemployment benefit rates during the 6 months wailing period required before widows’ pensions could be paid under the Social Services Act. Victorian residents alone were included in this decision on the grounds that this was the one Slate where the Stale Government did not provide assistance for these wives. The Commonwealth is still paying these benefits. Negotiations are now in progress with Victoria and it is hoped they will result in Victoria joining the new scheme in the interests of those mothers who would benefit by it. The Commonwealth will continue, in the meantime, benefits currently paid in that State.
I shall now traverse in greater detail the arrangements made with the participating States. Determinations of eligibility and the rates of assistance will remain the responsibility of each State, but the existing practice of the States in making individual hardship the test of eligibility for assistance will continue. However, the Commonwealth expects that the States will, in general, raise benefit payments approximately to the level of those payable under the Social Services Act to a widow with children. Approved benefits of a kind that will attract a Commonwealth grant will include those provided in the form of cash, food or clothing. Where, in addition to cash assistance, food and clothing are provided the amount of the grant for the period covered by the cash payment will be half the value of the food, clothing and cash provided in that period. The scope of the present arrangement does not include other kinds of assistance such as the provision of school books or free transport.
The Commonwealth grant will be half the cost of the approved benefits paid by the State to each person to whom the Act applies but shall not exceed half the amount that would have been payable to such a person had she been eligible for a class A widow’s pension under the Social Services Act. A class A widow’s pension is the pension payable to a widow pensioner who has the custody, care and control of a child or children. To give an example: A deserted wife, if qualified in other respects, with no income or property, who pays rent for her home and has two children would be entitled to receive a total of $22 a week under the Social Services Act by way of pension and supplementary assistance. The maximum Commonwealth subsidy in respect of any State assistance granted to such a woman would be $11 a week. The normal child endowment payments would of course, in addition be payable to the mother. As I mentioned earlier, under this Bill the
Commonwealth undertakes to pay half the cost of benefits to other classes of mothers. These are certain unmarried mothers who at present are ineligible for Commonwealth widow’s pension as they do not come within the definition of ‘widow’ in the Social Services Act.
The arrangement made with the States will require close co-operation and coordination between the Department of Social Services and the relevant State departments engaged in looking after the welfare of mothers with children. Both the Commonwealth and the States in assessing the various areas of need where a mother finds herself responsible for the rearing of her children without the sustenance and support of a husband, will benefit by this cooperation. It is proposed that Commonwealth grants will be paid at the end of each quarter on the receipt of a statement of the amount expended during the quarter by the State. As soon as possible after the 30th June each year a certificate by the AuditorGeneral for the State will be required setting out the expenditure for the financial year. State expenditure on assistance to eligible persons made after 1st January 1968 will attract a Commonwealth grant. From information furnished by the States it is expected that the cost for a full year would be $lm. This figure of $lm excludes Victoria.
Mr President, this measure is a progressive step forward in CommonwealthState relations. It should prove of great benefit to many mothers who are undertaking the upbringing of their children without the support of a breadwinner. In making additional funds available to the States for this purpose, the Government hopes that the level of the benefits which it is paying to these mothers will be raised by the State governments concerned. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 4 June (vide page 1377), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When the Senate was last debating this matter yesterday afternoon, I was adverting to a contention which has been put forward that the Bill before the Senate is inadequate because it lacks any provision for trial by jury in those cases where a person is charged with failing to comply with a callup notice or failing to render service for which he is liable. I consider that it can be clearly shown that that contention lacks any substantial foundation. Trial by jury is a very advantageous and desirable method rooted in our history for ascertaining issues of fact, on the ascertainment of which certain legal consequences may depend. But legal consequences and, in a particular case, conviction may depend not upon the determination of issues of fact by a jury but on simple facts which are quite incontrovertible. A jury is not needed and never has been needed to determine facts, the existence of which is not open lo question. That is the position which has always existed, and it will continue to exist under proposed section 51 of the Act.
The proposed section 51 - and I referred to this provision yesterday - states that a person may be convicted if it is shown that he has failed to comply with the requirements of a call-up notice or if he has failed to render the service which he is liable to render. No jury is necessary to determine those facts and never before has it been suggested, until this measure was before the Parliament, that a jury was required for these matters. On the assumption that the issue of fact which is to be determined Is the issue of fact prior to conviction, how is it that the change from putting a person into military custody to placing him in civil custody alter the issue, which a jury is supposed to try in a better way at this time, from what has previously been the case?
– What does the honourable senator say that issue is?
– 1 said just before the honourable senator came in-
– I have been listening. The honourable senator’s remarks brought me in. But I have not got this issue.
– The issue is the issue which has always been in section 51 and which will continue to be in proposed section 51 and section 51a, and which is whether or not a person has complied with the requirements of a call-up notice or whether or not he has rendered the service which he is liable to render. This is the only issue, depending on the section under which a charge is brought, which has to be determined prior to conviction.
– There may be preliminary questions as to whether notice has been served on an eligible person or whether it has been properly served.
– That is the issue. There are three facts - if the honourable senator will bear with me - which have to be ascertained in any prosecution under proposed section 51 or proposed section 51a. Under proposed section 51, a conviction will follow automatically if it is proved to the satisfaction of a court. First, was a notice - that is a notice under section 26 of the National Service Act - served on a person? The only thing there which has to be done by the prosecution is to produce the notice and to produce evidence that it was served. I am sure that those members in the Senate who have had legal experience will know that no question usually arises as to whether or not a notice has been served. The second issue which has to be established is: Did or did not the person on whom a notice was served present himself at the place staled in that notice for service? If those two facts are established, conviction follows. This has always been the provision under the Act. It will not be altered by anything which is to be put into the Act by this amending legislation.
Similarly, under proposed section 51a, there are three things which have to be established. The first is: Was a notice served under section 26? Secondly, did the person present himself for service in accordance with that notice? Thirdly, did he fail to render service? That is, did he fail to obey an order, because failure to render service would bc shown by failure to render service by not obeying an order. Lest it be thought that that provision would give power to bring before the civil courts anybody who failed to obey one order given to him whilst he was in service, protection is guaranteed by sub-section (5.) of proposed section 51a that these proceedings can be brought only with the consent in writing of the Minister for Labour and National Service. The point that I make is this: The only issues which have to be determined before conviction are issues which, in their character and by their very nature, arc incontrovertible. These matters do not require, have never required and, as far as my understanding goes, the Opposition has never suggested that they require, a jury to determine them.
A second argument which is raised occasionally - I have heard it raised - in opposition to this measure is that there is a long standing principle or tradition in British justice that where a conviction for a particular offence carries a long term of imprisonment, in those circumstances a jury is required to convict, lt is always a relevant consideration in determining whether or not a particular offence should be tried by jury to examine whether or not a long term of imprisonment is one of the penalties to which a person convicted may be subjected. This is highly relevant. But it is not the only consideration. One other consideration is that to which I have referred already: What is the nature of the issue upon which a conviction will depend? If it is a straightforward, simple issue which does not involve a jury’s opinion where one does have something representing a community cross-section view, in those circumstances it never has been the case to require a jury to determine the matter.
When one considers the statutes of the States one will find numerous examples in which a long term of imprisonment is imposed on conviction in respect of which a jury is not required, and in respect of which the Australian Labor Party has never sought to have trial by jury imposed. If one looks at the Summary Offences Act of Victoria one finds that any person who. by kicking or with any weapon or instrument whatsoever assaults another person, shall be liable to imprisonment for 2 years. No jury is required there. Yet, apparently, imprisonment for 2 years under proposed section 51a of this Bill is something heinous unless jury trial is provided in some way.
If one looks at the Vagrancy Act of the State of Victoria - I mention Victoria because it is my own State, but I remind the Senate that similar provisions are to be found in the statutes of other States - one sees that there are numerous offences, such as soliciting, consorting, cheating, offences in connection with living off the earnings of prostitution, and the like, in respect of which penalties of imprisonment for 2 years are the standard penalties imposed by those statutes. In one or two cases, penalties of 3 years imprisonment are imposed. In not one instance is it required that there should be trial by jury respecting conviction for those offences. Therefore I feel that the publicity which is sought to be given to what is alleged to be a deficiency in this legislation, in that it does not provide for trial by jury, is publicity which has been whipped up in an attempt to develop opposition to the measure which, inherently, it does not deserve.
Senator Cohen spoke in opposition to the Bill and categorised it in language which I earlier described as extravagant. It certainly was extravagant. He suggested that the Bill constructs an edifice of tyranny. He regards it as arrogant police state legislation. He said that it is repressive legislation which runs head on into cherished notions of human freedom and dignity. I agree with Senator Cohen that human freedom and dignify are values which should be preserved, but 1 think he would concede that members of the Government Parties, here and in the lower house, likewise respect human freedom and dignity. It is quite erroneous to categorise the measure as repressive and providing for police state legislation on the basis that it attacks human freedom and dignity, because an examination of the Bill shows that it has no such effect. The honourable senator used extravagant phrases which are unreasonably and unjustifiably condemnatory of the measure. His language was offensive not only to me personally but also to members of the Government Parties generally. I suggest that it is offensive also to Senator Wright, the Minister in charge of the Bill in this chamber, whose record over the years has shown that he is not a person who would very readily or easily make assaults on human freedom and dignity.
– Does the honourable senator think that the original proposals, before they were watered down, were offensive to human freedom in the way I have suggested?
– I personally do not. Again speaking personally, I regret that the Government has seen fit to give effect to some of these amendments which were suggested and have now been adopted. On the other hand, I am proud to support a government which has listened to the representations that have been made and has been responsive to them. Surely it is the essence of democracy that a government which has such a majority in the lower house is prepared to listen to what the people have to say and to take action accordingly.
In the short time left to me I wish to emphasise the points I feel need to be emphasised. This is an amending Bill. The National Service Act contains provisions the effects of which in some respects are lessened by this measure. The Act has been in existence for the last 17 years. Experience of its operation has produced the amendments which the Government is now seeking to have made to it. There is nothing unusual in that procedure. Experience frequently produces knowledge of a field of activity which the original Act did not cover and which an. amending Bill is designed to correct. That is what is happening in this case. Not one principle is involved in this Bill which is not to be found in the original Act. I challenge any member of the Opposition to point to any new principle contained in the amending Bill. I am confident they cannot. This measure contains amending and ameliorating provisions designed to strengthen the Act and to protect the rights of certain persons under the Act.
– The ALP approved the 1954 and 1961 measures, even the provision about questioning parents.
– I agree with Senator Gair. The very provision which has been the hub of the controversy raised by the Opposition has been in the Act since 1951. It is only now because of its view on the Vietnam war that the Labor Party has been prompted to adopt its present attitude of criticism of this measure. The second aspect which I believe should be emphasised concerns conscientious objection. I have challenged and I again challenge the Opposition to show where any issue of conscientious objection is involved, in the case of a person liable to render service who believes that the Vietnam war is an objectionable war in respect of which he should not be obliged to render service. A person holding that view may, before he registers for national service, decide to undertake service in the Citizen Military Forces. If he undertakes that service, no issue of conscience is involved. I believe that no matter how sincerely people may hold their views, to use that argument about conscientious objection for an attack on this Bill is either to engage in politics or to be sadly unaware of what the rights of a person are. To the extent that members of the Opposition connive at opposition to national service and endeavour to agitate for people to adopt that point of view, they are engaging either in a political stratagem or in some activity on which they should be better informed.
The third point I believe should be emphasised is that the measure is designed to strengthen the Act and to promote Australia’s defence and security. The National Service Act was introduced because it is necessary that the nation should have at its disposal forces which can be used either to protect Australia or to fulfil Australia’s international obligations. All successive amendments to the Act have been designed to secure that end. It is highly necessary that Australia should be in a position to have a well equipped and readily operational military force. That is the whole purpose of the National Service Act. It imposes obligations on young people. That is quite clear. To a certain extent it raises the age-old conflict between freedom and order, but that issue was resolved in this context in 1951 and it has been resolved in favour of the Government at every election since then. There is no suggestion that the Bill raises that issue in any new form. It does not. It is simply an amending Bill, and as such it seeks to improve the operation of the National Service Act. Experience has indicated that in various respects its operation can be improved. In the light of the experience we have gained the Bill seeks to ensure that obligations are spread fairly and squarely amongst all the persons in the community who are liable to render service. It. ought to command respect and support from all Australians. I am happy to support this measure.
– The purpose of this Bill is to amend the National Service Act. Yesterday Senator Cohen, leading for the Opposition, outlined in their entirety the objections which the Australian Labor Party holds to this Bill. I believe that little can be profitably added to Senator Cohen’s statements, but in view of some of the remarks which have just fallen from the lips of Senator Greenwood L feel obliged to enlarge on what Senator Cohen said. The first point to which I wish to refer is the doctrine of criminal procedure and the functions of a jury which Senator Greenwood has just put forward. Whatever else it may lack, it certainly does not lack originality. I am sure that this is the first time I have ever heard such an extraordinary doctrine relating to the duties of juries put forward by a member of the legal profession.
As I understood Senator Greenwood, he said that because the facts involved in the charges which can be brought under this Bill are relatively simple, and there are only three facts which need to be demonstrated before a person may be convicted, no jury is necessary. The honourable senator claims that the whole matter can be proceeded with summarily. Apparently juries are required only when there is some complexity with regard to the facts. It seems to me that Senator Greenwood’s doctrine with regard to the responsibilities of juries is that the more complicated and abstruse are the facts, the more unskilled should be the body which is to weigh them; the more simple are the facts, he says, the more skilled should be the person on the bench whose duty it is to weigh them. That is to say, according to Senator Greenwood, in a case involving very simple facts, a legally qualified member of the bench should judge them, but if there is some difficulty in following the course of the facts it is necessary to employ an untrained jury of twelve men and women to judge them. This I find rather odd. It is the first time I have ever heard this view expressed, and if Senator Greenwood were to think about it a little more, in an atmosphere other than the partisan atmosphere of this Senate when it is dealing with a malodorous Bill - for example, if he were sitting for the bar examination - he would give a different answer from that which he has given today.
In fact, the doctrine that he has put forward, that where the facts are relatively simple no jury is required, certainly is not borne out by practice in any criminal jurisdiction that I know in the Commonwealth. With capital offences, I think in all the Australian States even when the accused person is prepared to admit his guilt and plead guilty so that there could be no argument whatsoever about the facts the law requires that there shall be a jury, and that the jury shall be satisfied as to the truth of the facts that are alleged by the prosecution. That happens even in circumstances where the accused person admits the allegations which are being made by the prosecution. In those circumstances the law requires that a jury shall nonetheless determine the- facts. Surely no case could be simpler than that in which the accused person agrees with everything that the prosecution is alleging; yet even there the law insists that a jury of twelve of the peers of the accused person shall sit and bring down a judgment on the facts. The reason that is done is that one of the most cherished traditions of the common law, a part of it which still remains unmolested despite 19 years of Tory government in this country, is that a person who is on trial for a serious offence - and I know there can be doubt sometimes as to what constitutes a serious offence - is entitled to elect not to be dealt with by the judge or magistrate, the embodiment of the establishment, sitting on the bench. He is entitled to have the evidence weighed by twelve ordinary people, by twelve of his fellow citizens.
Despite the fact that Senator Greenwood has referred to certain legislation in the State of Victoria under which penalties of 2 years imprisonment may be imposed summarily, 1 still remain unconvinced - and I think that he would be, too, if he were to look at the mass of offences for which a sentence of 2 years imprisonment is provided if the accused is found guilty - that it is the regular procedure that there should be summary jurisdiction in such cases. Though he has referred to certain offences in Victoria, where people may be found guilty upon summary jurisdiction of offences which carry a penalty of 2 years imprisonment, I submit to the Senate and to Senator Greenwood that if he were to look through the whole body of law of the Commonwealth and of the States he would find overwhelmingly more circumstances where offences which carry a penalty of 2 years imprisonment require the presence of a judge and jury than where they require merely the presence of a magistrate who deals with the person summarily. In fact, when during the last sessional period the Senate was debating legislation relating to narcotic drugs, none other than the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who speaks today with the voice of authority on behalf of summary jurisdiction, was himself constrained to vote with the Opposition on its amendment of the Narcotic Drugs Bill in order to obtain a right to trial by jury when persons were accused of an offence which carried a penalty of 2 years imprisonment.
– Was he right then?
– Well, that was his name. I do not think he has changed that, although he may have changed some other characteristics over recent months. Yes, he was right on that occasion, and the argument which Senator Wright put forward was that after having perused the Crimes Act he agreed with the Opposition that when a penalty of 2 years imprisonment could be imposed upon an accused person he was entitled to a trial by jury. I fail to see that the facts that needed to be established under the Narcotic Drugs Bill were any simpler than those which need to be established under the National Service Act. All that was needed to support a charge that a person was engaged in selling narcotic drugs was the production of evidence of the simple fact that he was seen to sell a drug to some person. To do this it was necessary only for an informer to come forward and say so. However, in the instance referred to by Senator Greenwood under the Bill some further facts need to be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the court.
First of all one needs to demonstrate that a notice has been prepared, that the notice is a proper notice within the terms of the Act, and that the notice has been served in a proper manner upon the accused person. Also, one needs to show that the accused person has either refused to answer the notice or to carry out the duties that the notice obliges him to carry out. Therefore, a much more complex series of facts must be established to maintain a prosecution under the National Service Act than those that must be established under the Narcotic Drugs Act, in relation to which Senator Wright last year crossed the floor of the chamber and voted with the Opposition. I should be very interested to hear later from Senator Wright what further studies have caused him to change his view on this very important question of criminal jurisdiction. I wonder whether conceivably the new juridical theories which Senator Greenwood was good enough to outline to the Senate today have also affected the legal profession in the southern and wintry climate of Tasmania.
– Don’t get out of your depth, boy.
– I shall try not to. The Bill which is before the Senate is one of a series of similar Bills presented to Parliament by the Government which has now been in office since 1949. There has been a steady series of Bills, as Senator Cohen has already pointed out, coming from the Government and directed to a lessening of people’s liberties inside this country. As is usually the case in these matters, whenever further impingement is made upon the traditional civil liberties of the Australian people, the Government says that what is being done is designed in some way to widen civil liberties. However, despite the fact that the supporters of this Bill outside the Parliament and of the Government’s introduction of it have described it as a draft dodgers Bill and as a Bill which will deal with all sorts of malcontents and disaffected people within the community, when it comes to the Senate we find that in some strange way the Bill is dedicated to the improvement and the strengthening of the people’s liberties. This in fact is an example of the former pupil becoming the master and the former master becoming the pupil.
If we were to recall the Communist Party Dissolution Bill of 1950, which the people of Australia showed the very good sense to reject at a referendum in 1951, I think that those of us who have had a look at the events in certain countries overseas would recognise that the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was the basts for the Suppression of Communism Act which was passed by the South African Government, notorious for its constant deprivation of the civil liberties of its people. In fact the Australian Government was the mentor of the South African Nationalist Party because the South African Suppression of Communism Act was based almost entirely upon the Communist Party Dissolution Bill which was introduced by the political forebears of this Government and rejected by the Australian people. Since then, whenever the South African Government has introduced a Bill to limit further the freedom of the South African people, it has said that somehow or other it is strengthening the freedoms of the South African people. When the Government passes an Act to restrict the rights of nonEuropeans to attend a university in South Africa, it does not call it the Restriction of Education Act; it calls it the Extension of Education Act. When it passes an Act to prevent free political organisation amongst the coloured people, it does not say that it is an Act which is directed against the free political organisation of the coloured people; it says that it is an Act to prevent improper interference with the coloured people of South Africa. I believe that the Government is drawing much closer to South Africa every day. In its presentation of the National Service Bill the Government has adopted the same principle that has been adopted by South Africa.
In many respects the Bill will seriously limit the rights of people who are affected by it. The Bill is alleged by the Government to strengthen the liberties of such people. Only recently Mr Botha, the Minister of Defence in the South African Government, announced in the House of Assembly that those four stalwarts of the free world, South Africa, Australia, the Argentine and Portugal, were to link together in a military pact to withstand the downward thrust of something or other. It would seem that despite the leaving out of two other like-minded governments, those of Spain and Greece, the four mentioned by Mr Botha indeed have a great deal in common. 1 believe that the introduction of this Bill shows just how much we have in common with South Africa.
Senator Greenwood referred at some length to conscientious objection. The honourable senator, who I gather is interested in moral philosophy as well as jurisprudence, had some interesting and original views to put forward on the subject of conscience. The view that he put forward is that apparently it is possible to have a conscientious objection to taking part in any war but not to have a conscientious objection to taking part in a particular war. This, I understand, is what Senator Greenwood said.
– I did not say that.
– If that is not what the honourable senator was saying, then I have not the slightest idea of what he was saying.
– Senator Greenwood said that a young man could join the Citizen Military Forces and that would solve the problem of conscience.
