26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir A lister McMullin) took the chair at . 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development: In view of a report in the Sydney Press this morning of a statement by a group of highly respected citizens that they reject completely the explanation given by the New South Wales Minister for Mines in his attempt to justify limestone mining in the Colong caves reserve in the southern Blue Mountains of New South Wales, will the Minister for National Development permit officers of the Bureau of Mineral Resources to confer with the New South Wales Minister for Mines in an endeavour to convince him of the authenticity of reports of alternative limestone deposits in New South Wales?
– This subject has been referred to in a debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. It is completely a State matter and is to be decided by the New South Wales Minister for Mines. I can assure the honourable senator that the Minister for National Development will not accede to his request.
– Because of yesterday’s tragic happening in the United States of AmericaI am prompted to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he could relieve my mind, and perhaps the minds of many other people in Australia, by informing the Senate whether adequate protection is provided for our Prime Minister. Because of an attempt made to take Mr Calwell’s life,I ask also whether adequate protection is provided for the Leader of the Opposition.
– I would not want to develop this subject at question time. It is sufficient to say thatI am aware that a degree of protection is provided for the Prime Minister of. Australia. I am not aware of the position in relation to the Leader of the Opposition,I will find out the position and let the honourable senator know.
(Question No. 221)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
Are any Australian products sold on world markets at prices lower than the prices paid in Australia? If so, will the Minister give some instances of where this occurs?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer:
Yes. Sugar, butter, cheese, wheat, dried vine fruits, canned fruits and eggs are instances where home prices exceed export prices. The low level of export prices obtaining for many important Australian primary products isa matter of considerable concern to the Government, which is actively seeking more remunerative prices for primary products through international discussions and negotiations. Examples of this activity are the new International Grains Arrangement, the current efforts to negotiate a satisfactory price for sugar within a new International Sugar Agreement and discussions within the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade on possible international arrangements covering trade in dairy products.
(Question No. 2)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Inferior has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
No. Aranda is the first subdivision in Canberra to be located on a fairly densely limbered site. The great majority of trees are stunted but there are also many mature specimens, some of which were known to be white ant infested. On the basis of expert advice, infested specimens were condemned and removed. Other circumstances in which trees were removed in Aranda were:
(Question No. 27)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
In schools within the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory, of which the Commonwealth does have direct knowledge, the position has improved steadily for both Government and non-government schools in recent years.
The demographic pattern of the total population aged 5-16 years has, in contrast with immigration alone, been responsible for much wider fluctuations in recent years. The annual additions were as follows:
Under the States Grants Act, 1965, the Commonwealth makes payments each year to the Stales in accordance with a formula which takes into consideration increases in the relevant State’s population and increases in the level of average wages for Australia as a whole. As grants are made for general revenue purposes it is for individual States to determine the purposes for which these moneys should be spent, and the proportions in which they should be allocated.
(Question No. 88)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
In view of statements made as to Australia’s anticipated self-sufficiency in crude oil,’ is consideration being given to (a) the fact that self-sufficiency in crude oil is not the total consideration as the economics of extraction is a factor of importance, and (b) the establishment of national reserves?
-I have received the following answer from the Minister for National Development:
Yes; consideration is being given to both these, matters.
(Question No. 217)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– I have received the following reply from the Minister for Civil Aviation:
Shortly before the introduction of the DC9 by the domestic operators early in 1967 and, more recently, of the Qantas Boeing 707 aircraft modified to carry palletised cargo and passengers, the Department’s emergency evacuation requirements were made mandatory in respect of these aircraft. Subsequently, successful demonstrations were completed on both these aircraft types, before they commenced commercial operations.
(Question No. 241) .
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Students sitting for matriculation examinations may also compete for Commonwealth university open entrance scholarships.
The following table shows the number of students in each State who sat for matriculation level examinations at the end of 1965. 1966 and 1967. The figures of Victorian students who sat for first year diploma examinations are also given.
The Victorian andTasmanian figures show the number of candidate’s sitting for full matriculation while those for Western Australia show those sitting for four or more subjects. The 1965 South
Australian and Northern Territory figure is the number of candidates eligible for the Leaving Certificate.
The South Australian and Northern Territory figures for 1966-67, and the New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and the Queensland figures are for all students entering for one or more subjects.
The New South Wales and South Australian figures since 1965 have been affected by the changes in secondary education in those States.
In addition to open entrance awards, later year scholarships are available for applicants who have already commenced an approved course. In 1968, for example, in addition to the 678 open entrance awards accepted, there have been some 320 later year scholarships accepted.
(Question No. 251)
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers:
(Question No. 260)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
With reference to the annual report of the Australian Chamber of Shipping, which contains a survey of Australian ports and comments that the foregoing survey offers some food for thought as it provides a picture of nationwide activity lacking any form of central control. Containerisation alone calls for some national plan. Some planning has taken place but in insufficient detail to be completely effective: is this adverse comment justified? If so, what central planning is intended to meet the future needs of Australian ports?
– I have received the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
Under the Constitution, the responsibilities of the Commonwealth in sea transport do not extend to the administration of ports and harbours within the States or to the regulation of intrastate shipping. These are matters which rest primarily with the particular State governments concerned.
Co-ordination in these matters, and in transport generally, between the States and the Commonwealth is achieved through the Australian Transport Advisory Council, formed in 1946, presently comprising all State Ministers for Transport together with the Minister for the Interior and under the chairmanship of the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
In recent years the Council has directed its attention to containerisation among other subjects and, in the circumstances, 1 am unable to agree with the comments expressed by the Australian Chamber of Shipping.
(Question No. 261)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
Will the Minister announce at an early date the Government’s attitude towards the far reaching proposals outlined by the Tariff Board in its 1966-67 report.
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer:
In its Annual Report for 1966-67 the Tariff Board stated that it intended to make various changes in its methods and approach in relation to its task of advising the Government on those matters the Government refers to it.
In the same Annual Report the Board stated that it proposes to publish in its next annual report a classification of industries into high, medium and low protection categories. How the Tariff Board proposes that such a classification would be of use to it in its task of advising the Government and explaining the reasons for the recommendations it makes regarding assistance to specific Australian industries is contained in its Report.
(Question No. 313)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: 1 and 2. The financial arrangements in relation to the construction of natural gas pipelines in each of the three Stales are:
Queensland - The Roma-Brisbane pipeline is being constructed by Associated Pipelines Ltd, a company owned equally by Associated Natural Gas Pty Ltd, whose share capital is held by members of the Associated Oil group of Australian companies and the Southern Union Gas Co. of the United States.
It is understood that, of the estimated pipeline cost of $11m, approximately $7m will come from Australian sources and $4m from foreign sources.
Victoria - A State semi-government authority, the Victorian Pipelines Commission, is responsible for the construction of the natural gas pipeline from Sale to Melbourne at an estimated cost of$20m. The Commission has not published any details of its sources of loan subscriptions. However, other semi-governmental authorities have in recent years raised all of their loan moneys either by public loans on the Australian capital market or by private loans from institutional lenders within Australia.
South Australia - A State semi-government authority, the Natural Gas Pipelines Authority, is responsible for the construction of the naturalgas pipeline from Gidgealpa-Moomba to Adelaide. The cost of the pipeline is estimated at approximately $40m. The Commonwealth has agreed to provide assistance by way of bridging finance up to a maximum of $15m, while the State Government is to provide $5m and the balance of $20m is to be borrowed by the Authority. The comments above on borrowings by the Victorian Pipelines Commission also apply to the South Australian Natural Gas Pipelines Authority.
(Question No. 330)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– I give the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
– On 7th May 1968 Senator Sim asked the following question without notice:
I prefacea question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General by drawing attention to a rather dubious allegation that an officer of the
Australian Security Intelligence Organisation approached a student of the Western Australian University and asked him to inform on the activities of other students, and also that other students were involved. Will the Minister request the AttorneyGeneral to investigate this allegation?
The Attorney-General has supplied the following answer:
My attention has been invited to the publication of the item to which reference has been made.
In relation to the operations and methods of work of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, I propose to adhere to the wellfounded policy established by Mr Chifley when he was Prime Minister and continued ever since. That policy is to refuse, either by confirmation or denial of things put to me, to give information concerning the operations or methods of work of the Organisation. The Organisation limits itself strictly to the performance of its functions which are laid down by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1956. The task of the Organisation is the protection of the Commonwealth and its Territories from acts of espionage, sabotage and subversion and the Organisation confines itself to the discharge of that responsibility.
Reports on Items
– I present the following reports by the TariffBoard which do not call for any legislative action:
Gherkins (Dumping and Subsidies Act)
Bed sheets, pillow cases, etc. (Dumping and subsidies Act)
– by leave - Australia will be participiating in the financing of a drawing by France from the International Monetary Fund valued at $US745m. Australia has agreed to supply the equivalent of $US20m from the Fund’s holdings of Australian currency and a further $US8.5m through the sale of Australian currency for gold. The net effect of these transactions is that Australia’s foreign exchange holdings will fall by $A26m but our gold holdings will increase by $A7.6m and our reserve position with the International Monetary Fund will increase by $A18m. Australia’s reserve position in its ‘gold tranche’ with the Fund, which is available automatically in case of balance of payments need, and which is gold guaranteed, now amounts to$A217m. It is a matter for satisfaction that it has been possible for Australia to cooperate with other Fund members in this operation to finance the French drawing.
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till tomorrow at 10 a.m.
The reason forthis motion, statedvery briefly, is that we have at present on the business paper under the heading ‘Government Business’ some seven Bills including the National Service Bill which we are currently debating. We have also seven messages from another place so that in effect we have 14 Bills before us. We expect to receive another 14 or 15 Bills from another place so, give or take a Bill, some 30 Bills will have to be disposed of during the present sittings of the Senate. The Opposition has indicated that it still has many members who want to participate in the discussion on the National Service Bill. There are Government senators and no doubt Australian Democratic Labor Party and Independent senators also who want to speak to the National Service Bill. It has also been indicatedto me that there will be a considerable amount of debate in the committee stage.
It therefore becomes apparent that there is a need not only to sit tomorrowto deal with this Bill but also to come back next week to clear the other Bills which will come before the Senate. It will be recalled that earlier I was asked, I think by Senator Ormonde, to give some guidelines as to probabilities in relation to sittings. I thinkI said that honourable senators should note 13th June in their diaries as a probable date of rising but there was a possibility that we might lift this week. I think it is a fair appreciation now that we will not be able to do that. If we are to have a lengthy debate on the National Service Bill, on which many honourable senators have views that they want to express, it is obvious that we shall need to sit tomorrow to pass this piece of legislation so that we shall be free next week to deal with the other Bills that will come before the Senate.
– On behalf of the Opposition I oppose this motion and 1 should like to indicate my reasons. In our opinion, the Government has again demonstrated its inability to handle parliamentary business in a proper way. It comes to us always at the end of a session with a spate of Bills, many of them of importance and some of them of very considerable importance, and invites us to get it over quickly, to regard ourselves as having the merely nominal function of letting a Bill pass through the Senate without proper scrutiny. We have not indicated that we want to bring this session to an end at the earliest possible moment. It is the Government’s responsibility to allow a reasonable amount of time within the ordinarily set down hours for sittings of the Parliament and the accepted hours for the discharge of business. If it takes I week. 2 weeks or 3 weeks a proper amount of time has lo be given for it.
We have been very co-operative with the Government during this session. We have been prepared to co-operate fully in the discharge of non-contentious legislation. No Bill could be pointed to as having been held up by the Opposition and on occasions we have permitted debate to proceed immediately where a matter has been noncontentious. We have been prepared to proceed even with contested second reading motions on I or 2 days notice. We have even acceded a couple of weeks ago to a plea by the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) to pass the Supply and Appropriation Bms on the day on which they were introduced and to pass the important Papua and New Guinea Bill because to hold it up might have meant some delay in the Government’s plans for the opening of the House of Assembly in the Territory the week after we were asked to deal with the Bill. So nobody edn suggest that we have not been reasonable and cooperative in our approach to legislation. When it comes to highly contentious matters such as the Bill that is at present before the Senate, ‘ the Government in its wildest dreams could not have expected that we would be interested in rushing the matter or making easy the passage of the legislation. On the contrary, it is legislation that we are resisting.
That is the first ground on which .1 put our opposition. The other one is that we agreed to extended hours for the remaining weeks of the session. Today we shall sit for 10 hours, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Those 10 hours of Senate business will tax the physical and mental resources of those honourable senators who are engaged on the business of the Senate and in trying to put points of view responsibly on the matters that come before them., lt is plain that we cannot finish this week. Therefore, why should we be asked to come here tomorrow at the end of a week in which we have sat for extended hours on .both Wednesday and Thursday?
We have to come back next week and it is our suggestion that the business of the Senate will be better conducted if we adjourn at 1 1 p.m.. tonight, the time to which we have agreed to sit,, and return on Tuesday. In addition to the important matters already before us, there are many more Bills to come. With all* respect to the Leader of the Government, there are so many Bills to be considered that he is not clear about the exact number. He said that there are thirty, give or take one. J do not say that by way of criticism in any personal sense. The fact is that the number is so astronomical that the Leader of the Government cannot state exactly what it is.
– That only relates to the ones that may be put on the notice paper.
– They are on the notice paper in another place and I can only assume (hat most of them will be passed. We have to come back next week and perhaps the week after that - 1 do . not know- -because there is work to be done, la our submission, there is no. warrant for disturbing the pattern of work we have set ourselves for this week. Most honourable senators have .commitments, but I -do not’ place any special reliance even on. that fact. We are ready to work at reasonable times, but the Government’s request is unreasonable and we. indicate that we will be opposing it. ..
– Having taken part in some of the arrangements that have been made to extend the sitting hours of the Senate over this last week in an effort to co-operate with the Government iri getting the business through, 1 support the view that has been put* forward on behalf of the Opposition; with relation to extending the sitting ‘time of the Senate. lt is impossible now foi* us to deal this week with the volume of business that is before the Senate. The fact that there are approximately thirty Bills to be dealt with makes it imperative that we come back and sit next week. Apart from that, I think that the Parliament’ should be sitting at this particular time. We are now passing through critical times not only in regard to our internal affairs, but also events in other parts of the world. I think it is the duty of all members of the Parliament, whether they be senators or members of the other place, to be here.
– Then declare the pairs off.
– That is a quite different matter altogether. 1 am not discussing that. We can debate that matter if the honourable senator wishes to introduce it. 1 also object to the long-accepted custom of another place of taking the Senate for granted - of the members of the other place wanting to complete their business by engaging in the ridiculous practice of extending the sitting hours at night, passing legislation by exhaustion and then expecting the Senate to fit in with their pattern.
I believe that the Senate not only has a duty and responsibility to give proper consideration to the very important legislation that is before it, but that it is obliged to do so.
We can quite easily deal with the business . and complete it next week if we return on Tuesday. In doing that we shall be able to give reasonable consideration to the legislation. Considering that’ we did make plans originally to sit until next Thursday or Friday, I submit that the nation itself will be better served if we act like reasonable people and conduct our business today within the hours for which we have already programmed, that is, between 10 a.m. and
I I p.m. After all, that is a long day. It will place a big strain on many people. I submit that the reasonable thing for us to do is to rise at 1 1 o’clock tonight as planned, come back on Tuesday next, and go about our business as reasonable representatives of the people should.
– I oppose the motion. Senator Cormack interjected and said that pairs should be called off. That should happen. It is all very well to vote for this motion knowing that a lot of honourable senators will be paired. It is just making a farce of this Parliament. It is a complete mockery -that this Parliament should sit for only 9 weeks during this session. We have sat for only 9 weeks at an average of 24r days a week during the first 6 months of this year. This means that we have sat for less than 23 days in all.
– Every honourable senator should be in his place every day.
– T quite agree that every honourable senator should be in his place or in Parliament every day. 1 have a record of being absent for only one day in the last 12 months. Whether honourable senators are in this chamber or outside it is a matter for themselves. A lot of honourable senators do not remain in the chamber for the whole of each day. That is beside the point. The point is that we should be sitting here next week, the week after and even the week after that until the business of the Senate is finished. The British Parliament sits nearly every week, of the year but Australia is ruled by Cabinet - by the Executive. We will probably be lucky if we sit 10 weeks during the next half of the year. The Government should not decide without warning to sit for an extra day in the week. It should carry on in the normal hours, week after week, until the business of the Senate is finished.
– in reply - I was rather, surprised at the remarks made by Senator Turnbull’, whose reputation for attendance here is worth looking at. The preponderance of the argument raised by Senator Cohen and Senator O’Byrne is a complete vindication of the proposal that the Senate should sit tomorrow. They said that they have matters that they want to debate. My opening comment was that we do not want to inhibit the Opposition in any way in the presentation of its views. Quite frankly, I feel that if we do not sit tomorrow and there is a desire to clear the business next week time will be short. If it is the Senate’s wish that we sit tomorrow I would not anticipate that we would sit at night. We would rise a little before 5 p.m. so that it would be possible for honourable senators to return to their own States.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented by a deliberate lie of the Minister.
– Order! You cannot use that language.
– I withdraw the words deliberate lie’.
– You will withdraw the remark.
-I withdraw the remark. The Minister has tried to confuse the House by attacking me and saying that my attendance in this chamber has been poor. If he looks up the records he will find that in the last18 months I have been absent on either 1 day or 2 days - I am not sure which. One of those days was when Senator Hannaford died.I arrived at 4.30 p.m. to find that the Senate had adjourned until the next day. ThereforeI had been marked absent. The presence of any honourable senator in this chamber during debates is a matter for himself. I do not think my record of attendance in this chamber is any worse than that of a lot of honourable senators on the Government side andI resent intensely the Minister’s remarks. My record is as good as that of any other honourable senator; in fact I think it is better.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. My remarks were based on my observations and I am in this chamber a good deal of the time.I repeat that the attendance of Senator Turnbull in this chamber during debates is a poor attendance by my standards.
Question put -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till tomorrow at 10 a.m.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 5 June (vide page 1468), on motion by Senator Wright:
That the Bill he now read a second time.
– When I entered this debate last night I quoted from certain documents which 1 felt would assist in building up the case against the amendments to the National Service Act as put forward by the Government. Honourable senators know, of course, that a number of these were withdrawn, and they know, too, that there are likely to be further alterations before this Bill is passed. I want to refer to a call for peace that was made by the Catholic bishops in April 1967 when they set out in very clear terms what they felt ought to happen in relation to Vietnam. Prior to this the Anglican bishops of Australia had combined to issue a statement on similar lines. First, I want to quote a resolution carried by Pax, which is a peace organisation within the framework of the Catholic Church. Not all members of it have to be Catholics, but nevertheless the greater proportion are. This was the statement made only a few weeks ago:
We believe that the only justification for an Allied presence in Vietnam, given present circumstances, is for the protection of those who would fear victimisation in a Vietcong takeover. Many Catholics, in particular, may be apprehensive; but we point out that there are Catholics in both North and South Vietnam who are working for a national reconciliation of Communist and nonCommunist forces; and we believe these efforts should be encouraged and supported, because reconciliation - not only in Vietnam, but in the world at large - is man’s principal hope for survival and fulfilment. The possibility of widespread reprisals after a cessation of hostilities must be faced, but the fear of this possibility cannot justify the continuation of a war in which largescale massacre and maiming of innocent people has become an inevitable effect of war operations.
The Vietnam war should be scaled down to a holding operation.
Negotiations, including the N.L.F. as a principal party, should be initiated with the ultimate object of achieving a just peace, in which the fundamental human rights of all people will be guaranteed.
The settlement should provide for an international (preferably U.N.) peace-keeping force to supervise arrangements.
Refuge should be offered by the United States, Australia and other allied countries, and France, to all Vietnamese needing it.
Allied forces should remain in Vietnam for as long as is possible to secure these evacuations.
However bitter this may seem to those urban Vietnamese or others who have come to rely on a foreign military presence for their protection, the continued prosecution of the war is an overwhelmingly worse injustice to the vast majority of Vietnamese, particularly those in the countryside, who do not seek from Allied forces either liberation or protection. We believe the experience of the past five years has shown that the stated Allied objective of a stable anti-Communist government cannot be achieved without the virtual destruction of the Vietnamese nation.
Statements have been made by others as well, and I want to quote from those, too, Mr President, because 1 believe that it is essential that all of these things go on the record. I shall read three resolutions that were passed by the Methodist Youth Fellowship of Armidale, New South Wales, and passed on to me by the president. This is what that organisation resolved:
Armidale Methodist Youth Fellowship . . .
again calls on the Australian Government to repeal the National Service Act 1951-65;
urges the Government to set up further systems whereby Australians may take part in the development of the under-privileged nations;
urges the Australian Government to encourage young men and women to give such service, either at home in a local social problem, or overseas in civil aid projects.
The Citizens Committee Against National Service Act 1968 Amendments stated in a letter dated 26th May 1968:
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 -
require educational authorities on request to provide information to Government concerning their students;
require employers to report employees who they believe are evading the Act;
further deny the right of trial by jury;
further restrict the freedom of travel;
could involve relatives acting as informers.
These are only a few of many documents from many organisations which have protested very vocally against the suggested amendment of the Act. What was the purpose of the amendment? Allegedly it was to close loopholes in the legislation, but basically it was to make sure that Army strength was kept up to requirements, forcingyoung men into service by increasing the effective size of the net. [Quorum formed.] It is obvious that Government supporters are not very interested in what happens to legislation. They did not get their own way a few minutes ago. Now, for the rest of this sessional period they will take little if any notice of the legislation going through this place.
– How many senators did the Opposition have here last night?
– It is not our responsibility to keep up the numbers; you are the people who are sending the legislation through.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order!The honourable senator will address his remarks to the Chair.
– Thank you Mr Deputy President. Perhaps you might suggest that the interjectors keep quiet.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– I was about to enumerate some of the problems that have been encountered by people who have professed either a pacifist attitude in relation to a war of any kind or a pacifist attitude in relation to a particular war. Let us look through some of these names. First there was the person who received perhaps most publicity in this regard. I refer to William White, the New South Wales school teacher who was hounded by the Government and put into a state of isolation because of his activities brought about byhis moral outlook on the
Vietnam war. The next person who came info the public spotlight was Dennis O’Donnell of Victoria. We know that he is now serving under protest somewhere in the Army. We know also that he took every course available lo him at law in an endeavour to indicate to the authorities that be had a particular moral outlook in relation to the Vietnam war. The next person was Desmond Phillipson who today is still somewhere in the Army, so far as we know. We have very litle detail about this lad. More recently there was the case of Simon Townsend who si ill has to come before a court sometime this month. These youngsters all indicated a particular outlook and, as a result, they were persecuted.
Then there were two others about whom not very much bas been heard. I think their cases should be cited for the record. First there was Christopher Campbell, an English migrant, who was first openly to inform the Minister for Labour and National Service that he could not comply with the National Service Act. He said that he could not co-operate wilh the administrative and law enforcement bodies seeking to enforce the Act. Summonsed to appear in court on 26th February 1967 to answer a charge of failing to register in February 1967, when his name was called he stated from the public gallery that the defendant did not intend to appear as a defendant; that he regarded the National Service Act to be immoral and that the court therefore had no jurisdiction under it. The court adjourned the hearing until 12th March, despite Christopher Campbell’s open confrontation of Ihe moral authority of Ihe Government to conscript for military service. He was prepared to take upon himself the consequence - imprisonment for contempt of court - in his endeavour to persuade the Government that the National Service Act should be repealed.
As an assisted migrant, Campbell’s passport has been held in Canberra. His initial period of 2 years here was up on 1st April 1968. He proposed to return home. [Quorum formed.] I shall continue to set out the history of Christopher Campbell. His passport was held in Canberra. He sailed for England on 3rd March. He had wailed over a year, and had sat in court for a day for the Government to accept his challenge lo ils claim to exercise the power of life and death over individuals. Another case is that of Brian Ross, formerly of Coringle, near Orbost, Victoria, and now of 1C Rowena Parade, Richmond, Victoria. He was fined SIO. plus $20.50 costs of court, oh 6lh March for failing to attend for a medical examination. Outside the court he was served with a call-up notice for 20th March. He refused to pay the fine. He will not obey the call-up notice. When he is summoned to appear in court for failure to obey the call-up notice the court will have no option but to commit him to the custody of the commandant of a national service unit. He thereby will be deemed to be in the Army. Thereafter he will be subject to Army discipline. Ross registered for national service in February 1967. but subsequently came to the conclusion that the National Service Act itself is immoral and that he could not comply with any of its requirements. He informed the Minister of this. He has twice returned his registration card unsigned and has twice refused to attend for medical examination.