– I thought the honourable senator said two things. I thought he was making a more general philosophic statement. I realise that the honourable senator said that the problem of conscience could be solved by joining the Citizen Military Forces, but I also thought that he said that if a young man objected to serving in the war in Vietnam this would not be a conscientious objection but would be a political objection and that in some way there was a distinction between a conscientious and a political objection. I do not think that proposition has a great deal of merit.
The present. Government parties, even though they were in opposition at the time, subscribed to the holding of the Nuremberg war crimes trials and the trials of accused Japanese war prisoners. If supporting the holding of those trials means anything, then surely it means that it was no excuse for the prisoners to say that their government was involved in a war - that there was no justification for having taken part in the war if it was established that the war was a war of aggression which led to the death and suffering of a great number of people. The allegation made by the prosecution in both the Japanese and the Nuremberg war crimes trials was not that the offenders had offended by taking part in a war but that they had offended by taking part in a particular war of aggression. What was being said by the powers who supported the holding of these war crimes tribunals was that there were certain wars in which it was morally wrong for men to have taken part. If it is morally wrong for people to take part in certain wars, surely it must follow from this that an objection to taking part in those wars may be a conscientious objection and not a purely political objection, if by a political objection one means some purely practical ad hoc objection to the nature of the war.
This doctrine is agreed to by a great many thinkers. The Roman Catholic Church holds the view that there are just and unjust wars. The Catholic Church does not hold the view that a citizen has a right conscientiously to object to taking part in all wars in which his country is involved. The Catholic Church’s position is that a Catholic has an obligation to take part in just wars in which his country is involved and has an obligation not t« take part in unjust wars in which his country is involved.
– Who determines that point?
– The Catholic Church has held that whether a war is a just or an unjust war is a question for determination by the conscience of the persons involved.
– We are not arguing the Roman Catholic Church doctrine. It is the doctrine of Thomism; it is the Thomist doctrine.
– 1 agree with Senator Cormack, lt is the Thomist doctrine. I did not think that any Church, other than the Catholic Church, accepted the Thomist doctrine. I. thought it would be easier to refer to the Catholic Church because I thought that more honourable senators would have heard of the Catholic Church than of Thomism. That is why 1 specifically referred to the Catholic Church.
– Did the Papal Knight give that interpretation?
– No. At the present time a number of Catholics in the United States of America are arguing that the present laws of the United States - which have provisions similar to those which are to be found in this country - do not allow selective conscientious objection and that is a breach of the religious freedom of Catholics. To say that one has conscientiously to object to all wars, that one cannot conscientiously object only to a particular war, is a departure from the Catholic Church’s teaching that there are just and unjust wars and that one has an obligation to take part in just wars but not an obligation to take part in unjust wars. On the contrary, the argument that has been put forward by certain clerics in the United States of America is that to refuse selective conscientious objection is a breach of the religious liberties of American Catholics guaranteed under the United
States Constitution. No doubt in due course we shall hear more of this matter.
– If a worker objects to joining a particular trade union he cannot be granted exemption from membership of that union, but he can be granted exemption from joining any trade union if he conscientiously believes that he should not join unions.
– I would not dispute the point made by Senator Gair, but I am not quite sure that I can see the relevance of it.
– He cannot be exempted from a particular union but he can be exempted, on a conscientious ground, from joining any union at all.
– That is all very interesting, but 1 fail to see its precise application in the matter that we are discussing at the present time.
– There are none so blind as those who will not see.
– Thai is indeed true. One matter which was dealt, with by Senator Cohen requires further attention. I refer to the provisions contained in clause 21 of the Bill which seeks to amend section 52 of the National Service Act as it stands now. Senator Cohen has pointed out very correctly - I believe that this should be repeated - that the Government appears to have made concessions as a result of certain pressures. 1 am afraid 1 am not convinced by Senator Greenwood’s argument that moral suasion convinced the Government to amend its own legislation. I think it acted because of the fear of being defeated in the Senate. I may be unduly sceptical of the Government’s moral values, but I think the fear of defeat played a stronger part in determining the Government’s attitude than the considerations which Senator Greenwood has suggested. As Senator Cohen pointed out when he was speaking to the Bill only yesterday, clause 21 seeks to amend section 52 in such a way that if certain persons do not attend upon being summoned they will be subject to the full penalties of the Act. The clause does not refer to the giving of information: Admittedly the actual giving of information has been dealt with by the amendments that the Government has made to its own legislation. Nonetheless failure to attend is still covered by the provisions which are contained in clause 21,
These are in fact very draconic measures. They are measures which are intended to intimidate the citizens of Australia; measures intended to create a kind of fear within the Australian community. I believe it quite possible that the Government does not intend in the near future to make any particular use of some of the measures contained in this Bill in the same way that no use has been made of some of the more diabolical measures within the Crimes Act. F believe the Government has introduced measures such as those contained in this Bill and those contained in the Crimes Act, not because it believes that there is some particular offence being committed which it wishes to prevent being committed, but because it wishes to have a general intimidatory atmosphere about the whole of its actions and because it wishes to build up a kind of fear amongst the Australian people.
The constant repetition of such Bills - I do not think a year passes without either an amendment to the Crimes Act or a Bill such as that being debated today - is designed to create within the minds of the Australian people a fear of exercising the ordinary rights of protest and the ordinary rights of opposition; rights which are enjoyed by people in all countries which claim to be democracies. The Government intends to intimidate people so that they become afraid to exercise those rights. I believe this to be the basic purpose of the Bill before us. I do not believe the details of the Bill are as important as the atmosphere surrounding the Bill. It has been introduced at a time when, we have heard shocking stories of the treatment of various persons who have fallen into the hands of the military authorities. It has been introduced at a time when the most extravagant allegations are being made by the supporters of this Government, both inside and outside the Parliament.
The Australian Labor Party has prepared a number of amendments to this Bill. They will be introduced in the Committee stage. We intend to fight this Bill to a finish. Wc do not intend to be intimidated. We intend to see that the Australian people shall not be intimidated by the actions of this Government which is so fearful of the spreading disaffection amongst its citizens and the growing opposition in this country to the war in Vietnam. Opposition to the Vietnam war has been seen not only in Australia but throughout the rest of the world. That is why the Government has found it necessary to introduce a Bill of this nature. The Australian Labor Party will not be intimidated. We intend to take every step open to us to see that the Australian people are not intimidated.
– The Senate has just been treated to another rabble rousing speech by Senator Wheeldon. We heard him say that this Bill, like many other measures, is aimed mainly at intimidating the Australian people. I think Senator Wheeldon was obliged to provide some evidence that this was so. He simply made a bald statement which was completely unsupported by facts. Indeed, his whole case was unsupported by facts. He took us on a tour around the world, and particularly to Spain, Portugal and South Africa, but conditions in those countries are completely irrelevant to the subject we are discussing. Senator Wheeldon made great play on the cherished common law principle of trial by jury. My colleague Senator Greenwood, who spoke before Senator Wheeldon, completely demolished with his great legal knowledge the arguments that Senator Wheeldon was to use. Senator Wheeldon said that the question involved in this measure was a complicated one. I am not a lawyer but I understand that all that the courts require is the establishment of formal facts. There is nothing complicated about this. However I recognise that some lawyers are capable of making the most uncomplicated matters complicated. Indeed, this is how they earn their living. No doubt Senator Wheeldon, in his career as a lawyer, has practised this art on many occasions.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen), I think it fair to say, employed extravagant and exaggerated language when speaking in opposition to this legislation. It is fair to suggest that that type of language was used in order to muster support for an emotional objection to the Vietnam war. National service was introduced for the defence of Australia and involvement in the Vietnam war is only a part of our defence. Senator Cohen also’ employed this language, I think, to cover! the fact that the Opposition seeks to protect! those who may, by devious means, shirk their obligations. The Government wishes to protect those who accept their obligations and that is the principle for which 1 stand.
I notice that great objection has been taken to clause 21 of the Bill which relates to section 52 of the National Service Act. I bel’ieve there has been a great deal of misrepresentation of this clause because the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service has been empowered, since 1951, to serve notice on any person - and this means what it says, any person. 1 think it rather extraordinary that, if this clause is so suppressive, so intimidatory, and such a threat to the liberties of the Australian people, someone in the last 17 years has not raised a protest about it. In fact there has been no protest. Indeed, the Government has never brought a prosecution under that section of the Act. Clause 21 in this Bill in no sense alters the general application of the power given in the existing Act. It merely extends the provision to cover general information as to place of residence and employment. The general principle of the 1951 legislation is not altered.
The Government’s attention was drawn to the fact that this power could embrace parents, close relatives and professional people who have certain responsibilities and it was willing to amend the legislation to preclude them from the provisions. But in the main this section of the Act is to remain unaltered. From reading many of the reports published and colourful statements made one could have thought that this was a new provision. In fact it is basically the same provision which has been in existence for 17 years. Apparently no-one considered it important enough to protest about it during those 17 years. When the Government’s attention was drawn to the matter it became conscious of the fact that families possibly could be involved. It became aware of public and parliamentary feeling about the matter and agreed to amend this provision. I believe the Government has acted wisely.
There are other things that the Government has recognised. Because of personal circumstances people may not wish to divulge information. The Government has made provision so that, if such people can show to a court reasonable cause as to why they should not disclose this information, they may be absolved from so doing. I bel’ieve this Bill provides all the safeguards that reasonably can be expected.
I suppose all honourable senators regret that these powers are necessary because the great majority of young Australians cheerfully accept their obligations with a full sense of responsibility to the nation. However there is a minority - call them what you like; call them shirkers or draft dodgers, but not conscientious objectors because some are only self styled conscientious objectors - which is able at the moment to avoid its responsibilities. The responsibility of the Government is to enforce the law. It does not matter that there may be only a small number of people involved, as Senator Cohen suggested. It does not matter whether there are 10, 100 or 1,000 people involved. If those people are able to evade their responsibilities and avoid the discomfort and inconvenience cheerfully accepted by others, this is something that no community can be expected to tolerate.
I cannot say that I am delighted about the deletion of clause 22 from the original Bill which would have called upon educational institutions to provide certain information. I. have been reminded that this clause was lifted from the United Kingdom legislation of 1948 which was introduced, believe it or not, by a Labour government. I can hardly imagine any objection to this on principle unless the Opposition intends to make the same kind of allegations against the Labor Government in the United Kingdom as it makes against the non-Labor Government in Australia.
I regret that this clause has been deleted from the Bill although I recognise that new clause 21 does cover universities and other institutions. The thought seems to be growing up in the community that academic freedom means licence. I cannot accept that. I think academic freedom means responsibilities and not licence to hide, by devious measures, from responsibilities. However, I will be quite satisfied if clause 21 adequately covers that aspect but I regret that the Bill has been watered down in that respect.
I agree that the Government has acted wisely in cases of exceptional hardship. A young man who has received two deferments on the ground of exceptional hardship will not bc required to serve if the reasons for the deferment still exist after a period of 2 years. I believe that is a very good provision. Likewise in the case of a serving man who has been granted compassionate leave. If after 2 years the reasons for the compassionate leave still exist he will not be obligated to serve any longer. I think the legislation contains some very sound provisions. I support fully the provision whereby jurisdiction to deal with those who seek to avoid their obligations and refuse to serve is to bc removed from the military to the civil courts. That is a wise provision for many reasons. One is that such young men are a nuisance to the Army. I find that committal for 2 years imprisonment is not considered unreasonable. Indeed such diverse groups as the Returned Services League, the Quakers, the Pacifist Council and the Australian Council of Churches believe that that provision has a great deal of merit. Apparently it has received substantial support in the community.
I find the argument of political objection - the right to declare in what war one will serve - to be somewhat odd. Senator Greenwood dealt very fully and effectively with it. I cannot accept that anyone has the right to say: ‘I will fight in this war but I will not fight in that war’. If that principle - this must go beyond a mere objection to fighting in a particular war - were adopted the community would not be able to function. If a person has the right to say: T will not pay taxes to support something in which 1 do not believe’, that is only an extension of the principle. 1 do not think that is a valid point , and one that can be sustained.
The Labor Party was in office during the last war. I wonder what the Labor Government would have done if some young man had said: ‘I am a Fascist. I support Fascism and I refuse to fight in this war because it is against my principles to fight against Fascists’. That is a fair question. I guarantee that the Labor Government would not have accepted that argument.
– Conscientious objectors were in camp all over Australia.
– I wonder whether the Labor Government would accept that argument if it were in office and Australia were involved in a war not against Communism but against some other ism. What would the Labor Government do if it were forced to introduce national service and a young man said: ‘I will fight against Communism but I will not fight in this war because I do not believe in it’? Let Senator Cavanagh answer that question. 1 do not believe a Labor government would accept that argument. If honourable senators opposite charge our Government with denying basic human freedoms and basic human rights and of harsh treatment of conscientious objectors, I think wc are justified in examining the attitude of those same honourable senators when they were in office and indeed now when they are in opposition. I intend to do that calmly and without heat in a few moments.
Meantime I return to this point: 1 do not believe anyone can substitute personal judgment or opinion for that of the Government. If that were so, the community could not function. It is as simple as that. One suspects that the Opposition’s attitude in this instance is coloured purely by its objection to the war in Vietnam. 1 have heard a lot about the ill treatment and hardships of conscientious objectors and I have just said that we are entitled to examine the attitude of the Labor Party in this and other matters because 1 recall vividly that during the last war a group of some 100 conscientious objectors were ordered by the Labor Government to do weapon training. When some of them refused to carry weapons because of their conscientious beliefs, they were charged with disobeying a lawful command and were dealt with summarily. That included detention. I do not say that was wrong. I merely point out that it happened while a Labor government was in office. Apparently it was not prepared then to accept those beliefs, lt held the view, probably rightly, that those men should learn to use weapons before going to New Guinea, and they were ordered to do so. How do I know that? I was one of the officers sent to give those orders.
– They were noncombatants, were they?
– They were noncombatants. They had a conscientious objection to carrying weapons. Some of them stuck to their objection and were charged with disobeying a lawful command and dealt with summarily. I am not saying that in criticism. 1 am merely stating a fact. I think we are entitled to judge those who accuse us of inflicting hardships upon conscientious objectors on what they did when they were in office.
Statements have been made here by interjection, and in another place, that all we are doing with this kind of legislation is encouraging pimps and informers. Those are nasty words. Let us examine this because 1 think it was only last week that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) complained about the actions of some young Australian soldiers, gall’ant men, who were provoked into pulling some placards off vehicles because the placards expressed sentiments opposing the Vietnam war. This matter was raised in the Parliament to report those young men, to inform on them, to demand that action be taken against them.
We need only look at the attitude of trade unions towards a non-unionist. They pimp on him, inform on him and in some cases are responsible for his losing his livelihood. I am speaking now of a principle. If the principle contained in the legislation deal’ing with national service is wrong, then the same principle which applies to everyday life also is wrong, lt is a principle for which one either stands or does not stand. If a man has a political objection to fighting in a particular war, that, same man may well have a political objection to something else. lt was only in yesterday’s ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ that we were informed that a certain man at Garden Isl’and dockyard had a conscientious objection to going on strike. I am not saying necessarily that he is right or wrong but he is a man of courage, Senator Cavanagh, a man who has the courage of his convictions just as some of the young men whom you defend have the courage of their convictions. He did not believe in strikes. It may have been a political objection; it may have been a conscientious objection. That man has been pilloried around the countryside. There is to be a strike every week as long as he remains in his job. The Secretary of the Sydney Branch of the Boilermakers and Blacksmiths Society said that his members would go on strike every Monday until this man took his body off the island. The Labor Party does not recognise that that man has a right to a political objection or a conscientious objection to a strike. If the principle of conscientious objection applies to men called up for national service, as the Labor Party keeps telling us it does, it applies in every facet of life.
We have heard a great deal from (he Labor Party about trial by jury and respect for basic human freedoms and basic human rights. We have been charged with denying people such rights. My memory goes back to 1942 - I believe that we are entitled to examine this matter - when some people belonging to the Australia First Movement were arrested in the dead of night and detained. This became a live political issue. I have with me the Hansard reports of September 1942, when Mr Calwell, to his credit, and Mr Rosevear, during an adjournment debate in the House of Representatives, took up this case and attacked the then Government and the then Minister for the Army, Mr Forde, for their action in detaining those men without trial by jury - in fact, without trial. They were not brought before the courts. The case against them was not proved. They were detained under the National Security Regulations. If the Opposition challenges that, I can read from pages 40 and 60 of volume 172 of Hansard the condemnation by Mr Calwell and Mr Rosevear of the action of their own Government in detaining those men.
I also have with me a copy of the report of the commissioner, Mr Justice Clyne, who in 194S inquired into the detention of those mcn. Because time is short I do not intend to do more than quote two instances. A man named Matthews was detained. Referring to him, Mr Justice Clyne said:
Matthews served with some distinction in the last war and was, as he claimed and I believe, a loyal subject of the King. Intelligence officers, in my opinion, committed a grave blunder in procuring his arrest and in recommending his detention.
The other instance is that of an unfortunate man named Watts, who died in 1944. Referring to him, Mr Justice Clyne said:
There was nothing in the evidence relating to Watts to justify the conclusion that he was acting in a manner prejudicial to Australia and her war effort, and 1 believe he was at all times a loyal subject of the King.
In his findings Mr Justice Clyne named eight men who were detained improperly. They were awarded compensation. All those men were denied basic human rights and basic human freedoms. What hypocrisy it is for people to come into this place and accuse the present Government of denying basic human rights, basic human freedoms and the right to trial by jury, when the party to which they belong has acted in that manner.
Let me quote one other instance. I have just praised Mr Calwell, but now I condemn him. I go back to the occasion in 1944 when Mr Calwell took exception to some statements that were made and published in the Press. He made some very strong criticisms of the Press. The Sydney ‘Sunday Telegraph’, as was its right, replied to those criticisms. But that reply was deleted by the New South Wales censor. So the newspaper left a blank where its reply would have been published. That happened on 16th April 1944. Most editions of the Sydney Sunday Telegraph’ were seized, on Mr Calwell’s orders, by Commonwealth peace officers. The following Monday the censor prevented six metropolitan newspapers in Sydney. Melbourne and Adelaide from publishing.
The High Court of Australia came into the matter in 18th April 1944, when it granted an injunction restraining the censor from preventing the publication of material criticising the censor. And so the case went on. Mr McKell. the then Labor Premier of New South Wales, refused to assist the Commonwealth in seizing the newspapers. The New South Wales Labor caucus issued a statement saying that it stood strongly behind Mr McKell in objecting to Mr Calwell’s impertinence. According to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 21st April 1944, Mr Calwell made a black list of all journalists who had criticised him and his department, and the names of those journalists were given.
That does not seem to me to be an acknowledgment of basic human rights and basic human freedoms. I believe that the record will prove that the Labor Party did not oppose the actions of Mr Calwell, which were not taken for security reasons. All that the newspaper companies had done was to accept and carry out their obligations to criticise. But, because they criticised, their newspapers were seized. Mr Calwell is on record as saying that he is no great admirer of the liberty of the Press. 1 refer to these matters reluctantly. I do not assert that they are matters of substance. 1 refer to them because, if we are accused of certain things, then we have the right to point out that our accusers themselves have been guilty of the same things. Noone has proved that the present Government in any sense, in this legislation or in any other, has challenged the rights of individuals. It has not challenged the liberty of people. Despite what Senator Wheldon said, liberty is not under challenge in this legislation. This legislation is not suppressive. It is concerned with the defence of Australia.
We hear statements about conscientious objectors. I do not know what makes conscientious objectors tick, but I respect them, the fact that there are such people and the fact that they are entitled to their beliefs. But I wonder whether, if all the people in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia during the last war had been conscientious objectors, we would be standing in this place today. I believe that we would be slaves of the Japanese. Mao Tse-tung has said that all power grows out of the barrel of a gun. If everybody in our community today had the belief that conscientious objectors have, I wonder what our future would be. Under the control of the Japanese or the Communists their conscientious beliefs would not be recognised. 1 believe that the Government has a responsibility to respect conscientious objection. Under this legislation and previous legislation the rights of conscientious objectors have been protected. In these matters there are always borderline cases. Many borderline cases go the. other way. That is true in regard to any court decisions on matters of law or matters of judgment. Therefore, I fail to understand or appreciate the strong objections of members of the Opposition to this legislation. Their exaggerated language rather leads me to believe that they are opposing it not on facts but on emotional issues, or because of their objections, for whatever reasons they may have, to the war in Vietnam. I do not intend to argue that issue now. I have argued it before and I will argue it again. Senator Wheeldon is on record as saying that the majority, or great numbers of Australians and people throughout the world are becoming more and more opposed to the Vietnam war. Yet a gallup poll of young people between 15 and 21 years of age - they are the ones most concerned with this matter - indicated that two-thirds of them favoured it.
– Favoured the war?