These are the types of young men who have come under public notice because the law has caught up with them or because they have elected to avoid the operation of the law by seeking the intervention of the courts. There are hundreds of others who are evading the law and who, rather than fight and risk their lives in a war in which they do not believe, are on the run in this country today. I know that there are plenty of examples. In fact occasionally I receive letters from young trainee school teachers in other States, or from young apprentices who realise that they are nearing the age of registration and call-up and who probably still have 6 months or a year of their apprenticeship to complete. Rather than face the draft they have left their positions of employment and have gone interstate, or perhaps to New Guinea or New Zealand. These are the individuals whose lives are being affected by the National Service Act and who will suffer if some of the Government’s crazy amendments are carried.
I refer also to the hundreds of youngsters in country areas who look forward to reaching the age of 20 or 21 years and acquiring their own property so that they may followin the family tradition of farming. Some youngsters already have gone to New
Guinea, New Zealand and other places overseas. When will they be permitted to come back to Australia to see the relatives whom they had to leave in a hurry because of the net the Government is attempting to throw around them? I have not heard that question answered yet, but I hope that somewhere along the line - perhaps when the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) is replying - information will be given as to whether or not there is any truth in the story now circulating that the Government will not allow young aliens to have a passport, that it will withdraw their passportsto make sure that they do not leave Australia and thus dodge conscription.
Honourable senators opposite have said that there were a number of loopholes. Someone in another place said that it was obvious that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) had not read the Act. I think that statement is equally true here. When I commenced my remarks last nightI said it was obvious to most people that the original Act was sufficiently wide to enable the Government, to do the things it wanted to do. Because of its hotchpotch approach and because it was unable to justify the amendments in the House of Representatives, the Government has been forced to withdraw a large number of them. It is equally obvious that the Government will be forced into a situation where it will have to amend further or to withdraw other amendments. The major aspect that we ought to examine is the reason why the legislation was introduced in the first place and, secondly, why the Government introduced it at the fag end of the sessional period. Introducing controversial legislation late in the session is becoming a habit with the Government. If Bills are likely to be of a controversial nature the Government introduces them towards the end of the session so that there will be the minimum of publicity and the maximum amount of legislation passed in a hurry before being properly examined. We had an example here today when the Government in effect tried to introduce a long term gag. The Government did not want the debate of this Bill to continue next week because it was afraid of the consequences both publicly and otherwise.
The Government should examine some of the details of the war to which it is committing these young people, including those around whom it is throwing a wider net. In 6 years approximately 500,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Vietnam. In the same period 1 million have been injured, wounded or maimed in some way. That figure includes not only the servicemen from the various countries but hundreds of thousands of civilians, particularly children who have had their young lives ruined, who have lost limbs and who, thanks to napalm and the other bad types of weapons being used in that country, will be permanently deformed. In the last financial year,1966-67, the cost to the United States of America of the Vietnam war was $US20,000m. What would $US20,000m do for the underprivileged people in the United States of America or in Asia? The Australian expenditure was much smaller because our commitment is much smaller. Whereas the United States of America has more than 500,000 servicemen in the field we have some 8,000. The cost to this country wasstill of theorder of $34m. That $34m, if applied as a grant to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea would go a long way towards helping that country to independence. If. the Government gave the $34m, instead of the$1 2m that it very magnificently gave last year, to Indonesia, it would do a lot for that country. But the Government prefers to spend $34m, and to risk the lives of young Australians, in a war which the Government cannot justify and in which it is not properly engaged.
I will now rebut some of the remarks made by Government supporters in this debate. Probably the most noteworthy contribution was that of Senator Greenwood. Perhaps I should ascertain whether the honourable senator was, before undertaking his law studies, a provost in some section of the Australian Military Forces. He adopted a completely reactionary attitude.
– You get lower and lower.
– It is obvious that I have hurt other people who apparently were members of the Provost Corps.
– Name them.
– You are the bloke who does the protesting. I do not have to name anybody.
– You are not game.
– Were you one?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– I am speaking of the attitude of Senator Greenwood to the amendments to the National Service Act. He adopted a completely conservative attitude. He could see no wrong in sending kids overseas to join in this war. For the benefit of those honourable senators who are protesting now, I mention that later I will give a number of names of members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party and see what has been their contribution to this conflict in which Australia is improperly engaged.
Senator Gair engaged mostly in a histrionic outburst, without making any real contribution at all to the debate. I was sorry to hear some of the things that he said. Of course, his colleague did not enter into the debate at all while it was being broadcast. Previously in this chamber we have heard (he Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) condemn in very clear terms Simon Townsend and anyone else who elects to be a pacifist, either wholly or partly. The old man who runs the Repatriation Department in a not. very satisfactory way still wants to send the youngsters of Australia into this brutal war.
Now there are problems within the coalition itself. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), rightly or wrongly, decided to hand out certain portfolios and to sack certain Ministers. In doing so he put the crown of the Army portfolio on one, Phillip Lynch. In the House of Representatives yesterday there was a very well ordered attack on the weaknesses of the Minister for the Army. Everything that was said by members of the Opposition in that debate was perfectly true.
– Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. The honourable senator is referring to a debate that took place in the House of Representatives yesterday. Under the Standing Orders that is not allowable.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - 1 uphold that point of order.
– Then let me :y that in a debate on the matter in this place it was stated that the Minister for the Army, in public statements, made very little of the
Simon Townsend case. We saw his Press statement to the effect that the lad was continually awakened. Three different reasons were given for that. One was to make sure that he did not suffer from claustrophobia; the second was to make sure that he did not escape; and the third was to make sure that he was not committing suicide. Where are we going? Will we continue to hand out brutal treatment to people because they will not conform? Of course, the matter goes further than that. In this chamber we have a Minister who in the past has been known for his dedication, in some terms or other, to civil liberties. It is significant that in this debate and similar debates he now conforms. It was probably a smart move on the part of the Prime Minister to see that those people in the Government parties who were likely to rebel were made corporals, so that they would not start arguing the point on Cabinet or Government decisions.
The honourable senators who arc most vocal in their support of the Vietnam war include Senator Greenwood. .1 suppose that he could have been in the Korean conflict. Was he? He could be in the Vietnam conflict. Obviously he is not; he is in this chamber. My friend from the Country Party, Senator Webster, is also extremely vocal in his support of the Vietnam war. I do not see him wearing any Korean or Vietnam campaign ribbons. In another place there is that barb in Ihe side of the Liberal Party, Andrew Jones, who for a time gave the impression that he had a record of long and very heroic naval service. Of course, that impression was exploded when he said that he had served on merchantmen from here to there. Probably that was at about the time when he was due to be called up: and consequently he was not called up.
– This Bill will make Andrew Jones’s of us all.
– That could be one of the results of it. The Minister for the Army is also very vocal in his support of national service. I do not know that he wears any Korean or Vietnam compaign ribbons. At least members of the Opposition who are opposed to war have been associated with anti-conscription campaigns or with something positive. But we do not see those members of the Government parties, who have no war service but who are very vocal in their support of conscription and in their support of all wars, doing anything positive themselves. I believe that this should be taken into consideration.
Sometimes I have a tendency to introduce controversial matters in a debate; but somebody has to say these things. In view of the tragedy that has occurred in the United States in the last few hours, I believe that we should have a good look at our own moral background. I suggest that the Government has a good look at its moral background, too. If the Government has to introduce legislation of this kind to carry out the law-
– What word did you just use?
– I was not talking about the honourable senator’s moral background.
– I thought you used the word ‘moral’.
– Does the honourable senator want to make a personal explanation?
– I just did not hear the word that you used. I thought it was ‘moral’.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– We should have a look at our society and at the Government which is responsible for the administration and good order of that society. Why has it become necessary for the Government continuously to introduce additional laws,, either in this field or in other fields? When” the President of the United States was assassinated the Government sat back and said: This is a shocking state of affairs’. Now, only a few years later, his brother is in a critical condition as a result of an attempted assassination. Why does the Government just sit on the sidelines and say: ‘The situation in the United States must be terrible’. Let us have a look at our own country. It is not so long since we had the tragic disappearance of a Prime Minister. This Government has never come clean’ on the disappearance of that Prime Minister. Are we morally rotten too? Is there something wrong with our society? His body has never been found. But within a few days of the disappearance there was a determined scramble to see who would be the new Prime Minister of Australia.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I ask the honourable senator to connect his remarks to the Bill.
– I am doing that. 1 am pointing out that in out society the Government continually has to introduce legislation to close up what it calls loopholes. I am seeking the reasons for that. I am making a reference to a break in our society, if that is what people want to call it. I do not know whether that is the correct description. I am speaking about this because to . my mind many happenings are all tied up. When something goes wrong with the community, in order to plug the loophole the Government brings in an amendment to some Act or other. In this case it, has brought in amendments to round up kids because it thinks that a few of them are escaping the net.
If the Vietnam war was a just and moral one, there would be no necessity for this sort of thing because there would- be enough volunteers to do the job. But the Government cannot get volunteers. So approximately 50% of the Australian troops committed in this theatre of war are conscripts.’ Conscripts form a very large section of all the casualties - both killed arid wounded. If members of the Government- parties intend to ease their consciences in that way, I do not intend to ease mine in that way. 1 do not believe that this legislation - either the original National Service Act or- the amendments that have now been brought forward - should have been introduced. The point that I am trying to make is that because of the degeneration of the society,, for which, this Government is responsible, other matters should be examined, too. It is obvious that there are touchy things associated with the tragic disappearance of the former Prime Minister. That is only one thing. There are others. If the Government will- not allow this sort of thing to be debated, then I suggestthat honourable senators opposite have a look at the report that was put out. It points out the weaknesses in the society, too.
I support all the statements made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition during the course of this speech. I am very sorry to say that when references are made to certain aspects of government, in this country honourable senators on the Government side are ashamed to have them debated in public. That is what it amounts to. They are afraid of the consequences. Within a reasonable time - it will not be lengthy - I believe that other issues will arise and that they will be making excuses for those too.
I hope we will see a cessation of assaults on those who believe in pacifism. During the Second World War and the First World War there were people who did not want to fight either on religious grounds or because of some personal belief. There are no cowards in our society, f pay a tribute to those who have the moral courage to say that they are opposed to a particular war or to war in general. In many instances I think they have a higher degree of moral courage than have many of us who conform and shoulder arms and go off to engage in conflict, whether it be a total war or one of these private engagements in which the Government is delighted to participate.
I hope this will be the end of amendments to this Act. I hope that ultimately it will disappear from the statute book but I suppose that is a rather forlorn hope in view of (he many hawks who grace the Government benches of this chamber and of another place. I commend Senator Cohen’s statements on behalf of the Opposition and I hope that all the amendments we have suggested will be carried.
– The Bill before us is supposed to be a Bill relating to national service. I do not believe that it is. There are only two things that we can do with this Bill. We can either tear it up completely - and then I presume the Government will bring in a Bill to deal with members of Parliament who tear up Bills - or arrange for it to bc suitably framed and hung in every Government members office to remind them of three things: Firstly, that the Bill typifies the ineptitude of Ministers; secondly, that it typifies the arrogance of power of the Government; and thirdly, that it typifies the betrayal of humanity for the fleshpots of the Ministry. For those three reasons I believe that the Bill should be framed and hung in every Government supporter’s office.
Let me deal with the first point which relates to the ineptitude of Ministers. It is no use any honourable senator on the Government side coming into this chamber and telling us that we are all guilty because we were here when the clause relating to pimping was inserted in the original Bill. It is the responsibility, of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) to know his Bill. If we passed this Bill - I do not remember very much about it because I think it was before my time although one of the amendments must have come up since I have been here - and if that clause was in the Bill and it is wrong now, it was wrong then. In that case it was the Minister’s responsibility to bring it to the notice of the people. He did not do anything about it. This is the man who put himself up as a future Prime Minister of Australia. I believe that he has no qualifications to be the Prime Minister of this country while he allows this clause to remain in the Bill. Until the members of the Democratic Labor Party went to him and threatened that they would defeat the Bill, he did not intend to do anything about it. Good luck to the DLP. Thank heaven we have the DLP here to do things like that to bring the Government into line.
Here wc have a Minister who is not doing his homework. How can he have done his homework in regard to this Bill when he found it necessary, following the introduction of the measure-, to propose eleven amendments himself? That is preposterous. I think I can remember the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), when a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, criticising the Labor Government for bringing in a Bill and amending it before it had been debated.
– The honourable senator should check his memory of the time.
– I think the Minister did criticise the Government.
– But not on that score. There was ample ground for criticism but not on that score.
– The Minister has said that he had ample ground for criticism. Perhaps he did, if not on that score then on another. The fact remains that the Minister for Labor and National Service has not done his homework when he finds it necessary to bring in eleven amendments.
– What is the significance of that?
– The significance is that if he had done his homework he would not have brought in a Bill and amended it before it was discussed. Before the DLP went to him he did not know much about it himself. If he did know about the Bill and had done his homework he still has no right to be a Minister if he is prepared to allow the pimping provision to remain in the Bill. I do not want to hear the Minister for Works argue that we knew about it. It is the responsibility of the Minister for Labour and National Service and he must accept it. He listened to the advice of his departmental officers and accepted it instead of saying that the provision was wrong and doing something about it. Bui for the grace of God the Minister for Labour and National Service would have been the Prime Minister of Australia. Imagine the dictatorial attitude he would have adopted if he had been Prime Minister.
The second point I mentioned is that this Bill typifies the arrogance of power. The Government has been in office for too long. Whether a government is good or bad it can be in office for too long - this applies to Tasmania too - especially if there is nol an active Opposition. Certainly there is no effective Opposition in the lower House. The country is fortunate that in the past few years there has been an effective Opposition in the Senate. It is no use Government members saying that they are the choice of the people. If one goes om and speaks to the people on the issues on which the Senate has opposed the Government one will find that the people of Australia are on the side of the Opposition in the Senate. I. refer to the referendum, I refer to the VIP issue and I refer lo the pimping clause.
Let no honourable senator tell me that the Government has a mandate to bring in :i clause of this character. That is a demonstration of the pure arrogance of power. Even the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) himself, I think in his first television broadcast, mentioned the arrogance of power and went on to say that absolute power corrupts. That, is what is happening because the Government is getting so strong, there being no effective Opposition, that it can remain in office for year after year. Members of the Government say: ‘What does it matter what anyone else thinks? We are the only people in the Parliament with brains.’
– How does that argument line up with the honourable senator’s argument as to the Government’s acceptance of amendments? It is silly.
– The Minister really should keep quiet because he does have a brain but when he gets het up about things he lets it slip a little. The Minister made those amendments to the Bill because of the action of the DLP and for no other reason. He would not have done it if the DLP had not threatened to vote against the Bill. The Minister for Works knows that as well as I do, and the people of Australia know it too.
– The honourable senator heard the Leader of the DLP last night say he regretted some of the amendments.
– Some of thembut the main ones I am talking about were brought in at the instigation of the DLP, and everyone in Australia, except the Minister tor Works knows that these amendments would never had been made had it not been for the action of the DLP. The people of Australia know that even if the Minister does not. One of the basic reasons for this arrogance of power is that Government members do nol: get out and learn what the people are thinking. They mix in their own little clique or coterie, and think that is all that is necessary, but I point out that about 98% of the people are opposed to this very measure that Government members say should be supported.
While I am dealing with the Minister for Works let me mention the third point I raised relating to the betrayal of humanity for the fleshpots of the Ministry. The Minister, who is in charge of the Bill in the Senate, has supported on two occasions the principle of trial by jury. I do not think anyone in Australia, except a few legal brains who think it much easier to convince a judge than to convice a jury, disagrees with the principle of trial by jury. The jury system is the basis of our justice in this country yet the Government says to a national serviceman: ‘You will do 2 years and you have no right of appeal nor of trial by jury.’ Yet the Minister himself betrayed his Party on two occasions and I supported him when he voted with ihe
Opposition for this very principal. Now that we have this principle affirmed by the Opposition, what does the Minister do? He rationalises his opposition to it because he is now a Minister and has not the guts to get up and say: ‘I would rather see this principle carried than be a Minister of the Crown’. Of course, you would never find any Minister game enough to do that once he has tasted the flesh pots of the ministry.
– You know about the fleshpots of ministries.
– Yes, I know about the fleshpots of ministries. It is belter to have the fleshpots of the ministry than the fleshpots of the bar.
– You talk about betrayal and corruption?
– You should talk.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Connack) - Order! Honourable senators will cease interjecting.
-I am quite prepared to talk about bribery and corruption because I have stood my trial in court and been found not guilty.
– Bya jury.
– Yes, by a jurytwo juries. If the Opposition had said this about one of the Liberal members it would be regarded as a base and degrading interjection. That is why I take it from the Minister himself, who should know better.
– You want to impute to me a taste for the fleshpots?
– I did not hear the interjection. The Minister has betrayed himself for the fleshpots of the ministry. I maintain that and everyone else will maintain it, because if ever a man in this chamber should get up and support trial by jury it is the Minister himself, who has proved in this chamber by opposition to his own Party that he believes in the system.
– In the proper case.
– Is there any difference, whatever man is tried? Is it not justice? You would rationalise your actions so that you can escape this. What about your conscience? I do not think you have one, or you would be supporting the Opposition on this principle. Now let me get back to the Bill itself and the National Service Act.
-After this speech he will support us.
– Not if he has to leave the ministry. I am a supporter of the National Service Act. I believe in it and I believe in its compulsion.
– Have you read it?
– The only person who reads an Act in this Parliament is the Minister himself. Ask your members whether they have read it; do not ask me. Just ask your own members how many have read it and do not be so facetious and stupid. It has nothing to do with my remark thatI believe in this Act. Whether I have read it or not,I believe in the National Service Act. I believe that there should be compulsory military training but I oppose strongly the principle of balloting. I think it is time the Government woke up to the fact that that is an iniquitous procedure and should be abolished. It is useless for the Government to say that we have not the money to train everyone.I admit that. Then cut thetime down so that every person when reaching the age of 20 years has to do at least 1 year’s service, if not 2. There is another reason for that. Very often national servicemen who are not sent to Vietnam sit around doing nothing. They just have nothing to do. There have been reports and reports along these lines in relation to people who have served their 2 years. I can cite the case of persons in a personnel vehicle unit. There were not enough vehicles with which to train them. Six of them had vehicles and the other twelve in the squad, or whatever it was, just sat around doing nothing because there was nothing with which to train them. They just sat. there for days waiting for their turn. There must be some brains in the Army because it can think up regulations on how to keep people awake. It must be able to think up some way to keep these people fully occupied. It is better for everyone to serve 1 year than to conduct a ballot for people to serve 2 years.
The second matter is that the Government is not careless but negligent in not setting up the equivalent of a peace corps. As I said before, 1 do not know what makes a conscientious objector tick but if there are people who object to war we should make them serve somewhere. Even if we do not make them serve overseas in a peace corps, at least they should serve in forestry work or some work such as that in Australia rather than waste their time by being put into Holsworthy prison or, as in the future, in civil gaols. When will the Government wake up and do something about this? Why can it not establish a peace corps for those people who object to war? It should not be a very difficult matter to organise and have a corps into which those men who object to fighting can be drafted. Although it is said that they can become stretcher bearers, some of them apparently have a conscientious objection to wearing uniform and therefore, of course, they cannot be made stretcher bearers or medical orderlies. At least they could be put to some useful work. Rather than be imprisoned for 2 years they could be under contract on any job, whether overseas or here, as long as they completed their period of service. I have no time whatever for this Bill. I think it is brought in in haste. It is incomplete. What we should really do is throw it out altogether and let the Government bring in a worthwhile Bill without all of these measures with which it knows the public is disgusted.
– This Bill has been discussed publicly. It has been the subject of newspaper headlines for 6 or 7 months. The Government and particularly the Minister for National Service (Mr Bury) have had a long, long period in which to study it. I do not think that anybody - particularly the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) - would be proud of the framing of this Bill. He has so often discussed in the Senate the drafting of Bills and has always looked for perfection. He did not get it in this Bill because he is asked now to support a Bill which has been amended by its introducer eleven times.
– What is the purpose of parliamentary deliberation?
– 1 agree that we are supposed to amend Bills but one does not make eleven amendments to a Bill that he has just drawn up and say publicly - just imagine; it has been said in the Senate a dozen times - that he submitted to pressure. [Quorum formed.] The Minister for Works has been a man of perfection in relation to these matters. I do not think anybody can say that a Minister has anything to be proud about in relation to this Bill. It has been the most contested matter in this country for years. When the Minister for National Service introduced the Bill, he must have known he would bring down the wrath of the church organisations. For example, my own church - the Roman Catholic Church - has expressed views on Vietnam. I suppose that I could fairly say that it is neutral and, being neutral, it is on the side of the Government. It believes generally. I think, that it has moral questions to look after and it has said publicly on this matter of defence and war that the Government knows best. But inside the Catholic community a strong movement has been developing, almost against the official view, for peace. The Minister cannot have failed to notice all of these things happening in the community.
As I have said, the Government cannot feel proud of a Bill that it had to amend eleven times before passing in on to the Senate. Some honourable senators, speaking to me as man to man, have said: ‘By gee, they have made a mess of it, haven’t they?’ The Government certainly has made a mess of it. This should never have happened, because the Government must have known why the 20-year-olds were protesting. They were protesting because this Government was making the horrible injustice of passing on to them responsibility for fighting the war in Vietnam. That is the difference between this war and the last one. In the last war, it was a case of all in. On this occasion, however, it is a case of business as usual for everyone but the 20- year-olds. Naturally the 20-year-olds resent being the only ones conscripted to fight a war which, as late as last night, just before he was shot, Senator Robert Kennedy described as being an immoral war.
Honourable senators opposite, Senator Greenwood in particular, have no grounds for being horrified at our attitude or for accusing us of being the only people to see evil in this war. The four candidates for the office of President of the United States of Australia see evil in it. They must believe that it is evil; otherwise, as candidates for the presidency, they would not say so. While almost every other country, including America, is seeking to de-escalate the war, this Government, in its miserable way, wants to escalate it.
– Did not the honourable senator just advocate putting everybody in the Army?
– I do not know about that. I atn merely stating that the responsibility for fighting the war is being placed upon the 20-year-olds and they resent it. This did not happen during the last war.
– But surely the honourable senator cannot be serious in suggesting that this Bill is escalating the war?
– Anything that seeks to build up the Army effort in this country amounts to escalating the war.
– Gun fodder.
- Senator O’ Byrne is more emphatic than I am, although 1 do express a similar point of. view. The Government, is increasing the intensity of the war at a time when three-quarters of the world, including Britain, France, Germany and Italy, is protesting against it. They cannot all be wrong and we be the only ones who are right. Why, our Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), recently returned from America, is in Vietnam now. His reason for being there is, in my view, a piece of effrontery. He. is here for the purpose of discovering where the United States, which has 500,000 soldiers there, stands with regard to the future. Senator Robert Kennedy said in a television interview last night that America is finished with being the policeman of the world or the policeman of Asia. But our Prime Minister is in Vietnam suggesting that he wants America to be just that.
I think the Prime Minister has gone to Vietnam at the wrong time. It is a bit stupid to stand the Americans up and to know where they stand in regard to the future. He is saying in effect that he wants America to fill the role of the policeman of Asia in the future. We have often heard expressed in this country the opinion that the Vietnam war is only the beginning of a continuing state of war in Asia. We in this wonderful country have to determine whether we are going to be the policeman in
Asia for the rest of our lives, because war in Asia will be never ending. 1 think that is the accepted view all round the world. My own view is that we should not be in the war at all. After all, America would not have been in it except for the fact that she blundered into it. France blundered into it, and America blundered into it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I ask the honourable senator to come back to the Bill.
– 1 was just about to do so when I heard your voice, Mr Deputy President. The horrifying thing is that this Government actually believes in this war. Honourable senators on the Government side become quite incensed when we on this side criticise the Government for our involvement in this war. Why, the whole world is criticising it. The Australian Labor Party opposes it. Apart from opposing it on principle, we are opposed to conscription for overseas service. We are not opposed to preparing for the defence of Australia by building up. our Services. (Quorum formed.] Naturally we must oppose this Bill. Even some honourable senators on the Government side are opposed to some parts of it. We oppose it because in the first place we are opposed to the war on principle. But we are not opposed to defending Australia. Throughout our lives we have proved that we are not opposed to defending Australia, but I cannot’ see how it can be claimed by the Government that taking part in the war in Vietnam is defending Australia. We are there for another reason altogether.
Various reasons have been given for our involvement there. 1 have seen some of them stated in most authoritative books, lt has been suggested that America went there first because of the metals to be obtained there. President Eisenhower - has been reported as saying that the initial reason for America’s involvement there was the availability of certain types of metals there. And that is why France was there. I do not propose to argue that point. That statement was made 1.5 years ago. But the Americans are still there, having finally blundered into the war, and we are expected to perpetuate this blunder despite the fact that half the American people, including the four candidates for the presidency,, have declared themselves as being in favour of ending the war. As late as last night- one of these candidates favoured a reduction of the war effort there until the fight finally receded into a civil war between South Vietnam and North. Vietnam only. But there are certain sections in this Parliament who do not think in that way, who really believe in the war.
– Not the Labor Party.
-I am thankful that the Labor Party is here to take up the attitude that it does. Only 12 months ago Air Vice-Marshal Ky visited this country.
– What does he think of us now?
– Do not let us repeat what he thinks of us now. I was one of those who took part in the protest march on the occasion of his visit. Our Party Whip, Senator O’Byrne, took part in it also. I was laughed at for taking part in the protest march, but somebody had to protest. I emphasise, too, that what we said then has now turned out to be true. But this has happened very often. I say: ‘Thank God for the dissenters in the world today.’ Youth is dissenting all over the world today because it is being used, and youth cannot see anything to be gained, therefore, from supporting the institution or the establishment. Our youth have lost faith, and we have to start to do something about it.I warn the Government that what happened at Oxford recently could happen here. Of course, everything comes to us late. Democracy even came to us late. These protests will continue, and if this Government is to stay in office it will have to do something about the matter. Force is not the solution.
The other day Professor Baxter of the University of New South Wales invited students to discuss their troubles with him. He sees a danger that the world will separate into two groups - the 20-year olds and the rest. The youth of this country are in revolt because they are the only ones who get the dirty end of the stick. They are the ones who have to fight in Vietnam but as far as the Government and the business world are concerned it is business as usual. The only ones being asked to make sacrifices are the 20-year olds and they are resenting it. It has been said in this chamber that gallup polls show that the youth of Australia are in favour of the war in Vietnam and of being conscripted.
– That have not got a vote.
– Of course they have not. Apart from that, we all know that a fellow can protest as much as he likes but before he has been in camp for 1 month he is a good soldier. The Army’s job is to make good soldiers even of dissenters. There are plenty of dissenters entering the Army but human attitudes dominate. Once a soldier is in the Army he wants to be as good as the man next to him. Recruits all get used to being in the Army and finally they all want to go to Vietnam - but not for the reasons that honourable senators opposite would have us believe. They want to go for the thrill. They are called up; they do not volunteer. The Government’s policy failed because it could not get volunteers to serve in Vietnam; it had to induce men forcibly. They are chosen by ballot and to say that the young people of the country are in favour of such an unfair and immoral way of getting an army is wrong.
Why are young men not joining the Citizen Military Forces? Senator Greenwood raised this point the other night. The late Senator Paltridge said the same sort of thing as Senator Greenwood was saying. Young men do not join the CMF because it means 6 years service, which is 4 years longer than the 2 years that they would spend in the Regular Army. They are fatalists. Their attitude is that they may as well go to Vietnam and get it over with in 2 years. There is also the point that technically they are still liable for service overseas if they are members of the CMF. They do not volunteer.
– It is not because they feel they will be sent overseas, surely.
– Most people object to being conscripted to serve overseas.
– They volunteer for the CMF.
– They volunteer under duress.
– It is not as clearcut as honourable senators think. This subject has been discussed dozens of times in this chamber. The point is that the Government’s recruitment campaign has failed. The Government spends millions of dollars on a campaign to induce boys to volunteer for war. Who really believes that lighting in Vietnam is necessarily in the interests of this country? I can explain the attitude of the Democratic Labor Party on this. Senator Gair, in his last policy speech, said thai he wanted 30,000 men sent to Vietnam. He wanted a bigger and better war. 1 am not being personal now but the sort of thought that the DLP represents is that it is better to be dead than Red. We often hear what I consider to be a very immoral expression coming from that quarter - not necessarily from the two honourable, senators personally but from those who support them - that it is better to fight: them there than here’. That is an extraordinary statement to make but a lot of people believe it.
– 1 do.
– The honourable senator believes that it is better to light there than here?
– In other words, we should sit here in comfort and let the 20-year olds go out there and fight.
– lt is common sense.
– J do not think it is common sense. 1 think it is completely immoral. Even militarily it is wrong because it assumes that the people ‘there’ will always be on our side. In other words we will always be fighting overseas wars allegedly in defence of Australia.
– We have always done so, and very successfully.
– I do not know whether we have done it very successfully. In this age of the haves and the have-nots, the oppressors and the oppressed, the blacks, the whites and the yellows, and when property is the great divider of peoples, I. do not think that fighting wars in Vietnam or anywhere else is a very good investment for the Australian people. I cannot imagine what the mothers and fathers of the soldiers in Vietnam think about their son’s involvement in seek and slaughter movements in which our soldiers move in among Vietnamese families and clear the women and children out of the way so that they can get at the Vietcong. Do honourable senators think that the people who witness these raids in Vietnam admire Australia? I do not think so. I think the sooner we get out of Vietnam the better it will be for everybody concerned. Senator Henty is shaking his head. Apparently he does not agree with me. Britain is the wisest nation on earth. Why is she not supporting the Vietnam war?
– She is a bit too busy in Nigeria.
– 1 do not think that, is a very grown-up statement. Britain is opposed to the war in Vietnam. I notice that Senator Sim also is shaking his head whilst reading the tips for tomorrow. That is all right. He should be supporting my arguments. Strange things are happening in this country. The other day in another place a member of the Liberal Parly asked when the Government would remove the Union Jack from the Australian flag.
– Who asked that?
– The honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate). I am surprised that he was not expelled from the Liberal Party for saying that. Everywhere we go we hear people deriding Britain. Delegates to Liberal Party conferences no longer sing ‘There will always be an England’. Why? I atn sure that the Liberal Party has its own. reasons, lt seems that we are breaking the ties with Britain that have held this country together for so long. As the Duke of Edinburgh said the other day. these ties were held in freedom. If we break them and become a part of the American umbrella in Vietnam-
– Mr. Deputy President, are these remarks strictly relevant to the debate now taking place?
– I was trying to keep in conformity with the Standing Orders.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! I think the honourable senator is extending too far beyond the realms of relevancy.
– Senator Wright shocked me the other day when he said that one could not take notice of the Sydney Morning Herald’ editorials.
– I did not say that.
– Weil, somebody did. I believe that the opinions of the most conservative newspaper in this country should be taken notice of when we are discussing matters like this.
– What is conservative about it? The truth or the facts?
– lt used to be liberal in outlook. It was always opposed to Labor in the past, but it is not today.
– lt is a Whitlam newspaper now.
– I do not know about that. I wish to quote a few paragraphs from an editorial which appeared in that newspaper. Honourable senators should remember that when an editor writes an article his reputation and the reputation of the institution are behind it. Under the heading The informers’ the article stales:
The Government’s controversial amendments to the National Service Act give the Opposition the opportunity for a united attack which Labor members are bound to welcome, lt is to be hoped, however, that the Opposition is cool and moderate in ils appraisals of the Government’s proposals.
– That is responsible journalism.
– That is right. The article continued:
The electorate overwhelmingly favours national service-
I think that is true - although there is sharp division about -0-year olds serving in Vietnam;
That is the issue on which there is a deep division - and there is no sympathy for draft-dodgers. There should Ik no confusion of the issue. The proper concerns about the Bill before Parliament are whether the Government has a real problem in dealing wilh those seeking to avoid their obligations for military service; and whether the powers the Government wants are those which the public should approve. Mr Bury said in Parliament that only “a small number’ of young men are seeking to evade, or are defaulting in. their obligations’.
Thai, is the point I want to make. This Bill has been introduced to deal with a few dozen people in this country. The Government is setting out quite unnecessarily to disturb the whole population. The Bill has been drafted to catch up with a few people. Some honourable senators are playing politics, riding on the backs of a few defaulters. There were defaulters in World War II, but we were too busy getting on with the winning of the war then to chase the small fry. That is the object of this Bill. It has been introduced only as an exercise. I agree with Senator Turnbull that it is an exercise which could have been done without. Government supporters must keep talking about Vietnam. They are using these issues to bring in amendments to the principal Act of 1951. The Australian Council of Churches has put a proposition which is referred to in the editorial from which I have already quoted. It stales:
The Bill provides a penalty of $200 for those who destroy or damage a registration form, but the fine for those who refuse to register is not less than $40 or more than S200.
Again the Government is using a juggernaut to crush an anl. I feel obliged to expose the Government on this issue. No more than two young people have burned their draft cards yet the Government has seen fit to include in this legislation a clause to cover people who might do the same thing, lt might never happen again. Provision is made for a fine of $200 for defacing registration forms. What does the word ‘deface’ mean in that context? Two boys burned their cards. I, and perhaps most people, think they were a little foolish, but the Government has taken them seriously enough to introduce legislation to cover such actions by people who are busily engaged in studying to become lawyers.
– A small percentage of the Australian population engages in breaking and entering, but we have a law to deal with those people.
– But that issue does not engender the same amount of heat. Draft card burning might never happen again in this country. I am not. sure that I agree that conscientious objectors, or people who object to going to war or obeying the call-up, should be subjected to proceedings in the civil courts. The Government is making a mistake under pressure following incidents in a military camp where a prisoner was wakened every half-hour. As a result, the Government has included provision for proceedings in civil courts for breaches of this legislation. Every boy who evades his call-up and is covered by this legislation will become a criminal because he will be tried in a civil court. Previously the situation was different. I. would like Senator Wright to say something about that. Mothers of sons who fought in the last war, or in any other war, did not face the position that their sons could become criminals by being convicted in civil courts. Again the Government is using a juggernaut to deal with a very small matter.
– They are still civilians.
-I am aware of that. But is not the solution to provide for more humane treatment in the military establishments? Why not ensure that treatment in military establishments is made as humane as it is alleged to be in the civil establishments?
– Your own Deputy Leader has said that he prefers the system now provided for.
– That may be, but we have democracy in our Party. I am expressing my own view.I think I have heard it said that it is a bad law that is based on small or infrequently occurring cases. If Senator Wright were friendly be might help me out on that point.
– I cannot chase all the airy-fairy streams of argument.
– I think it is a mistake to make some soldiers subject to civil laws in respect of punishment. They are placed in the category of criminals. In the past when soldiers were placed under detention at least they remained soldiers. I think something can be said for keeping a soldier as a soldier and restricting the use of the civil courts as much as possible. When I mentioned this point before, Senator Wright reacted: Why is it that when the rest of the world is de-escalating and looking to the end of the Vietnamese war-
– To say that this Bill is involved with escalation is just rubbish and nonsense.
– The Government is finding ways to recruit more soldiers when everybody else is retreating.
– Who is retreating?
– Everybody. Recruiting has been cut down in the United
States. Our 20-year olds would be a lot happier if they knew that the call-up of South Vietnamese was as tight as the call-up is here.
– In America they are drafting -
– I know that they are finding ways of reducing the extent of the draft; not to escalate it, but to cut it down.
– No, no.
-Yes, they are. I was in the United States and while there I was thrilled to see the protests and the opposition to the Vietnam war amongst the citizens.
– In what year was that?
– Last year.
– At the taxpayers’ expense?
– At your own expense?
-I paid my own way. I do not think it is necessary for the Government to introduce this legislation at all. There were enough powers under the principal Act to do all that the Government wants to do, to get all the troops that it will need, because sooner or later - very much sooner I should think - when America pulls out of the war in Vietnam, if that is to happen-
– It at least provides the opportunity of getting rid of that horrible clause asking parents to inform, which you allowed to go in.
– I did not allow it to go in. If the honourable senator sought an amendment and was successful,I thank him for it. I think that is a good thing. However, though that has removed the provision for action by the parents, it does not control the actions of cousins or stepsons. What I regard as particularly horrible about this part of the Bill is that it gives an employer the right to inform on his employees, which is something that the members of the Labor Party have resisted all their lives.
– It gives them the duty.
– Yes, it imposes the duty to inform. How anybody who believes in trade unionism or freedom and democracy could support that. I do not know. What is an employer? Who is an employer? He ought to be consulted about this provision because he has as much right as anyone else. For instance, who will inform in Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd? Who will give the information - the company, or some individual appointed by the company, or the shop steward?
– That just shows that the honourable senator does not know what he is talking about. What does the clause say?
– Obviously the framers of this Bill did not know what they were talking about either because there have been eleven amendments. The small print in the Bill contains the words: ‘If he has cause to believe’. It is always in the small print’, which the worker does not even read. He does not read it in bills of sale, hire-purchase agreements or anything else. In the small print of this Bill it says what Senator Wright has said, but in fact it means that the employer has been given authority - in fact there is a demand on him - to inform on his employees. That is the way in which three-quarters of the people of Australia will see this, and I am opposed to it and I am shocked that there were not some honourable senators on the other side who objected to it. I give Senator Wright credit; he has thrilled me here on many occasions in his defence of freedom.
– After reading the Bill.
– I know. The honourable senator has given some good performances here in defence of freedom and democracy, and I hope that he has a number of amendments coming up that will give a few democratic safeguards in the Bill before the Senate.
– The basis of this Bill is involved with the defence of Australia, and although there may be various views in the community as to how great should be our defence effort or, in some areas, as to how little should be our defence effort, by far the majority of people in the community fully understand that it is necessary for Australia to have an adequate defence force within the economic strength that Australia has at the present time. The Government has thought it necessary to bring in amendments to an Act which was originally introduced in 1951.
The amendments that we now have before us seek merely to tighten some of the sections which originally existed in the legislation.
We would all agree that there are two aspects of Australia’s defence. One is its manpower and the other is the equipment necessary to support that manpower. We have seen that it is necessary for extreme amounts of money to be voted so that we may obtain for Australia the best and the most advanced type of equipment to defend this country. We have also seen chat it is necessary, against the inclination of most people in the community, to build a national service scheme which basically, because of the desire of the community and of the young men of the community to remain here and take advantage of the great growth and prosperity that is being experienced in this country, requires all young men to give 2 years of their time to the service of this country.
I agree with the comment that was made by an honourable senator on the Opposition side - I think it was Senator Ormonde - who repeated a comment that has been made regularly in this chamber, that to a very large extent the obligation for defence is being put on the shoulders of a few. I suggest to the Government that it should re-assess the benefit that is being given to those who are taken into national service, and more particularly those who are injured or the families of those who are left when the breadwinner is killed. More should be done by the community to compensate those people more adequately for the task that they have undertaken. There appears a lack of interest in the .community in ensuring that our national servicemen and their dependants arc adequately compensated.
If we take the Minister’s figures we realise that the obligation of national service has fallen on very few people. The Minister in his second reading speech said that, although some 326,000 men have registered for service, only 24,000 of those have been enlisted for national service. I suggest that this country, as in other years, owes an enormous debt of gratitude to those young men who have willingly gone from this country or who have otherwise willingly served in the interests of the defence of this country. I believe that Australia will be one of the most admirable countries for a take-over by nations which arc much larger than it is, and we will be most fortunate if in the foreseeable future we can keep war from our shores. 1 congratulate the Government on its recognition that national service is essential in Australia, but I believe that a system could bc worked out which is more appropriate to ensure that the incidence of the obligation falls more evenly on the community.
Defence is a very important measure, and the arguments that have been raised by the Opposition in this debate have certainly not referred purely to our national defence, but they have roamed through a very wide area including whether our involvement should bc overseas. Indeed honourable senators opposite have certainly taken great advantage of all Ihe sensational news that is available to them on this point. lt is fair to say that this Bill has created great interest in the community, and 1 imagine that any future amendments to this type of legislation will certainly bring the same reaction from various groups in the community. They are also unaware of other Federal legislation which could oblige them to do something to which they would object and which, in their opinion, might infringe their liberty. They have sought to make it clear to members of Parliament by statement and by letter.
I acknowledge the fact that, with other members of Parliament, I have been presented with communications from the Methodist Youth Fellowship, the Abolition of Conscription Campaign Committee and the Council for Civil Liberties. Also I have received a very interesting document from a solicitor named Lancelot Hills who has an attitude to put forward in this matter, from ministers of religion and from the Hobart Citizens Committee, all who have raised some points in regard to this matter. My attention has been drawn in the last day or two lo a letter from a small group in Victoria. A letter bearing about twenty signatures draws attention to the fact that the writers object to certain clauses of the Bill with regard to conscientious objection. In nearly every case that has been brought to my knowledge no recognition has been given to the fact that in other legislation there is just as much power to make a citizen do what the law requires. It is my intention to mention to the Senate some of those other areas where the law compels certain things to be clone. If the Opposition is critical of the loss of personal freedom which is brought about by this Bill it should be aware also that in other areas of legislation which has been passed by this Parliament over many years there has been an infringement of civil liberty. If that is the view that the Opposition chooses to take of provisions of this kind, perhaps I could mention quickly some of the Acts in which there is an infringement of a person’s liberty. The Opposition has said that the Bill gives a right to demand information from parents, the right lo demand information from employers, the right to demand information from universities and other educational institutions.
– The honourable senator wants to make this a nation of pimps.
– The honourable senator suggests that we are creating a nation of pimps. I do not’ know whether he directed his attention to this point when the original Bill was introduced. Perhaps he could advise the Senate whether he did so.
– We are all newcomers, like yourself.
– I know that many honourable senators have taken advantage of the opportunity to speak on the adjournment and to bring very important matters before the Senate. I suggest that if the honourable senator had had any concern about this provision he would certainly have spoken about it on the adjournment motion on a number of occasions and brought it to the notice of the Senate.’ I suggest that no honourable senator who has been interjecting has ever done that. Section 52 of the 1 95 1- 1 966 Act provides:.
The Secretary may, by notice in writing served on a person, require that person to answer such questions and furnish such information relating to the liability of that person or of another person to register or render service under this Act as the Secretary puts to him or requires of him.
That is a blank statement to which nobody has taken exception.
– Does the honourable senator agree with that?
– It is not a question of whether 1. agree with it, but, if I may say so, 1 do agree with it.
– Did the Australian Labor Party vote against it when it went through?
– The answer to that question is that it did not do so. I imagine that Senator Hendrickson who has been interjecting was one who let this provision pass, although perhaps he did so unwittingly. I acknowledge that he now takes the view that an interference with the rights of a family, employer, educational institution or some other body is not justified. This is not a case of the Opposition saying that this provision is not justified in terms of the National Service Act; it is endeavouring to say that there is no justification for the provision in any circumstances.I should like the honourable senator to tell me whether he agrees that this provision should not apply in any circumstances. There seems to be a hush from the Opposition whenI ask that question.
-I shall answer that point later. The honourable senator will have an answer to his question.
-I remind the Senate that the original Act imposed an obligation to furnish information and applied a penalty of $100 for failure to do so.I congratulate the Government on its decision to exclude from the provision the requirement that families provide information where there may be compassionate grounds for not doing so. In view of the wording of the amendment I would be very surprised if any individual could not prove to a court that, because of compassionate grounds, he should not provide information. I question the wisdom of wording the amendment in the way that it is framed. It is not wording which I would have chosen, but perhaps the Minister can deal with that matter when he replies. Let us look at the compulsions on the community under other Acts of Parliament and the requirement that people should give information. The Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1967 contains in section 263 a provision with which I should imagine the Opposition has agreed. It states:
The Commissioner, or any officer authorised by him in that behalf, shall at all times have full and free access to all buildings, places, books, documents and other papers for any of the purposes of this Act, and for that purpose may make extracts from or copies of any such books, documents or papers.
Section 264 of that Act provides:
The Commissioner may by notice in writing require any person, whether a taxpayer or not, including any officer employed in or in connection with any department of a Government or by any public authority -
to furnish him with such information as he may require;
– That has no relation to this matter. Under that provision everybody is equal. But in this case 12 million Australians are bludging on the 20-year-olds.
– The wisdom of the honourable senator’s comment can be noted when it appears in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! The honourable senator will proceed with his speech.
– I think the honourable senator would acknowledge that in this particular Act there are very substantial powers which affect each one of us. Again I emphasise that this power is binding on any department of a government or any public authority, and I notice in that measure that the institutions which we exempt from the National Service Bill would come within the provisions of that Act.
I was referring to section 264 of the Income Tax Assessment Act which provides that the Commissioner of Taxation may require any person to furnish such information as he may require and goes on to provide that he shall attend and give evidence. That is a compulsion, not only to provide information but also to come forward and give evidence. The section goes on to provide: (2.) The Commissioner may require the infor mation’ or evidence to be given on oath and either verbally or in writing, and for that purpose he or the officer so authorised by him may administer an oath. (3.) The regulations may prescribe scales of expenses to be allowed . . .
That provision appears also in this Bill. Perhaps the Opposition would be interested in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-61.I certainly would be very surprised if honourable senators opposite had any objection to section 125 which provides: (5.) For the purpose of carrying out his duty under this section, an Inspector may, at any time during working horns, enter any building, mine, mine working, ship, vessel, place or premises of any kind wherein or in respect of which any industry is carried on or any work is being or has been done or commenced or any matter or thing is taking or has taken place in relation to which any industrial dispute is pending, or any award has been made or any offence against this Act is suspected, and may inspect any work, material, machinery, appliances, articles, book, or document therein and may interview any employee engaged therein.
The Opposition does not object to this in relation to the most important matter of conciliation and arbitration in the community. Ask the employers of the community in relation to this matter as to whether their rights in the matter are infringed and they may give a different answer. Section 18 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905-30, states:
Every person shall, to the best of his knowledge and belief, answer all questions asked him by the Statistician or any officer authorised in writing by the Statistician. necessary to obtain any information required for the purposes of any statistics authorised by this Act to be collected.
That section provides a penalty. Section 19 stales: (1.) For the purpose of making any inquiries or observations necessary for the proper carrying out of this Act, the Statistician or any officer authorised in writing by him may. at any time during working hours enter a factory, mine, workshop. . . . and may make such inquiries as are prescribed or allowed by the regulations. (2.) No person shall hinder or obstruct the Statistician or any officer authorised in writing by him.
The Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-62 commands usto do certain things. Section 38 states:
All officers in the service of the Commonwealth, all police, statistical, and electoral officers in the service of any State, officers in the service of any local governing body, and all occupiers of habitations shall upon application furnish to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State orto any officer acting under his direction such information as he requires in connection with the preparation, maintenance or revision of the Rolls.
That is a dragnet provision. I think it isa necessary requirement in our democracy. The provisions of the Acts that I have quoted ensure that no sensible person would protect an individual who was denying the community access to such records. Surely such provisions are necessary in conciliation and arbitration. Let us look at the position in overseas countries. Under the United Kingdom National Service Act of 1948 there is a very interesting and much harsher requirement than that which the Govern ment has allowed finally to be presented with the amendments to the Bill. Section 29 of that Act states:
It shall be the duty of every local education authority, and of the governing body or other persons having the management of any university, school or other educational institution, to give to the Minister, on his request, such information in their possession, or reasonably available to them, about male persons receiving, or who have received, education for which the local education authority are responsible, or, as the case may be, education at the university, school or other institution, as the Minister may from time to time require for the purpose of assisting his consideration of questions connected with their being called up for service under this Part of this Act.
– That was introduced by a Labor Government.
– I was waiting for an interjection to come from the Opposition. Section 30 of the United Kingdom National Service Act states:
Any person who -
in giving any information for the purposes of this Part of this Act knowingly or recklessly makes a statement which is false in a material particular, or
with intent to deceive -
forges or uses, or lends to or allows to be used by any other person, any certificate issued under this Part of this Act, or
makes, or has in his possession, any document so closely resembling any certificate so issued as to be calculated to deceive, shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction,to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to a fine not exceedingfifty pounds or to both such imprisonment and such fine.
– That provision also was introduced by a Labor Government.