– Favoured Australia fighting in Vietnam. There was some doubt about the validity of that expression of opinion. For an Australian Broadcasting Commission programme in Perth, people went out into the streets of that city and questioned at random thirty-one young people in this age group. Strangely enough for the people who challenge the result of that gallup poll, two-thirds of those young people - both male and female - selected at random said that they favoured Australia fighting in Vietnam. Therefore, 1 think that this is a figment of Senator Wheeldon’s imagination, lt is something that he would like to see but in fact it is not the case. He has mistaken the attitude of this noisy minority - the circles in which he moves - as representing the solid view of the people of Australia and the solid view of the people of the United States. Despite some hopes that Senator Wheeldon expressed that Senator Kennedy or Senator McCarthy would be the new President of the United States of America because of their views on Vietnam, it is becoming clearer that the solid core of America is speaking and that neither of these men will be the next President. America will remain true to its obligations as Australia will remain true to its obligations. This measure is for the defence of Australia. It imposes obligations which are cheerfully accepted by the great majority of young Australians and it seeks only to catch those who avoid their responsibilities - the shirkers, the draft dodgers, call them what you like, who have no right to refuse to accept obligations accepted by others. For these reasons I give my strong support to this legislation.
– It was my intention to try to deal with the principles of compulsory military service, but there has been a tendency in the debate to distort the purposes of the Bill and I find that it will be necessary to spend some time upon the Bill rather than to devote the whole of my speech to the matters about which I intended to speak. As we are limited today as to time, I think I shall be forgiven if no attempt is made to reply to the remarks that Senator Sim has just made. A case could be made out for an individual unionist who for conscientious reasons would not take part in a strike, but what has that to do with the preservation of liberty as related to this legislation, where the question is one of life or death? Any analogy between this legislation and National Security Regulations is very unfair. It is recognised that most freedoms are suspended when there is a danger such as existed during the Second World War. There is no comparison between the circumstances then and now. Time will not permit me to elaborate on that question.
We find that what the Opposition has said on this question is not criticised by the Government but that the Government is finding ways out. A member of the legal profession has said that those who have a conscientious objection to participation in a particular war may opt out of that war by some other method. This seems to be justification for recognition in this legislation of such a conscientious objection. I remind the Senate that, during the Second World War, the United Kingdom legislation contained a provision which recognised the existence of a conscientious objection to a particular war. One judgment cited in the publication of the Council of Churches relates to the recognition of an Indian as a conscientious objector to fighting in that war, although he stated that the only war in which he would participate and which would not offend his conscience would be one for Indian independence. Another judgment relates to a Socialist who said that the only war in which he could participate would be a class war or one to defend a Socialist society.
So it is easy to see how there can be exceptions to a total objection to participation in any war. In Australian courts dealing with these matters today applicants for exemption are asked whether they would defend their families. The complete pacifist is supposed to say no, that if his family were attacked he would offer no resistance in their defence. It is hard to believe that there would be any such person in Australia. We must recognise that a person could be opposed to military involvement in a particular war without adopting the extreme attitude that he would not resist an invader in his home who was threatening his family. lt is said that those persons who have a conscientious objection to a particular war may get out of service in that war or satisfy their consciences by joining the Citizen Military Forces; but this is quite false, even though it has been said by a man who is educated in the forming of opinions based on fact. When challenged, he said: ‘I have heard it’. There is an obligation on members of the CMF to serve for a period of 6 years where the Commonwealth requires. Citizen Military Forces personnel are not now being called up for the Regular Army Supplement to serve in Vietnam; so anyone who seeks to get out of service in Vietnam and who has not a conscientious objection may join the CMF. But those who have conscientious objections to serving in the war in Vietnam cannot find an alternative in the CMF because of the possibility that at some time these forces may be required for such service. When enrolling in the CMF they give an undertaking that they will, if the need arises, serve in this war or any other war which may occur and with which they may equally disagree.
– In what possibilities?
– In the possibilities envisaged by the particular Act under which they are called up.
– But what are they?
– I do not know. I know that there is a liability for service. This Bill differs from the Act in that the Act is an Act to compel service while the Bill is a Bill lo compel pimping. Although there is no resemblance between this Bill and the Bill that was first introduced or mooted in the other place, there is still a requirement for this pimping.
– That was in the Act in 1951.
– That is where the honourable senator is entirely mistaken. If he will be patient for a while bs will discover that it was not in the Act. Many amendments - I believe beneficial amendments - to the Bill have been introduced, not because of the pressure of persuasion, as stated by Senator Wheeldon, but because of inability to get the measure through the Senate without the support of Democratic
Labor Party senators, and because of pressure from them. If undesirable features are still in the Bill the blame can be squarely laid in the lap of the DLP senators because this is a Bill that they are prepared to accept.
Let me turn to what was originally in the Act. Everyone had to pimp. Education Departments had to supply names, etc., and there was a responsibility under section 52 upon a person to supply information, if called upon, in relation to the liability of himself or of another person to serve. This was very loosely phrased. As has been stated, there have been no prosecutions under these provisions: It is doubtful whether the Government could succeed in a prosecution under a provision such as that relating to someone else’s liability to serve, lt was not necessary under the Act for a person, when asked, to state where someone was hiding. There is a different provision in this Bill. No longer is it a question relating only to the liability of a person to serve. We are now to be asked to give information on any prescribed matter. Under proposed new sub-section (3a.) of section 52. ‘prescribed matter’ is defined as including the liability of a person to register or render service under the Act. This has been the position since 1951. lt is now proposed that the person being questioned shall be required to pimp on the defaulter by giving information relating to the address of the place of living or employment of a person who is required to register under the Act but has failed so to register, or has failed to comply with the requirements of a notice served on him under the Act. In other words, the person being questioned must supply information as to where the defaulter can be found, where he can be picked up so that he may be put into camp at Holsworthy, or at the other place we heard of today where he can be stripped naked and have buckets of water thrown over him.
Because the requirement would be so tragic for the individuals concerned, the Government has excluded from the persons who may be required to give this type of information the wife, the father, the stepfather, the mother, the step-mother, the guardian, the brother, and the sister of the person concerned. They no longer will be required to pimp on the alleged defaulter. I believe the exclusion of these persons was done at the request of the.Australian Democratic Labor Party. The Bill now provides:
A person is not guilty of an offence against this section for failing to answer truthfully any question, or failing to furnish any information, relating to another person if -
I have just mentioned the people who would be regarded as being members of the family of the person concerned. Nor is a person to be regarded as guilty of an offence against the Act if the first-mentioned person had, in the opinion of the court before which he is charged with the offence, reasonable cause, Founded upon compassionate or other grounds, for the failure. It is left now entirely tothe decision of the court as to whether the person charged had reasonable cause founded upon compassionate or other grounds. In considering whether the alleged offender had reasonable cause founded upon compassionate or other grounds, for failing to answer truthfully any question, or failing to furnish any information relatingto another person, the court is required to take into account any relationship between those persons other than a relationship existing by reason of the first-mentioned person being a member of the family of the other person. In other words, if one is not a member of the Family, he can be excused for failing to pimp only if he can establish to the satisfaction of the court that he had reasonable cause founded on compassionate or other grounds to justify his not pimping. I emphasise that the Bill does recognise the undesirable feature of pimping because it provides that if one can establish a certain relationship one shall not be required to pimp.
It has been argued that membersof the medical profession and ministers of religion are exempt from the obligation to give information. That is entirely incorrect. Where the first-mentioned person - the one who is asked to supply information - is a minister of religion, a legal practitioner or a registered medical practitioner, he need not answer questions or furnish information if by so doing he reveals a communication of confidence made to him in the course of his profession. We all know that a legal practitioner, for example, is not required to reveal in court the subject matter of confidential conversations between him and his client. I do not know the ethics of all religions but I do know that we do not expect a priest, for example, to reveal confessional secrets. I emphasise, however, that he is exempt only from revealing communications of confidence made to him in the course of his profession. The information which the Army wants to enable it to catch up with a defaulter is not the type of information that is given in confidence. For instance, when a client gives his counsel his address, that is not a communication of confidence received by the legal practitioner in the course of his profession.
– Why does the honourable senator say that?
– I say that it is not a communication of confidence. The first question to determine is what is a communication of confidence received by a person in the course of his profession. Take the minister of religion. Information relating to the names, ages and addresses of his parishioners cannot be claimed to be communications of confidence received by him in the course of his profession. There will need to be a great deal of argument in the courts before we have an exact definition of what is a communication of confidence received in this way.
The original legislation imposed an obligation upon schools and other organisations to supply lists of those reaching the age at which they must register. In the other place, the Government introduced an amendment which first deleted the requirement of ‘other organisations’ to supply this information and the obligation then applied only to schools. Then we had the spectacle of the Minister in another place opposing the adoption of a clause in his own Bill which made it compulsory for educational organisations to supply certain information.
But, under proposed section 52 schools and other organisations may still be compelled to supply certain information when requested. Again, by clause 5 of the Bill, a compulsion is imposed upon certain other persons to supply information. That clause reads, in part:
Where an arrangement exists under which a person keeps a list of the names of persons who are available for employment and allots the persons whose names are included in the list to employers for the purpose of employment of those persons by those employers, each person whose name is included in the list shall, for the purpose of this Act, be deemed to be employed by the person keeping the list and to be so employed under a contract of employment constituted by the terms of the arrangement. 1 think this provision would apply to all employment agencies which keep such lists. If a person has a list for the purpose mentioned in the clause that I have just read, he is not required to report but, without being requested to do so, he is required to pimp on them. Senator Greenwood says that the conditions contained in this legislation are not as harsh as they were prevviously. Where, hitherto, the employer was required either to refuse to employ or to discontinue employment of the individual concerned, he is now permitted to continue employment and today, instead of the employer being liable to a penalty, he is compelled to become a pimp. The whole purpose of the Bill1 is to make the employer a compulsory pimp. He is now required, without request to inform on his employee if he has reason to believe certain things. Of course this provision could well cover employment agencies and trade unions which have a practice of keeping a list of the names of their unemployed members for a period so that jobs may be allocated to those men when they become available. It could well cover colleges and affect many students who leave school at the end of a term. Many employers recruit their juvenile labour direct from colleges. Many implications of this matter have not been considered.
I wish to point out to the Senate one matter concerning the Bill which seems peculiar to me. I take it no further than mentioning the matter. Registration for national service is carried out by a person filling in a form. If a person applying for registration fills in a form incorrectly - this is possible, as anyone can understand - or fails to fill’ in a form at all, the registrar can register that person and forward a notification of registration for national service to him. The registrar then can ask the person to present himself for a medical examination and if he passes that examination he can be asked to attend for service. If the trainee does not attend for service he is liable to a penalty of $200. If that trainee is convicted and satisfies the court as to his reason for not attending for training, he may enter into a bond and is enlisted then in the Army. Arrangements will be made, we are told in the Minister’s second reading speech, to deduct from his Army pay the amount of the fine that has been imposed upon him by the court.
That person becomes a national serviceman. He must give 2 years service. After completing his service he will be placed on the Reserve for a further 3 years or, if a state of emergency arises, he may be called upon to give 5 years service. A trainee may be cal’led upon, after 2 years national service, to serve for the duration of any war, if there is a declaration of war when his service ends. We are informed also in the second reading speech delivered by the Minister that a national serviceman faces the possibility of 12 months fighting in Vietnam. But although this person has undertaken to serve for the required period, he is still required to pay the fine imposed upon him by a court for having failed to register. 1 turn to the position regarding the men who refuse to comply with the formalities connected with registering for an admission to national service. Those who refuse may be sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in a civilian prison. We are told, again in the second reading speech, that the period of imprisonment would be subject to the normal remissions in sentence that are granted at State prisons. In most cases the remission is one-third of the sentence. So, the person who refused to register would serve 16 months imprisonment. But no fine is payable by him upon the imposition of the sentence of imprisonment. It seems to me that some better consideration must be given to the man who recognises that he must serve and who is prepared to meet this requirement. It cannot be said that liberties are not challenged and taken away from individuals when an individual is deprived of the right to travel overseas not because he has been found guilty of not serving but because he has been found liable to serve.
Everyone accepts the proposition that a moral responsibility devolves upon the physically fit males to defend their country. It is a question of whether this is the responsibility of the Government. There is a responsibility, other than the responsibility of people living in a civilised community who are not always compelled by Acts of Parliament to do certain things, to acknowledge the moral obligation not to deny one’s country his services when they are needed. This responsibility could be extended to the fighting in Vietnam if we accepted the proposition that fighting in Vietnam was in defence of the existence and freedom of Australia.
If we accept the formulated opinions which have been presented by the Department of External Affairs in Canberra and the United States Department of State in Washington, the cause of the conflict in Vietnam was the invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnamese forces. As honourable senators know, in 1954 Vietnam was divided into two countries. The formulated opinions we have are that an invasion from the Communist North threatened the independence of South Vietnam. A move for Communist expansion was made that would eventually reach down to the doors of Australia. This is the position if we accept those opinions.
If we form our opinions on the propaganda presented by the present Government, a strong moral responsibility must rest upon anyone of military age to serve this country. But we find that members of the Government both in this Parliament and in the Young Liberal organisations throughout Australia are not accepting what would be their proper responsibility based on the belief that they have evolved through an examination of their consciences. But there are people who believe that the history of the conflict in Vietnam must be viewed in relation to the proposals made in 1954 for demilitarisation in that country. They recognise that Ho Chi Minh had 80% of the population of the country behind him al that time and was the spokesman for Vietnam. The country was divided for the purpose of disarmament. Those people recognise that both President Eisenhower and our own Prime Minister at that time, who was then Mr Robert Gordon Menzies, acknowledged those facts. Those people believe that the conflict in Vietnam now is a civil conflict. They believe that the United States of America and Australia have engaged in conflict in Vietnam for the purpose of stopping the success which everthing indicated the free election proposed for 1956 would have brought to Vietnam.
Surely those men with this belief have the right to put themselves outside any moral responsibility to serve in this particular con flict. It is outside any moral responsibility that they may otherwise feel because it is a political war. Those people say: ‘I am not going to sacrifice my life in a political war’. Or they say: ‘I believe in the freedom, the rights and the independence of the Vietnamese people to defend themselves, to look after themselves and to uphold their rights to decide their own form of government’. But those people do not qualify under the Act as it stands or under the provisions of the Bill now before the Senate to be classed as conscientious objectors.
At present people with these objections are filling our Army detention camps. Possibly in the future, if the provisions contained in this Bill are enacted, those people will contribute to the growth of the numbers in our gaols. Those people will accept imprisonment rather than act contrary to their strong, possibly political or religious, conscientious beliefs.
– Why should those people not join the Citizen Military Forces? Let us get back to that point.
– If they join the CMF they are committing themselves for service the full requirements of which they do not know.
– That is no answer for the purpose of the defence that we want.
– The Minister in his second reading speech tells us that only I in 4 persons who register for national service stand a chance of having their marble come out of the barrel and therefore of being called up. Of the persons called up, only a few have these conscientious beliefs. It is only those few that we seek today to exclude from the provisions of this legislation. If this legislation is passed, provisions will be put in process which will make people pimps and criminals. Half our population will have convictions registered against it because of refusal to inform on the people that I have mentioned. I say that this is a Bill purely to make informers out of the population of Australia. The Australian Labor Party opposes the National Service Bill in itself, but we take a much stronger attitude towards this particular amendment because we do not believe it is an attempt to deal with people who are seeking to dodge their obligations, lt will create informers in Australia. lt will compel pimping. Unfortunately it has the support of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, which holds a responsibility to members of the unprivileged section of the community who will be caught up in this legislation.
– I understood Senator Cavanagh to say that if Australians believed that South Vietnam was being invaded by North Vietnam and that the impetus of that invasion would come down through South East Asia eventually to reach our shores, they would regard it as their bounden duty to do something about it. He seemed to me to imply that if that threat really existed there would be some justification for this legislation and for the action that the Government has taken. Over the years I have studied newspaper reports of the fighting in Vietnam. lt has been held for a long time that the war in Vietnam is a civil war amongst the South Vietnamese people. 1 have thought that, in view of the accumulation of facts since the conflict started, that contention would have been worn out long ago. At the beginning of the negotiations in Paris the representatives of North Vietnam refused to admit they had forces in South Vietnam. Incidentally, if it is a civil war in South Vietnam, why are representatives of North Vietnam engaged in the negotiations in Paris at all? For several days they persisted with their refusal to admit that their forces are in South Vietnam. Then there was a change of front and they referred with a great deal of pride to their forces which, they said, were engaged in the liberation of South Vietnam. My authority for that statement is newspaper reporting which T believe to be authentic.
I believe it is beyond any reasonable doubt whatever that there are North Vietnamese forces in South Vietnam and that they are the core and inspiration of the invasion of that country. Tt seems to me to be futile to continue to deny what is so clearly a fact. Because Thailand is a so much smaller country it has not attracted very much notice, but guerrilla warfare on a minor scale is taking place there, as also in Malaysia and Laos. Does anyone in his right mind believe that after South Vietnam is digested - in the process that the North Vietnamese call the ‘liberation’ of South Vietnam - the Communists will call a halt and say that they are satisfied, that they have gone that far and will go no further? I have said in this chamber before that 1 wish I could believe that. All the facts belie such a belief.
I am one of the people who shudder al the thought of withdrawal of the United States forces from South East Asia. I believe they are the greatest insurance policy we have. If the United States forces burn their fingers in South East Asia and leave that area, it is problematical that they will ever return there, lt is to be hoped that they will return if this country is ever under a direct threat. Senator Cavanagh has contended that people do not believe there is a threat coming down from South East Asia because, if they did, they would do something about it. 1 say that the facts justify the attitude of the people who support the policy of the Government for the protection and defence of this country.
I believe that the Senate is indebted to Senator Greenwood for his lucid and dispassionate portrayal of the legal implications of this measure. His speech was so factual that it is difficult to refute it. lt is a great pity that the greater part of it, which was made yesterday, was not broadcast to the people of Australia. We have also heard Senator Cohen in this debate. His speech was full of adjectives, appellations, superlatives, or whatever you might care to call them, lt was couched in most extravagant terms. He described the Bill as the most impudent and insensitive piece of legislation ever to come before the Australian Parliament. He said that it is repressive and arrogant police State legislation which shows a contempt for the liberties of the people. He said that the Government is hounding conscientious objectors. He went on to describe the measure as unconscienable. unjust, unjustifiable and, even worse, unnecessary. The extravagance is mighty.
Senator Cohen’s speech seemed to me to be the work of a man who was bent willy nilly on painting the measure black. It seemed that he was determined to vilify and blacken this measure, whatever came or went. His extravagant language proved nothing. It conveyed only that the attitude of the Labor Party is prompted by the objections of its members to conscription for overseas service and their opposition to the war in Vietnam. Those factors colour and cloud the whole picture as the Labor Parly secs it.
– But we have been told by your people that there is no war in Vietnam.
– I have never heard them say that. There is a war in Vietnam and in my view it is vital to the future of this country. All the condemnation and criticism of the Government’s policy in regard to Vietnam and national service do not alter the fact that this is the same Government that received for that policy an overwhelming mandate from the people of Australia.
Senator Sim referred to a gallup poll. I do not know whether a lot of credence can be placed on gallup polls, but certainly some credence can be placed on them. He said that the gallup poll which indicated that seven out of ten young people said that this country should fight on in Vietnam was taken in Perth. He was wrong. It was an Australian-wide gallup poll, and it showed that more than two-thirds of the young people in this country are supporting and standing behind this Government’s policy in regard to that matter. Senator Cavanagh had something to say about the contention of Senator Greenwood that any young soldier who was called up could opt himself out of service in Vietnam by accepting Citizen Military Forces commitments, and I believe that is the position which pertains. Senator Cavanagh challenged that contention when he said that these members of the CMF could still be used for overseas service. I believe that that could only happen when the Governor-General issued a proclamation declaring a national emergency or a state of war. That has not been done yet. However, if the CMF could not be used in those circumstances, there is no possible reason or justification for the CMF at all. If the young men could not be used in a national emergency, what are we training them for and why is the system in operation?
We have heard a lot in this chamber about conscientious objection. Many people seem to have very strange ideas about it. Senator Cohen referred to the Australian Council of Churches. It is true that it published in a booklet the report of a special committee of the Council. When one reads through it one finds some most amazing contentions advanced. Paragraph 3 on page 32 made me goggle when I read it. There the committee said that a further and deeper principle is at stake, namely that in a free country law abiding citizens should not be compelled to leave their chosen careers and do national service of any kind. In other words, no one should be conscripted for any purpose; no citizen should be deprived of his freedom unless he has been convicted of an offence. According to the committee, this is a fundamental principle of a free society. If that principle is widespread and held by a majority of people in this country, then in all probability we have no future because it is an open invitation for anyone to come and take us over.