– I thank the honourable senator.It may take some time to impress on the Opposition the point that I am making, that the principle espoused by a Labor Government in Britain is attacked vehemently by the Opposition in this Parliament.I refer now to the United States Selective Service Regulations. Under the heading in relation to the securing of information from welfare and government agencies, the regulations state:
The point that I make is that there is nothing novel about the particular requirements of the National Service Act. They have been in the Act since 1961. Now the Opposition is endeavouring to build up this matter as a sensational one. Whether or not the Opposition members are doing this in ignorance of the fact that the requirements have existed in the laws of this country and other countries the matter is of great importance to them. 1 disagree entirely with their point of view. I believe that the Government, in its wisdom, has made adequate provision for exemptions under the Act. Section 29 lists those people who are exempt from liability to render service under the Act. That position is nol amended by the Bill. I believe that the Government was thoughtful in providing for exemptions in such a way that the convenience of the individual would be disturbed as little as possible. Not one member on the Government side of the Senate objects to a genuine conscientious objector being granted exemption. The Opposition is well aware of that fact. Many members of the Opposition, .1 believe, have endeavoured to encourage individuals to gain, in their own minds, a conscientious belief that would perhaps entitle them to exemption under this particular section of the Act. Section 29a, which is not varied by the amendments that are being introduced, states clearly: (I.) A person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of military service is, so long as he holds those beliefs, exempt from liability to render service under this Act. (2.) A person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in military duties of a combatant nature but allow him to engage in military duties of a noncombatant nature, shall not, so long as he holds those beliefs, be required to engage in duties of a combatant nature.
Surely the Government has provided ample alternatives for an individual who feels that he has a genuine conscientious belief. 1 refer now to letters that have been written by some church organisations. I doubt whether those organisations would deny that some form of service in the defence of the country is necessary. They are very naive if they will deny that we will save ourselves by any other method. They certainly have not studied the Act, because under it a person who genuinely believes that he should not engage in military duties is able to withdraw from such duties. I believe that the conscientious objector is well. catered for. Again in these amendments the Government has sought to give the conscientious objector every opportunity to establish his case.
Let me now comment on two amendments with which I am not in full agreement. Proposed section 55 introduces the necessity for employers to give information. I believe that under this amendment it will be very difficult for an employer to establish what he should do. The side heading of proposed section 55 reads:
Employers lo notify Secretary or Registrar of names and addresses of employees who have failed to register or to render service.
I believe that an obligation that is not justified is being placed on employers.
– How does the honourable senator compare that with the obligation already in the Act to sack an employee?
– As will be shown in the next point that I make, the employer in a large undertaking will also find it very difficult to meet that obligation.
– Under the existing Act an employer has to sack an employee who is liable for national service.
– The honourable senator will be able to take up that point if he wishes to. I am making two points. Firstly, I believe that this amendment places on the employer a greater obligation in respect of something that he may not know about. Under a variety pf Acts there are obligations on employers to do a variety of things - in respect of conciliation and arbitration and other matters. T am not pleased with this part, of the Bill.. T move now to propose section 56a. I do not know what is envisaged by the requirement that it imposes. It reads: (I.) This section applies in relation to a person who -
I would be pleased if the Minister would advise me and advise the industry what is required of it under those provisions in connection with an individual who, for instance, phones and states:’I wish to leave the country and visit America’.I believe it is important that the Bill be tight and that it bring about what the officers of the Department and the Minister require. Its purpose isto tighten sections of the National Service Act so that individuals who seek to avoid their obligations will not be free to do so. I support the Bill. I will take the opportunity to speak on other aspects of it later.
– I do not intend to deal with this Bill as fully as some people might think 1 would, because several honourable senators have spoken on it already and it provides tremendous opportunities for speeches in Committee. So I will deal with it as briefly as I can at this stage. The legislation is one of these mystifying things that always seem to be produced when the Government decides to move in certain fields. In a statement on 2nd May, the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) said that the National Service Act was an unqualified success. I emphasise the word ‘unqualified’ because within a few days of that statement we have before us amendments to the Act which constitute one of the most controversial and vicious pieces of legislation that even this Government has introduced.
Let me deal briefly with the proposed amendments in their original form. They provided for informing by parents on people who were due to be called up; informing by employers; informing by institutions including educational bodies - at that stage professional men. parliamentarians and others looked like being included; and the gaoling of offenders for 2 years without the benefit of trial by jury. These provisions were to be added to an Act that already provided for conscription and for the sacking by an employer of an employee if the employee was liable for national service. Senator Webster dealt with that a minute ago. That provision is in the Act at the present time.
The Act also contains a badly worded section on conscientious objectors, under which decisions are made without the benefit of a jury. The Act puts the onus of proof on the applicant. It allows civil servants - the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service and his delegate, whoever he might be - to ask questions of any person about that person or someone else and about anything relating to call-up. It authorises those civil servants to question a person whom they suspect of being liable to register. The Act penalises parents or guardians who prevent a person registered or required to register from complying with any section of the Act. It prevents a person who is liable to register from leaving Australia. The mere posting of the call-up notice is proof of service on the conscript. That is what is already in this Act which, according to the Government, is an unqualified success. Yet all these other things are now to be superimposed on the existing legislation.
The Act already contains provisions for tremendously harsh treatment and penalties. These are to be made more obnoxious. They are to be more harsh. The principles governing the meting out of justice, as we know it and as we believe it should be meted out, are to be further destroyed. It is true that in respect of the matters that I mentioned at the outset, the Government retreated after it felt the ground swell of indignation. But obviously it has not retreated far enough. It has backed down on the worst of the pimping clauses, namely, that in respect of families. It has now excluded families, clergymen, doctors and lawyers, but not employers. That is the point that Senator Webster mentioned. I do not know that employers should be put in any worse position than other people. Any alterations made to this Act, which allegedly is an unqualified success, should have been made not to make it more harsh but to alleviate its harsh provisions, particularly in relation to conscientious objectors. Those are the provisions that are proving that the Act is not an unqualified success. Instead of tightening up those provisions and going away from democracy, the Government should have gone towards it.
I suggest to the Government that its attitude to the Act is forcing lads to evade the call-up. It is not allowing them to use the provisions of the law. It is placing them in such a position that before call-up they have no real alternative to evading call-up.
Let us consider the person who is liable for call-up. If he takes the line that he is a conscientious objector, what faces him? Firstly, he is taking a very unpopular step. One is always unpopular if one is swimming against the tide. It is always unpopular to be a conscientious objector. A person who takes this line has to prove that he is a conscientious objector. He has to go into an unfamiliar court room. At 20 years of age most people are not used to the atmosphere of a court room. The onus of proof is on him to articulate beliefs that are in his heart. Let us just stop and think how difficult it is for a person to convince somebody else, who does not know what his views are, that he is genuinely a conscientious objector. The whole onus of proof is placed upon him. If he applies he still has to commence service. If he commences service he loses one of the benefits - that of being able to ask for noncombatant duties. If he is opposed to any form of military service, the Government and at least some people take the view that this means that he is opposed to all forms of military service now or in the future under any circumstances.
Let me deal with the onus of proof. Let honourable senators opposite put themselves in the place of the person who is trying to prove conscientious objection. No criteria have been set down as to what the magistrate might accept and no indication has been given whether an application on religious grounds will succeed or as to the type of witnesses an applicant should call. Even if an applicant produces witnesses whose evidence is not contraverted, he is back where he started if the judge is not convinced. If he honestly objects to the Vietnam war he knows that he starts behind scratch because of the atmosphere that has been built up and because of the attitude of some people to it.
All of those problems confront him. In addition he knows that when this Bill is amended he could be sent to a civil gaol for 2 years. After what has been made public about brutalities in military prisons one wonders whether he would prefer to go to a civil gaol. In any case, that is a pretty severe sentence. A conscientious objector faces all of those obstacles even before he becomes subject to the due processes of law which could result in 2 years imprisonment. The Government’s attitude to conscientious objectors is unreasonable. The harsh punishments which have been meted out are barbaric and antiquated and give rise to an instant reaction in the young men concerned to avoid the whole morass and to get as .far away from it as they possibly can.
I have certain figures which I will not cite because they probably have been used before but I must point out that in New South Wales one in four applicants for exemption on the ground of conscientious objection has been successful whereas in Western Australia 22 out of 31 have been successful. Surely those . figures are significant. Surely they suggest that something should be done to lay down specific criteria so that a person who applies for exemption on the ground of conscientious objection will know what he is doing.
Senator Webster referred to employers. I am sorry that he is not in the chamber because I want to raise that aspect now. The proposed clause of the Bill relating to pimping amends the section to the employer’s benefit, provided of course that one does not object to pimping in the first place. Previously the employer, had to sack the lad working for him. As I read the section, there were no ifs or buts about it. The onus was on the employer to prove that he knew of these things. Now the Government intends to amend the section by inserting the words ‘reason to believe’, but instead of being required to sack the employee the employer now has to inform on him.
Senator- Webster .made what I think was a valid point. He asked: ‘If you employ some hundreds of people how : do you go about this?’ At least the proposed amendment removes the absolute requirement from him. The obligation is now watered down to ‘reason to believe’. .1 suppose to that extent it is an improvement but there is no improvement when the employer is placed in the situation of having to inform on his employees. However, I will not be led away from what I intend to say in the second reading debate. . I will leave my remarks relating to the clause concerned to the Committee stage because I think we will be debating this Bill for several hours and we can do more useful work in committee.
The Government has made another error in a general sense by confusing the draft. dodger with the conscientious objector. It advances the argument that the conscientious objector will get more out of this by joining the Citizen Military Forces, but that begs the question because the conscientious objector may have a complete abhorrence of anything to do with military weapons or of being in a military atmosphere. Someone may say: ‘I do not want to go into the Army for 2 years. I do not want to go to Vietnam because I believe that it is an unjust war so 1 will join the CM F’. That is all right for that person, but it does not help the conscientious objector for the Government to say that joining the CMF is a way out for him.
I question the Government’s claim that the scheme has been an unqualified success. We have obtained from the call-up 23,000 soldiers in 3 years, about 7,000 a year. If the Government were genuine about this unci were not using it as a political stunt would not those figures suggest that if the Army were made a little more attractive that number of volunteers would have come forward? One of the faults of the former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, in relation to national service was that he vacillated for so long and allowed our defence potential to run down to such an extent that our defence forces fell into a parlous condition. This is becoming obvious week after week when we learn of torture trials, half-hour calls and brutalities in prisons. Ministers lost control of their departments and suddenly they started to panic. 1 will not hedge on this. Sir Robert Menzies said that conscription was introduced because of confrontation with Indonesia but then he extended it to the Vietnam war. It is obvious that we now have conscription because of the situation in Vietnam. It is the Government’s own fault that our defence potential has run down. So much for this great unqualified success - 23,000 people in 3 years.
It is perfectly obvious that if the Government genuinely wanted to enlist that number of mcn by other means it could have done so but it refused to go ahead with the volunteer system because it had gone so far along the track of national service and could see certain political advantages in it. National service is a means of turning the eyes of the people from the other indiscretions of the Government, lt is always important to have a matter of patriotism such as defending the country before the public. The Government is not genuine in its approach to this matter.
Another thing that worries me is the state of mind of a person who can stand up in this place and defend such things as water torture and waking people every half an hour. I am worried when I think of the type of men who could introduce amendments to this Act of the kind that were proposed. Because of the ground swell of public indignation and the peculiar balance of power in this House - I do not know which was the stronger deterrent - the Government backed away to some extent but not nearly far enough. Let us pause and think on the state of mind of people who would want to introduce Fascism and Nazism into this country. They are the very things that we fought against. They were abhorrent to us. Parents were required to inform on children and children to inform on parents. Yet those are the things that the Government sought to introduce into Australia by means of this Bill. Honourable senators opposite laugh it off today.
– The honourable senator did not vote against a similar provision in 1951 when the Act was introduced.
– That is the remark of a typical lawyer. The honourable senator is never on the ball. He is always so fat out. Let him not try to wriggle away from this. He has been chipping in all day. I ask him to stand up and say whether he agrees with the pimping provisions that were in the Bill. We hear so much about the rule of law from lawyers.
– That is right.
– The honourable senator agrees. That is all right. The fact is that the Government introduced that provision. It does not matter how the honourable senator wriggles. This is Fascism and Nazism of the worst order and the honourable senator is not prepared to say that it is not. Whether it occurred in 1951 or at any other time has nothing to do with it. The lawyers stand here and talk about tha rule of’ law, trial by jury and the great freedoms but where are they when the whip cracks over them in the Party room? Where do they stand then? They support legislation of the kind that no-one could possibly be proud of. They claim that it is essential for good government, but the moment they learn that the ground swell of public opinion is against them and that the Bill can be knocked over in the Senate, the provision then becomes not quite so important. The Government talks about defending democracy but it has sought to adopt the practices which destroyed democracy in other countries.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– 1 regret that over recent weeks there has been an attempt by a section in the community to create in regard to the National Service Bill an atmosphere of hysteria which in my view is entirely unjustified I want to make it clear that in my view many people who have opposed features of the Bill have presented their views in a temperate and reasonable manner and I pay tribute to them, because some of them have been of great assistance to my Party in our consideration of the Bill. Some members of the Australian Labor Party likewise have presented their views in a reasonable and temperate manner but others in the community and some in this Parliament have endeavoured instead to create an atmosphere of hysteria, the kind of atmosphere in which it is impossible to debate a Bill of this nature properly. Therefore, I deplore all this talk of pimps and informers and the police state, and all. these demands for wild demonstrations by a section in the community. We have seen in the United States what that kind of thing can lead to and I can only hope that there will be a more temperate attitude in regard to Bill’s of this nature in the future.
We have had attempts to suggest that this Bill is a part of a huge machinery of conscription which is close to Nazism and Fascism. The accusation has been levelled at people who might support this Bill that we therefore are on the side of Fascism and Nazism. I merely say to some of those who have made that contention that the record shows what political party introduced conscription in this country. The first political party to introduce conscription in peace time was the Australian Labor Party. The first political party to introduce conscription in war time was the Australian Labor Party. The first political party to introduce industrial conscription was the Australian Labor Party. The party which introduced the
Security Service which we are told today is enmeshing us in a huge apparatus of pimps, informers and the police state was the Australian Labor Party. I think it is necessary at times to look back at the record.
For an example of the exaggerated hysteria with which many people have approached this Bill, let us look at the section that deals with calling on certain persons to provide information. We have been told that this Bill is a shocking Bill, that it introduces pimpery, informing and the like. Yet we find that the provision that allowed that to be done was first passed in 1951 and the Labor Party did not oppose it. if that legislation introduced all of this apparatus of pimpery and informing, how is it that in the 16 years in which the legislation has been in operation there has been not one case in which a person has been dealt with for not giving information? All that has happened is that it became necessary for somebody to tell the ALP what the Bill’ was about, and my Party told it. We made representations also to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). It has been suggested that we threatened him. I would prefer to say that we indulged in moral suasion and I pay tribute to the Minister. When we put this matter before him he agreed and the Government agreed that whereas previously there was an open go if one liked to compel people to inform, in future a large section of people will no longer be liable in that respect. Therefore, from that point of view the Bill is an improvement on the previous legislation.
As for those who say that it is a shocking thing for a parent to inform on his child, Labor Governments in every State have administered legislation under which, when children have breached the rules in regard to compulsory school attendance, parents are called upon to inform on their children in relation to that matter, lt is the law in every State. It is freely administered and I have never heard one complaint from the ALP in regard to it. I am glad that when the other parties apparently were prepared to accept this provision which has not had any serious effect, because there has not been one case in 1.6 years, the Australian Democratic Labor Party of which I am a member saw that this might be used one day for a wrongful purpose and we have been responsible for a considerable amelioration of the legislation in this respect.
– You were not Ihe only ones who saw it.
– Others may have seen it. but they were conspicuously silent in regard to it. We come now to the complaint which has been put forward by many people of repute and by many newspapers of repute, that certain provisions of this Bill permit persons to be imprisoned for up to 2 years without trial by jury. Il is said that this is something which is new in this community, it is a step towards Fascism, and it has never been done before. I am not an authority on the law but I have been lo one who is an authority on the law. No doubt Senator Cohen will be able to confirm, as an eminent lawyer in his own Stale, whether or not this is true. I am informed that section 74 of the Police Offences Act in Victoria permits imprisonment for 2 years and in some cases 3 years without the defendant having any option of a. jury trial. I am also informed that section 24 of the Summary Offences Act provides for a 2 years term of imprisonment without the option of a jury trial. So all of those people who have printed these magnificent leading articles saying that this is something completely foreign to the Australian legal system are in the situation that they allowed somebody who knew nothing about it to convince them that something was the case when il was not the case al all. I have examined this matter of a jury trial. I cannot see how there is a necessity for a jury to adjudicate on a matter which involves a simple statement of fact: Do you or do you nol? it is not a question of examining evidence. In thai respect .1 think there has been an attitude of complete exaggeration in regard to the question of a jury trial by people, who in my opinion have never studied the Bill and never bothered to study the law.
Now we come to the universities. We have been told ad nauseam, if I may say so as an old university man, that if you asked a university to give any information about a prospective national serviceman this would destroy a sacred feeling of trust between the authorities and the students. I have made investigations, unlike other people who accepted this without asking any questions, and I have found that for several years al least half of the Australian universities have been supplying the information and they never knew that it destroyed any sacred feeling of trust until somebody told them that they ought to be upset about it. Then, what about deferments? Naturally you do not permit a person to seek deferment on the ground of his studies and then have him not study but waste his time and fail at the end of the year. If a person is deferred on the ground of his studies, there has to be some system under which the university will inform the authorities if he has not taken up his course properly, if he has not studied properly, or if he has failed in his course and therefore becomes liable for national service.
Are we to understand that under this new system universities propose to give no information al all? If they decline to give any information in those cases where the students have failed or have treated their studies as a joke, then the only conclusion I can come lo is that the Government will have to do away with deferments. If the universities refuse to co-operate by giving the necessary information, the Government might have to take that action. I would not advocate that. I would suggest rather, that the universities should show a little more common sense in this matter than they have.
Like Senator Gair, I did not listen to what was said over the air, I did nol take notice of wild allegations in letters received from some people, and I did not take notice of exaggerated leading articles written by people who obviously have never looked at the Bill. Instead, I sought information. I approached a professor of considerable repute in Australian universities. 1 said to him: ‘Would you feel that you would be breaking something sacred between you and your students if the university were asked to give names, addresses and ages?’ He said: ‘That is a lot of rot. There need be no investigation of university files. All that would be required would be to feed information into a computer and out of the computer would come a list which could be given to the authorities without any trouble at all’. Nearly half the universities have been doing that for several years. They did not. know they were doing anything wrong until somebody told them so.
I am getting a little bit tired of this suggestion that universities are something apart from the rest of the community. Years ago. it was said by somebody that people in the trade union movement were starting to think of trade unionism as though it was something- sacramental. It was suggested that those within trade unions could do as they pleased. The Chifley Government showed them that they could not by legislating to ensure that their ballots were clean. People today are talking about the university student as though he is something sacramental, as though he is one of a race apart. 1 blame to some extent, not all staffs, but sections of staffs of universities who appear to me to be consumed by a kind of intellectual pride which makes them feel that they arc entitled to do things which nobody else in the community would be permitted to do. They have transmitted this to some of their students to a degree that some of the students believe that they have an inalienable right to put pornography in student papers, that they have a preeminent right to all kinds of things that are not permitted to other people. In other words, they believe that they are a race apart in the community.
This battle was fought in our British community centuries ago. At one time one was given certain privileges before the law if one had a superior education. Centuries ago in Britain, if you committed murder, you could plead the benefit of clergy. If you could show that you were able to read and write, you were then privileged; you were not dealt with as other people in the community were. But that has since been wiped out and, over the years, we have had the attitude that everybody is equal before the law. I regret that with universities, which are supposed to teach respect for the law, there is being inculcated at the present time the altitude that they are not equal before the law, but are in a class apart and are entitled to do things that other people arc not permitted to do. This is wrong and it should be fought against. If it were, it would be for the benefit of our universities.
If 1 were asked to pin down the cause of much of the trouble these days, I would say that it is unfortunately the fact that we now have huge mass universities where you do not have the strong co-operative feeling and where you do not have the traditions that existed in the smaller universities that some of us attended - where you have 15,000, 17,000 or 18,000 students, many of whom never come in contact with the university except as a place where they can obtain a qualification for later in life. The great majority of the students are reputable people, decent young men and women; you could not say a word against them. But there is a small section which, because of lack of interest or lack of contact with the great majority, is usurping the right to speak in the name of the universities and, as it turns out from what they do, the right in many cases to drag the names of the universities in the mud. I attribute that to a big degree to the fact that we are erecting huge mass universities which I believe cannot function as universities properly. It is in this atmosphere of hysteria that we have heard all sorts of claims about employers and what they should do.
I agree with Senator Willesee who said that while he did not agree with what was in the Bill it was, in his opinion, a bit better than what was in the previous legislation. Senator Webster is an employer who has some views on this matter. I will be very interested to listen to what he has to say about it when the Bill is being discussed in committee. But I certainly see no reason for suggesting that the new provisions are going to have the dreadful effects that soma people have supposed. 1 come now to a matter in relation to which I do have some sympathy with many of the representations that have been made. I refer to the conscientious objector. I want to say first of all that, like most honourable senators, I have had a spate of propaganda delivered to me, all of it urging that I and Senator Gair, because I suppose, of our special position in the Senate, lend our support to the proposal to recognise as a conscientious objector one who has an objection to a particular war such as the Vietnam war. I do not propose to support their attitude one bit. They know that anybody who objects to going to Vietnam has the right, before registration, to join the Citizen Military Forces. That is the complete answer in those cases. I can respect and do respect the point of view of the genuine and sincere pacifist who is opposed to bearing arms and who is opposed to war; but the answer has been given repeatedly to these people that if they object to going to Vietnam they may join the CMF.
– They are not prepared to take the one-in-four chance.
– As Simon Townsend wrote in one of his articles, the chances that you will be called up are one in eight. Apparently some of them are adopting the attitude that they will take their chance and then, if they miss out, will try to get out of it in some other way. But I emphasise again that I do believe there are sincere and genuine pacifists and conscientious objectors, and I believe we have got to do all we can for them. Let nobody suggest it is an easy problem to determine somebody’s conscience, lt is the most difficult thing in the world.
– But someone has to determine it.
– Someone has to determine it. Some of the most democratic countries in the world today do nothing about conscientious objectors because they do not see any way in which the problem can be dealt with properly. Many people regard Switzerland as perhaps one of the most democratic countries in the world! In a small country, everyone in Ihe community is able to exercise democratic influences more than can the people in bigger countries. But Switzerland has refused to make any provision for conscientious objectors. Israel makes no provision at all for male conscientious objectors but females, may be exempted from call-up on certain religious grounds. Israel is a democratic country and yet no provision is made for male conscientious objectors. However, as I said earlier, the Democratic Labor Party is anxious to do what it can for the genuine pacificist and the genuine objector.
Senator Gair has foreshadowed that the Democratic Labor Party proposes to examine very carefully those clauses which, in . the opinion of our Party, could mean that a conscientious objector who is called up in certain circumstances will lose his legal rights. Senator Gair and I propose to examine that aspect at the Committee stage and we will be anxious to hear what the Committee has to say. We will form our conclusions at that stage. My Party is very concerned about that because it believes that the rights of the conscientious objector must be preserved. The DLP has already indicated that it will propose an amendment that there be a right of appeal to a supreme court or to the High Court of Australia. In the view of my Party there have been cases where such a right of appeal was not only desirable but very necessary. For that reason the DLP proposes to introduce an amendment along these lines.
I am .surprised at the differences in attitudes of. various bodies on the question of conscientious objectors. For example, one would expect that religious bodies would have similar views but there is a divergence of opinion. For that reason the DLP is advocating that the Government should set up a committee to inquire into this matter and determine the principles upon which to act in the interests of conscientious objectors. My Party is particularly interested in the possibility - and I know there are difficulties with this - of alternative forms of national service for conscientious objectors.
The Democratic Labor Party has noted and I have noted that the Bill proposes that conscientious objectors will no longer be subject to Army discipline but that they will bc imprisoned in civil gaols. I merely want to say that I hope that genuine and decent conscientious objectors will be treated as a political prisoner would be. I would not like to see such persons in metropolitan prisons. I think it is a good thing that they are to be dealt with not by the Army but by civil authorities. I hope that they will bc put on a prison farm or in a country prison. I do not think it would be fair to incarcerate them with the murderers, thieves, vagabonds and undesirables that are to be found in many of our metropolitan prisons. 1 commend that suggestion to the Government.
As an example of the difficulty of dealing) with conscientious objectors, I think it would be instructive to pay some attention to the most publicised case thai we have had to deal with - that of Simon Townsend. I think there are two angles to this case. The first is whether Mr Townsend is a genuine conscientious objector and how he should be dealt with; and the second is the treatment he received and which has had so much publicity in recent weeks. At the outset I want to say that nobody could possibly defend the kind of treatment that he received. I am very glad indeed that the Government did what every Australian would demand and took action to sec that the undesirable features of his treatment were stopped.
There have been attempts by people to say that Mr Townsend is a genuine conscientious objector. It illustrates the difficulties of the case that those who support him have not attempted to produce any evidence, other than his own opinion, to prove this. They have completely ignored the fact that there have been four judicial investigations into his case, all of which returned an adverse decision. As I said earlier, instead of accepting, as so many people have, the views, of leader writers and propagandists, I have obtained the articles that Townsend wrote on the national service scheme. 1 have in my hand a postcard headed ‘Free Simon Townsend’. I suppose that all honourable senators received one: This card interested me because its format is similar to that of a card distributed last year urging us’ to protest against the Vietnam war. When I received the protest card last year urging the discontinuance of the Vietnam war I looked at the address and the authorisation at the foot of the card and I was able to show that the address belonged to a Communist sponsored organisation. The same mistake was not made this time as the address and authorisation are not on the card.
However, as I have said, I did not accept the opinions of other persons on the Townsend case. I thought I would find out myself about this man. I have obtained an article that he wrote in the Maitland ‘Mercury’ on 30th November 1964 under his own name in a column entitled ‘Simon Townsend Observes’. Mr Townsend knew what action he should have taken if he did not want to go to Vietnam because in this Article he stated as follows:
Most fellows aged 17, 18 or 19 who want to positively avoid conscription will have to join a Citizens Military Forces unit.
Apprentices and students arc entitled to only a deferment, and only married men, rejects and those with conscientious objections (which have to be thoroughly proved) wilt be exempt.
. 1 . . . find . . . there will be about one chance in eight after next year of 20- year-olds being called up for 2 years national service.
By joining the Citizen Military Forces before next Monday, a recruit signs up for 6 years of weekly night parades, four weekend parades a year and annual fortnight camps.
Some young men might consider this preferable to 2 full years (with normal time off and holidays, of course) followed by 3 years of CMF routine.
Then he gave the address of the place where those who were interested could join the Citizen Military Forces. So Mr Townsend was not in a position to claim that he did not know the procedure. He knew perfectly well that he could have avoided the call up. He instructed other people how to avoid it by joining the CMF.
– What newspaper was that in?
– It was an article in the ‘Mercury’, which is circulated in the Maitland area, on 30th November 1964. In a later article Mr Townsend said:
From what I have read and been told by experienced people, I believe that national service can be invaluable to a young man. lt toughens him physically and mentally, teaches him responsibility and team spirit and perhaps a useful trade.
And most important of all it prepares him in case war ever breaks out.
But it seems to me that conscription is not the best way of making young soldiers.
At 20 many young men are just settling into new careers which could be wrecked by 2 years in the Army.
Others have tics and ambitions that also could be ruined.
But, according lo the experts, our defences are inadequate and we need plenty of trained people.
And this is interesting:
So why not a program of training whereby every boy from the time he enters high school becomes a national serviceman.
Training could begin from the age of 12 or 13.
So this person who conscientiously objects to national service actually advocated that national service should begin at 13.
– He said he changed his opinion 3 years ago.
– I will come to his change of opinion. The article continued:
Boys of these ages will regulate to army discipline far more easily than a fellow of 18.
– I would like to know when he said that so that we might then understand what Senator Cavanagh means.
– He wrote it in 1964, when it appeared in the ‘Mercury’, a newspaper which circulates in the Maitland area. He returned to the charge and said:
Somehow I doubt the complex value of the law which will force employers to give back jobs to young men who had to give 2 years of National Service. On Thursday the Minister for National
Service, Mr McMahon, said a fellow was entitled (o have back, his job in conditions as favourable as if he had been there ali the time. He would have had to have been with the employers for at least 30 days before leaving for National Service.
If the young man stays in his reinstated employment for as long as he was away on service, the period of his absence will count for long service leave, superannuation and pension purposes as though he had not been absent’, Mr McMahon said.
The young man would also be entitled to pay increases he would normally have received had he not been away. Ah yes, but what of the 20-year- old working for a small concern where the boss replaces him for two years. The ex-national serviceman returns lo find his replacement firmly entrenched in the new workings of the company and his old employer very reluctant to pan wilh the replacement.. The employer cannot alford to lake on his former employee as well. If the employer refuses to re-hire him, the young man’s hands virtually are tied. Sure, a court order can have him reinstated. But who would want lo work in the unpleasant atmosphere that would be created? And then il would be an easy enough move for the employer to fire him. No matter what Mr McMahon’s law might say, some young men will have lo face the fact that call-up means losing their present jobs forever.
When Mr Townsend went before two police magistrates and then on appeal before two judges, these matters were mentioned to him. He said: ‘Yes. 1 was nol a conscientious objector when I wrote that.’ So they said to him: ‘When did you change your mind and become a conscientious objector?’ 1 will quote his reply from the judgment of Judge Prior:
Mr Townsend said: ‘1 changed my mind rather suddenly and it happened in this way. I bought a newspaper, the “Australian”, one morning and opened up the front pt.%e. The headline was a story about the likelihood of conscripts being in Vietnam by the middle of the following year and all of a sudden two separate threads of thought came together. 1 realised what national service was about and I made up my mind pretty well on the spot to have no part in it.’
As soon as he heard that national servicemen were going to Vietnam, although not a conscientious objector before he bought the newspaper, he became a conscientious objector after he had read the report. Let us be quite frank about this matter. Two police magistrates and two judges came to certain conclusions. I. shall inform the Senate of how they expressed them. Judge Prior said that his conclusion was that Townsend was not a conscientious objector but. that his decision was purely one of self-preservation of his person and his career as a journalist. Judge Curlewis said that in his view Townsend’s belief was not a conscientious one but one he had adopted as a matter of convenience. As I have said, that illustrates the difficulty of dealing with cases of conscientious objection. 1 am the first to admit that there are people who honourably and honestly have conscientious objections. They express them in different ways. Some people say that they are not prepared to serve in a fighting unit but are prepared to be members of, for example, a hospital unit which is devoted lo saving life. Not very long ago a conscientious objector in the .United States forces won the Congressional Medal of Honour for his valour in rescuing wounded men under fire and attending to them. So there are some who believe that they cannot take part in war in a unit which will be engaged in fighting, but are prepared to serve in non-combatant units. I would hope that the Army would take that into consideration when such people are involved. 1 would also have to admit that there are some people whose views are so strongly held that, they would not be prepared even to serve in a unit engaged in life saving operations because they say that it would associate them with a war machine. I believe we have to consider those cases, but we are not in a position with a spate of propaganda and differences of opinion to consider them coldly. That is why we advocate a committee of inquiry to hear evidence from people and to endeavour to arrive at principles upon which this Parliament may be able to act. People like Mr Townsend have said that they are dissatisfied with the present position of an appeal being open only to a District Court or County Court judge. That is why we advocate giving to those people an even better opportunity lo prove their cases before a Supreme Court or the High Court.
This type of Bill should be debated in an atmosphere of commonsense. Criticism of the Bill should be based on its provisions, not on aspects which are unclear. Many speakers in this debate claimed that the Bill contained certain provisions which, on examination, cannot be found in the Bill at all. Nobody has made a plea for the forgotten men. refer to the soldiers serving in Vietnam today. They have obeyed the law and have done their duty. As citizens they have said that they are prepared to accept responsibilities to the country which gave them certain rights. I think there is a good deal in the argument put forward for universal service not to be confined to 20-year olds. But the people in power think it is best for our country in its present state of development to proceed with the present system of national service.
Loads of sympathy and tears have come from insincere people. As 1 said earlier, some people have made representations against parts of the Bill in a sensible, restrained and justifiable way; but others have attempted to whip up an atmosphere almost, of crazy hysteria. They have poured loads of tears on behalf of the people who might be evading their responsibilities. I hope they will spare a thought for the men up there in Vietnam. After all, taking into account everything that Simon Townsend suffered, he was belter off than the men in foxholes in Vietnam. They may not be wakened every half-hour, but often they do not get to sleep at all in the conditions in which they are compelled to serve. They sleep under much worse conditions than on a concrete floor. Let us spare a thought for the man who is up there in Vietnam doing a job. He has been prepared to carry out his duty to his country.
Last year I asked for figures related to I lie call-up of university students. I was told that about 17,000 had been called up for national service and about 15,000 students had had their call-up deferred. Some of them may be called up later; some may never be called up. I suggest that it is pretty rough for the average university student to say: ‘I am in a privileged class. I am to be excluded from the call-up because my studies demand it.’ Yet somebody else will bc called up who has a job with a particular firm, lt will be most inconvenient and difficult for him but he has to undergo national service. It is a pretty rough attitude for about 15,000 university students - or probably about 19,000 of them now - to have escaped call-up and to say: ‘We object violently to any information in respect of students liable for national service being sought at a university to enable defaulters to be caught.’ In other words, they not only demand for themselves the privilege of being put out of the call-up, but they also demand the privilege if possible of defending the evader who may try through a university to get out of his duty. 1 suppose it is a fact that when the authorities are estimating the number of men to be called up they make a certain allowance for those who will be deferred and they make allowance for those who may be defaulters, which means in effect that somebody who would have missed being called up in the ballot will be called up to replace the university student who would not be in the Army, and somebody else who would not have been called up is to bc called up to replace the defaulter. I am amazed that we are told that it is justice to defend the person who gels out of the call-up. We are told that justice is denied by the person who himself has got out of it. What about the man who does his duty? I conclude by saying once again that I have every sympathy for the genuine conscientious objector. I hope that we shall have a commission of inquiry to deal with the principle of this matter, difficult as it is, and 1 will support the desirability of the conscientious objector having an avenue in which to serve. But. if I am asked. I will say that my first sympathy is with the man who is fighting in Vietnam, who says: ‘In this country I have certain rights, and I am prepared to accept the responsibilities (hat those rights entail.’
– I. rise to order. I wish to take advantage of standing order 364. which states that a document quoted from by a senator who is not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the Table, and such order may be made without notice immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the senator who has quoted therefrom. I ask, Mr Acting Deputy President, that the Senate order that the documents quoted from, attributed to Private Townsend, be laid on the Tabic of the Senate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! The request is in order.
Ordered that the documents be tabled.
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia) 2.42] - I congratulate Senator McManus on highlighting the position regarding the real conscientious objector. I, together with him, have respect for the position of the conscientious objector, but I feel that the conduct of the Opposition during the debate on this Bill has seriously prejudiced these people. I feel that, the Opposition has sought to use the situation of a conscientious objector for political advantage. Feeling that some sort of hysteria is being developed, they seek to use it for political purposes. Much has been said about the fact that there have been various amendments to the Bill that was originally proposed. This has been interpreted as a sign of a weak government. It has been derided as indicating that the Minister does not know his job. 1 have heard Culminations here time and time again about the arrogance of a government that produces legislation and refuses to have a t crossed or an i dotted. I think that it is a sign of strength that a government is prepared to accept suggestions from responsible organisations in the community. The fact that a government will listen to a reasoned argument from an opposition or independent members of Parliament is not a sign of weakness or of incompetence; it is a sign of strength. It. is a sign that the government is confident that the legislation is basically sound but recognises that, in the nature of things, nobody is perfect and there can be improvements. 1 have always understood that the Opposition had a responsibility in this direction, and I say that, a good government has a responsibility to listen to an opposition and, if it agrees that a measure can be amended, it is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength and good government. I have always understood that the review of legislation was the role of the Senate, and I am pleased indeed that the Government is nowadays doing this sort of thing increasingly. I am pleased to support the National Service Bill as we are now considering it. I feel that it is an improvement on the old legislation. I am particularly pleased wilh the provision that now, instead of regarding a defaulter as a soldier, regards him as a protesting civilian because that is what he is. I think the previous provision which compelled the Army to take into custody people who were not in fact soldiers and to treat them as soldiers was an unsound procedure. The Government has accepted this point of view after discussions with representatives of the Australian Council of Churches and other bodies that had some concern - I think it was a valid concern - about the matter. Therefore, the Bill to my mind shows a decided advantage in this regard.
Honourable senators have heard all sorts of exaggerated statements from the Opposition and it is impossible for me to traverse all of them. However, I remember that Senator Ormonde said that he is not opposed to the defence of Australia, yet he ignores the existence of the Citizen Military Forces. He said that he thought it was very wrong that this Bill was escalating our war effort yet, as he went on with his speech, he indicated that there were only a few dozen people involved. Apparently this is the degree of escalation to’ which he refers - a few dozen people being involved. However, it is apparent to anybody that the Government cannot ignore people who for various purposes seek to gain notoriety and publicity toy defying the law. A point that concerns me greatly is that there have been members of the Opposition, as there are people in the general community, in responsible positions, who have adopted an attitude that if you disagree with the law you should break the law. If that Ls not fundamentally anarchy, I do not know what it is. In my judgment, when it is done by a member of Parliament it comes very close to breaking the pledge of loyalty that he has undertaken. To my mind it certainly is a very dangerous procedure for a member of a democratic body to urge people to break the law. But this attitude is abroad in the land. It is part of the wide movement among university students and other young people, the movement which is being fomented by professional agitators for ulterior purposes.
Young people are being deluded into believing that it is the right thing to enter into these movements of protest. This type cif activity may be exciting arid may provide some relaxation from their studies but, whatever its aim, it is a dangerous concept that in a democracy we can seek to express our protests by methods which sometimes are described as non-violent but which very often lead to violence. We see!,the ultimate of this in the sort of thing that is happening today in America and other Countries. This is, in my view, nothing but anarchy, and anyone who professes to believe in democracy or in democratic institutions and who encourages or supports this’ ‘sort of thing is doing something which ‘ is highly dangerous. I deplore this movement in connection with this Bill. Senator McManus referred very ably to this ‘type of thing which is being exploited today to a great extent for publicity. The number of people involved in these demonstrations in relation to the whole student body is small. They are being given a publicity far beyond their deserts. We need to seek what is behind this movement. What is the force that is being exerted to mislead young people into this sort of activity? 1 have no doubt that the source can be very easily found.
I am amazed at the attitude of the Opposition with regard to service in the Citizen Military Forces. In every case where the difficulties of conscience, so called, are being trotted out and used for political purposes, the possibility that the person concerned could have an alternative, even if he has a political objection to service in this particular war, seems to be overlooked. The objection to service has no validity at all in relation to service in the CMF. 1 believe it is significant that members of the Opposition maintain a discreet silence and when challenged on this point say: ‘Oh. no; there is a possibility in the case of an emergency - in other words, if there is a declaration of war - that these mcn may be called upon to serve’. We hear the old argument against the ballot being trotted out. But what is the alternative? lt is that every young man shall be compelled to serve. On the one hand we hear the argument that nobody should be compelled to serve and on the other we hear the argument that everybody should be compelled to serve. I cannot, understand this attitude. We have a situation which I believe is as close to an ideal as can be achieved, having regard to the present situation and to a Government decision and the Government’s assessment of the needs of the situation as it sees it. Having regard to these facts a certain procedure had been drawn up so that young mcn would have an alternative form of service. They need not go overseas if they desire to serve their country at home. I cannot for the life of me understand any objection to the present situation.
While we have war we are going to have armies; while w.e have armies we must have certain discipline; and when we have conditions which are necessary to make an army function we are going to have an authoritarian situation. All governments have to live with this and until we achieve the ideal of the complete abolition of war we are going to have this sort of situation. To my mind the present provision for military service in Australia is the most liberal of any provision in any country and to use this as a means of political criticism of the Government is degrading the concept of political responsibility, lt is very interesting that a party which believes so vigorously in conscription in industrial matters resists so strongly - in theory, anyhow - conscription for national service. Apparently, in its judgment, one is infinitely more important than the other, but in the judgment of the people of Australia this is not so. The issue has been tested at elections and no doubt it will be tested again. The people will decide the issue. I rest confidently upon the opinion of the people of Australia in this matter.
– In joining with other Opposition speakers in condemning this measure the first point that occurs to me is that when we look at the second page of the speech made by Senator Wright we notice at the top of the page the statistics showing the number of men who have registered for service, the number who have enlisted for national service and the number who have elected to serve in the Citizen Military Forces, which is an alternative form of service. Figures relating to what might be termed the wholesale evasion of responsibilities laid down by the present Act seem to be conspicuous by their absence. I take this a step further. While listening to some Government supporters I wondered whether this was not the year. 1860 in the United States of America under President Lincoln instead of Australia under Prime Minister Gorton because during the Civil War in America they experienced a virtual breakdown of their call-up or draft system. That was a civil war and honourable senators know as well as I know. that the background to the situation in Vietnam was civil war. I hasten to add that not everyone on this side of the chamber would have served with the Confederates - far from it. The plain fact of the matter is that in civil wars there is not the unity of purpose that is present when a country is besieged from without.
Nobody so far has been able to say: Look, this has become a national scandal’. All that Government supporters appear to do is pick out one or two people like Townsend and go on with a long discourse about him or go through some kind of dossier exercise on the whys and wherefores of Townsend’s motives. I do not care whether it is Townsend or anybody else. Anybody can see that the Government adopted a namby-pamby attitude. Senator McManus said that there have been some undesirable features of the legislation.
That brings me to the administration of the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch). More and more people are beginning to wonder whether the things that have happened could happen again, lt is not a question of making a comparison between a conscientious objector at Holsworthy or a conscript in Saigon or elsewhere in South Vietnam. I agree that people can twist words and do a lot of phoney things. I do not think the bona fides of Townsend or of any of the other persons whose cases have been mentioned can be questioned. If they had thought they would be stripped naked and have water thrown over them, they would have said: ‘I will go along.’
The role of the Opposition as a pacesetter in civil liberties has been mentioned by most Government speakers, buttressed by Senators McManus and Gair. Senators McManus and Gair have said that the Australian Democratic Labor Party is pioneering certain amendments. Government members say that although there have been some errors at least there is justification for the legislation. The Australian Labor Party, the present Opposition, pioneered a lot of the reservations that are expressed in the Act. If there is a real threat in Asia petty things should be forgotten because we have to protect our country. There are some imperfections in the Act, and various people are now referring to them. Amendments have been foreshadowed by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), by the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party (Senator Gair), and a host by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). The plain fact of the matter is that there has been basic agitation from the commencement of the operation of this Act. Civil liberty is not a subject on which to win votes.
The present situation is not new. I could take the Senate back to the period in World War I when, in the Senate of the United States of America, such a distinguished member as Senator Walsh from Montana said that it was the inalienable right of any senator to question the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army, or anybody else. When the Opposition has advanced criticism, whether it be of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton),
General Westmoreland, our own General Officer Commanding or anybody else, it has been for the purpose of pinpointing some of the inadequacies that we felt existed. This is where the overtones of South Vietnam come in. My comments relate ‘back to Senator -Gair’s earlier remarks. When national service was re-introduced in the 1950s personal inconvenience, obligations and other related matters were mentioned, but there was never such criticism and counter-agitation about it, other than in regard to the basic domestic inconvenience, that there is now. Of course there was not, because the people did not think, irrespective of personal inconvenience and the like, that they would be conned into going overseas and fighting in a war which would not be of strategic or economic advantage to Australia. Anyone who has read ‘The Life and Times of Ernest Bevin’ knows of a very famous scene which was enacted when the second front in the 1939-45 war began. The men who had been unemployed in England in 1939 were going to France to fight for England. Bevin had been in the vanguard of all trade union agitation at tha time. The men looked at him and said: Ernie, we hope that this time it is going to be something better.’ I think it will be agreed that the Beveridge Plan and other things made Britain and other European countries better countries to live in. Can that be applied to the situation in South Vietnam? My sympathy is with the relatives of the men who have given their lives there. Those relatives say: ‘What for?’ I quote from today’s ‘Canberra Times’ which states:
Looters may face charges. Seventeen South Vietnamese rangers face possible courts martial for looting stores and homes during street fighting against Vietcong infiltrators in Cholon, the Chinese section of Saigon.
The unit concerned is supposed to be the cream of the South Vietnamese Army. Senator McManus asked about the boys in the foxholes there. Yes, what about them? They are there on the outer perimeters and the elite Vietnamese Army is getting in for its cut in Saigon and trying to batten on the community. It is no wonder, when the people see photographs of events in Saigon, that they ask: What is it all about? Undoubtedly more of the cream of the Australian youth will be serving there. What advantage will there be to Australia? The five powers, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Great Britain and Indonesia have had discussions which deal basically with our defence. But what is the position in South Vietnam at the moment. Saigon is renowned for its food racketeering, corrupt landlords and various houses of ill fame. The resistance to call-up is not a resistance against national service but a cold, sober appraisal of what will happen to these young men because, whether we like it or not, the war is going to stall to an uneasy peace. Nobody knows what that will mean. Many Australians have lost their lives there. Their relatives say: What for?’ A boy by the name of Abbots recently made the supreme sacrifice in Vietnam, and his father said: ‘For what purpose?’
I refer the Senate to the time when Mr Malcolm Fraser was the Minister for the Army. He said: ‘We have got them now. In a few months we will be on the offensive. We are going to win.’ I am not one of those who gloat over the situation in Vietnam. I have a wholesome respect for the Army. The backlash of these futile sacrifices that have been made must be expected in terms of strains and stresses. Senator McManus tried to draw a parallel between our country and Israel, for which I have a wholesome respect. I think honourable senators will agree with me that the analogy fell flat. Israel is beseiged on all its borders by Middle East countries. Where is the enemy in our case? Irrespective of one’s views on the treaty for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, guided missiles or other such armaments, South Vietnam is just a side show. Surely the Government is not serious about it. It would be different if a modern society were being built in Vietnam with something being done about the haves and the have nots. But that is not being done.
Senator Gair made a lot of play on the fact that certain features of the original legislation were not opposed by the Australian Labour Party in the Senate. That is like asking the ALP to toss with a doubleheaded penny. When the ALP adopts a bipartisan attitude we are told by the DLP that we have lost our fighting zeal and when we oppose it, it is regarded as near treason. The question of ALP patriotism is not on the block in this chamber. In times of stress there has been no question about the Labor leaders who have been thrown up and who have held high office. When we pioneer certain civil liberty objectives the question is asked whether we have a proper appreciation of the national interest. Senator Greenwood, the two DLP senators and one or two others referred to certain clauses to which, it is said, we are objecting now but to which we did not object originally. I could take the matter to its logical conclusion and say that in the Queensland State legislation there are a number of Acts with punitive clauses that were inserted when Senator Gair was the Premier of Queensland. I do not object to those clauses being there. The same considerations apply to any tradesman. A tradesman could have a 2 lb, an 8 lb or a 12 lb hammer. The question is: For what purpose does he use the particular hammer. There must always be weapons which can be used. A doctor has a lot of drugs, but it is a question of how and when he uses them. If a patient went to a doctor to have a boil lanced, it would not be a case of having his arm amputated. That analogy holds good when applied to the present situation. If young Australians do not regard the Vietnam war as being a worth while effort, obviously they will show a greater reluctance to have anything to do with it.
I know of one or two cases where people in universities have obtained exemptions until they were 22 or 24 years of age. At that point of time, if the Department of Labour and National Service in Sydney is any criterion for the rest of Australia, the parting of the ways comes about. The Department does not want such young men biding their time until they are 26 and then off the hook. The Department takes action, whether those students be at the University of Sydney, Monash University or the Australian National University. The Government has to be realistic. The students have had a good education and have been able to study the history of the various continents of the world. They look beyond the question of whether military service is immoral. They ask: ‘Just what are the four freedoms for which we are supposed to be fighting?’ If anyone can tell me that Air Vice-Marshal Ky and some of the other people in Saigon give any consideration to the four freedoms, then I should be in Broughton Hall and not in this Senate. It is as simple as that. Because of all that has happened in this political exercise, I believe that when we deal with this legislation in Committee we will find that we have some unusual allies in regard to some of the repairs that should be made to the legislation.