In the forefront of the report that is published in this booklet a lot is said about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948. The booklet details a whole list of Articles - all those Articles that are relevant to the case put up by the committee. Since this measure was first discussed by various organisations, this same Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been quoted on many occasions and has been held up as a justification for the attitude taken by many people who object to compulsory military service. But while they do that, and while they seem to take it as their guiding light, as the thing upon which they fashion their conduct, it is to be noted that they are not. prepared to do anything whatever to defend it, to police it, to see that its adoption is universal. They will pay lip service to it, but when it comes to defending it the boot is on the other foot.
Unless the integrity of the state is safeguarded and guaranteed, unless we make every reasonable effort that is possible to ensure that the integrity of the state is preserved, the rights of the individual can be destroyed overnight. The integrity of the state is the first consideration. Without it there are no human rights in a free society. Realising this, the General Assembly of the United Nations had this to say:
Tn the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others . . .
Surely the protection of the rights and the freedoms of the people of this Commonwealth is the very thing that is guiding the Government along the path which it has taken in regard to this national service measure. 1 lived through the 1914-18 War. 1 was not very old but I remember it quite well, and I remember the operation of the voluntary service system. At that time it was held that it was imperative that the integrity of the British Empire be maintained, that it be safeguarded and defended. It was held also that it was extremely important for the world that this be done. I hope that if ever a position arises under which there is any threat to this country the voluntary system of defence will never be operated again, for the reason that one could not conceive of anything more unfair. I recall to mind that boys of 17 years of age got past the recruiting officers, enlisted, and went to the front. Some of them did not come back. Some of them were only sons. Next door there could be a family with 4 or 5 big sons not one of whom volunteered. Such was the operation of the voluntary system. I cannot think of anything more unfair, more unjust, and more unequal than the way in which the voluntary system called upon people to make sacrifices during the 1914-18 War.
– And in the early part of the 1939-45 War.
– Yes. I repeat that 1 know husbands who answered the call of duty and left their wives and families behind. I know of only sons who did not come back. There were other families with sons not one of whom volunteered. If we are to have anything approaching equality of sacrifice to defend the country then I say, without any hesitation, that that will not be achieved by the voluntary system. Honourable senators opposite have said that there are anomalies in the Act. Of course there are. There are anomalies in every Act of Parliament, but as time goes by they are ironed out. If the integrity of the country is threatened and if the country is to be safeguarded, easily the fairest way in which to bring about equality of sacrifice would be to adopt the principles contained in the National Service Bill. I say that without any hesitation whatever. If the country is threatened the voluntary system, with all its inequalities and with all its wastage, just is not good enough.
I believe that instead of retreating and backing and filling the Government has leant over backwards to placate sections of public opinion. I believe it has lent over backwards too far. Admittedly it would be impossible to placate all sections of public opinion. Nobody of sane mind would attempt so to do. The simple reason is that if we did not have a form of national service we would not have any defence. Members of the Federal Pacificist Council of Australia and the Communist Party of Australia simply would throw us to the wolves. In order to try to placate the reasonable views of public opinion the Government has lent over backwards. For my part I would have preferred to see the original clause 22 left in the Bill. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright), in speaking about the Bill, said that the purpose of this provision is to reveal the existence of those of whom the Department of Labour and National Service is unaware. I am not a legal man, but is it to be taken that with the deletion of that provision the Government is simply left as it was in respect of the people of whom it is unaware? The Minister went on to say that if this section were persevered with information of a confidential nature may have to be divulged. My opinion as a layman is that person’s date of birth and his place of residence are not confidential information. In my opinion, if the Act is to be policed the Department must be able to obtain that information, lt may be that at the Committee stage the position will be made clearer and more definite. I repeat that in my view the Government has gone quite far enough in meeting the objections of a lot of people to the National Service Bill. It is all very well to talk about pimps. In the policing of any law - whether it is this law, common law or any other law - those responsible simply have to gather information. It seems to me to ill behove those people who, in their objection to this measure, should cast aspersions on persons who are so placed that they have to collate information so that the Act may function as it should.
During the last war, when confronted with an emergency, the Government rapidly changed its mind when it realised that the country was under threat. The then Prime Minister, Mr Curtin, in an effort to implement a measure which provided for conscription for service outside Australia, had to go to the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party to obtain permission. That was a most untoward step. I believe that a Prime Minister, charged with the responsibility of governing the country in a time of emergency, should be free to act. Mr Curtin went to the ALP Federal Conference realising the necessity for what the present Government is proposing in this measure - under different circumstances, admittedly. The ALP gave Mr Curtin permission to conscript men to serve up to a certain parallel of latitude. 1 remember the criticism at that time, lt was said that when the troops got near this parallel of latitude they would have to take a sight at the sun, drive up to the parallel, and then drop their guns. The then Labor Prime Minister of the country realised that the system in operation simply was not good enough.
I support the Bill. I feel a certain amount of regret that it has been watered down. In my view a lot of the criticism that has been levelled at it is basically unsound. I. read a statement in the ‘Australian’ that the University of Tasmania Staff Association accused the Federal Government of framing legislation contrary to the spirit of democratic government. This legislation is in conformity with the spirit of democratic government inasmuch as this Government had an overwhelming mandate to do just what it is doing. The newspaper article went on to state that much of the contention advanced has been used to oppose this measure.
I believe that unless we put ourselves in a state of readiness, unless we get down to a clear cut defence policy, then the future of this Commonwealth could be dim indeed. I believe it completely necessary that there should be a National Service Act. 1 believe it most necessary that this Commonwealth, with its limited resources of manpower and everything else, should put itself in a position of defence preparedness. I believe that the old method of voluntary service has gone. It should never come back and probably never will. I believe that the future of the Commonwealth depends on the success or otherwise of measures such as this Bill.
– Since the debate on this Bill commenced yesterday it has ranged over a wide variety of subjects and a number of countries have been referred to. I have listened pretty intently to the points made by a number of honourable senators on the Government side and by all speakers on this side of the chamber. But of all the statements made, by speakers from both sides, I was most disgusted with one and that was made by Senator Lillico. He stood here and virtually propounded conscription for every person for service in the armed forces of this country. He said - and I use his words - that he hoped that he never again would see the voluntary system in operation.
– To hear that the honourable senator is disgusted with me is one of the greatest compliments I could be paid.
– That the honourable senator regards my remarks as a compliment concerns me not at all. I was thoroughly disgusted to hear him say that he hoped that never again would he see a voluntary system of enlistment in Australia’s armed forces. Where would we have been but for voluntary enlistment during World War I? 1 am about the same age as Senator Lillico and can well remember the 1914- 1918 war. 1 also well remember World War II. I volunteered during World War II and was rejected, not on medical grounds but because 1 was in a reserved occupation. I would willingly have given my services at that time for the defence of Australia because that was a total1 war. But by the same token, if I was young enough today to go to the war in Vietnam, irrespective of what the Government says about it being more or less an exercise, I would not go. I would not go because the Vietnam war is morally wrong. I am entitled to hold that opinion and if any other person has a different opinion then by the same token he is entitled to it.
Returning to Senator Lillico’s statement about hoping never to see the voluntary system again, I recall that he also attacked the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) because of the language that he used when opening the debate on behalf of the Opposition. I thought Senator Cohen’s language was quite temperate. I think Senator Cohen put in a nutshell the feel’ings of honourable senators on this side of the Senate and the feelings of members of the Australian Labor Party throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I compliment Senator Cohen on the speech he delivered. 1 agree with Senator Wheeldon who said that Senator Cohen’s speech practically covered all that could be said in opposition to the Bill.
This debate, as I said, has ranged over a wide area and a great number of subjects. It was particularly noticeable that the first four speakers in the debate were legal men. The Bill was introduced by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), and the next three speakers were Senator Cohen. Senator Greenwood and Senator Wheeldon. I think they touched upon all the legal aspects involved in this legislation. However, there are a few things as they appear in the Bill as it now stands that 1 want to refer to. Perhaps one could refer to this Bill as the ‘mutil’ated Bill’, lt has been mutilated continually since it was introduced in another place. Amendment after amendment has been introduced and passed. The Bill has been watered down. It might fairly be said that the Government has gone to water in regard to it. The Government went to water because it was pressured by publicopinion about objectionable clauses in the Bill.
I agree with remarks made both here and in another place that this Bill is the worst, piece of legislation to be brought before the Parliament since the Crimes Bill. In some respects, I. think, it is worse than the Crimes Bill. One of the most objectionable provisions in the original Bill was the clause making it mandatory for people to inform on their relatives. I realise that an amendment is to be made to this particular clause but I want to read it in order to ensure that it is correctly recorded in Hansard. I refer to clause 21.
– Which amendment is the honourable senator referring to?
– I refer to an amendment which was proposed in the House of Representatives by the Minister for Labour and National Service, the Honourable L. H. E. Bury.
– Is it proposed to introduce that amendment here?
– The Government introduced it in another place so I think it is a natural assumption that it will be introduced here also.
– The Bill was amended accordingly before being introduced here.
– That is right. The Bill was amended in another place. The clause originally referred to the relatives of a person liable to render national service. It particularly named the mother, the father, the step-father, the children, and so on. It is significant to note that whilst all those people are now mentioned in the Bill following amendment in another place, there is no provision to exempt certain other people closely related to a person about whom the Army wants to gain information. I refer to grandparents.
– That is at the discretion of the judge.
– If that is in the Bill I have missed it. 1 thought I had studied the Bill pretty closely. Be that as it may, the point is that this Bill is designed to make of blood relatives of the young men concerned nothing more or less than pimps. I object most strenuously to that clause in the Bill.
There has been mention in the Senate of the Labor Party’s opposition to conscription. lt is a well known fact - it has been mentioned on a number of occasions - that the Labor Party is opposed to conscription for overseas service. That is a plank in our platform. With that platform I agree wholeheartedly. So that there will be no misunderstanding on this point I shall read that part of our platform relating to conscription which was decided upon at our Federal conference in Adelaide in August last year. It states:
Conference opposes conscription for Vietnam or anywhere else outside Australian territory except in time of declared war.
That is our policy. It is well known to all Government supporters. In fact 1 think it is widely known throughout Australia and probably in many other countries as well. I see in that policy the ideal. I subscribe to it wholeheartedly. I sincerely hope that it is never changed while I am a member of the Labor Party, and I expect to remain a member of the Labor Party until the day I die.
– The honourable senator should not resign and then seek reelection. It does not pay in his Party.
– The honourable senator has some intelligence but 1 cannot understand bis suggestion that I should resign.
I have never had any desire to resign from the Labor Party. I have never had any desire to join any other political party and, so far as I can see at the present time I never will. I am proud of my Party. I support its platform at all times, and whoever is my chosen leader will have my full support. I should expect any decent party man to do exactly the same thing.
The Minister, when introducing the Bill, mentioned that two choices were open to persons who reached the call-up age of 20 years. He took some time to read that portion of his second reading speech. He pointed out that they may elect to serve in the Citizen Military Forces for a period of 6 years as an alternative to national service, but it is rather significant to note that they must elect to do so before the date of the ballot. Probably a number of these young chaps would prefer to run the risk of not being in the ballot because the Minister said that only about one in four of the 20-year olds was caught up in the ballot. However, after having been caught up in the ballot it is conceivable that a number of these young fellows would prefer to contract themselves out of national service and join the Citizen Military Forces, but there is no provision for that and 1 believe there should be. The ballot would not be so objectionable to me if there were some such provision but apparently the Government has no intention of so amending the Bill.
Despite the reference to two choices, that is the only choice open to them. Even a conscientious objector has very little choice or even an opportunity to get out of national service if he does not agree with national service or with war in general or with a particular war. I venture the opinion - I think it has been pretty well accepted now - that a number of people in Australia object to the war in Vietnam because of circumstances within that country.
– They can join the CMF at any time before the ballot is drawn.
– 1 said that, but there is no provision for them to join the CMF after the ballot. The Minister made the point that only about one in four is called up as a result of the ballot but 1 think it is pretty safe to say that the number who go to Vietnam following call-up would be in the vicinity of one in eight. That information has been made available to me and 1 believe it to be correct.
I want to deal now with conscientious objectors. 1 would object to going to the war in Vietnam because I believe the war to be wrong in itself. I would endeavour to have myself regarded as a conscientious objector. 1 do not want to give the Senate the idea for one moment that I would object on religious grounds. I would not. However I would object because of the kind of war that is being fought in Vietnam and the interests involved in it. The Government says we are not at war. J think that was brought out in this chamber quite recently when Senator Tangney asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question consisting of four words - ‘Is Australia at war?’ Senator Anderson supplied the honourable senator with the following reply from the Prime Minister:
On 15th March 1966, in reply to a similar question without notice by Mr Calwell, my predecessor slated that this country is engaged in a number of. limited operations with military forces and that it is not technically in a state of war. So far as the Government is concerned, this statement still represents the position.
Senator Lillico, in his contribution to this debate, said that we were at war in Vietnam. Just where do we go? ls Senator Lillico the spokesman for the Government when he says that we are at war, or is the Prime Minister the spokesman for the Government, when he says that we are not at war? Whether we are technically at war or not makes no difference to the suffering of people who are injured or to the people who are killed as a result of the war, skirmish, or whatever it is termed, that is going on in Vietnam at the present time.
If my figures are correct - I believe they are - approximately 200 Australians have been killed and Australia has suffered approximately 1,000 casualties in Vietnam. For the 200 Australians who have been killed, death is just as permanent, whether it is a declared war or not. For the thousands of Australians who have been injured, their injuries are just as permanent and their suffering is just as acute, whether it is a declared war or not. If we can take notice of the figures that are made available, the number of United States personnel killed in Vietnam is about four times the number of Australians killed, and the number of United States personnel wounded is about five times the number of Australians wounded.
– Those figures cannot be accurate.
– They are figures that I have had forwarded to me from an authority who claims to speak for the American people. I am not quoting them as being authentic, but they have been forwarded to me and I quote them for what they are worth. If the Minister can produce other figures to refute them, it is his prerogative to do so.
Let me refer again to conscientious objectors. I believe that all honourable senators have received quite a number of circulars on this issue. One to which I wish to refer particularly came from a meeting of a citizens committee that was held in Hobart on 26th May 1968, before a number of amendments that are now included in the Bill were made. Many Hobart people will know the convener of that citizens committee, Mr Richard Meredith. He is a very fine citizen. I understand that he was instrumental in having a number of these letters forwarded to members of the Parliament. But for the benefit of those who did not receive a copy of this letter and so that it may be included in Hansard, I will quote it.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The letter, dated 26th May 1968, reads:
Re National Service Act 1968 amendments
At a public meeting convened in Hobart Town Hall today, the following statement was unanimously endorsed by some 160 concerned citizens.
I interpolate to say that although the committee estimated that 160 persons attended, the ‘Mercury’ of the following day gave the organisation credit for having 200 persons in attendance, so a pretty conservative estimate was made by the committee. The. letter continues.
We would draw your attention to this statement for consideration before the debate and voting upon the National Service Bill 1968 amendments to the Act.
We believe that the amending Bill . to the National Service Act makes excessive inroads on human rights. We object in particular to the provisions which -
I have a letter from the Council for Civil Liberties, signed by R. M. Hope, President, and dated 17th May 1968, which lends support to the views of the committee. It reads:
The Council for Civil Liberties, while considering conscription to be a political issue rather than one of civil liberty, wishes nonetheless to express its opposition to some of the amendments to the National Service Act. It finds objectionable the use of informers and the penalties placed on persons who decline to inform, particularly parents. It regards the power to examine personnel records as an invasion of the privacy of employing bodies and educational institutions. It is perturbed that alleged offences carrying sentences of imprisonment up to two years shall be tried by a magistrate without the defendant having the option of a jury.
At a time when there is some possibility of achieving peace in Vietnam these measures are unnecessary. The number of draft evaders who might bc revealed cannot compensate for these infringements of the liberties of institutions and infringements of the liberties of institutions and dropped.
I realise that these letters were written before the Government decided to amend the Bill in another place but they do fortify the Opposition’s argument on the denial of trial by jury. I am rather surprised that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who has voted against the Government with a view to upholding the civil liberties of the individual, should introduce into this chamber a Bill which does not permit trial by jury. Where does Senator Wright stand so far as the law is concerned? Does he support’ the Bill for which he is responsible in this chamber, which denies trial by jury, or does he adhere to his previous principles in upholding the rights of the individual? I leave the matter at that as my time is short. I believe that a number of points that will come out as debate proceeds in the second reading and committee stages will show that the Government has been inconsistent all the way through with this piece of legislation.
Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) 18.5)- As these proceedings are being broadcast one could almost call this the Tasmanian session, as before the suspension for dinner my colleague Senator Lillico spoke, followed by Senator Poke, and I understand that the Opposition Whip, Senator O’Byrne, will follow me. The debate is being listened to by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who is in charge of the Bill in the Senate and who must feci proud that at the last Senate election he gained a personal vote greater than that which any other Tasmanian has received at a Senate election. I was interested to hear Senator Poke read a letter in relation to a protest meeting in Hobart, lt recalled to my mind that 1 was walking down the streets of Hobart on the Friday prior to the meeting when a lady whom I know was handing out dodgers advertising this meeting. She said: ‘Senator Marriott, you will not mind my handing you one of these, will you?’ I said: ‘No, certainly not. In our country under our Government you have every right of peaceful protest. One of the reasons why we have a parliament and we have public debate is so that people can be vocal and be heard’. But a working man, a former regular soldier who was with me, objected to having these dodgers handed out. He said to the lady: ‘Madam, if our allies and Australian troops had not gone into South East Asia, Malaysia and Korea, you would not be in a position to be allowed the privilege of handing out protest dodgers or holding protest meetings, so I do not want anything of your protest’. That is an instance of two individuals with different ideas and different outlooks.
Senator Poke at least has clarified the situation and has explained that we are tn for a long debate on this Bill. He said that it is, that it has been, and that it will be Australian Labor Party policy to oppose conscription - that the Labor Party is utterly opposed to conscription. Knowing that Labor Party policy changes, I suggest that it is quite a good idea for us to get intermittent news that there have been no changes on matters of importance. The Labor Party is using this measure to put forward and proclaim its policy of opposition to conscription and, I presume, to national service. It is well for the Senate to remember that we are not debating new legislation. We are debating a Bill to amend the National Service Act 1951-1966.
Those of us who were in the Senate earlier today were really privileged, I believe, to hear Senator Greenwood give a balanced, clear exposition of the Bill and its legal points. He answered criticisms of the Opposition. His quality of argument and ability in debate, I believe, mark him as a man who may well follow the same political path as the one whom he succeeded in the Senate. 1 refer to the fact that Senator Greenwood, although comparatively new to this chamber, has already made his mark as successor in the Senate to our present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). I hope and sincerely believe he will have a long and distinguished career in federal politics in Australia. During his speech he was scoffed at and jeered at by the Opposition when he gave credit to the Government for making amendments to legislation that it had introduced. I cannot understand the reason for this. It is most unfair to scoff and jeer at the Government because it has seen (it and agreed to put into a Bill before the Parliament amendments that it believes the people want and that it believes are in the public interest. Surely our own Standing Orders and in particular our bi-cameral system of government, with two Houses of Parliament, and the forms of the Parliament are designed to prevent legislation from being rushed through and becoming law before the people know under which laws they will have to operate. The delaying forms of Parliament are provided so that public opinion can become vocal.
Public opinion did become vocal and this Government, which has been in office since 1949, did not take the attitude that it knows everything. It has appreciated the feelings of the public on certain aspects of this legislation which affects so many people in so many homes in Australia today. It is a truism of political science that Parliament mirrors the people. If Parliament did not react to public opinion, if the Government of the day did not take cognisance of what the public was clamouring against in any legislation that it was proposing; if it ignored public opinion, it. would be termed arrogant and dictatorial, and it would be told that it was time to go. The people would say: We will have none of you. You think you can boss lis around and not take punishment.’
Here we have an instance of public opinion being justly vocal. I offer no criticism of this vocal protest. -The Government has decided to heed the representations that were put by very worthy and sincere bodies on behalf of the people. It is doing the correct thing so far as the decencies of parliamentary government are concerned; yet certain sections of the Press and the Opposition, ever ready to condemn the Government, whatever its politics may be, Say that it is a weak vacillating government which knows not its own mind, which knows not where it is going. But I believe that the result of this political exercise will be that the public of Australia will realise that this Government allowed the proper forms of the Parliament to operate, that it allowed publicity to be given to this major piece of legislation which it is introducing and that it then heeded the views of the public because it represents the people and rules on their behalf.