A man named Townsend has been mentioned. I would not know him if I saw him. The amazing fact is that one of the people who were prominent conscientious objectors in World War I was Fenner Brockway, who now sits in the House of Lords. So I do not think it is a matter of saying that such a person is beyond the pale, is a political leper or anything like that. I believe that this is just a passing phase. Obviously there will be unity of purpose if the mass of the people feel that the Army call-up is related to a genuine struggle. If that is the position the people will accept it with different degrees of enthusiasm, but at least they will feel that the call-up is reasonable. However, as long as the Vietnam situation continues and garbled statements are made about settling for a holding operation instead of moving forward, the Government will continue to get the reaction it has been getting.
I do not think any good purpose would be served by quoting what somebody said a couple of years ago. In simple terms, the Opposition’s attitude is that there has been a lack of sincerity in relation to figures to supplement the statement made in the second reading speech. If the Minister could tell me that 50,000 of these fellows were riding roughshod over the state and thumbing their noses at authority, the position would be different. But the Government has not produced such evidence.
In vindication of the Labor Party’s criticisms, I refer to the matter of hardship. I have not any doubt that it was Country Party agitation that caused the Government’s change of heart on this legislation. My only experience with the authorities in this regard was in a case about 2 years ago. I appeared as a witness in a special court. Whatever misgivings I have had in the past about certain conciliation commissioners, let me say that I have a very healthy respect for the magistrate who presided in that case. I appeared as a witness for a boy who had a shocking background. He had a brother who was mentally ill, a mother who was dying of cancer and a father with limited capacity. The magistrate gave the boy deferment for 12 months, but at the end of that period the boy did his Army service.
When I have made certain suggestions to Ministers and other people, they have fallen on deaf ears. The only lesson that I can learn from that is that perhaps, when we make our criticisms, they look for some treasonable motive. If members of the Country Party were able to convince the other wing of the Government that it should change its mind, I would welcome that. But the flexibility that the Government intends to show in the future in hardship cases should have been shown earlier. When we come to the Committee stage, I think honourable senators will find that we know where we are. I am sure that, as the divisions are called, from time to time we will be joined by Senator Gair, Senator McManus, Senator Turnbull and perhaps other honourable senators. I am sure that even our most violent critics on the Government side will say to us: ‘There must be something in what you have put forward. There must be something in what you have agitated for’. If that is the position, then we will have been the pace setters in the field of civil liberties and we will not have endangered Australia’s national security in any way.
– At no time during the debate on this Bill, either in this chamber or in another place, has any Minister or backbencher on the Government side told the Australian people how many young Australians have set out to dodge the draft up to this stage. All that we have heard is the general, bald statement that a small number are involved. Despite this lack of information, in this Bill the Government persists with a number of amendments that are designed to curtail the civil liberties of a substantial section of the Australian community which cannot hit back at the Government by way of the ballot box. This Government, in order to get more young men into the call-up and to get more 20- year olds to fight its war in Vietnam, has decided to introduce this illiberal and ill conceived legislation and to turn the Australian people into a community of pimps and informers.
In the 6 years that I have been in the Australian Parliament I have never before received so many letters from such a wide cross-section of the Australian people, expressing their abhorrence of this type of legislation. Churchmen, church organisations, trade unions, the Council1 for Civil
Liberties and ordinary men and women have written to me and my colleagues, expressing their abhorrence of the Government, which calls itself Liberal, being so illiberal in its attitude. I believe that the situation is summed up best in the last paragraph of a letter that I received from the President of the Council for Civil Liberties in New South Wales, Mr R. M. Hope, a learned Queen’s Counsel. He said:
The Council for Civil Liberties … is perturbed that alleged offences carrying sentences of imprisonment up to 2 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 be revealed cannot compensate for these infringements of the liberties of institutions and individuals. We urge that these amendments be dropped.
Despite repeated requests for information on the number of people whom the Government alleges have successfully dodged the draft up to this stage, the Government still refuses to give us even an estimate of the number and persists with this legislation.
The Labor movement has said that it is opposed to conscription for Vietnam or anywhere else outside Australia’s Territories, except in time of a declared war. The great tragedy of this type of legislation, as I see it, is that the young lads who are balloted in to go and fight in Vietnam, and their very concerned parents, are the only ones in Australia who are making real sacrifices in the horrifying and maddening war in Vietnam. While the negotiators from the warring parties sit around the conference table in Paris and try to reach some measure of agreement on or a solution to the war that is going on thousands of miles from our shores, this so-called Liberal Government brings down legislation requiring the Australian community to engage in pimping and informing. How crazy, how unjust, how stupid, how iniquitous is the present situation.
The Government calls upon all 20-year- olds to register and then, by ballot, calls up some of them. It refuses to make up the pay of its own officers - officers of the Commonwealth Public Service - who at the time of their call-up are receiving more in their civilian occupation than they receive as private soldiers in the Australian Regular Army. The Government does not care whether two or more brothers are taken from the one family and put into the Army while boys in another family are allowed to go scot free. The Government will not take any young man who has a bad civilian record, who perhaps has been convicted by a jury of stealing, yet it denies a conscientious objector the right to have his case determined by a jury.
So we have the disgraceful situation in which a young man can be charged with the crime of stealing, be committed by a magistrate for trial by jury, be convicted by a jury and be let out on a bond, and because he has a bad civilian record it is most unlikely that he will be called up for military service. I pause here and ask the Minister whether anyone who has a bad civilian record has been called up under the National Service Act. On the other hand, the man who says his conscience will not allow him to take up arms is refused by this Governnent the right of trial by jury.
I wonder what the Minister for Works, who is at the table, will say when I read to him the report of his speech on the Narcotic Drugs Bill which was debated in this chamber on 11th May 1967. In the Committee stage we of the Opposition proposed an amendment to provide trial by jury and Senator Wright - he was then a mere senator and not a Minister - said:
Having seen the web of officialdom in this place gradually growing in confusion and in weight in the years that I have been here, my respect increases for the progenitors of our laws who provided, as one of the fundamental safeguard! of the freedom of the individual, trial by jury as distinct from trial by officials. When I say officials’ I have no disrespect for the magistrates. I have an abiding respect for them, but the decision of a magistrate is the judgment of one man whereas a jury combines the experience, integrity and common sense of twelve men.
This Government does not seem to care whether a man objects to a war such as that which is going on in Vietnam. He is not allowed to object conscientiously to an individual! war. According to the Government his objection, to be conscientious, must be to the taking up of all forms of arms irrespective of the purpose. I know of one young man who took part in protest demonstrations, eventually was called up, served a period of training in the Australian Regular Army, was conscripted to fight in Vietnam and not long after his arrival there was killed in action. Yet this Government says that it is fighting for the freedom of individual members of the Australian community.
Only last week Senator Mulvihill referred to a statement in the Sydney ‘Sun-Herald’ by a Mr Abbott, father of a young man who had been killed in Vietnam. This is what Mr Abbott had to say:
I hope my son died bravely the same as the other boys over there. But it is a local political war and our boys should not be there. Their deaths are a useless waste of lives. This war is not worth one Australian live - my son’s or anyone else’s.
When one reads a published statement of that kind and realises that young people who have taken part in protest marches have been called up, sent to Vietnam and have paid the supreme sacrifice, one wonders why we have legislation of the kind now before us.
Now let me say something about the medical examinations that are conducted to assess whether a young man of 20 years of age is eligible to serve as a soldier in the Australian Regular Army. I have taken up with the Minister for the Army a case that I regard as being of so serious a nature that my submission covered five foolscap pages. It is the case of a young man who had been born with deformed feet and who, during the whole of his school days, had had to wear surgical appliances to correct the deformity. The boy left school when he was sixteen and went on a holiday with his family to north Queensland. While on holiday they were involved in a motor car accident and the boy had a bone broken in each foot. The injuries the boy sustained in the accident were so serious that he received a substantial sum of money by way of third party damages.
He was called up, was medically examined and was classified as FE which stands for ‘Forward everywhere’. In my day that classification was known as Al. He went to Singleton Army training camp. After consistent marching he complained of the swelling that was taking place in his feet. He was told that there was nothing wrong with him and that all he needed was more exercise. In fact he was given more exercise. He eventually went absent without leave to seek medical treatment for himself. He obtained medical treatment and produced to me later the radiologist’s report which stated that the X-rays showed distinctly a loose bone in each foot. Because he was absent without leave he was picked up subsequently by Army provosts, was court martialled and was sentenced to 21 days in Holsworthy military corrective establishment.
– Is the honourable senator quite confident that in both those instances the boy made it clear to the authorities that there was a deformity and that they paid no attention to him?
– All I can say is that he told me that when he was called up he pointed out to the medical officer by way of documentary evidence that he had been involved in this accident and that the medical officer said that he was not concerned about that. He gave the boy the normal routine medical check and told him that he was classified FE. When I took up the case with the Minister for the Army and pointed out that this boy had been classified medically as FE, the Minister made inquiries and very quickly thereafter the boy was classified CZ3. He is now working as a clerk at Victoria Barracks in Sydney. Had this boy not gone A Wl, and had he persevered with the affliction from which he was suffering, he now could well be involved in the war in Vietnam as an infantryman. I suggest that the Government must review closely and most carefully the medical examinations that have been conducted in the past and issue the necessary instructions in relation to future medical examinations.
It is obvious from a reading of the defence statement made by Sir Robert Menzies on 10th November 1964 that conscription for overseas service was introduced, not for the purpose of providing troops to fight in Vietnam, but predominantly because of the Indonesian-Malaysian situation at that time. At page 2716 of the Hansard record for the House of Representatives the then Prime Minister is reported as follows:
These Indonesian attacks may create a real risk of war, a war so hopelessly unprofitable to Indonesia that it is hard to understand how any leader concerned with the well-being of the ordinary men and women of his country could seriously be prepared to provoke it. Indeed we must prepare for all eventualities including the control and, if necessary, defence of the frontier between West New Guinea and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
Later on he said:
We expect a continuing requirement to make forces available for cold war and anti-insurgency tasks. We must have forces ready as an immediate contribution should wider hostilities occur. We must at all times retain adequate forces against any more direct threat which might develop to our own security.
– On what date was that?
– on 10th November 1964, when the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, made his defence review, announced that there would be annual call-ups of 6,900 and introduced conscription for overseas service. Clearly at that time he was saying that conscription had to be introduced because of the serious nature of the confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia and the possible threat to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– What point of relevance to this Bill do you make out of that?
– The Government put to the Australian people that it was introducing conscription for overseas service for the defence of Papua and New Guinea from any hostile attack that might be made at that time by Indonesia. Now we find that our young men who are conscripted under this legislation and drafted into the Army are not engaged in the defence of Papua and New Guinea or, indeed, of this nation, but are engaged in a war in Vietnam which we on this side of the Senate say has no relevance to and no bearing at all on the defence of this great nation. We believe it is wrong to be calling up these young lads under this type of legislation to send them to this horrible war in Vietnam in defence of a government in that country which countenances corruption within its ranks. Only recently I directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question concerning the province chief of Phuoc Tuy, the province in which the Australians are engaged, and the mayor of the town of Vung Tau in that province, who were dismissed from their posts earlier this year because of allegations of corruption that had been made against them and have since been promoted to more senior Army positions in Saigon. This is the type of thing that occurs, but the Government says that we have our young boys over there fighting in defence of a so-called freedom.
We of the Labor movement strongly oppose the legislation. We condemn the Government for its failure to protect the civil liberties of the Australian people. We regard this as iniquitous legislation and we intend to contest it at all stages of the Committee debate. As I have said, a great cross section of the Australian community is vitally concerned that a government elected to preserve and protect the civil liberties of the Australian community could see its way clear to bring down legislation penalising a large section of the Austraiian community which cannot hit back at the Government by way of the ballot box.
– I want to confine my remarks mainly to the question of this being an unnecessary Bill. I had intended reviewing the early stages of the amendment of the original Act in 1964 which Senator McClelland has just mentioned. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) asked what relevance there was in bringing this forward. I think it is quite relevant, although I do not propose to pursue it very much further. What Senator McClelland was actually pointing out was that this Act was amended so that we could have a force that was necessary to meet a possible threat from Indonesia. That was in November 1964. In March 1965, only 4 months later, we found ourselves involved in a situation in Vietnam. It was at that stage there was a changeover that was not envisaged at the time of the statement made on 10th November 1964, because Sir Robert Menzies, in his policy speech for the Senate elections of that year, passed off Vietnam with only a few words as of no account.
A couple of points are worth noting. One is that when the 1964 amendment was under consideration - I think this was before it was introduced to the Parliament - the intention was that it should apply to the three Services, to the Air Force and Navy as well as the Army, and that their numbers would be increased by the application of the amended National Service Act. The Chiefs of Staff of ‘both the Navy and the Air force objected to this, I understand, because they preferred to keep their numbers up with volunteers, and that condition remains to this time. The Act is used solely to get the required numbers for the Army for action in Vietnam.
In 1965 when call-ups were commenced it was not long before applications were being lodged by persons for registration as conscientious objectors. In every State of Australia an advisory committee - a voluntary organisation in the main instituted by the Society of Friends, or Quakers - was formed to advise young men, who felt they had a conscientious objection, as to whether or not they had such an objection, and as to the best way to approach a court and present their cases. 1 was a convener of such a committee in Western Australia, and I still am. Our purpose is not to make conscientious objectors. It is to help those who have a conscientious objection to present their cases in a way which will do justice to themselves. Because of my close association with this aspect of the application of the National Service Act, I saw some things happening which were not generally appreciated by the public at large. In one case a man named Campbell refused to register and refused to attend the court when charged and called forward to have his case heard. He even spoke from the back of the court in an attempt to force the court to charge him with contempt of court, and he was let go. He has since left Australia and returned to Great Britain. This is the only case of its kind that I know of, but it was one case that really disturbed the Department of Labour and National Service.
Then there was the case of Monaghan in Victoria. Monaghan was the first applicant to claim before the court that he objected not on religious grounds but on moral grounds. He said he had made a very close study of the Vietnam situation over 3 years. He was able to argue at length on points relating to both sides of the argument. It was obvious to the court that he knew what he was talking about and the court came to the conclusion that he had proved that he had an objection to a form of war, that form being the Vietnam war. The case was argued round the use of the word ‘any’ in the phrase ‘any form of war’. The point raised was that ‘any’ could mean a war. This case also disturbed the Department of Labour and National Service.
Then we had what I think has become a fairly famous case in Western Australia. It is that of a young man named Covich. He made three applications and lodged two appeals. Upon his final application, he was successful and was registered as a conscientious objector. I will have something more to say about that in a few moments. While all this was going on, it seemed to me that it would not be long before the Government would feel forced to tighten up the legislation to prevent the sort of thing happening which it felt was making a mockery of some provisions of the National Service Act. Rightly or wrongly, I felt that this would be the Government’s attitude. We now have before us a Bill in which the Government proposes charging people and imposing gaol sentences and fines upon them for burning draft cards. It proposes to do the same thing with people who raise certain objections and cannot sustain them in court. It proposes to stop repeated applications, and to increase fines.
Whilst doing these things, the Government is taking the opportunity to introduce a number of other amendments to the original Act. In some of its proposals 1 think it has shown good judgment and in others it has shown bad judgment. I am not concerned so much about this but I think enough has been said already to establish that, under the original Act, the Government had all the powers necessary to deal with all the cases that come before it. What are we considering today? The Opposition has been charged with making a big noise about a very small matter as few people are involved. Admittedly only a few people are involved; but I cannot see why we should have a Bill brought forward to tighten up the legislation to deal with those few people. There just are not the numbers to justify the measure.
In what I thought was one of the bright spots of his address, Senator McManus mentioned the difficulties connected with the determination of conscience. Conscience is one of those things which are extremely difficult to prove as a matter of fact. Under this Bill the Government proposes to take along to a court a person who has a conscientious objection. His case is to be heard by a magistrate in the first instance. In the magistrate’s courts that I have attended, I have seen hearings relating to infringements of the customs ‘law by Chinese seamen who cannot understand English and who do not know what is going on, the trial of a drunk or two, and the hearing of charges relating to traffic offences all being heard on the one day. The concientious objector could have his case jammed in the middle of such a mixture of hearings in the magistrates court. I have met a number of the magistrates. I think they are fine upholders of the positions they occupy. But I do not think they are trained to deal with a matter of conscience. They are quite competent to deal with questions relating to whether something has been stolen or whether a traffic offence has occurred or whether some article has been brought into Australia in infringement of the customs regulations, but when it comes to dealing with a person’s conscience the problem is a most difficult one.
The case of Covich in Western Australia proves this point. Covich made two applications As these were turned down, he appealed to the High Court. Both appeals were rejected. It was then realised that the reason why he was not getting anywhere was that nobody was making a very strong plea in relation to his conscience. On his last application, evidence was heard from a psychologist or psychiatrist. I do not know to which profession the specialist belonged. A parent was also examined. It was decided that it was logical to believe that this boy had come to hold the particular views he had on such things as war because of the teaching he had received from his parents. This teaching had moulded his character in such a way that he had developed a conscience which was something that he now had of himself. The magistrate, after hearing the case at length, was prepared to decide that the applicant had established the fact that he had a conscience. A strange thing was that although he had been before two High Court judges this matter had not been brought forward. Obviously, of course, a High Court judge has to deal with the facts as they are presented to him. He does not try to bring out the facts. That is why [ think we can learn from the illustrations 1 have given.
I submit that in order to be fair to both those who are conscientious objectors and those who are not conscientious objectors and who are serving overseas we should have hearing these applications a tribunal of three specialists in this field. Such men would know what they were looking for and how to handle the application. In this way we would get somewhere towards solving the problem.
– Specialist courts have not been very appropriate in the past.
– They were found to be fairly successful in Great Britain during the time of the Second World War. I know that when national service was still in operation in Great Britain when I was there in 1952 these courts were still functioning and were still highly thought of. What has happened since then I would not know.
Two other matters will be coming up for consideration by way of amendment when the Bill is being considered at the Committee stage. One relates to particular wars and the other to alternative national service. One point that has come out of the debate is the fact that this Bill hits hard at those people who are signifying their position. It makes it very difficult for a person who says he has a conscientious objection to this war, or to a particular war, or to war in general. But the Government is doing this whilst trying to find those few people who - and we have not any evidence of this - are apparently trying to dodge the issue. It seems to me that this Bill is entirely unnecessary as the present provisions in the National Service Act are sufficient to meet all the cases that have been outlined. I think that it is an unnecessary Bill and should be opposed.
– I do not intend to detain the Senate very long, but there are a couple of observations that I would like to make on the National Service Bill. First I would like to make my own position very clear. I come from a family which has at all times lived up to its duties with regard to the defence of this country. I have two sisters and a sister-in-law who are war widows, so that I cannot be accused of not having the interests of my country at heart. My main objection to this Bill lies in the fact that it does not provide a national or universal system of military service. The Australian Labor Party originally introduced compulsory military service and it still holds the view that it is necessary. But it disagrees with the Government on conscription for overseas service, which is part of the present system, and also on the ballot system, which confines national service to only a few members of the public whose birthdays happen to fall within a certain period that is selected at random each year.
The Opposition feels that national service should be truly national and universal and that every male citizen should be eligible and compelled to do such service. In those circumstances there would be no need for all this talk about conscientious objectors because there would be many forms of national service other than military service in which a person could be trained.
That is the first point I wish to make. The second point is that it should not matter whether a person conscientiously objects to a special war, some war in the past or a war that may take place in the future. We have to be realists in this regard. Young men of 20 are being asked whether they would have conscientiously objected to the last war or whether they would object to some other war that may break out in the future. How can they answer that question? The position must be dealt with as it exists at a particular time. I understand that some consciences are a little elastic, but I do think that we should make provision for those who are truly suffering because of their conscientious objection to war in all of its forms.
– Does the honourable senator not think that such a provision is already in the Act?
– The difficulty is for people to prove that they are conscientious objectors. I agree with some of the things that Senator Prowse said. I am not one of those who think that all demonstrators are genuine in their beliefs. I know that some of them are exhibitionists. But some people do have a genuine conscientious objection to war and its futility in solving human problems. I have asked in this chamber whether Australia is at war. I was referring to the Vietnam war. I have been assured by no less a person than the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) that Australia is not at war but that we are just taking part in a few military exercises in Vietnam.
– We are standing to with South Vietnam against aggressors.
– But the point 1 wish to make is that Australia has not declared war and therefore this is not the time to have conscription for military service overseas. [Quorum formed] It would be very hard to convince those whose sons have died in Vietnam that we are not at war. I think it is a terrible thing that the whole burden of the undeclared war in Vietnam should rest on the shoulders of a few young men who happen to have the misfortune of having their dates of birth drawn out of a barrel.
A few weeks ago I also asked the Prime Minister a question in regard to reinstating in Commonwealth instrumentalities of those people who, after their national service, volunteered for a further term of Army service because they felt obliged to do something about the Vietnam conflict. On that occasion I was again told that because we were not at war no provision existed for a person to volunteer specifically for service in Vietnam but that it was now permissible for public servants to join the Army for a limited period of 3 years, although they could not be certain of being sent to Vietnam. It was pointed out that as these men had to resign there was no assurance that they would be restored to their positions in the Public Service without any loss of privileges or anything else. Surely if it is good enough for some young men in the community to offer their lives in Vietnam - or to have their lives offered for them - then it is good enough for those who volunteer for this duty to be reinstated in the civil service or Commonwealth instrumentalities if they are fortunate enough to survive Vietnam. I would like the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) to do something about that. I ask the Minister: Why have volunteers not been called for to serve in Vietnam when during other wars in which Australia has been engaged, from the Boer War on, when a call to arms has been made for volunteers it has always been answered by the young men of Australia. I do know that when our homeland was threatened during World War II it became necessary for the ALP to introduce conscription to defend Australia and the islands to the north of Australia. But as the Government assures me that we are not at war why should there be conscription for overseas service for only a certain section of the community? If it is true, as the Government claims, that the defence of Australia has been an election issue for some time and that the people have responded with a vote of confidence in the Government then surely if a volunteer force were called for sufficient young men will respond to the call of the colours? Leaving out those on this side of the chamber, surely there should be sufficient supporters of the coalition government and the Democratic Labor Party to fill that voluntary force. I am quite certain they would be joined by members of the Opposition. I know Labor boys who have had military training and who would be quite willing to continue their service, but they have no assurance that they would be sent to Vietnam. They could be sent simply to other jobs in military establishments throughout Australia.
I am not critical of the whole of the national service set up. I am critical that it is not universal in its application. It is not fair to expect the burden to be borne by a very small proportion of our young lads, particularly as life and liberty of individuals is concerned. That has been proved by the number of young men who have been killed in Vietnam. I have every sympathy for their relatives. I also feel sympathy for the relatives of soldiers of the Australian Regular Army who have lost their lives in Vietnam. We will do all we can to assist our servicemen in Vietnam but we do not see why the system of sending 20-year olds into the battlefield should be continued, particularly under some of the provisions of this legislation with which we disagree.
We are also concerned at the absence of juries in cases where terms of imprisonment of up to 2 years can be imposed. This again is an infringement of liberty. We are not concerned only with a prison sentence. That is only a by-product of the conviction. We are concerned because men who are sentenced to 2 years imprisonment are unable to become lawyers, doctors, or even senators. We might lose quite a number of very good people from those callings because of the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution provides that people guilty of crimes for which they are awarded imprisonment for periods of 12 months or longer cannot become senators or members of the other place. So it is not just the term of imprisonment for 2 years which is at stake. It is the whole future of many of these lads. I think that every young man who is worthy of his salt should be prepared to join the Services to defend his country. I think that would be much more clearly demonstrated if the system of national service ever applied universally. People are opposed to the lottery system of national service which is inherent in the present proposal.
I ask the Government to take a very good look at the whole question of national service and all it involves to see whether a much more acceptable scheme can be established. Every right thinking person in the community would prefer a scheme which would not involve the needless sacrifice of the lives of our young men in wars away from our shores. It is said that we are not at war. Five years ago I was privileged to meet two leaders of the Vietnamese people. I met Madame Nhu, whose husband and brother-in-law were assassinated in November 1963. I heard her side of the story at a conference of the InterParliamentary Union. Everybody was with her until she became a fanatic. She produced photographs which she said showed the bones of her people slain by the Vietcong. A few weeks later in Washington I was guest speaker at a Democratic Party luncheon at which the other speaker was Madame Nhu’s father, who is living in the United States. He is on the other side of the fence. He produced the same photograph and said that they showed the bones of his people slain by South Vietnamese. I cannot imagine anything more tragic than a father and daughter engaged in public disputation in that way.