In my belief, the attitude of the Australian Labor Party towards this Bill arises from the fact that the Labor Party has failed in the last 20 years to recognise what the public of Australia desire in the matter of: Commonwealth or central government. It spurns the people’s views. It ignores the people. Otherwise, it would not be voting against national service. Why, the vast majority of young Australians are not opposed to national service. The Labor Party spurns public opinion with the result that it is now in a political wilderness. All we ever hear emanating from the Labor Party arc reports, either true or false, of sporadic in-fighting and back-stabbing, and then of resignations by leaders to try to prove that they can come back later and be more popular. 1 will wager that no future leader of the Australian Labor Party will ever hand in his resignation and try to make a comeback. The Labor Party fs blatantly displaying the results of its misfortunes in its very attitude to this Bill.
If we were to hear reasoned, constructive criticism as to why any clause of this very important legislation should not be adopted and become legally binding, I might be prepared to applaud the Opposition, and so might the public of Australia. But members of (he Opposition are using this measure to try to gain political kudos believing, because of their lack of knowledge of public understanding, that they are getting more and more people on their side with respect to military service.
Another factor that has clearly arisen from the debate is that the Australian Labor Party, the official Opposition, is trying to debate national service on the question of whether we should or should not be involved in Vietnam. This Bill relates to the Army defence force of this country and I am certain that the public realises this fact of life. Furthermore it is my firm belief that an Act emanating from the Commonwealth Parliament should be wholly effective, not partially effective. To my mind, breakers of the law and evaders of obligations imposed by the law should be apprehended and the law should be such that these offenders, after being apprehended, shall be fairly tried and justly punished for having committed a wrong against an Act of Parliament. Surely, as parliamentarians, regardless of our party affiliations, we must agree with the precept that the law shall be obeyed, that the law should be clear and unequivocal and that the punishment under the law should be spelled out.
I want to express my sincere regret at the political climate that develops when legislation such as this comes before the Senate. 1 believe there is a dangerously wide gulf developing between the two major parties in their attitudes towards the defence of Australia, foreign affairs, and the things that really matter for the welfare, safety and security of the people of Australia. We would willingly have a Joint Foreign Affairs Committee and I long for the day when there can be a little more give and take in the forum of Parliament on questions relating to defence and foreign affairs, when there will be no attempts to denigrate individuals, Ministers or party ideologies and when all parties will come together more and work more as a committee.
I understand that until recent years this had always been the case in the British Parliament. I believe also that 15 years ago, when I first came into the Senate, there was a far better spirit of co-operation and greater willingness to try to get together in agreement on the extremely important subjects of defence, external affairs and foreign policy.
I will never deny the Opposition the right to criticise. No-one can claim that I have ever denied it the right to criticise.
But I do decry elements in the Opposition who, on my interpretation of their speeches, favour disobedience of the laws of this land. I believe that discipline in our armed Services must be of a high standard. This belief certainly is not held by some honourable senators opposite according to the speeches that have been made in this place during certain parts of this sessional period.
Senator Greenwood, I believe, rightly criticised the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) for using intemperate language when he led the Opposition’s attack on this Bill. I believe that, on reflection, the Acting Leader of the Opposition will realise that because of the importance of this legislation his language was intemperate and the sincerity of his arguments was given no weight. Such intemperance in language and attack encourages unruly demonstrations. I had said that 1 agree with the right to protest, but 1 do not think any politician should say or do anything that will encourage unruly demonstrations against the laws of the land. Such attacks enthuse the subversive elements, if any - and there are subversive elements in Australia today - and such speeches, if they get through to our fighting men in Vietnam or wherever they are serving within or without Australia and are read by them, can cause them only misgivings. As we are putting these men into our defence services by law, we should be doing all that we can to build up their morale, show them our real and sincere support and give them encouragement. I believe that in matters of defence, external affairs and foreign policy there should be no ideologies and only one ism’. That is Australianism.
My own approach to the Bill before the Senate is not to deal with the legal points. 1 believe that the differing views in this respect have been well covered by Senator Greenwood and Senator Wheeldon. No doubt these matters will be dealt with by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who is in charge of this Bill, when he closes the second reading debate. The Minister will do so in his own right as he is a barrister. No doubt in the Committee stage we will hear more legal debate. I am prepared to leave that side of it to the lawyers. J believe that this Bill represents an attempt to prevent evasion of military service. It closes loopholes, lt attempts to clear up legal doubts. Whether any Bill will clear up legal doubts will be settled to my way of thinking only if the Bill concerned is challenged in our courts of law. It is the right of people to challenge such factors. But I cannot understand anyone in this Parliament criticising that part of the Bill which tries to clarify the provisions that are designed to prevent evasion and ensure that the law is obeyed. If we are to have conscription, if the age group is named and the method of selection is spelt out, in my mind it is equally important that the legislation governing that matter be watertight and that we do everything possible to make sure that the provisions of the legislation are adhered to.
I have no time for people who evade service to their country. I do not include in those remarks conscientious objectors if they are really conscientious objectors. 1 believe that this Bill is right in attacking or in trying to bring under control those who will break this law, be draft dodgers, burn their cards and defy the law.
– Two people in Australia did that.
– The honourable senator may have heard about two people doing that but there have been demonstrations, and posters and draft cards have been burnt. The National Service Act is being altered slightly by this Bill to show the young people who come within the rule of this law that they will be punished if the do these silly things. These people, 1 think., would not willingly set about burning their draft cards and flouting the law if they were not aroused by people who do not come within the ambit of the legislation. These are the coercers, the troublemakers, who lead young hot-headed people astray. These young people in a moment of wrong enthusiasm or on wrong impulse commit crimes against the Acts of Parliament and against the law of the land.
I have said that the Opposition has tried to link this Bill with the Vietnam conflict. It is trying to use this conflict as another means of attacking the administration of the Army. It is trying to exaggerate the real effects in numbers of national service on the young men of Australia. The Opposition has made it appear that the majority of our 20-year old men will have 2 years in national service. This is wrong, lt is misleading. The idea should not be loosed abroad [hat these are the facts. We were reminded of the facts respecting the stringency or otherwise of this Act and the call’-up of young mei. for national service in the first paragraph of the second reading speech delivered by the Minister in which he pointed out that those who have to register for national service have two choices. They can join the Citizen Military Forces or they can elect to go into the ballots.
The Minister went on to point out the facts concerning the alternative choice of ballot for those who are selected and liable for service. The figures show that so far one in four young men have been selected by ballot for military service. The Minister then set out under headings the classes of young men who can obtain, as many do obtain, deferment of their national service obligation because of their status or their occupations. The proviso i.s that these young men do not use this deferment as an opportunity lo fill in time until they reach the age of 26 years at which time they are above the age at which they are required to fulfil their national service obligations. The deferment principles are contained in the legislation. We are not altering them. We are not making it tougher. We arc not broadening the legislation. In the experience that the Government has had in the 3 years of the operation of the deferment provision in the legislation, the Government has found that this section is working fairly and well.
Another point that must be realised in understanding that this legislation is not as stringent as it is made out to be is the fact that anyone who offers to join the CMF or who by ballot is selected, must undergo stringent medical and physical examinations before he is accepted, lt is a peculiar thing that in this wealthy, opulent, wonderful country a large number of our 20-year old men - in fact quite a heavy percentage - is not passing the stringent medical tests that the Army authorities have laid down to be passed before anyone is allowed - and I use the word ‘allowed’ advisedly - to serve in the military forces of Australia. It is natural that the defence Services of a country should be manned only by people who are fit. The Minister gave some interesting figures which 1 think will bear repetition, as they have been ignored by Opposition speakers. Since the scheme started in 1965, about 326,000 men have registered for national service, of whom about 24,000 have been enlisted and about 10,000 have elected of their own free will to serve alternatively in the Citizen Military Forces. Having pointed out the rules by which it is determined that young men will be in or out of the Army, as provided in this legislation, he implied that the cause of this amending measure is - although an overwhelming majority of the young men and their families accept the obligation imposed by national service, and the discipline of the Army, and young men are rendering efficiently the service for which they are liable - that a small number are seeking to evade or are defaulting in their obligations at one or more of the stages of the procedure, it is for that reason that amending legislation is necessary.
I am now, and I hope 1 always will be, behind the Government which, after 3 years experience, finds that this legislation has loopholes which are allowing a small number of young men of the total of over 326,000 that the legislation has covered over the years to evade their responsibilities under the law. I believe this legislation will close hose gaps, and the majority of Australians will honour the Government for taking this action. The Minister has pointed out, and no-one can deny the fact, that the most serious breach of the national service legislation is failure to register. The penalty for that offence is to be doubled. I do not think the severest critics of the Government could fairly claim that to double the fine for an offence which the Government says is the most serious offence against the legislation is in any way wrong, harsh or unfair. I was surprised to learn that the Government has been advised by departmental officers familiar with the procedure of legislation for national service that they are having trouble over people making fictitious registrations. I think that is a filthy and loathsome action. If it is done as a joke it is a very misguided joke. If its purpose is to mislead or cause embarrassment it is a loathsome trick and I hope that the amendment to cover the people engaging in it will be effective. 1 have referred to draft card burning and demonstrations. Open defiance of the law should not be tolerated by a government or an opposition. A government should never be criticised for preventing or taking action to prevent by law the defiance of our laws. I believe that military service by our young men is good for their stature, physical fitness, character and general training. I do not believe that military service has in any respect ever harmed the character or the wellbeing of the young men who have undergone it. 1 do not want to be misunderstood. I know very well the tragedy of those servicemen who paid the supreme sacrifice or were wounded. That situation is close to home in my case.
I congratulate the Government. I believe it has done the wise thing in responding to public opinion by amending this legislation. I believe the Bill is a sincere attempt to close the loopholes being exploited by evaders, and to be fair to all. If the day comes when we can divert our young men from the universities and fields of great development for a period of 2 years for national service, I hope that universal national service will be introduced in the right interests of this country and its development.
– If anything is to be gathered from the speech just made by Senator Marriott on the National Service Bill now before the Senate it is to be found in the words he quoted when he said that this is a weak and vacillating government that knows not where it goes.
– I did not say that the Government was weak.
– You quoted someone as having said that.
– I said that it would be said, and was being said, of the Government. Do not misquote me.
– I am saying it again, lt is a weak Government that knows not where it goes. The people who would seek the truth in this debate would need to look past the speech of Senator Marriott. It dripped with puerile abuse of the Opposition. His main theme was that the law must be obeyed. But this is a bad law.
– Are you saying that even bad laws should not be obeyed?
– I believe that bad laws should be defeated in the Parliament before they become effective legislation.
– You were in this chamber and allowed the principal legislation to be passed.
– I have opposed this type of legislation since 1 sat on a committee in 1951 and the Government of the day refused to allow a select committee of the Senate to seek the full information for a report to the Parliament and the people ot this country. The Government’s motive was to keep away from the people of Australia what was really behind pernicious legislation of this type. I wish now to quote the words of a distinguished man. He said:
Our country is in danger, not from foreign enemies but above all from our own misguided policies. . . . Dissent is more essential than unity. Now we hear from men in the highest places of Government that the time for debate is over, that the lime has come to unite to support our leaders. . . Every dictatorship has ultimately strangled in the web of repression it wove for ils people, making mistakes which could not be corrected because criticism was prohibited. … So when we are told to forgo all dissent and division we must ask: Who is it that is really dividing the country?
Those are the words contained in a speech made by Senator Robert F. Kennedy 9s reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 23rd March 1968. I will digress for a minute to express my great shock and sorrow that this great man has been the victim of an attempted assassination. He is seriously ill in hospital and the last rites have been administered to him. In his last speech he attacked the violence that is increasing throughout the United States and throughout the world. Yet here are we engaged in a debate on a Bill which is part of the whole pattern of violence, to conscript men into the Services-, to be engaged compulsorily in a war, and all the words and all the froth and bubble will not cover up the fact that it is an immoral war. The Government has not even been able to get around to a feasible explanation of why it has not followed the practice adopted in any other war in which we have been engaged, and declared war.
In the euphoria that has been created in this country as a result of the complete control of the propaganda system, the Government has got the people in the frame of mind where they are accepting this type of legislation, accepting the whole principle that we can engage in this war in Vietnam with impunity. And what is happening? We are finding that the friends which this country has had through the years - the United Kingdom. France and many of the other countries throughout the world which have been our close allies - will not have a bar of this war in South Vietnam. We have isolated ourselves to the extent that we are trying to justify our actions, and to rationalise our involvement in the war.
– We have a number of friends in South East Asia who are with us.
– Just the temporary corrupt governments of countries such as South Vietnam, where the whole story is unfolding of a clique, a junta of people who have been able to persuade the United States and Australia to come in and take the place of the French, with whom they were collaborating. Air Vice-Marshal Ky, who is in charge in South Vietnam today, is a North Vietnamese himself. The only experience he had in war was fighting with the French against his own coloured people in North Africa; yet this is the great man whom we are supposed to be helping to set the stage for a future democracy in South Vietnam. The more one goes into this whole picture of the present situation, the more the words of Senator Robert F. Kennedy arc true, that our country is in danger not from foreign enemies but from our own misguided policies. lt is impossible to separate this conscription that has run parallel to the build-up of the war in Vietnam. In 1951 the idea was to bring in national service, and the old ladies and the old fuddy-duddies said: Yes, it will do them good. They will get a haircut and 3 months’ training, and it will stiffen up their backs.’ They did not realise that it was the forerunner of the time when young men could be put into the barrel of death, which this system of drafting is, by selecting some people out of the community, by compulsion, and not calling up others. The next stage is that, unless they conform and if they dare to criticise or lo dissent, they can finish up in a cell being awakened every half hour during the night and on bread and water. What a slate of affairs for a democratic country to reach, when we condone this.
The point is that if a young man conforms he goes along the sheep drafting race to Vietnam. If he docs not conform, the ultimate penalty that he can receive is to finish up in a cell with all the indignities possible and being denied all the human rights that a man ever thought he possessed in this country. The Government has made laws on this matter, and the people are supposed not to dissent from them. They are supposed to obey them, and we are being criticised because we are dissenting. We are criticising when we have a chance to do so, and if any man is worth his salt in the Senate he should be on his feet criticising not only this legislation that is before us but also the concept of the original amendments that came before another place and, because of well organised pressure groups in the universities, and the Australian Council of Churches. and pressure by other people-
– Say what was in your mind.
– They were able to exercise and exert pressure on the Government and have amendments made.
– The DLP did it.
– The members of the DLP are over inflated with their own importance. They are cash-in merchants on many of these things, but I must hand it lo the honourable senator that he is a first-rale politician: he is a great man for getting in on the publicity. I think he is equalled only by Senator Turnbull. Nothing has been said by Government members in this debate that has convinced me and, I believe, the Australian people that there is any merit at all in this Bill. It has developed through the years out of a process that 1 have outlined, by which it has been sold to the people under false pretences, in my view, and often the contents of the legislation have been kept away from the people. The contents of the Bil! are only just now coming to light - repressive measures that cun bc exercised in the final analysis to make people conform - and what happens? We come right down to the fundamentals of a person’s conscience, and no allowance is made for a proper exercise of conscience. If a person’s conscience conforms with the provisions of the Bill, he can have exemption, but if it does not conform he cannot have exemption. Our contention is that the Bill was fundamentally wrong in the beginning and’ it is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Australia1 subscribes. In my view it is contrary to basic Christian principles.
– What is in this Bill which was not in the previous one?
– The previous Bill was fundamentally wrong. In principle conscription is wrong, lt is an offence against human rights and against human dignity to conscript people. The principle that is put up is that if this country were being attacked and a person had to defend his own home, in the final analysis he would defend his own home. But the purpose of this legislation is to be able to supply 7,000 or 8,000 troops and reinforcements in Vietnam itself, and it is not possible to separate one issue from the other. The war in Vietnam has been one of the greatest ramps that has ever been sold to the people of the United States and of Australia. At the time of the introduction of this legislation in 1951 and again at the different stages of its amendment we have seen alterations in the situation in Vietnam. At the critical time when it looked as though the French were to be defeated there and the Vietnamese people were to gain some sort of relief from the colonialism that had existed there for so long, we were preparing some sort of long range plan to replace the French domination in Vietnam. We sent a small group of people there as observers. Little by little we have become involved, and now we say that we cannot come out with honour. We hear all ‘ this talk about the domino theory - if one falls the next falls - and all the propaganda that is pushed out by the Press to justify our presence in Vietnam. It is a part of the international war machine that has been built up by the United States, with Australia condoning it, and aiding and abetting it. If one looks at the overall situation in Paris today one finds that the Americans are trying to reach a settlement of this war. They realise that the American policy of trying to bomb North Vietnam into submission has failed. There is no-one here who will not recognise that the policy of trying to bomb North Vietnam into submission has failed.
From 1954 through to the present lime the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese have been engaged in a war which most of them, I believe, claim to be for their own liberation so that they may run their own business in their own way. Up to the present time the loss of human life and property and the tremendous amount spent on armaments and defence virtually have been wasted, because the round table discussions that are taking place in Paris now could have continued on from 1954. What happened in 1954? The United States did not participate in the talks that were held at that time. The United States knew very well that after the French withdrew the situation would be difficult. The United States, of its own volition and for its own purposes, has allowed itself to become involved in the conflict. Today throughout the United States people are realising that their Government’s policy, as enunciated by successive presidents, is wrong.
The position here is the same. We are being asked to legislate to consolidate repressive legislation. The Government speaks of the withdrawal of some of the more oppressive sections of the legislation and states that the sections dealing with pimping, spying and dobbing in of people in the community have been withdrawn. They have not been withdrawn at all. The Government still has power to do all these things by indirect methods. My view is that the allowing of these provisions for all these years has been immoral. Conscription has always been opposed. I have always been opposed to conscription, particularly for a war that is morally wrong and that is being fought against the Vietnamese people - either north or south - who do not have the ability to match the power of the armaments of that great world force, the United States, supported by us. I take this opportunity to express certain views that were passed on to me by a man who I believe puts the whole situation in a nutshell. He said:
I would like you to express my views on this legislation, as an ordinary citizen. What 1 would like to do would be to get these views-
– Who was this man?
– He is a friend of mine. I will not mention his name.
– He is the only friend that the honourable senator has.
– I would rather have him than a paddock full of hypocrites. The man contacted me because he believed that he had four points of view to put. He said: 1 put it up as a Christian, an educationalist, a parent and a citizen. As a Christian 1 assert the centuries old conviction that war involves the surrender of the Christian ideal and is a denial of human brotherhood. Conscription imperils the liberty of the human conscience, the main hope of human progress. We believe that conscience is a divinely implanted moral sense and that it is the duty of churches and society to uphold and protect man’s freedom to come to all his judgments in accordance with his conscientious beliefs.
As an educationalist I am concerned with youth which by the nature of things is both immature and inexperienced - how strange a world it would be if youth were not. Training and teaching need an atmosphere of confidence between teacher and taught. Much has been made of the demands on universities to divulge confidential details about their students.
That obligation is still inherent in the legislation. The letter from this man continued:
But few realise that this applies to schools also with reference to their boys of 18 and over. Teachers are often said to be in loco parentis - how can they therefore betray their pupils. Was it not a basic, charge against authoritarian governments in Germany and Italy that they required this betrayal of confidence? Is it to be any better for our own society to do the same?
As a parent 1 believe that it is a parent’s right and duly to bring up his children to recognise the best that is in man. This requires the recognition that men are not the chattels of governments and a right and proper sacrifice to policy. The Incas, centuries ago, sacrificed fifty young people yearly - men and girls, at certain festivals. We think that barbarous but we do better and have sacrificed 200 and mutilated a further 1,000 in the last 3 years. We teach our children to respect law and society yet we force them to enter an organisation where they will have to do things which, would make them subject to any international tribunal set up on lines similar .to those established by the Western powers, and our country amongst them, after the last war. The crimes, however, will not be theirs but ours.
As a citizen I am concerned not only for right action within our community but for our reputation throughput the world. I affirm that this Bill, if passed, would place our country among those with the lowest reputation for the protection of human rights. I affirm that its passage into law makes a mockery of the Governor-General and a mockery of our honour for the GovernorGeneral himself said, only 3 months ago, in opening Human Rights Year:
During the observance of the International
Year we have a twofold duty first to ensure that these rights are maintained and preserved intact for future generations of Australians, and second to do what we can to ensure thai they ure recognised and honoured more widely among all peoples.
And what are these rights? To be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
Yet any man who conscientiously believes that the war in Vietnam is wrong is forced, by this legislation, to register for service and is eligible to be sent to Vietnam or else. Recently we have heard of analternative.
– What is it? Will the honourable senator state it?
– Yes, the cell at Holsworthy.
– I have asked the honourable senator to answer, that. The honourable senator has not been prepared to do so. A young man can enlist in the CMF.
– He cannot enlist in the CMF once he has been called up. He can enlist beforehand. A lot of young fellows will see the consequences of this legislation and will enlist. The ones who enlist with the CMF cannot go to Vietnam. Enlisting with the CMF has been built up as a major alternative, but the point is that those who enlist cannot go to Vietnam even though they may wish to do so. They cannot volunteer to go to Vietnam. The letter, dealing with the Declaration of Human Rights, continued:
That nobody shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, his family, his home or his correspondence. .
At the moment many countries are meeting to reaffirm these basic human rights. The letter continued:
Everyone has the’ right to the protection of the law against such interference or attack. “That everyone has the right to leave -any country including his own.
The sons of migrants, as they, become eligible, are being forced into something that was not in the contract when the migrants came to .Australia. The Government stands condemned for misleading thousands of migrants by enticing them here and then denying them the right to leave the country when they learn the terms of the contract. This legislation originally contained machinery designed to force employers to report these people and to answer questions about them. The same obligation was imposed’ on airlines, shipping companies and the like. Yet the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that people should be allowedto return to their own countries - and so they should.
The erosion of rights according to conscience - and that is what I belive is implicit in this legislation - is like the erosion of land: The land erodes slowly but the process goes on surely. Erosion is most destructive to things of great value. This Bill is another step forward in a process to enclose the people of Australia in a net. A net is being drawn around them and in time we will have trouble distinguishing ourselves from many of the dictatorgoverned countries that we abhor so much
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) has come under a lot of criticism for the contribution he made last night to this debate. I believe he made a splendid contribution. 1 would like to quote his opening remarks. He said:
This Hill is one. of the most impudent and insensitive pieces of legislation ever to come before the Australian Parliament. Its introduction into theParliament has opened another chapter in the history of repressive legislation in Australia and in the history of the fight by decent people in the Australian community against this type of arrogant police state legislation.
He went on to say that each generation has had to fight the battle for civil liberties. The Opposition will fight those liberties at this time and will continue the battle, both inside and outside this Parliament, despite the fart that the Government believes that this is a good law and that people must obey the law. But if a law is unjust and if the excuse fort he making of that law is an immoral one. this will lead to the situation that is found in different parts of the world.It will lead to events of the type that are now occurring in France and the United States of America. Such events have not happened in Australia but this type of legislation is the very thing to brine dissent and mounting violence. When speaking in this debate. Senator Cohen said-
– We can read Hansard ourselves without the honourable senator reading it to us.
-I am reiterating what Senator Cohen said. Senator Cohen had to prepare the ground for the great orators such as the two members of the DI.p. The order of speaking was carefully arranged so that his speech would not be broadcast. Arrangements were made for him to be kept in the background. Anyway, members of the public are not always able to get copies of Hansard.I will repeat some of the remarks made by Senator Cohen for the benefit of the many people who will appreciate his observations. 1 want to read another passage from Senator Cohen’s speech. He said:
Repressive legislation must be fought. The present legislation is in our opinion unconscionable. unjust, unjustifiable and - what is even worse - unnecessary. The Bill runs head on into some cherished notions of human freedom and human dignity.
He went on to say:
I include myself in that phrase ‘many Australians’. I had no qualms of conscience about the position we faced against the Germans and the Japanese yet I have no difficulty at all in distinguishing between the situation then and this immoral war in which we are engaged in Vietnam. We will deal in great detail with this legislation in Committee. We will deal with it clause by clause. This Bill can only break down some of the binding influences in a democratic society. The breaking down process occurred in other countries when people became desperate; when they realised that their policies were misguided and that they were being driven on by the hawks or by forces beyond their control. Yet in the final analysis the people of Australia will realise, as will the people of the United States of America, the great mistake that was made regarding our involvement in Vietnam. As a consequence of that involvement we have had to impose on the youth of Australia something that is abhorrent to any person with any spark of decency or feeling. I will vote against the second reading of this Bill. We will deal in Committee with clauses which we believe make no contribution towards ameliorating the very objectionable parts of this legislation.
– Few measures, if any, have been heralded in this chamber with so much Press publicity or have been received by, in this case, the
Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen), with so much internperate and extravagant language as this Bill. Honourable senators heard from the previous speaker, that we are discussing a Bill of violence. 1 would describe this Bill as being one quite contrary to violence. It is a Bill which is very closely associated with the defence of Australia. It is the National Service Bill. Before I go further into my remarks about the Bill I want to state that the Australian Democratic Labor Party whichI lead in this Senate, very strongly supports the principle of national service training. We believe that Australian youths should be trained to defend this country. We believe also that they are not opposed to being trained to carry out this defence. I believe we can say with the utmost confidence, and pleasure too, that our young men can be depended upon at all times to play their part. But. they will play that part with a greater measure of satisfaction, efficiency and competency if they are trained than if they are not trained.
It is all very well for people to talk about the great benefits that only a democracy such as Australia can give to them. We heard Senator Cavanagh speak this afternoon and he laid a great deal of emphasis on liberty and freedom. They are grand words. However, such things are to be found only in a democracy such as this. We have liberty and freedom. We enjoy freedom today because certain people, the flower of this nation, were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice and to suffer in war that we might continue to enjoy our liberty and freedom. Unless we are prepared to organise and train our young men who want to serve as their fathers did we will be recreant to the trust that has been given to us by those who played such a noble part in the defence of our democracy. National service is not peculiar to Australia. Many countries train their youth with greater vigour, a greater measure of inconvenience and a greater degree of sacrifice than we ask of our Australian youth. Sir Walter Scott said:
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said.
This is my own, my native land!
It is one thing to quote those words and another to ask oneself: To what extent am I prepared to contribute to the continuance of this democracy? We have heard talk about infringements of liberty and freedom and about Australia being a. police state. Certain persons have used similar terms which insult the intelligence of the average Australian. The youth of this country do not fall for that jargon. They know how much liberty and freedom they have by comparison with the youth of other countries. They know also that Mr Arthur Calwell was wrong when he said, following his return from Russia, that Australians were a lot of hillbillies and that Russia had the ideal form of government.
– He did not say that at all.
– He said we were a lot of hillbillies, and that includes the honourable senator.
– He did not say that at all.
– Yes he did. and worse.
– And worse. He went on to talk about religious freedom in Russia. I have never been there, as he was, at the expense of the taxpayers but I know enough about Russia to know that there is no religious freedom in that country.
– He did not say that.
– Of course he did.
– He said nothing of the kind.
– The honourable senator may be a stooge but he is not a very reliable one.
-I am more reliable than is the honourable senator.
– Time, has proved that. However.I cannot stop my caravan to deal with every dog that barks at it. I must go on. I have a job to do, a mission to fulfil. I do not pull up for barking dogs. This Bill in its original form did not meet with the approval of my colleague and myself. It was introduced in another place on1 st May. On Wednesday, 8th May I issued the following Press statement-
– Some Government members had issued a statement to the Government before that.
– I hear a barking puppy on my left. Normally he is on the right but in this instance he is on the left. The Press statement was in these terms:
The Democratic Labor Party believes that the National Service Act should be strengthened to ensure that, in justice to young men who observe the law and accept their duty to their country, others are not allowed to evade their duty.
However, the DLP will closely examine the Act to ensure it does not go beyond what is essential and just, and will take legal advice on controversial sections.
The two DLP senators will not support any provision which might penalise members of the family of an evader who do not co-operate in his apprehension.
On Tuesday, 14th May Senator McManus and I met the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) and later that day we learned that the Government had accepted all the DLP’s amendments. In fairness to Mr Bury let me say that he received our submissions courteously, promised to consider them and did so. There were two DLP amendments. The first related to clause 21 (3b.) and (3c.) - the prosecution of parents - and the second to clause 22 - educational records. That clause has now, been deleted. Some newspapers were prepared to give credit where credit was due. One of them was the Australian’, a newspaper which does not go out of its way to say anything good about the DLP. Mr Alan Ramsey, writing in the ‘Australian’ had this to say:
The hard fact of political life is that the Government changed its mind only because it realised the DLP would otherwise change it for them in the Senate.
The DLP refused to bend, so Cabinet had to. It is as simple as that. Any other reason that might be held up for public consumption is pure sham.
The whole incident has proved once more that the DLP is prepared to use its position wisely and in the public interest.
Following the 1967 Senate election we stated that this was how we would use our position. Wc said also that seeing we were the only party to make gains in the election - it will be remembered that we had a 100% gain - it appeared this was what the public wanted. Well, now we have the Bill minus a lot of its trimmings which we believed to be unwise, not good politics and unnecessary. But let us look at the history of this matter. We heard from Senator O’Byrne tonight, and from Senator Cohen last night, a lot of protestations about this legislation. Probably we will hear more from Senator Ormonde.
– I will clear up some of the points the honourable senator made.
– The honourable senator will clear up nothing. 1 will clean him up on this. The most controversial feature of the Bill and the one that struck us as being the most important related to the prosecution of parents. We could not imagine for one moment that any legislation should put the parents of a boy, who may be evading the call-up contrary to the advice and good counsel of his parents, in the position of having to decide whether they would direct the authorities to his whereabouts. There are many good parents who in conscience would feel that they should give up their boy, but it is a terrible decision for parents to have to make and parents should never be placed in that position. As I said at the time - 1 repeat it now - it smacked too much of Communist and Nazi practice. We put that view to the Minister and he saw some value in it.
This provision is not new in the legislation. If Senator Ormonde is not aware of that I will repeat it for him - it is not new in the legislation, lt has been part of the legislation for years. It was approved by the ALP Opposition years ago. Since its introduction in 1951 the legislation has always contained a provision enabling the prosecution of parents and close relatives who did not inform on the liability of a son for registration or call-up. The only difference that had been proposed in this Bill was that in addition to giving information regarding the liability of a son they had to give information as to his whereabouts. This Bill in its original form extended the provision to cover prosecution for failure to inform on the whereabouts of a son or brother evading registration or call-up. The DLP amendment which was accepted by the Government qualified the scope of the prosecution to exclude parents and close relatives. The clause spells out the wife, father, step-father, mother, step-mother, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister or guardian of the person concerned.
– Cousins too?
– No. Cousins are not immediate family members. I know that many of the honourable senator’s cousins would give him up in a minute. The DLP amendment removes the prosecution power on both the liability and whereabouts issues. Yet today we heard Senator Cavanagh accusing the DLP of having left the pimping clause, as he called it, in the Bill, after his own Party permitted that provision to be put in the Act originally. Much credit has been taken by the Press and others for the Government scrubbing or eliminating these clauses. 1. do not recollect the Press or the Australian Labor Party objecting to the 1951 power, which enabled parents and other relatives to be prosecuted for failure to inform on the liability of young men for registration or call-up.
– It was not an issue.
– That interjection just stuns me. Members of the ALP were content to submit the parents of a boy to interrogation by an officer of the Department of Labour and National Service, and it was not an issue. They were prepared to allow a mother to be questioned and crossquestioned about the liability of her son, and Senator Ormonde says that it was not an issue. Yet members of the ALP come into this chamber tonight, weeping crocodile tears and talking about pimping and all that’ sort of rubbish. Let us get down to grappling with these issues. Why is this an issue tonight if it was not an issue in 1951?
– You . were not worried about it then either.
– I was not in the Federal sphere then. I was hoping- that Federal ALP members were doing the job that I expected them to” do. But evidently they fell down on the job, and fell down’ badly. But as soon as 1 am’ here and the first amendment to the national service ‘ legislation comes up in my time here, we attempt to grapple with this power and to correct it. We do not . any longer submit parents to interrogation as to the whereabouts or liability of their sons. We do not place mothers and fathers in the box, where they have to make a decision on whether they will give up their sons. We relieve them of that responsibility. .
– This is like a scene from a-
– It is like a scene from the bush to you at any time.
– I will be here longer than you will.
– Will you?
– You will be in your grave before I leave here.
– Hope springs eternal.
– You were a discredited Premier.
– A discredited Premier?
– Yes. You went out with your tail between your legs.
– That is why the majority of my Cabinet stood with me, is it? One deserted me. That was noi too bad. All were called, but: one deserted the lord.
– The people of Queensland did not ever put you back.
– The majority of the party stood wilh me; yet I am called a discredited Premier. That shows how feebly’is the majority rule in Queensland Labor politics.
– It was that party that put you there.
– J am not’ talking to the block now; I am talking to the butcher.
– What I. said got under your skin.
– Not at all. I haw been insulted by experts; amateurs’ do not everworry me. As I was saying when I was rudely interrupted. J do not recollect the! Press or the Australian Labor- Party objecting to the- 1951 power, which enabled’ parents to be prosecuted ‘ for failure to inform on the liability of- sons for registra-tion or call-up. Since 1951 a fine of £50, in the old money, has ‘ attached ‘ to that provision. ‘* ‘’ «’*
The last major review of .the’ National’ Service Act was’ made in 1964,. just before Senator McManus and L “.for. the good of Australia, came into the Senate. We were elected in’ the 1964 elections. The ALP moved no amendments to the 1964 Bill. That, is remarkable. Did Senator Ormonde know that? He was here then. .. .
– Yes, 1 knew that.
– No : amendments to the 1964 Bill were moved by the’ ALP. In this chamber the Bill was taken as a’ whole at the Committee stage and no ALP amendments were introduced.
– That Bill was opposed by the ALP.
– No amendments were moved.
– But, as 1 said, that Bill was opposed.
– Were you here?
– Yes, I was.
– You were one of those who got in on the split.
– You were not here.
– No, I was not. It is a pity that I was not, because I would have voted against the Bill.
– The main Bill was debated in 1966.
– I ask the little pup to give metime. The national service legislation was debated in the House of Representatives late in 1950. This is the history of this matter. Dr Evatt moved an amendment to set up a committee to look at national service. That amendment was defeated. The ALP moved no amendments in Committee. It did oppose the second reading of that Bill. In the Senate late in 1 950 the ALP had a majority and was able to establish a committee to examine national service. When the debate was resumed early in 1951, the ALP was still in the majority, but it did not seek to move any amendments; in fact, it supported the motion for the second reading of the Bill. I ask honourable senators to note that. Perhaps members of the ALP were fearful of the possibility of the Bill being made a subject or reason for a double dissolution. Therefore, in 1951 ALP senators supported the National Service Bill, including the provision that parents could be prosecuted for failure to inform on the liability to register, etc., of their sons. That is indisputable evidence of the history of this legislation.
– What government was in office?
-I am asking where the Opposition was. It was inept and ineffective, as usual.
– Members of the Opposition could have supported the measure, for all we know.
– I would not know about that.
– Senator Cohen has given the answer to that. We opposed the Bill.
– The Opposition did not oppose it. I have given the evidence to show that it did not.
– In 1964?
– No. I am talking about 1951. The honourable senator is getting his dates mixed.
– Do not let them put you off.
– I will not be put off. Do not worry about that. I have been trading with these people for a long time.
– You were with us at one time.
– Yes, I was, when you were decent and before the Communists took you over. But our party row is not a matter for the National Parliament. I am concerned with this legislation. 1 am asking members of the ALP to give an account of their stewardship and to say why they allowed to go through in legislation provisions that are repugnant to any decent Australian.
– Why are you always looking backwards?
– I cannot look forward with any confidence to a Labor government. That is why I have to look back to past Labor governments that did something good. The legislation with which we are now dealing and which has been described so intemperatelyis, to my way of thinking, now that the most objectionable parts of it have been remedied-
– Have they?
– Yes. The present legislation is no worse than the legislation of which you approved.
– You are kidding yourself and the Australian people.
– This legislation is no worse than the legislation that the honourable senator and his colleagues supported. In fact, it is better than that legislation because parents are not now subject to interrogation and probable prosecution.
– Of course they are.
– Of course they are not.
– You are selling out cheap.
– I am not selling out cheap at all. I. never do that. 1 had a Scottish father who taught me values. This Bill is nothing more than a machinery measure, a tightening up, of which we approve. If anything, it reduces the penalties with regard to parents. It provides for the transference of imprisonment from under military law to under civil law. However, I am still concerned about one or two phases of the Bill.
– That is qualified support. You said that the Bill was all right.
– It is substantially all right, but I can qualify my support of it. I can say that the honourable senator is a good boy, but that he talks too much at the wrong times. With regard to the provision of information by universities, we supplied the Department with an amendment which we thought would appease those professors and university students who think. - I do not - that they are separate and apart from the rest of the community. This was to the effect that universities would be responsible for providing solely the name, address and age of university students. I have been reliably informed by a university professor that this would not incur any great hardship at all, that they would just have to feed the information into a computer which would produce a list of the students. Cards or records would not have been made available. However, the department has seen fit to remove this requirement almost entirely. Personally. I would not have gone so far.
I do not think that universities should get the idea that they should be treated differently from any other section of the. community. I have the greatest respect for their work but I react badly to pressure groups anywhere and to back room boys who want to take the reins of government out of the hands of elected representatives. These things rile me; I do not like them much. I do not want governments to be always bending the knee in submission to the outcries of noisy elements from universities or anywhere else. There are many matters with whichI could deal but they have been so very effectively dealt with by Senator Greenwood and other speakers that I do not propose to weary the Senate with them. They include alternative forms of service and provisions for trial by jury. These matters have been handled very competently. It is suggested that we should have a jury in a case in which only two or three matters of fact have to be determined.
– Be careful.
– I am always careful, which is secondary only to ‘Gairful’. These are questions of identification of the individual and service of the order. What nonsense!
– Do not give the jury system away.
-It is just as well that we have had it over the years. With his influence in Sydney, the honourable senator would be all right. The argument based on objection to a particular war docs not hold water. It has been claimed by Senator Cavanagh that a relevant provision was contained in the United Kingdom national service legislation during World War I.I. As far as I can see, such a provision was not written into that legislation at all but there were irregular and unusual decisions in a small number of cases which were determined by boards set up to review the claims of conscientious objectors. An objection to a particular war, I contend, is not a conscientious objection. It is a political objection and no one could interpret it as being a conscientious objection.
As I understand it, a conscientious objection relates to a moral or religious belief, not a political belief. It is fair to assume that those who have a political objection to the Vietnam war but would have no objection to serving in, say, Thailand or Laos, are not of the type of conscientious objectors who object to fighting in any war. Senator Greenwood told us more than once that the practical alternative for such people is to enlist in the Citizen Military Forces because there is really no possibility of the CMF being sent to the Vietnam war. which is the war to which these people object.
– How do you determine that? What if the Government declares a state of emergency?
– If the Government decides to declare a state of emergency the honourable senator, I and anyone else will not have any choice to make.
– Of course they will go.
– They will have to go, so why raise a lot of nonsense? I want to make it clear that my colleague and I have the greatest respect for the fair dinkum, bona fide conscientious objector and I do not think that any reasonable person could do otherwise. But I believe, being realistic, that there are some people who are not doing the cause of the conscientious objector any good by posing as conscientious objectors when in fact they are endeavouring to evade their obligations and their duties. We think that some improvements could be effected in the legislation. For instance, when a conscientious objector applies for exemption and his application is in the course of being processed but has not been heard, his application is destroyed and he has no grounds for exemption if he is called up in the meantime. I think that the Department has a grave responsibility to see that a genuine claim is not destroyed by reason of the fact that a man is called up before his claim is heard.
– An applicant is never called up before the first determination of his objection.
– lt has happened in the Collett case at Nambour.
– I am instructed that it has not.
– The history of the Collett case has come to me from a reliable source. I am told that this man was about to be called up but that a communication directed to the Department of National Service delayed the call-up in the finish and enabled him to have his case heard. Whether or not what 1 have suggested happened in the Collett case or in any other case, the law provides that if a person has an objection and makes application for exemption, once he enters the Army he is committed and his application fails.
– -You would alter that?
– I would alter that. I am submitting this for consideration.
– We will back you.
– I am not very secure in that promise. The honourable senator does not know. He has a divided Party and he cannot speak for it.
– Senator McManus and you divided last night. The honourable senator scuttled out of the chamber when the division was on.
– Fancy me scuttling out of the chamber. Poor old marsupial. 1 will go on.
– The honourable senator went out.
– Only because the insincerity of a certain member of the antihanging party last night just got me down. Yesterday afternoon I said to this member of the anti-hanging party: ‘What would you do with a fellow who outraged your daughter? Would you hang him?’ He said: No, i would kill him myself. We believe that the right of appeal could be given some consideration. We think that appeals should be taken further than they may be at the present time. As none of us is infallible, we think there could be an error in law and we therefore suggest that section 29c, sub-section (7.) should be amended by inserting at the commencement the words:
Subject to an appeal to the Supreme Court of the said State or Territory or to the High Court of Australia on a question of law or to an appeal on any other matter to the said courts on special leave.
On matters of law, if there is any evidence to support a case, the court will hear the application. We also suggest that the following should be added to the provision:
– Does the honourable senator believe in trial by jury?
– Now somebody else has just come in. Where he has been, no-one knows. I have almost finished my speech. I have already dealt with the question of trial by jury and I am very sorry that I have to refer the honourable senator to either my notes later tonight or Hansard tomorrow.
– Please accept my apologies.
– I accept the honourable senator’s apologies.
– But answer me.