Two people who are generally close together are a father and a daughter and these two people were not ignoramuses or peasants. They are both very well educated and leaders in their fields. They displayed public enmity over the Vietnam war. If the people of Vietnam do not themselves know what the situation is in Vietnam, how can we fairly decide in Australia that our 20- year olds should be sacrificed there in a war we do not understand? The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has said that we are not at war. I have very strong feelings about this matter. I am not against national service in general. I agree with it. I am against invidious treatment of 20-year olds who are forced to undergo training for national service overseas at a time when we are told that Australia is not at war.
– in reply - We have had a long debate in the Senate on this Bill to amend the National Service Act. In the closing speech there was a degree of candour about the Labor outlook. Senator Tangney divorced the real thinking person in the Labor Opposition from the propagandist and exhibitionist protester. It is not my purpose in replying in this debate to detain the Senate for very long. It should be recognised that we have had a very long debate to which many senators have contributed. Chief attention has been focused upon the various clauses which, we are assured, will attract the attention of the Senate at the Committee stage.
Several speakers in this debate have said that they are conscious that possibly they could address their remarks with greater appropriateness at the Committee stage. If I speak briefly I hope that the Senate will accord me a degree of understanding and will not suggest that I have not been a most respectful listener to 99.9% of the debate. I except an intervention made in a mischievous and infantile way during the debate by the independent senator from Tasmania. I wish it to be understood that I deliberately abstain from any further reference to that intervention because, if I were to express myself in an appropriate retort, it would not be as relevant to the provisions of the National Service Bill as to the senator.
It has now been agreed by Senator Tangney - and I apprehend that none of her colleagues would disagree with her - that the Labor Party has insisted upon compulsory national service for home defence. That being so, surely it is as clear as that the sun should shine that the Government of the day is charged with a responsibility to maintain national service at adequate strength. If that is so, surely it is incumbent on us to have a basis of fairness in the recruitment and selection of compulsion of personnel to maintain that strength. That being so it would be a question of whether our efforts are obtaining 8,000, 10,000 or 20,000 recruits a year and the method by which those numbers are selected to enter the forces. It is not appropriate, if I may say so, that I utter more than one sentence with regard to the criticism that has been mentioned by Senator Ormonde and Senator Tangney as to the lottery - the ballot system of selection. The Labor Party has been challenged on countless occasions to suggest a more equitable alternative. Anybody who studied the other alternatives, such as selections of personnel by boards, would never dream of using boards when personnel can be selected by a means about which there can be no suggestion of discrimination or the operation of influence.
– But why not all in - everybody?
– We would then have, instead of some 20,000 national service trainees, 326,000, and the subtraction that this would mean from the economic effort of the country because of the use of manpower for current training would be altogether otiose. Therefore, Mr President, when we have to have simply a restricted force, but nevertheless an adequate force, it is up to the Labor Opposition to suggest a more equitable method. I believe that 1 can say for the Government of the day, which has shown by its attitude to any reasonable representations in connection with this Bill that it will never be ashamed to barken to a reasonable voice, that it would then bring in an appropriate amendment. But the rationality of the amendment must be demonstrated first.
Since this Bill first came to the Parliament we have had suggestions of various amendments that should be made to the legislation. Four substantial amendments have been offered by the Government, another seven of mere words. I shall be moving in the Senate one amendment in the form of two literal amendments. I should have thought that anybody who was taking stock of the concern of a reasonable body of people, and who considered himself to be an elected representative of the people in a democratic parliament, so far from abjuring or condemning the point of view which says: ‘Let us have a look at it and, if it is worth while, incorporate it in the law,’ would applaud that process. People who have spoken in this debate would seem to think that protests which are going on now are peculiar to this particular year or generation.
The history of past centuries has shown much more virulent protests than now. But the thing about the Government operating here today is, as demonstrated by its attitude to this Bill, that it is ready to give effect to any proposal that it takes the responsibility of considering as reasonable. I do not disguise the pleasure and pride that I have in leading the debate on a Bill in this chamber for a Government that has shown itself ready to consider amendments to attend to anxieties, and to make the law not arbitrary, as some people in their phobia and propaganda characterise it, but just. Those who say that the law is thereby weakened, I submit, Mr President, speak from an inadequate appreciation of what is the strength of a law.
The strength of the law derives from the justice that can be demonstrated to the community in which it rules, so that the law having emanated from Parliament, courts will interpret it and people will give it an acceptable understanding. Those who have said that it is treading unduly upon civil liberties and British freedoms have a paralysed understanding. However, I call on them to appreciate that they would never be able to refer to those civil liberties or British freedoms but for the defence that national services of the British Commonwealth have maintained in past conflicts, when systems other than those wherein we cherish civil liberties and British freedoms have endeavoured to destroy us. It is this defence which is the cornerstone of national security, because once you lose the security of your nation it is too late to talk about civil liberties.
There are those who have put forward the view that people who conscientiously object to the campaign in which the Defence Forces are committed should be exempted from national service. I wonder how Great Britain would have maintained her stability, which has prevented war in the various theatres of Africa and in the Middle East on various occasions and in Malaya if, when the units were being marched to the ship naif of the men had fallen out and said: T have an objection to this campaign.’ The very purpose of national service is to constitute a force which comes under the direction of military authority. The law constituting that force here has given to the principles of real conscientious objectors perhaps the most generous recognition that could be found in any country in the world. Our law at the present time allows an exemption to anybody who can establish that in his conscience, in his soul - not for advantages in his career or profession as Townsend did - he objects to any form of military service. We in this country have enabled that person to establish that objection before a court of justice. We have gone further and given that person, if he receives an adverse judgment, a right of appeal. And then we have gone further and said that if the objection is to combatant duties, as distinct from non-combatant duties, of military service, again by law he is exempted from the duties to which he objects.
Other arguments have been addressed particularly to the clause that came under notice because amendment was proposed in another place - a clause which imposes an obligation upon any person to provide information with regard to the liability of a trainee for his service. It has been ably pointed out, by Senator Gair in particular, followed by Senator McManus, and lucidly pointed out by my colleague, Senator Greenwood, and various other speakers from this side, that ever since this Act came into operation in 1951 the obligation to provide information has been on any person. It is a reproach to the Press of this country and an admission of deceit on its part that we find no adequate statement of that in 80% of the reports. In a great majority of cases the newspapers have seized upon the presentation to give the community the understanding that this proposal of the Government was specifically one which required parents to give information with regard to their family. In addition we have had most opprobrious epithets stemming from the Opposition with regard to pimping.
My colleague Senator Webster adequately pointed out that throughout many departments of the law the obligation to give information is imposed upon various persons. But having regard to the special anguish which the Government recognises that the enforcement of national service compulsorily causes within a family, bearing as it does upon the youth, in these cases the Government has been generous, once these matters have been pointed out, and has allowed for all the reasonable exceptions that have been advanced for its attention. First, not in point of time but from the point of view of prominent notice, there were representations from members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. These were in line with representations that were made by many members of the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party in the House of Representatives and in this chamber. Attention having been drawn to these matters, the Government was asked to exempt a member of the family and people who were in possession of professional privileged confidences so that legal advice, medical advice and advice in ecclesiastical matter could be given freely. When asked to exempt those bodies the Government said yes.
Then other sections said: ‘But there will be others who have confidences that are regarded as being of the same nature. There will be circumstances in which members of the family not specified toy the nominated clause in the Bill will have equally sacred confidences. There will be particular circumstances in which an exemption should be given.’ That amendment was passed in the House of Representatives and I heard no objection to it, although I heard some regret from my own side. The Government said that where a person who is asked for information can show that he has, in the opinion of the court, a reasonable cause based upon compassionate or other grounds, he shall be exempt. Then the universities, which had been made the subject of a special additional clause in the Bill, and other institutions such as the trade unions put forward a point of view that they should not be singled out. I would ask those who have listened to the debate to believe that the Government recognised their claim, not on the basis of giving any special privilege but to remove from the Bill a special clause which was directed only to educational or other institutions. So that we can take that in focus, let it be remembered that the original clause which was introduced directly copied section 29 of the British Act of 1948. That was a section directed specifically against local governing and educational institutions.
The only other matter that 1 wish to refer to before closing my reply is on the question of failure to respond to a call-up or failure to render service and the substitution in the Bill for the penalty of indefinite military custody the penalty of civil custody by imprisonment for 2 years, less any periods whether in detention or in service actually served in the military forces. I point out that the Opposition did not criticise that proposal in another place; it said that it preferred that system. I have pointed out that the new system accords the misguided person who is determined to defy the military system not additional imprisonment but a reduction of sentence for any period that he has served in the military forces. The objection comes that by reason of substituting detention or custody in a civil prison for custody in a military detention establishment the magistrate becomes inadequate to perform his function and the person should be given a right to go before a jury in that respect. Those who have read in the Press reports of speeches I have made on the subject of trial by jury - although on some occasions, with that degree of perspicacity that one finds in some newspapers, they have been attributed to a name which I would spurn to have associated with any speech of mine - would understand that the principles upon which I defend trial by jury are in no way invaded by the Bill that I propound to the Senate. I shall demonstrate on my own basis, speaking for the Government, that it is less than reasonable to say that that argument really has a basis when we hear the proposition that we should call in a jury for a person who refuses to obey a call-up or refuses to render service in the military forces. It is said that that should be done merely because, instead of being committed to the custody of military authorities for an indefinite period so long as he maintains his defiance and because military detention does not achieve his salvation in the time that he stays there, he is transposed to a civil prison where any period of military detention that he has already experienced is deducted from his 2 years sentence. This shows the degree to which some people have been carried away with these hysterical protests. They take the false lead of uninformed propaganda and whatever headlines are printed. It shows their unreasonableness when they can abuse the precious cause of trial by jury and seek to apply it to an action such as I have referred to.
I am grateful to honourable senators who have participated in the debate. I believe that this is something which strengthens the parliamentary processes. I refer to that only because of the last few words that appeared in the first editorial of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ this morning drawing attention to the incidents of violence in the United States of America quite recently. Democracy should bring to itself a sense of responsibility and the Parliament, in making laws, ought to remember Hobbes and Burke instead of Marx and Marcuse and realise that it is the function of the Parliament to provide a strong law to maintain effective national service defence forces. To get a strong law, we must make it as just as possible. Unless we get to the stage where national service is controlled by law and order, we shall discover again how dangerous and brutal human societies may become when the discipline of the law relaxes its effect.
That the Bill be read a second time.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Parts).
– Clause 3 states:
Section 3 of the Principal Act is amended by omitting the words ‘Medical Examination’ and inserting in their stead the words ‘Examination as to Fitness’.
The National Servic Bill makes provision for the amending of Part III by replacing medical examination’ with ‘fitness examination’. If the Senate agrees to the alteration in Part III we should also agree to a similar amendment elsewhere in the Bill. But first we have to ascertain whether we agree to substitute for ‘medical’ examination’ ‘examination as to fitness’. Before I would consent to the amendment I would want to know what examination is intended to define a man’s fitness for service. I do not think that this is the right time to ask such questions. The right time would be when we were considering clause 11 of the Bill, which is the clause that amends Part III and, if amended, justifies this amendment.I should think the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) would accept that this clause should be postponed until after consideration of clause 11.
– I would prefer to adopt the other approach; that is, that the arguments with regard to the extended examination should be advanced now. It is a simple proposition whereby the medical examination is intended to include such things as psychological and pathological examination.
I think honourable senators will recognise that the purpose of the amendment, which is to ensure that the various applicable tests shall be afforded to enable the potential entrants to the Service to have a proper examination to ensure his fitness, is excellent in every respect.
– If the Minister persists in this course of action, of necessity it will mean a study of clause 1 1 of the Bill.
– Has the honourable senator any objection to taking clauses 1 to 11 together?
– I have. I am raising the point in relation to clause 3, which is an amendment to which I will agree, that amendment of clause 11 would mean a change in clause 3. I am of the opinion that the only way in which it can be ascertained whether that should be done is by discussing clause 11. I do not know my position under the Standing Orders. I do not know whether at this stage we can, in considering clause 3, ask questions on clause 11 which states:
Part III. of the Principal Act is repealed and the following Part inserted in its stead:
Part III. - Examination as to Fitness.
The Secretary may serve on a person whois registered, or is required to register, under this
Act a notice in writing requiring that person to attend for examination at such time and place as is, or at such times and places as are, specified in the notice for the purpose of determining the physical or mental fitness or capacity of the person for service under this Act.
I ask these questions: How do we discover what type of examination will determine the capacity of the individual for service? Who makes the examination as to mental fitness? Sub-section (2.) of proposed section 19 states:
A person so attending shall submit himself to -
an examination before a Medical Board; and-
There is no definition of the type of examination to be made by the medical board -
That leaves the matter to the discretion of the Secretary. What does the Government envisage that the Secretary will consider necessary as other examinations for the purpose of determining either the mental fitness or the capacity of the person for service?
– The Minister gave the explanation that this provision was designed to put beyond doubt the matter of radiographic, psychological and other types of examinations. But section 22 of the Act, which also deals with medical examinations, states:
Where a Medical Board or the Secretary considers that a person should submit himself to radiographic examination or to further medical examination, the Secretary may serve on that person a notice in writing requiring him so submit himself to radiographic examination or to further medical examination, as the case may be, in accordance, with such instructions as are contained in the notice. ft would appear to me that all types of examinations are covered already. So I am wondering about the necessity for this amendment.
– I think Senator Willesee misheard me. I did not say ‘radiographic’; I said ‘psychological and pathological’.
– The second reading speech refers to radiographic examinations.
– I recognise that radiographic examinations are mentioned in the existing Act. The purpose of this amendment is to enable a medical board to direct that these auxiliary examinations shall take place. I would have thought that that would be a further safeguard because it ensures that proper psychological and pathological examination will take place where it is suggested that they are proper.
– I am not opposing this clause, but I rise to point out that it exemplifies the woolly thinking of the Government, and the Department of Health in particular, in regard to medical examinations. It draws a differentiation between medical illhealth and mental illhealth. As far as any general practitioner is concerned, a medical examination includes an examination of the patient’s state of mental health. There should be no differentiation between mental illhealth and physical illhealth. Therefore the term ‘medical examination’ should cover both.
Let me also point out that the Government is causing some concern for itself. Anyone who understands psychologists and psychiatrists will realise that they would not allow any men at all into the Army. The first point I make is that psychology is a new science and that many of us could not possibly pass the psychologists’ tests. I have always been dead scared of such tests because one has to fit things in here and there and I am certain that I just could not do that.
– I think you would get through.
– Do you think so? I am grateful for your confidence. The point is that a psychologist does not understand the whole; he just understands his little element of psychology. I know of one case that concerned me. A psychologist came to me and said that a boy was unfit for university training and should do technical work because he was good with his hands but no good with his brain. That boy now has a diploma of engineering and is a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard. He happens to be my son. Had I listened to the psychologist, my son would have been a fitter and turner, or something like that. That is an example in support of my statement that a psychologist does not examine a person as a whole.
In regard to psychiatric examination, the Minister knows that, in any court of law, if a lawyer wants a verdict of not guilty he promptly gets on side a psychiatrist who will explain to the court that the accused did what he did not because he meant to do it but because his mother gave him Carnation milk instead of Bear Brand milk when he was young and that accounts for his psychiatric condition. One has only to look at repatriation cases and see the number of people who came out of the Army with anxiety neurosis, which entitles them to every assistance under the sun, to understand the attitude of psychiatrists to these problems. Nearly every person who is referred to a psychiatrist will come back with a certificate stating that there is something wrong with him. A good general practitioner must be a good psychologist; otherwise he would not be a good general practitioner. Having examined a boy, a good general practitioner would soon know whether he was subnormal or not. I point out that the Government is adding difficulties for its own cause by insisting on psychiatric examination.
– Senator Turnbull has jogged my memory of an experience that I had in relation to this sort of matter. A general practitioner rejected a boy for service in the Army. He marked the boy’s papers: Rejected for psychiatric reasons’. The point that I make is that the doctor does not report to the boy on his psychiatric condition or mental state. Nor does he report to the boy’s parents. In that case the information did not come to the parents until I took the matter up with the appropriate Minister and obtained it. The Minister’s explanation was that such information could not be passed on generally because it might be unnecessarily upsetting to the boy who was rejected. I also have some knowledge of examinations of entrants in the Marrickville area. I gained the impression that they were almost rushed through and that generally speaking the doctor had no knowledge of psychiatry; that he was not there for the purpose of making a psychiatric examination and that he did not consider he was there for that purpose. I would like the Minister to comment on that.
– I would like the Minister to answer the questions that I ask. What examination is envisaged for determining the capacity of a person for service? What is the full range of the examinations that the Secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service may consider necessary in order to determine a person’s fitness for service?
– I wanted to make it clear that the answer to Senator Cavanagh’s question was psychological examinations and pathological examinations. The simple view that was taken, perhaps in overrefinement of the situation, was that a medical examination may not include a psychological examination and that an examination as to a person’s fitness may not extend to all the aspects of pathology that are thought appropriate. There is no more than that in this provision.
– It is well known by people who have examined the statistics produced by the Department of Labour and National Service that a substantial number of registrants who have come before medical boards have been rejected for psychological or emotional reasons. It has been determined quite clearly that in this context young men who register and undergo medical examination are rejected or accepted on a basis altogether apart from pathological reasons. I preface my remarks in this way: Is a psychologist acknowledged by the Australian Medical Association as a registered medical practitioner?
– That is the first thing. The statistics of the Department show that men are rejected for psychological reasons following examination by a person who is not a registered medical practitioner. Is that not right? If it is right, why include in the Bill a provision which states that the determinants are to he registered medical practitioners? In fact, the people concerned are not being subjected to the scrutiny of registered medical practitioners. They are being rejected as a result of a report made by a couple of head shrinkers. If the Government recognises head shrinkers in that regard let it include them in the Bill and we will debate that aspect.
– I rise to direct Senator Cormack’s attention to new section 19 which is inserted by clause 11 of the Bill. The whole purpose is to make sure that such examinations as are proposed, psychological or pathological, although perhaps they are not strictly embraced within the term ‘medical examination’, are carried out. I do not wish to accept the honourable senator’s exciting invitation to justify all that has been done by psychologists. I know that psychology, like psychiatry, is a very debatable field. However, in view of the necessity to make it clear that psychological and pathological examinations may be availed of as well as what may be strictly called ‘medical examinations’ I would think that all the anxiety we have in regard to what psychologists have done would not induce us to reject this clause.
– Clause 3 relates to the insertion of the words examination as to fitness’ in lieu of the words ‘medical examination’. The word fitness’ needs some clarification. Is it fitness in the sense of a recruit being suitable for the Army? Is it physical fitness in the form we have spoken of as being pathological or biological? Is it fitness from the point of view of psychological standard? Is it psychiatric fitness? All of those aspects are embraced by the word ‘fitness’. If the psychological and psychiatric standards are included in the examination a young man undergoes in accordance with clause 3, these could also cover the examination of a man who claims to have conscientious objection.
– That is correct.
– Therefore the definition of ‘fitness’ needs tidying. Most people know what a medical examination is. When you go for a check-up to a doctor in whom you have confidence you know that he will tell you either that you are fit or that you need some carpentry done. This definition of ‘fitness’ does not necessarily relate to medical fitness. It could mean all the other things I have mentioned I should like the Minister’s interpretation of the word ‘fitness’.
– If the honourable senator looks at clause 11 which inserts new section 19 he will see the words ‘for the purpose of determining the physical or mental fitness or capacity of the person for service under this Act’.
– Are the standards of fitness for acceptance into the Citizen Military Forces, the Regular Army and national service the same? I know of one case - and I have heard of a number - of a lad who sought entry into the Regular Army and was rejected on the ground of unfitness but subsequently passed a fitness test for national service. Does this Bill equalise the standard of acceptance or is there a special medical test in relation to national service which is not of as high a standard as that for the other branches of the Service?
– The same standard applies for acceptance into the Citizen Military Forces, the Regular Army and national service. The fact that a man may be rejected for entry into one Service this year and accepted for entry into another Service next year is explained by a difference of opinion and a difference in time.
– After having heard the legal decission between the Minister and Senator Cormack, I do not know whether I want to take this matter of fitness any further. However, I am mindful of the fact that Barry Robinson of New South Wales was called up for service. When asked to note his occupation on a card he wrote: ‘Full time organiser for the anti-Vietnam Committee’. He passed his medical examination so he was sent to a psychiatrist for examination.
– A psychiatrist or a psychologist?
– One or the other. After being brainwashed on the benefits of being in Vietnam he said: Despite all that, I am still of the opinion that I have a duty to organise against this useless war in Vietnam*. He expected to be rejected on the ground of medical unfitness but instead he received notification from the Army that he was not suitable for service. He has not been called up and he is still engaged in the very worthwhile occupation that he had originally. Obviously the intention of the Army is to avoid problems such as have arisen in the case of Simon Townsend. If that it so, I am not opposed to the clause.
– I think the Government will create a lot of problems for itself with this clause. All the Bill need provide is for ‘a medical examination and such necessary tests as are prescribed by the examiner’. If pathological tests are specified there is no point in it. If ‘psychological’ is specified then psychiatric’ must be specified as well. It is the psychiatrists who are the head shrinkers, not ihe medical practitioners. A psychologist is not a head shrinker. He has a mathematical attitude to mental illness, if I can put it in that way. He cannot diagnose or treat mental illness. I warn the Government that not one person can fail to get the sympathy of a psychiatrist. A patient has only to mention, for example, that he was a bed wetter when he was young and the psychiatrist will support him and say: ‘The hazards of the Army will be too much for this man’. The Government is worrying about draft dodgers yet it is giving the greatest opportunity to dodge the draft in the examinations it has set down in the Bill. It is crazy to have all personnel examined by a psychiatrist. I believe in national health, but here the Government will allow everyone to escape the net.
– I do not know why these worries have been expressed. By clause 3 - in the discussion of which we have comprehended clause 1 1 - we will set down a framework within which examinations can take place. The original Act simply says that a medical examination conducted by medical practitioners is the only type of examination which initially can be ordered. We can have another medical examination so conducted, plus a radiographic examination. The provision is limited and the Government feels that it should be extended, so it is proposed that we have an examination to determine the physical or mental fitness or capacity of a person for service under this Act. That examination may fee conducted by medical practitioners and also by any other person whom the Secretary designates. It will be an examination certainly by medical practitioners and any other examination which the Secretary desires. As a framework, it has to my mind a far better comprehensiveness than did the original provision. I cannot quite understand the worry expressed by honourable senators.
– I waited for the Minister to give an explanation of the point that Senator Cavanagh made about some peculiar happening in the way in which Mr Barry Robinson was dealt with. We were told that there was a well set plan. This point in relation to the Robinson case has not been answered.
– I regret that I am not in a position to know the facts relating to that particular case.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Interpretation).
– 1 desire to raise two points. First, I should like to know where the word employ’ is used in the Act. Does it refer to employment? If it does, why do we not say so? We know that there is a penalty it within 7 days after having reason to assume an employee is liable to register an employer fails to notify the Department. The clause states: employ’ means employ under a contract of employment, and ‘employer’ and ‘employee’, have corresponding meanings.
Can the Minister tell me what is meant by a contract of employment. Sub-clause (d) provides for the addition of a provision to read: the employment of a person under a law of the Commonwealth, of a State or of a Territory but otherwise than under a contract of employment shall be treated as if that employment were employment under a contract of employment.
A provision in relation to apprenticeship also is brought into the definition. In an endeavour to ascertain what ‘contract of employment’ means, I went to the research section of the Library, which gave me photostat copies of an extract from a book headed ‘Master and Servant Contracts’. I do not think the authority of the book is important because in relation to every quotation there is reference to a judgment or other origin of the quotation.
– You might get various interpretations according to the authority of the book, so it is important.
– We know that the relationship of master and servant exists in the case of an employee on a wage or under an award and that there would be a contract of employment, but in the building trades, for instance, various systems of piece work operate. There are sub-contractors to the main contractor. Are the sub-contractors under a contract of employment? Is the painter whom we get in to paint our house under a contract of employment? Is the hairdresser whom we engage to cut our hair under a contract of employment? Is the solicitor whom we engage to defend us for not reporting a breach under a contract of employment? If so, have we a responsibility in relation to all of these people to report them if we have reason to suspect they areeligible for call-up. This document states:
A contract of employment may be regarded as a contract for personal services as distinct from other forms of contract. Ore form of personal service is that constituted by agency which is treated in another chapter. Most contracts of personal service involve some special qualification and often some of the terms of the contract are fixed by statute as, e.g., in the case of solicitors.