– I am going on to make the speech I intended to make. We are most sympathetic towards the genuine pacifist or conscientious objector but we believe there is room for improvement in dealing with this problem. I think that in those cases where exemption is granted the individuals concerned should be required to serve the nation, in some other capacity and at the rates of pay or salary that they would have received if they had been national servicemen. I believe that would prove their bona fides as objectors.
In the trade union movement there have been people who, because of religious convictions, or for other reasons, have applied for exemption from joining trade unions. They could not apply, for exemption from joining a particular trade union. As 1 said by way of interjection today they could not say: ‘We will fight in one field but not in another’. The people to whom I refer were granted exemption from union membership conditional upon their paying into Consolidated Revenue, through the registrar of the court, the union fee plus 10% as a token of their bona fides. I think that in the federal sphere they do not charge the 10%. 1 have memories, too, of trade unionists who have gone on strike because a Jehovah’s Witness with whom they worked refused to take out a union ticket. I also have memories of other occasions when there have been great outbursts. At one lime, I worked with a very estimable gentleman, who, because of religious convictions, would not join . a trade union, and who was required to work at a rate of pay which was less than the ruling rate.
– The honourable senator knows that is not right.
– That is true. I worked with the man and I know.
– The rate is governed by an award.
– He was paid less than the award rate. The honourable senator is not an authority on everything. 1 will give him credit for some things, but nol for many. 1 worked with the man and I know. All kinds of organisations have submitted views as to how the problem of the conscientious objector should be handled. We of the DLP have carefully examined those views, many of which are genuine but some of which, I must say, have a political undertone. The DLP realises that a Senate decision on the matter may not solve the problem. If the Government has the numbers in the other place, a deadlock can result and there is then no solution. This question of the conscientious objector is the most sensitive, delicate and controversial phase of this legislation.
– I am glad the honourable senator admits that.
– 1 am glad to have the concurrence of Senator Ormonde. Because it is such a sensitive, delicate and controversial matter, we believe that the problem of the conscientious objector should be examined by a committee of inquiry which would receive evidence from all concerned and which would recommend solutions on which the Government could be asked to act. Doubtless the Government has had a lot of experience in handling these cases. Magistrates, too, have had a lot of experience and are able to distinguish the genuine cases from the imposters, the people who pose as conscientious objectors because they hate running around a parade yard, as I would. I would hate running around the yard, but 1 would not be a phoney objector. We are hoping that such a committee will be appointed and that it will first invite written submissions from all interested persons or organisations and then later invite evidence in person from those whose submissions require elaboration or explanation.
The Committee would not be a parliamentary committee. It would be perhaps similar to the committee appointed recently to inquire, into health insurance. I emphasise that the submissions should first be made in writing because I feel that if the inquiry were thrown open at the beginning the committee could get bogged down until Doomsday hearing evidence. If the committee first received written submissions it could go through them and decide whether any good could come from them.
I do not think anyone in our community wants to penalise anybody or force anybody into doing something that he conscientiously is not prepared to do. But nobody should be exempt from making a contribution to national service in some form or other. If they are non-combatants they can do something, in Red Cross work or in some other sphere. Those opposed to military service entirely could serve somewhere else for the salary or wage that is paid to the ordinary national serviceman. We would then know whether they were bona fide conscientious objectors.
Before I conclude, 1 desire to make reference to a few comments made by a senile gentleman in another place.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!
– That remark is not in order.
– It is as much in order as the remark by this gentleman in the other place when he referred to the DLP as a neo-Fascist organisation. He went on to say that the policy of the Democratic Labor Party was to advise the sons of its members to - join the CMF rather than undergo national service training. 1 want to throw that lie back into the teeth of the frustrated old man.
– I object to those remarks being made about a man who was once the respected leader of my Party.
– That old man calls the honourable senator melancholy. He has a head like a ‘melon’ and he has a bark like a ‘collie’.
– Sortie have referred to him as an Arnotts biscuit advertisement–
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I remind Senator Gair that he must not refer to a member in the other House in that fashion. I know that he has not referred to a. particular member. - Senator GAIR - I have not mentioned any names.
The. DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The honourable senator must not attempt to disparage any member in another place.
– I have not mentioned any name. If honourable senators can identify that person, so much the better. The same gentleman in effect tells the young men of
Australia to take advantage’ of this outlet in the legislation by joining the CMF and so not become engaged in this dirty, filthy war.
– Senator Greenwood recommended that.
– He was telling the Senate the alternative. I have often wondered why the same gentleman who was a member of the Cabinet that imposed conscription did not have the intestinal fortitude to resign from that Cabinet if he felt so keenly about conscription.
– We were at war then:
– Oh, we were at war. Any excuse is better than none!, That gentleman was opposed to conscription then-
– The honourable senator himself has had a great history of sending people to wars. :
– I would send some to the gallows too.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– Let me hurriedly have a look at some- of the records ‘of this gentleman who would have people - evade the call-up and act as law breakers. There was no flexibility in the administration of the law when he was a Minister of the Crown; I have a recollection of his attitude with regard to Japanese war brides. He said that Japanese women should never be allowed to pollute our shores. He was not very flexible in’ the face of criticism. I ask honourable senators to ‘remember the O’Keeffe case. When the High Court decided against this gentleman in the O’Keeffe case, he immediately introduced- new legislation to shore up the policy’s ineffectiveness, adamant that no relaxation >. should take place. The Sydney ‘Sun’, commenting on the deportation of about 50 Chinese under the War-time Refugees Removal Act, observed that this gentleman had ‘perfected the technique of - Pushing People Around’. Sergeant Gamboa - everybody will remember this - : and the Malayan seamen, for example, whose deportation caused ‘ international incidents, were separated from their Australian wives, as was Tony Ang. The refusal to allow the entry of Toto Macabanti forced his Australian’ wife to return to Manila with him. The Chinese wife and stepdaughter of an Englishman resident in Perth were required to leave, as were the Tongan wife and daughters of ‘another’ Englishman in Perth. A Negro boxer, who had an Australian wife and two children, was deported in 1948 and another one was deported in similar circumstances in 1949.
– Mr Deputy President, 1 must take a point of order on the question of relevancy. Senator Gair is referring to immigration. This has nothing to do with national service. ,
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! If the honourable senator confines himself to discussing the Bill he will be in order.
– 1 have confined myself to the Bill. I contend, with all due respect, that immigration, defence and national service are all so closely related that I am not able to separate them. Of course it was this gentleman’s intention to deport Mrs O’Keeffe and her eight children. Those facts are all history.
- Mr Deputy President, did you uphold my point of order?
– I think-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I will hear Senator Cavanagh.
– I raised a point of order, Sir. Did you uphold that point of order? The honourable senator is speaking about immigration. This is a Bill relating to national service.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - 1 said that if Senator Gair confined himself to the Bill he would be in order.
– Obviously he has ignored your ruling.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I do not think so.
– I can understand the reactions of Senator Cavanagh and his colleagues to the reading of the record of that gentleman in pushing people about. Now this elderly parliamentarian, from whom we might expect more, is telling young Australians: ‘Take no notice of this legislation. Disobey this law’. You, Sir, know as well as 1 do that people cannot be encouraged to disobey one law without the risk being run that they will disobey all the laws of this country. But, thank God, the great majority of them recognise their obligations and the need to have respect for our laws.
The minority, for whom we hear so much defence from my friends on my right, who speak on the left, are the only people, we are told, who want that liberty and freedom about which Senator Cavanagh spoke this afternoon. These people want all the milk and honey that this country can give without any of the accompanying obligations or responsibilities and without doing anything to assist to preserve that liberty and freedom. I say again with all fervour that it is a great and comforting thought to know that the bulk of Australia’s youth will observe this legislation and will comply with and conform to it. They can always be relied upon to pull their weight and to play their part for the preservation of the things that you, Sir, and I have enjoyed, for the good of the community and the generations that are to follow.
– Mr Deputy President, I think that I should commence by pointing out to Senator Gair, as he would know perfectly well by reading Hansard, that the Australian Labor Party has used every device in the parliamentary system to oppose conscription in the form in which it has been initiated by this Government. We have opposed in this Parliament all amendments to the National Service Act. Amendments have been made to the Act on 8 or 9 occasions. We will continue to oppose such amendments. The Australian Labor Party believes in the volunteer system.
– Except for the original Act in 1951.
– No. The fact is that the original Act in 1951 was a bit of passive legislation when it was introduced. If the honourable senator reads Hansard he will see that even on that occasion the Labor Party strongly opposed the legislation. At the time the Government argued that the legislation was proposed for universal military training. It was nothing of the sort. Universal military training and what was provided under that National Service Act which was introduced in 1951 were two entirely different things. Universal training would co-opt every member of the community from 16 years of age to 60 years of age. The sort of legislation that the Government has proposed is sectional legislation imposed upon young men, who have not yet reached maturity, lt places a restriction on those young men and it is restrictive in law in regard to their families and other people who know something about them, such as their employers.
We take strong objection to this Bill. Honourable senators can read Hansard if they like, but they can take it as gospel that we have opposed each amendment to this Act piece by piece because we have been concerned that, in the years since 1951, little by little all the liberties of the subject have been infringed and reduced. Yet, Senator Gair has strongly criticised the Labor Party tonight. Senator Greenwood refuses to acknowledge the opposition of Labor speakers in previous national service debates. Senator Gair goes along with this, despite the 1964 canvass carried out by the Australian Labor Party. I ask honourable senators to read Hansard and to note the contributions by every member of the Labor Opposition who strongly opposed this legislation.
Everybody knows and recognises that in 1966 we opposed the sending of national servicemen to Vietnam. As a matter of fact, we have been criticised in ‘this Parliament and outside this Parliament by the Australian Democratic Labor Party for this. Everybody knows that this is our policy. So, why shirk it? Senator Gair comes along and tries to blame the Australian Labor Party for some discussions which took place in 1951. He says, with Senator Greenwood, that this legislation is simply a machinery measure. Senator Gair has been able to negotiate some modification to this Bill. But we-
– It is a very important one.
– lt does nol matter. The fact is that we put it to the honourable senator that basically we oppose the National Service Act. I have said this before, lt has been stated time and time again. We continue to state it and to use the parliamentary processes. That is all we can do. We cannot properly go outside Parliament and advocate other actions.
– You approved of legislation that provided for the interrogation of parents.
– I am telling you that you are supporting a system of lotteries to incarcerate young people in the -Services. It is a gamble through which they lose their liberties. It is sectional in its effect. Universal military service would be a different matter. The Labor Party is saying to everybody that we are concerned about the infringement of liberties and we will continue to fight in this Parliament against this sort of measure. Today throughout the world liberties are being expanded. In Communist countries including the .Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and others young people are demonstrating. They want to stretch out and obtain more freedom. This Government claims that we are fighting in Vietnam for freedom, lt is restricting the rights of individuals and circumscribing their freedom in every respect.
The Australian Labor . Party has always pledged itself to the volunteer .system of enlistment. We have been completely opposed to a lottery system of selection for national service under which young men are sent, to Vietnam to fight in a war which, according lo the moral calculations and consciences of some people, can be considered to be unjust. If the Vietnam war is unjust then young people whose consciences are opposed to it ought to be entitled to exemption from the prescriptions of the National Service Act.
Senator Greenwood referred to the historical evaluations and translations of the term ‘conscientious objector’, lt ought to be agreed that in modern times a young man who, after proper examination of his conscience, objects on moral grounds lo military service should be. entitled to exemption from national service. These are matters of calculation and evaluation and are not always prompted by religious conviction. The old tradition was that conscientious objection had to be connected with religious scruples or beliefs. In these days a number of people object to military service for other reasons. They arrive at conclusions to object after proper consideration of moral values. They consider that they can fight for their homeland if it is attacked but that they cannot in all conscience fight in the war in Vietnam. For all the reasons which have been discussed in this chamber they think that the war in Vietnam is unjust. For the reasons I have stated the Opposition, in the terms proposed by Senator Cohen, will seek to amend this Bill.
We make it quite clear that we are opposed to this legislation and always have been opposed to its prescriptions. We have pointed out in the past, and I point out again tonight, that the history of Australia in wars shows that enlistment has been conducted mainly on the volunteer system. We have always prided ourselves that in an emergency hundreds of thousands of people volunteer to defend this country. In World War1 about 375,000 men went overseas to serve in foreign ‘fields because they believed itto be necessary for Australia’s security. It was part of a struggle against a military dictatorship. In the past, attempts to force upon this country a system of conscription were generally defeated. Referundums on conscription were defeated. That was been the history of this country. Twice, servicemen have voted very clearly in support of the right of individuals to volunteer for service overseas. That tradition has been built up in Australia but in recent years a different system has been adopted. In 1964 Sir Robert Menzies, who was then Prime Minister, introduced the amendments to the national service legislation which provided for conscription for national service. Dr Forbes, who was then Minister for the Army, had shortly before that time voiced ideas which the Government shortly after repudiated. Shortly before Sir Robert Menzies introduced the idea of selective national service for a section of the population Dr Forbes said, as reported at page 439 of Hansard of 20th August 1964:
I should liketo say also that not only are we not opposed to national service training on principle,but also that we do not baulk at the cost, although it would be considerable. . . . We have not introduced it because to do so would be against the unanimous advice of our military advisers. Why do our military advisers give that advice, and why do we accept it? . . .
He then went on to discuss the comments of a Government supporter on national conscription. He continued:
A proper answer to these questions springs from a knowledge of the defects of the national service training scheme . . . the attributes to which we attach the greatest importance - readiness, efficiency, availability - would be substantially reducedby a national service scheme on any worthwhile scale in the circumstances existing at present.
He continued in the same vein. On 26th October 1964 he expanded his viewpoint, only a few days before Sir Robert Menzies introduced the idea of national service based on a system of lotteries, of taking marbles out of a barrel. The Labor Party supports the volunteer system of recruitment. This Government has never tried to put that system on a proper basis with public support. There have been all sorts of reasons for its failure to do so, one of which is the development of the efficiency of the military forces. The statements of the Minister for the Army of that time were followed by those of Sir Robert Menzies who said it was necessaryto adopt national service because military experts had then said that a system of conscription was necessary. The main reason given for the necessity was the confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia. In those days the Vietnam war was not given as the reason. The Vietnam conflict was rather incidental. Government supporters speaking in the other place said that members of the Opposition were mad to suggest that young people would be conscripted for service in Vietnam. They said it would never happen.
The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) spoke in the debate on the amendments to this legislation in 1964. He said some very important things. Honourable senators opposite have referred to universal military training and the obligation upon young men to defend their homeland. The present system is partial conscription. At page 2837 of Hansard of 11th October 1964 Mr McMahon is reported as follows:
Following registration there will be a ballot based on dates of birth. This has the great virtue of being simple, equitable and easily understood by those affected, and it does not lend itself to any manipulation.
We heard this argument last night from Senator Greenwood. How can it fairly be said that a system of recruitment for military service which is based on a matter of chance and affects only a section of the community is equitable? How can it properly be said that it is an equitable system when people are selected for service in Vietnam on the basis of the dates of their birth. Mr McMahon went on:
The method used will be to draw marbles corresponding to the days in the year up to the number needed to produce the required number of men.
– Full details of the system have never been disclosed.
– That is so. Government supporters tell1 us that young men have a wide obligation to defend this country by fighting in Vietnam. Not all young men are involved. In this Parliament are many young men who could serve in Vietnam. Seventeen young men have entered this Parliament and have helped to enact laws which provide that young men are to go to Vietnam, some of them to lose their lives there. Many of the young men selected for service have objections on the grounds of moral scruples. They would be willing lo fight for their homeland against an aggressor, but they are doubtful1 about our involvement in the struggle in Vietnam.
Some people believe that it is a civil war in Vietnam, lt is an undeclared war. lt is not a war in the sense that we have known wars in the past. Nobody can truthfully claim that young men are not able to calculate moral standards and act by conscience. 1. am not defending the people who are trying to evade their obligations to serve their country. The Government has introduced a. very precise and well calculated system, a perfected system of the Department of Labour and National1 Service, in which almost the complete machinery of the police state is to be installed in Australia, in a situation where the Minister for the Army has decided to reduce the number of days which members of the CMF might serve. So, we have two situations. The Government says: ‘If a young man does not want to go to Vietnam he can join the CMF and serve in Australia’. The Minister for the Army recently said: ‘He has to serve for 53 days, but we will reduce this to 33 days because it is costing too much’.
That is the situation in Australia, but in every other country of the world the liberties of the individual are being extended, and conscience is being awakened to obligations of the state. Senator Wheeldon this afternoon drew attention to the new understandings about wars. Now it is not only the Marxian concept that there are wars which are unjust and wars which are just, and wars based on economic factors. His Holiness the Pope, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, a strong and influential section of the communities of the world, has said that there are just and unjust wars. While these wide, new philosophical views are being well established and recognised, in Australia, a country which has been largely dedicated to the principles of democracy, wc have a government now making sure that liberties are restricted. It proposes to make sure that nobody escapes the net of national service, and all the restrictions that could be imposed are to be imposed. Those of us who are young can well remember the old days, in the days of the first conscription, when our brothers, and their parents, were punished because they failed to attend parades and things like that.
We do not want these things to return twofold, because they are accompanied now by certain obligations on the part of employers and other people. The courts are to decide whether various classes of people should give information about people liable to render national service. People such as specialists in the medical field, psychologists and social workers, who have some obligations in areas where humanity is now being considered, have obligations to prove to the court that they cannot inform on a young man. who might be presumed to be evading his responsibilities. The court has to be satisfied that these people who know the individual concerned are. not bound to reveal certain things. These provisions are bad, and let us recognise them as bad. Let us recognise also that this is not universal military service; it is a sectional service. It is applied to young people who ought to be freed from an obligation which could result in their suffering a death that they do not want. We in this Parliament make the laws under which, by chance, some young., men will go to war while their mates, who. have not the same obligation, will remain in Australia and might temporarily join., the CMF and be partially free for the time :being of the obligation to go overseas. These are not just laws. We have criticised, them and we will not accept them, and we say that they should be amended. This. is the background of the. Labor Party’s position.
Now let us consider Vietnam. Senator Greenwood last night canvassed the concept of conscientious objection. He gave a history of it from the time when it was based on religious grounds. But there are wider concepts today, and a large part of the community is opposed to the Vietnam war. These people consider that the war is not only an undeclared war but it is also an unjust war. They see in this situation of Vietnam a condition which might produce a global war. and they prefer to see negotiation. They see the war as one which is partly supported by corrupt people. We know that our young people are there, and the Labor Party has said clearly - and I make no reservations about this - that while our young- people are there we will supply the things they want, and we will ensure that when they come back they will get the highest standards of repatriation. But we do not want to see national servicemen in Vietnam, because we think that they could be subject even now- to the machinery and manoeuvres of peace conferences which will reduce all the moral evaluations for which our Government stands with regard to Vietnam. Let me quote a concept which is consistent with the sort of argument which we are developing. It has been written by a philosopher and appears in a not very recent edition of the ‘Current Affairs Bulletin’, in these words:
If Windeyer, J.’s, account of Australian law is authoritative, however, Australia does not offer full opportunity for conscientious objection. Precisely because the moral question may rest on a number of practical judgments, refusal to take account of objections so based is a denial of freedom of conscience. Whether we should be in Vietnam at all, whether American-Australian intervention is for the good of the Vietnamese, or necessary to the security of Australia, depend, it is true, on questions of fact which are in dispute, but they are also moral questions which everyone is bound lo judge for himself, on the best information he can get. Why, after all, should the Government be unable to present the facts upon which ils own judgment rests? One would have expected it lo have publicised its case as widely as possible. If it has in fact done so, why should ils moral judgments be so much better founded than its critic’s that the latter ought to accept its assurances and set his own doubts aside?
– Who is the author of that?
– It is from the ‘Current Affairs Bulletin’, but the name of the philosopher is not given. However, as the Minister knows, it is a fairly responsible document put out by the University of Sydney and the information in it is always worth reading. I cannot read the whole document, but it relates the history of conscription and comes to the conclusion which I .have already read. This is the sort of evaluation which people today are concerned about. Many of our young people are entitled to be considered on this basis when this evaluation does not fit the concept provided for under the Act. Honourable senators know of young people who have been denied exemption under the Act because they have said that they would take up arms to defend Australia but that they would not fight in Vietnam because they consider it an immoral war. One such person is Rex Hewett, who is an electrician, 22 years of age. Let me quote from a journal as follows: .
The magistrate found that Rex Hewett was a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war, that he believed the war to be wrong and that no Australian troops should be in that country but because Hewett stated that if Australia were attacked he would take up arms to resist he was not a complete pacifist, and the best course ‘is to dismiss this application’. .-. . .
However, when asked the .question in cross examination: ‘If Australia were attacked by a foreign aggressor would you then have any objection to taking up arms in its defence?’ he replied: If Australia were attacked by another power I would take up arms to resist’.
What is wrong with this? Many people were involved in the last .war on the very same basis. Many young people refused to join the Services in the last war until it became obvious that it was a war. against Fascism, and then they took part in the war voluntarily. However, today young men adopt a different point of view, and because it is said, (hat they are not. completely pacifists, because they have a reservation against the Vietnam war which ought , to be considered, they are to be excluded from the provisions of the Act. It seems to me, as I have mentioned, that bil by bit, the liberties of the individual are being chiselled away when we should have an expanded form of civil rights, and this is wrong in the world of today. I have mentioned that overseas the opposite is occurring. I have said that the training we have in Australia is only a sectional training. Whether a young man goes and dies in foreign fields depends on a marble, and it should not be so. Members of Parliament decide which young men arc eligible to defend Australia. Officers of the Department of Labour and National Service - I do not criticise these people individually because I know many of them - are charged with the responsibility to carry out the laws of the Government.
But our responsibility in the Parliament is to see that the laws are just andto illustrate where they are unjust. That is what we are doing. We are not defending the person who, because of a lack of moral fibre, does not want to serve his country. But we are defending the person who, because of his moral fibre and conscience, is entitled to exemption under the Act. In relation to conscientious objections, Senator Cohen will move certain amendments at the Committee stage. I remind the Senate of the form of bureaucracy that we are building up bit by bit in Australia and of the tasks that we are giving to civil servants who have to telephone people who know somebody who may know a person who may have evaded the obligation to serve under the National Service Act. The tasks that we are giving to the civil servants are indicative of a police State and ought not to be encouraged. It is better for many guilty people to escape the net than to restrict the liberty of the subject at a time when the world ought to be free of these terrors.
In the very immediate future we might have peace in Vietnam and therefore we would then have no obligation to send young men to that country. There. may be no need for further conscription. It is a sad thing that tonight, when in another country Senator Robert Kennedy, a great leader of democracy who has raised the same kind of reservations that we have, has been struck down by bullets fired from people who are tyrannical and who do not like ideas, rights liberties and justice being explored, we should see the liberties of the individual restricted. They should not be. Let us get back to the old idea of Australia, the old idea of Anzac, with men responding to a call to defend democracy and volunteering. The Government should put the case to the people. If a war is a just war the men will fight for this cause.
It strikes me as being significant that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) went to the United States of America recently and spoke about the need for an Israeli type military organisation. He spoke about such an organisation because in Israel military service is compulsory and is undertaken by every individual. In our country it is not. Most of us arc free from such obligations. We, the older people who may have fought in wars, have to see that the young men, who are conscripted and called up against their will to do this service, are protected. I warn the Senate about the effect computers will have on the system of informing. In the ‘Australian’ of 28th May, Noel Bennett, the automation writer, wrote an article under the heading ‘The computer and the individual’. In that article he points out what will come about with the introduction of computerisation. Somebody made reference to that tonight. The writer mentioned the devices and the machines which will be used to track down the individual and destroy his rights. He said:
The legislation recently introduced into Federal Parliament to prevent evasion of national service registration has an underlying significance for the burning question of computerised national data banks.
He went on to criticise the legislation. I will not mention that criticism. He made this point:
It will therefore be practical for the Commonwealth Statistician, for example, to store information gained from the census and write a set of instructions for the computer to delineate the names of all males in the population who are of a certain age group. This access would be comparatively easy and immediate.
Furthermore, it would be possible, with all government departments installing their own computers, for the computers to be linked, so giving an instantaneous and complete dossier on practically all the individual’s affairs. .
He went on to warn against the use of the machine. We are using people now, but in the future we might use machines to apply harsh and sectional laws to the individual. This legislation is bad legislation. We intend to take certain action at the Committee stage. That action will be within the framework of the parliamentary system. It may be that the legislation will become law. If it becomes law we have stated our case, as we did with the previous legislation.
- Senator Bishop of South Australia mentioned certain matters to which I should reply. The first matter to which I wish to direct the honourable senator’s attention is this: The honourable senator said that some conscientious objectors are objecting only to the Vietnam war, which is an unjust war. The honourable senator said that the war should be fought on a. voluntary basis and that the National Service Bill does away with the voluntary basis on which Australia should fight. I draw his attention to the fact that it was in 1964, when the
Vietnam .war was not in existence, and after the Government had made every effort to raise sufficient volunteers to continue the voluntary system that conscription was reintroduced. 1 refer to the speech made by Sir Robert Menzies in the other place on 10th November 1964. There was no Vietnam war then, but there was the confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia. Sir Robert Menzies said: lt seems clear, on our military advice and our own carefully formed judgment, that we cannot expect by voluntary means to achieve a build up in the Army’s strength of the order we require and to the timing which is necessary. We are living in a period of unsurpassed prosperity and more than full employment; the attractions of civilian employment are very great indeed.
The Government has therefore decided that there is no alternative to the introduction of selective compulsory service.
I repeat that this was long before the war in Vietnam. It is quite wrong to say that men who are called up under this selective system do not wish to fight in a particular war. 1 have watched the developments very closely. I agree with Senator Gair and other speakers in the House who have said that they fully understand and fully sympathise with a genuine conscientious objector. I do not think there is one member in the House who would not support what can be proved to be a genuine conscientious objection. But we find that there are many cases of exhibitionism and many cases of conscientious objection only when the persons concerned find that they have not escaped the draft. Such a person takes a chance - it is a 4 to 1 chance - that he may not be called up under this selective system. Having taken the chance and his number having come out in the ballot, he endeavours to find some new way of dodging the draft. The Opposition helps him by finding excuses. . They are always coining some new principle. The latest one is that a particular war can be conscientiously objected to.
Senator Bishop. quoted the case of a man who, as the magistrate who heard the case said, had established the fact that he had a conscientious objection to fighting in Vietnam but who would fight if Australia were attacked. I think the magistrate showed proper judgment when he said that this was not a question of genuine conscientious objection stemming, as it does so often, from a strong religious belief inherited from a strong christian family - a belief that could be traced through a family or through a lad’s life long before he happened to find that his date of birth coincided with a date drawn’ in the call up ballot.
The provisions of the National Service ‘ Act are ‘ designed to protect the conscientious objector. His case can be taken eventually to a court. Mention was made during this debate of Collett’s case. I am indebted to Senator Greenwood for his excellent contribution to this debate. His speech provided a smooth pathway for many of us on the legal aspects. But more than that, he put the case of the Government so very clearly. The judgment in Collett’s case stated that he was called up following the dismissal of his earlier application to be regarded as a person to whom section 29a (2.) applied. Successive notices were served on him calling him up for service in the Army. In .each case the notice was revoked by the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service in order to allow the ..applicant to take further, proceedings in court. The call-up notice . was revoked on each occasion to enable that tad to state his case to the court. 1 think honourable’ senators have to look at the fundamental basis of this Bill. The basic aim of any national .service training scheme, however it is conducted - whether there is a complete call up or a limited callup - is to provide men for our armed services in order to defend the nation. That is the’ reason for a national service scheme. The defence purpose of the scheme may be the repelling pf boarders or it may be to provide a barrier against a ‘possible foe by assisting small nations which are suffering from aggression. If those small nations succumb to aggression then that bulwark to our front line disappears. This latter example is, as I see it, quite clearly, the situation in Vietnam. The .events there follow the pattern. This .type, pf guerilla warfare and infiltration was .experienced in Europe. Eventually it was. .stemmed in Europe. It next appeared in Malaya and, after a long time, was stemmed. In Korea it again was halted. I was interested to hear Senator Bishop say that we might have peace in .Vietnam; Everybody prays that we do secure a just peace in that area but I wish I could feel that that; type of guerilla infiltration, the cold war technique as we now know it, would not break out almost simultaneously in some other area of South East Asia. But 1 believe that this is what will happen. If peace does come to Vietnam we will have an immense work of reconstruction to do. At the same time 1 believe we will have to face Communist infiltration and aggression in other areas of South East Asia which are as much part of our front line as Vietnam. I believe that Australia and the Western countries are faced with this situation. This is nothing new, of course. lt is not without interest to note that in the countries where we have stemmed aggression, in countries where peace has been restored and there has been the chance to rebuild - and 1 refer to Malaya and to South Korea - the economy today is incomparable with the economy that was left when the wars in those areas were halted. Even now there are signs that North Korea fears that the development of South Korea has been loo rapid. The standards in South Korea have been raised so much that aggression again may be imminent in that area. There is one thing that the Communist system cannot do; it cannot raise the standards of its people - it can only reduce them to the lowest level. This has been proved over and over again. The standard in Malaya and South Korea compared with that in North ‘ Korea have improved to such a degree that there is no comparison between them. The Communists cannot allow this improvement to continue. I mentioned that I believe that South East Asia is our front line. We must be prepared to have sufficient troops. We must have an efficient Army, Navy and Air Force in order to maintain Australia’s protection and at the same time assist small countries, when asked, which are in imminent danger. We must be able to do this.
One argument which has been raised continually in this debate by speakers on the Government side has not been answered by the Opposition. I refer to the fact that there is an alternative available to national service; young men can fulfil their obligations by serving in the Citizen Military Forces for 6 years. If a young man is prepared to give part lime service for 6 years, and if his service is efficient, he is not liable lo call-up. No honourable senator on the Opposition side has been able to deny that this alternative can be adopted by those who have no wish to fight overseas. Senator Bishop mentioned that if there were a national emergency members of the CMF would be called up to fight. If there were a national emergency I would think that any young man who had done 6 years training, or part of that time, in the CMF would be far better equipped than those who would be called up without having done any prior training at all. This is one of the outside possibilities. But a young man who joins the CMF and is efficient in training is not subject to call-up for national service.
I am indebted to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) because he set out quite clearly in his second reading speech the fact that not only arc the young men who join the CMF not subject to call-up but that apprentices, trainees and students are eligible for deferment if they are undergoing training in their careers at the time of registration. They can complete their training or schooling before being called up to fulfil their national service obligation. I have found that there is wide acceptance of this national service legislation.
I realise that the Opposition opposes the legislation, lt has opposed the legislation since 1951 although it did not vote against it then. In fact its failure to vote against the legislation in 1951 gave rise to some comment during Senator Gair’s speech. I was a member of the Senate in 1951 and remember the occasion full well. Although the Opposition spoke against the legislation and although it had the numbers to defeat the legislation had it wished to do so. around the corner was the terrifying prospect of a double dissolution. So although the Opposition was prepared to speak against the legislation and although it had the numbers to defeat the legislation, it did not do so because at all costs it wanted to prevent national service becoming an issue on the hustings. Other legislation was responsible for getting the Opposition to the point at which it was prepared to face the people after a double dissolution. On that occasion Labour was defeated soundly, and it has been defeated on the hustings at every election since then on this issue of national service.
– The honourable senator knows that is not true.
– lt is completely true.
– The Government has used every gimmick from Petrov to China.
– There must be something wrong with the honourable senator’s arithmetic or with his head because Labour has not won an election since 1949. Whenever Labour has made national service an issue it has been soundly trounced. I cannot understand why Labour continues its opposition to national service but quite frankly, politically I hope it continues its attitude for a long time because by Joing so it enables the Government to continue giving to the people of this country the numerous benefits that they have enjoyed for some 18 years and look like enjoying for another 1 8 years.
As has been pointed out, this Bill’ is merely amending legislation as a result of the experience gained over the past 2 years since the 1966 Bill became law. The 1966 measure had some defects and this Bill seeks to remedy them. Senator Bishop said - it appeared to me almost gleefully - that under the 1966 legislation there was a possibility of some people escaping national service. He seemed to think that was a great thing and that the gap should not bc closed. He believes that if people can escape their obligations they should be allowed to do so. I believe that if there is legislation designed for a certain purpose everyone concerned should come within its ambit, and if we can see the possibility of bringing within its ambit: those who may escape we should do so. I have already commented on the fact that the Opposition has tried to establish, and has failed singularly, that a person can be a conscientious objector to a particular war.
– What is wrong with that?
– The honourable senator has only just returned to the chamber. That aspect has been dealt with fully by the last two speakers on this side of the Senate and by Senator Gair. For the honourable senator’s benefit 1 repeat that if a person is a sincere and genuine conscientious objector he does not believe in war, fighting or killing for religious or other reasons. In those circumstances how can a conscientious objector say that he will fight one type of war and not another? A conscientious objector must be sincere and genuine. He must be completely opposed to all wars, fighting or killing. The amending Bill before us provides that this question can now be decided by a court. 1 have had no worry about supporting this legislation. 1 have had no worry about supporting the Government’s policies in relation to the Vietnam war. 1 see so clearly that Vietnam is Australia’s front line. I see so clearly that if Communism is not. stopped in Vietnam it will spread to other areas. I see the urgent necessity to have sufficient numbers in our armed forces to assist in keeping Vietnam free and in holding as far away as possible the foe which could invade Australia. I see all those things so clearly and I support the Government strongly. 1 support the legislation because it seeks to obtain sufficient numbers in our armed forces. I like the proposed amendments. I think the Government has given close consideration to them and to the arguments which have been put to it by many organisations. 1 think it has brought all the best to bear in this legislation which I have great pleasure in supporting.
– In the short, time available to me I want to extend wholehearted support to the case so ably put on our behalf by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). There are many points that could be and should be enlarged upon. First of all, to put the record straight . I want to quote from a number of letters that I have received, and when I continue my remarks’ on resumption of the debate 1 shall enlarge on many other matters that are relevant to the proposed amendments to current legislation.
Many of the organisations and persons who have written to, spoken to, telephoned or telegraphed members of the Opposition and others whom they feel may be able to speak on their behalf have indicated clearly that the amendments to the legislation are not necessary, are. an extension of an already iniquitous piece of legislation on the statute book and, if one wants to take the matter to its furthest point, are an enlargement of the net to catch the so-called draft dodgers. More of that later. I have received from the Council for Civil
Liberties a letter dated 14th May 1968. In its relevant section it states:
It finds objectionable the use of informers and the penalties placed on persons who decline to inform, particularly parents. It regards the power to examine personnel records as an invasion of the privacy of employing bodies and educational institutions.It is perturbed that alleged offences carrying sentences of imprisonment of up to 2 yews shall be tried by a magistrate without the defendant having the option of a jury.
This organisation has branches in various Slates. The letter from whichI have just read stales the viewpoint of a particular group.
– That viewpoint does not hold in view of the variations that have been made to the Bill now, does it?
– When did you return from Vietnam? Did you return last week or are you going next week? After the honourable senator has participated in the war in Vietnam and after some of his relatives have been conscripted, then be may have the right to speak as a democratic citizen of this country. Until such time as he gives a clear indication that he is prepared to support actively things in which he believes, I do not think his comments should be treated with any respect or as of any importance. Let me now read from a letter signed by the President of the Sydney Association of University Teachers and the President of the University of Sydney Students representative Council. It reads:
We are writing to urge that the proposed amendmentsto the National Service Act be rejected, and to convey to you the feeling of some 800 students and staff members who attended a meeting at the University of Sydney today.
– When did they return from Vietnam?
– Mr Deputy President, I ask that Senator Webster be told that he must not keep making that sort of nitwit statement. The letter continues:
In our own view, clause 22, which particularly affects universities, is an invasion of the privacy which normally applies to university records. It was the view of the meeting that such invasion should be resisted and that senators should be asked to vote against this clause.
It is well known, of course, that, as a result of a tremendous upsurge of public feeling, in the lower house the Government was forced to withdraw a large number of amendments that were proposed to the National Service Act. An honourable mem ber in another place said that he felt that these amendments had been drafted and placed before the Parliament because the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) had not read them. I agree with that view. I believe that some of the amendments that were put forward by the Government were so stupid and showed such a puerile attitude that it was obvious that the people who drafted them and the Minister who was responsible for presenting them to the Parliament had no idea of exactly what they meant.
I propose to quote from the Sydney Sun’ of 14th May 1968 a letter that was written to the editor of that newspaper and signed by a very large group of churchmen. I believe that these statements should go on the record for posterity, forthe information of the public, and so that it will be fully realised that the majority of the community does not believe in what this Government is trying to do to the youngsters of Australia. The letter states in part:
We urge the early amendment of the National Service Act to give a more just and more realistic allowance for the individual conscience, by providing for objection by a draftee who sincerely believes that a war for which he is to be conscripted is unjust and immoral and therefore repugnant to his conscience.
The Australian Council of Churches has asked the Government to amend the Act so that clear provision be made for the exemption of persons who conscientiously object to participating in a particular war, declared or undeclared.
There would be no greater difficulty in determining who are genuine conscientious objectors than there is now.
No stale has the right to force an individual to commit acts which he regards as wicked, nor has it the right to require a person to surrender his conscience into its hands.
That is precisely what this Government wants. It wants the right to be ableto dictate what a person’s personal feelings shall be. It wants to be able to organise the consciences of people. In fact itis like the people who took it into their own hands today to endeavour to exterminate one of the candidates for the presidential election in the United States of America.
– But you are advocating more of that.
– I do not think that Senator Greenwood, as an advocate of hanging, is a fit person to make an interjection of that nature. Let me repeat the words that I just quoted, because of their significance. The letter states:
No state has the right to force an individual to commit acts which he regards as wicked, nor has it the right to require a person to surrender his conscience into its hands.
Let us remember that these statements are made not by the so-called ratbags, to whom honourable senators opposite refer, or by the long haired university types, to whom honourable senators opposite refer so causticly from time to time, but by responsible members of a group of churches. The letter continues:
No government can insist that all the wars which it undertakes are by definition ‘just’; nor does history support such a contention.
That is what we have said for a long time. There are two groups of people in the community. One consists of people who are pacifists. They do not believe in war. During the last war I met many such people. I am not a pacifist, but I do not believe in engaging in private wars, as this Government does. I participated in the war because 1 believed at that time that it was a just war. 1 would do so again in similar circumstances. But I believe in the right of the individual not to participate in war at all either because of his personal feelings or because of his religious beliefs. The Government will not concede that right, except in certain limited circumstances.
There is another group in the community. 1 belong to this group. The people in it believe that the intervention in Vietnam is immoral, unjust and completely wrong in every way. Consequently, if I were in the relevant age group I would not participate in the war in Vietnam either, because . 1 believe that we are involved in that war, not on legal or moral grounds, but because of certain circumstances about which I shall speak later in this debate. 1 will endeavour to enlighten some of the dumb members of the Government parties who cannot understand the position. The letter continues:
Since a government has never admitted that a war which it is undertaking is unjust or immoral-
I emphasise those opening words of this paragraph -
To suggest that it can is to imply that the Government is the source and the measure of right and wrong - which is a fallacious and impious doctrine.
The unreformed character of the conscientious objection provisions in the National Service Act has not only led to injustices, such as the imprisonment of Denis O’Donnell (who. was accepted by a court as holding ‘conscientious beliefs that the committal-
Mr Deputy President, I ask for the attention of the Senate. Apparently Government senators are not interested in this matter. If they think it is a joke, I wish to inform them that it is not. Let me repeat what I was quoting in case it has not sunk into the minds of honourable senators who were not listening before:
The unreformed character of the conscientious objection provisions in the National Service Act has not only led to injustices, such as the imprisonment of Denis O’Donnell (who was accepted by a court as holding ‘conscientious beliefs that the committal to the war in Vietnam of Australian forces was and is morally wrong, and that he could not conscientiously take any part in that war’); it is now leadingto numbers of young men refusing to register, thereby defying the law.
This patently unsatisfactory situation has prompted further legislation under which parents are to be compelled to supply information about their sons, and universities and other educational institutions to inform upon their students.
If the Government could have got away with those amendments to the Act, it would have done so. But because a public upheaval took place it decided to withdraw certain amendments and to amend others. I believe that the names of the people who signed this letter, only part of whichI have read, should be included in Hansard. They are set out at the foot of the letter as follows:
The Rev. N. St Clair Anderson, Congregational Minister.
J. Charlesworth, president, PAX Association.
The Rev. Colin Goodwin, lecturer in philosophy, Holy Cross College, Templestowe.
The Rev. Dr B. R. Marshall, Chaplain, Trinity College, University of Melbourne.
The Rev. Gordon Powell, Scots Church.
P. Ryan, secretary, Conscientious Objectors - Non-pacifist.
The Rev. Bruce Silverwood, chairman, Peace Quest Forum.
Albert Walker, convener, Society of Friends (Quakers) peace committee.
The Rev. John Westerman, director, Methodist department of Christian citizenship.
L. Williams, Churches of Christ Collegeof the Bible.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
At question time today. Senator McManus asked me a question which related to a report that Australian Labor Party members of Parliament from Victoria were to be required to make certain contributions to a
Party organisation. Senator McManus inquired whether privilege was involved. My reply is that it is not for the President to rule as to whether any breach of privilege is involved in this or any other matter, that being a matter for the Senate. If the honourable senator wishes to have the report considered as a matter of privilege, he may avail himself of the forms of the House to refer the question to the judgment of the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 June 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19680605_senate_26_s37/>.