It is accepted that the solicitor is under contract. The quotation continues:
Apart from statute and any terms fixed by custom the law implies certain terms in any contract of personal service.
We find that a contract to render services is not binding if there is no corresponding obligation to receive them. Reference is made to gratuitous services, where someone agrees to do something without payment. An example of this is such service for kindness as is performed in journeying to stand bail for another. What are the ramifications and how far does this interpretation go? What is our obligation and to whom do we have to report in a matter relating to employment?
The other matter to which I refer arises from sub-clause (b) which provides for the omission from sub-section (1.) of section 4 the definition of ‘medical examination’. Section 3 of the Act will be altered by the substitution of the words ‘examination as to fitness’ for the words ‘medical examination’, and this will provide for an examination to determine the capacity of an individual to serve. Among the methods of determining the capacity of an individual to serve is for him to submit himself to a medical board. One would expect that this would be for a medical examination, although this is not stated. Some authority will try to ascertain his capacity to serve. A medical examination is defined as an examination or test designed to determine physical and mental fitness or capacity of a person for service under the Act. Would the medical board decide the physical or mental fitness or capacity of a person to serve under the Act? In future a person may be sent to a number of other individuals for the purpose of examination. In the absence of a definition of ‘medical examination’ a wider examination than is necessary to determine an applicant’s capacity to serve is permitted. It may be that the examination could go into the history of the individual which is unnecessary for the purpose of deciding whether he is fit to serve. For example, it could extend into whether there was any history of social disease in the family. The results of the examination could be used to discredit the individual. Under the existing provision, the medical examination is restricted to the purpose for which it is ordered. If we delete the definition, then the examination could be widened at any time desired by the authorities. When it is desired to alter an existing provision, we should be given some justification for the alteration. I therefore ask the Minister whether it is really necessary to delete the present definition of ‘medical examination’, thus leaving the examination to a medical board, especially when we have no definition of what the duties of the medical board are.
– Let me answer the honourable senator’s last question first. The omission of the definition here relates only to the definition contained in section 19 of the Act. There is no definition of ‘medical examination’ in the provision which is to be substituted for the section 19 of the Act. There is no longer any need for the definition because the examination as provided for in the proposed new section 19 is an examination for the purpose of determining the physical or mental fitness or capacity of the person for service. That is for the purpose of extending what might be termed a strictly medical examination to the other examinations to which I referred when we were discussing the previous clause.
The honourable senator referred to the definition of the word ‘employ’. This relates directly to proposed new section 55 where the past tense of the verb is used. The definition then takes up the cognate expressions ‘employer’ and ‘employee’ which it sees as having corresponding meanings. The honourable senator also asks whether a painter, a sub-contractor or a solicitor would be classed as an employee engaged under a contract of employment. The answer is no. A solicitor is not employed by his client as a servant; he is employed in another sense altogether, not in the sense in which the expression is used in the Bill. A sub-contractor is in a similar position. He is not an employee within the legal sense. Nor is a painter who does a job for a price. But if he is employed by a master painter to do a job, he then becomes an employee within the meaning of the Bill. That illustrates exactly the distinction between the two. Where the employee is the servant of the employer, he is then an employee under the Act.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Application of Act to persons employed under rostering arrangements).
– I mention here the point I raised at the second reading stage in relation to employment under conditions similar to those operating on the waterfront and other places where an arrangement exists by which a person keeps a list of the names of persons who are available for employment and allots those persons to employers. I should like to know whether this provision extends to trade unions which keep a list of unemployed members so that it may direct those members to employers as positions become available. Does it extend to colleges which keep lists of those who are reaching the age at which they .will terminate their schooling and will be needing employment?
I note that sub-clause (3.) of proposed new section 4a provides:
I am wondering in what form a list could be kept if it is not in a material form. Would this apply to a person who keeps in his mind the names of persons who may be available for employment? I note that the sub-clause also provides: name’, in relation to a person, includes any means of identifying the person.
If, for example, I know that Bluey down the street is unemployed, and if I learn that a certain employer has a vacancy and I have Bluey’s name in my mind, does that constitute a list not in a material form under this clause?
– I wish to inform the honourable senator that the list as defined and as used in this clause does not apply to the lists held by employment agencies, colleges and so on. Lists held by these people would not come within the meaning of the term ‘arrangement*. As to a list not in a material form, I point out to the honourable senator that lists may be kept in computerised form. I am told that, instead of being on paper in black and white in the form which Senator Cavanagh and I might understand, these lists are kept in the form of electronic impulses. This seems to me to be a contingency that connotes the ingenuity with which the matter is being provided for.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Method of registration).
– I should like to know what we are to understand by the proposed new sub-section (2.) of section 13 of the Act. Are we to understand that the Registrar has the authority now to determine whether a form contains sufficient particulars to enable him to say that the particulars supplied are good enough for registration purposes? The language rather intrigues me. The proposed sub-section provides:
Where a particular specified in a form signed, and delivered or posted to the Registrar, in accordance with the last preceding sub-section is not filled in or supplied in the form in accordance with the instructions contained in or accompanying the form . . .
Does that mean that the Registrar may say: That is sufficient compliance with the instructions, and, as far as I am concerned, he is registered’?
– If 1 may say so, proposed sub-section (3.) is far reaching because it will enable the Registrar to deem a person to be registered when he has taken no steps towards it. Am I correct in that query?
– Where he has been convicted, as I read it.
– Where he has been convicted and still does nothing about it?
– Is there any situation here under which if a person not having been convicted remains unregistered, he may be deemed to be registered?
– Proposed section 13 (2.) provides that a person who has been convicted of an offence continues to be liable to register under the Act but actually remains unregistered. The clause states:
This seems to allow a discretion with the Secretary as to whether he deems a person to be registered or proceeds to further prosecution. Why is this so?
– This is a facultative provision to protect a person by preventing him from being registered in inappropriate circumstances. Where there has been a conviction for failure to register there may be circumstances in which automatic registration would be inappropriate.
– The clause gives authority to the Secretary to make up his mind as to whether or not the person is a person who shall be deemed to be registered?
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.
– I raised this question previously and we went over the different types of examinations. Proposed section 24 states:
Members of Medical Boards, and other persons conducting examinations under this Part, shall be paid such fees and allowances as the Minister determines.
I ask: Why are these fees not determined by regulation? Can the Minister for Labor and National Service determine different fees for different doctors, or according to whether the result of an examination meets the approval of the Minister? Should fees not be set by regulation so that all doctors will receive the same fee despite the result of the examination?
– This provision is framed to cater for the various classes of fees applicable in different States and where various distances are involved. The fees vary so much that it would be inappropriate to prescribe them by regulation.
– Proposed sub-section 19 (1) states: (1.) The Secretary may serve on a person who is registered, or is required to register, under this Act a notice in writing requiring that person to attend for examination at such time and place as is, or at such times and places as are, specified in the notice for the purpose of determining the physical or mental fitness or capacity of the person for service under this Act. (2.) A person so attending shall submit himself to-
What is meant by ‘such other examinations as the Secretary considers necessary’? Subsection (1) provides for a person to attend for an assessment not only of his physical fitness but also his mental capacity. Does this mean that if his mental capacity is to be assessed he can be subjected to examination by a layman, a psychologist or perhaps a departmental officer. He is required to submit himself to ‘such other examinations as the Secretary considers necessary’? During the debate on the second reading of this Bill I made reference to a specific case which I had taken up with the Minister for the Army (Mr Lynch) concerning an orthopaedic problem that a national serviceman had. If a person is mentally retarded but there is no outward evidence of this, is he likely to be subjected to other examinations or tests to assess his capacity for national service?
– I do not know whether the honourable senator was in the chamber when I was answering Senator Cavanagh’s query regarding the words ‘examination as to fitness’ in clause 3. I then explained that the departure was being made because in determining the physical or mental fitness or capacity of a person for national service a psychological examination might be necessary, and these were not strictly medical examinations. Most of us would consider a pathological examination to be a medical examination, but at times such examinations are done by an artisan or an assistant to a pathologist. It is to provide for these examinations that this different framework is being adopted. The expression ‘such other examinations as the Secretary considers necessary’ is inserted in the Bill to cover those cases where it may be necessary for a pathological or other examination to be made following the medical examination.
– I am interested in the matters raised by Senator Cavanagh and Senator Turnbull during the debate on clause 3. The value of that short and sharp debate was to establish that a psychiatrist practises within the ambit of the recognised medical profession and has taken the hippocratic oath, but that outside this charmed circle there is another order of sorcerers known as psychologists. I used the rather abusive word head shrinker to describe them at that stage. I withdraw that word now and substitute the word ‘sorcerers’. Senator Turnbull picked me up on the earlier occasion by saying that a psychiatrist was someone within the medical profession who could deal with and observe facts of what might be described as mental pathology, whereas the psychologist - or, as I prefer to call him, the sorcerer - deals with elements of numbers and mechanical operations. I think quite unconsciously he began to dignify psychology with a secondary definition that it is an imprecise science.
I am taking some time to make this point clear to the Senate at the Committee stage of the debate because of what is happening. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who is in charge of this Bill, is well known to us as we have been associated with him for a great number of years. We know that he likes to see spelled out in a Bill a precise definition of a citizen’s right under the law. But here in this clause a whole new matter is embraced. This is not even subordinate legislation and perhaps could be properly embedded in a schedule to the Bill by setting out that recognised medical practitioners may obtain such advice as is required. Such subordinate legislation would at least be subject to the survey of the Parliament, but now, by amendment to the principal Act a dignity is to be accorded to a group of fringe practitioners.
I want to be quite blunt about this. I consider that that group is engaged in pseudo science. They may be employed by the Secretary designating them. They should be such people as the Secretary shall-
– Consider necessary.
– That is so. At least it is acknowledged that a citizen in the widest possible sense has some protection from the medical profession but he has no protection from the sorcerers who get a temporary refuge under the legislation when employed by a letter or instruction from the Secretary. It is quite easy to understand the situation. Most honourable senators have been through the process - as I have - of seeing a recruit rejected by a member of the medical profession on the ground that he has hammer toes. The doctor says: ‘You have got hammer toes.’ But under the provisions of this clause a recruit is informed: You are not suitable for military service.’ The recruit may ask: ‘Why, what is the matter?’ He may use the title ‘Sir’ or Doctor’ as a form of address, according to his upbringing. The doctor may reply: T am not here to be questioned. You are not good enough.’
– The doctor does not tell him why.
– That is so. As Senator Turnbull has said, the doctor may have come to his conclusion not because of a numerical system of establishing whether the recruit is psychologically maladjusted or otherwise, but through a theory in the realm of psychiatry that he had wet his bed at the age of 10 years. But the psychiatrists who engage in this sort of test do not say straight out whether he used to wet his bed and gave it up at the age of 14. Instead they proceed to go around a circle and mark off little cards. This is where the system comes in. A psychiatrist comes to question A and the answer is: ‘He had wet his bed.’ The answer to question B is: ‘He gave up wetting his bed at the age of 10 years.’ The conclusion reached is that he is not properly adjusted for Army service. There is a whole range of medical claims not embedded in the medical profession and not connected at all with the Hippocratic oath.
It comes back again to the sorcerers trying to give themselves the status of men of science. I say that they are not men of science. Anybody who is involved in this process by direction of the Secretary has no protection. He has protection from the medical profession and their judgments but he has no protection against the sorcerers any more than a Papuan or New Guinean who is involved in a problem in his village and is apprised of the fact that a sorcerer has made a condemnation of him. There is no explanation.
I do not accept without an examination by the Senate the claim that there should be accorded to the secretary of any department an unlimited right to involve himself in dealing in this area unless he is under some sort of control. I come now to a point that I think is fundamental to the whole problem: What does the Army require of a citizen it seeks to take into its service, in psychiatric terms in the area of sorcery, or in psychological/ terms? The Army uses a psychological system, so-called, to establish an intelligence quotient. It wants to gain an idea of the intelligence of the individual that it wishes to have in its service. What level of intelligence does the Army require? Is it the level of intelligence which it is suggested rather agreeably is expected of a member of the Opposition in another place, or is it the level of intelligence that is expected of a scientist, or a reader at the Melbourne or Monash universities?
I have introduced these questions because I have a strong feeling that the Army in its selective national service is not taking an average section of the community under its psychological tests. This has never been denied. From the people who are selected by lottery to come up for medical examination and registration, after tests of intelligence levels, the Army is taking the cream off the top of the barrel1. That is the only conclusion I can come to after studying the statistics produced by the Minister for Works who is in charge of this Bill in the Senate. I can only assume that at least half the Australian male population at the age of 20 years is psychologically maladjusted in varying degrees, of one sort or another, or the Army is creaming off the very top of the recruits by a process of sorcery which comes under the heading of ‘medical tests’. My belief has never been denied. It is embedded in the clause we are dealing with at present. I am not prepared to accord this clause to the Ministry until there is a clear explanation from the Minister of what is involved.
– Clause 11 states that the Secretary may serve on a person a notice requiring that person to attend for examination. Persons so attending shall submit to an examination before a medical board and such other examinations as the Secretary considers necessary. It al’so provides that the medical board shall in accordance with instructions approved by the Minister examine each person required to submit himself to examination before a medical board. After a person has gone through that process would the Minister consider that he would then be completely fit for national service? If so, why was it that a short time after such an examination the Army had to examine a man every half an hour to see whether he was suffering from claustrophobia or had a tendency towards suicide? In the case of Simon Townsend, that happened after all the examinations.
– I wish to refer to the point raised by Senator Cormack. I think we’ need an explanation from the Minister, and I do not doubt that the Minister will give it. When an alteration is made to an Act, it has to be justified. The clause we ate dealing with provides that the Secretary may serve a person who is registered under the Act with notice in writing requiring that person to submit himself to a medical examination before a medical board at such time and place as are specified in the notice. Therefore, the examining authority was a medical board. The Act defines a medical board as generally two doctors and, in some cases, one, when there is a distance to travel. Therefore, the person who was to be called up went before a medical board for a medical examination, which was defined under the part which is to be deleted. A medical examination was defined as an examination or test designed to determine the physical or mental fitness or capacity of a person for service under the Act. Therefore, it was a medical board that was to determine those three things - physical or mental fitness or capacity. All of that was previously within the ambit of the medical board. Has the medical board been found to be not a proper authority for the purpose of determining these things? Have medical boards produced so many failures that their services are to be dispensed with? Has it been found, as a result of the number of persons failed by medical boards, that some alteration to them is needed, so that now it has to be provided that a person shall submit himself for medical examination or such other examination as the Secretary considers necessary? Previously the medical board determined and advised whether a man was both physically and mentally fit and whether he had the capacity. Were medical boards incompetent to carry out that job? I point out also that section 22 which is to be deleted provides:
Where a Medical Board or the Secretary considers that a person should submit himself to radiographic examination or to further medical examination, the Secretary may serve on that person a notice in writing requiring him to submit himself to radiographic examination or to further medical examination. . . .
If the medical board required further assistance to determine the fitness of the person, he could be served with a notice to submit himself to radiographic examination, which 1 take it would still be under the control of the medical men. In what way have medical boards failed to determine the physical and mental fitness and the capacity of a registrant? What have been the shortcomings of medical boards in the past that now make it necessary to have them work in co-operation with another authority? If medical boards have been failures, how will these sorcerers or head shrinkers, as Senator Cormack described them, meet the deficiencies that have been found as a result of the failure of medical boards to meet the requirements in the past? We must have justification for this change if the Committee is to amend the section.
– I wish to pursue further the matter that I originally raised which was then pursued by Senator Cormack and Senator Cavanagh. It is quite clear from the terms of the Bill itself and from the terms of the Minister’s second reading speech that the phrase ‘such other examinations as the Secretary considers necessary’ means that prospective national servicemen who are being called up for medical examination shall have to submit themselves, subject to the whim of the Secretary, to other examinations. The Minister in his second reading speech said:
Two changes are proposed in regard to medical fitness. First, the existing provisions regarding medical examination are being recast to .place beyond any doubt the power to call all those liable for service not only for medical examination but other examinations, for example, radiographic, specialist or psychological examination . . .
Is a psychological examination by a psychologist necessarily an examination by a medical practitioner? I submit it is not. This is the part of the Bill about which I have doubt and which needs clarification. The Minister referred to radiographic, specialist or psychological examination which may be required to determine whether the person meets the Army’s standards of fitness. Proposed new section 22 (1.) provides that where a medical board or the Secretary considers that a person should submit himself to another examination the Secretary may carry out certain administrative acts. I think it is very dangerous to submit young men to examination by laymen, especially when the legislation lays it down that they should be protected by an examination by a medical board consisting, generally speaking, of no less than two registered medical practitioners. The proposal is, I assume, that if the medical board disagrees on whether a person is fit or otherwise to serve, the Secretary can submit the young man to any other examination that he may deem necessary. I submit that this needs clarificaion in the interests of those who are likely to be affected under the Act.
– Addressing myself to the comments that fell from Senator Cormack, I will be forgiven if I do not adopt the expression ‘sorcerer’. I know what my colleague means to convey. He refers to psychologists and his concern, as I understand it, is that they are not members of a corporate profession which is legally constituted by any recognised statutory provision, such as we find with dentists, doctors, solicitors and, in most States, optometrists. I hope I will not be misunderstood if I say that psychologists are usually associated with a society which, whatever inadequacies we may consider them to have with regard to their standards, sets for itself an expressed standard of ethics and practices that they are expected to obey.
We are not strictly concerned with the situation as 1 have stated it, because the psychologists with whom we are dealing under this legislation are employed by the Department of Labour and National Service, and that accords them that degree of official recognition which gives the public, in respect of any of their activities, the same right of recourse against the officer personally, or against the Department itself, as anybody would have against a duly qualified medical practitioner. Therefore, 1 suggest that the actual examination of what has been done to skim the cream off the personnel offering, by the process of psychological examination that Senator Cormack referred to, would be better undertaken as an administrative inquiry or something of that sort, in which my colleague may wish to join, and I am sure the Minister would give him all facilities to consider what has been operating.
With regard to what has been said by Senator Cavanagh and Senator McClelland, all that I wish to point out is that, in my opinion, it would be a complete misconstruction of the Act to suggest that the Medical Board and the Secretary would be acting contrary to each other. The organisation whereby examinations of this sort are carried out - even though not strictly medical, but being such examinations as are necessary to consider the physical or mental fitness or capacity of a person for service under the Act - is laid down by the Director-General of Medical Services and the medical officers under him. The results arc then considered by the Army authorities and transmitted to the Secretary of the Department for administration. It would not in any sense be proper to consider that the Secretary was acting as another authority over and above the Medical Board.
– But he could.
– No. The meaning of the statement is that the Secretary has authority to implement the system that I have just described.
Senator TURNBULL (Tasmania) 15.51] - - I would like to repeat for the benefit of the two Ministers who are now in the chamber but who were absent for so long that what Senator Cormack said is quite correct, although he may have used flamboyant language. This is the greatest escape measure that we could have to help draft dodgers. This provision will assist draft dodgers. Anybody could claim psychological and psychiatric reasons for getting out of the Army. I have yet to see a psychiatrist who is not happy to find some psychiatric fault in a patient. It does not matter who is sent to a psychiatrist; he can find some psychiatric problem.
– The psychiatrists have to justify their continued existence.
– That is correct. Because of this provision we will find time and again that the draft dodger will say that something has happened in his past. He. will be referred to a psychiatrist who will find that he has some problem.
– The Minister said that they were going to be referred to psychologists in the Department.
– That is even worse. It seems to me that the people who need the psychiatrist are the people suggesting the amendment.
– I cannot allow the observation that I made to be swept under the rug by the Minister. 1 should like to know how many of those who have registered have been described as psychologically disturbed and are therefore not fitted for induction into the Army. I would like that figure given as a percentage of the registrants.
– With all the goodwill tn the world, neither the officers who are present nor I have the information sought by the honourable senator. I assure him that I shall be very ready to get it for him.
– In the currency of the Committee proceedings?
– Yes. I shall do my best to get it for him in the currency of the Committee proceedings.
Senator POYSER (Victoria) [5.541 - I refer to clause 22 and ask whether the Secretary, by direction of the Minister, can override the decision of the Medical Board, which may be favourable to the person examined and declared unfit, and continue to send him back for medical examination until such time as the Secretary has achieved the result which for his purpose is satisfactory.
– The answer to that question is no.
Clause agreed to.
Proposed new clause 1 1a.
– I move:
Thai the following new clause be inserted in the Bill: 11a. Section 26 of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsection: (4.) Where a person has, whether before or after the commencement of this sub-section, failed to comply with the requirements of a notice served on him under sub-section (1.) of this section, .the Secretary may at any time serve a further notice on the person under sub-section (1.) of this section.
Honourable senators will see from the Act that the purpose of this clause is to add a sub-section (4.) to section 26. The Committee will notice that sub-section (1.) provides:
The Secretary may serve on a person liable to render service under this Act a notice calling up that person for service with the Military Forces of the Commonwealth.
Sub-section (2.) is merely director)’. Subsection (3.) provides:
The Secretary may, before the time specified in the notice, serve on the person a further notice that revokes the first-mentioned notice or varies the first-mentioned notice in such manner as is specified in the further notice.
The purpose of this amendment is to introduce a sub-section (4.) which will read:
Where a person has, whether before or after the commencement of this sub-section, failed to comply with the requirements of a notice served on him under sub-section (1.) of this section, the Secretary may at any time serve a further notice on the person under sub-section (1.) of this section.
In amplification of that I wish to say that this measure is prompted only because on a further examination of sub-section (1.) it was thought that if the Senate approved it should be put beyond doubt that in the case where the first notice had been not complied with the Secretary should have power to send out a further notice.
– 1 must say that if it were possible to say that words fail me, I would feel myself obliged to say it at this moment. In all conscience, I do not think it is possible to say that because I propose to seek some further information about this amendment. This
Bill was introduced on 1st May in another place and the reaction to it of informed sections of the community was that it was attempting to tighten up every nut and every screw in the call-up system to make sure that none of these small numbers of ‘draft evaders’ should escape the dragnet. After great introspection, self-examination and beating of the breast, the Government decided that it would introduce its own amendment. We have seen eleven retreats and we have made mention of that during the course of the second reading debate.
– Now we have two more to make it an unlucky thirteen.
– These are not retreats. Apparently the Government has regrouped its forces and is now advancing. The others were retreats, but now the Government has decided to make advances. It has gone through this Act with a fine tooth comb, which is what everybody has been saying about this legislation right from the beginning. The Government has gone through the Act with a fine tooth comb and has thought of every possible way of closing up loopholes. The Bill has been subjected to more than a week of debate in another place.
– Perhaps the Secretary submitted himself for another examination.
– Something has been submitted for another examination and finally we have this Bill. It comes to the Senate and we find that we have another couple of amendments. What does this mean? The Government is saying, in effect: Despite the fine tooth comb that we ran over the legislation we missed something and here is an attempt to close up that little loophole’. I should like to know whether this means anything in practice. I should like to know whether some young men have got away because of the failure to serve another notice. So far as I can see the legislation at the moment provides that a notice can be served and that if a person does not comply with it certain consequences will follow. Another notice can then be served varying the first one or revoking it. Now apparently, for some reason which is completely unexplained by what the Minister has said-
– That is not right; he did explain it.
– He completely failed to satisfy me. I suspect that on this amendment I am going to be a very hard person to satisfy because, for the life of me, I cannot see what it is that has been dredged up by this extraordinarily painstaking examination by the Department, with its fine tooth comb and magnifying glass, that has caused this amendment to be introduced at this time. 1 should like to know more about it.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had asked the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) for an explanation as to what had prompted the proposed introduction of this extraordinary new clause 11a. Parliament has had the National Service Bill before it since 1st May. I had hoped we would be supplied with satisfactory information and that it would not be necessary for me to pursue my argument.
– If I imputed to the honourable senator the idea that he was just indulging in a dialectic exercise I regret it. To the best of my ability 1 will repeat the explanation that I gave before. I pointed out that the sub-clauses of clause 1 1a of the National Service Bill left some doubt, on consideration, as to whether - even though the clause included a power to revoke and vary - it authorised the issue of succeeding notices. Where a man fails to comply wilh the call-up for acceptable reasons - for example, sudden family bereavement - it has been the practice of the Department of Labour and National Service to issue a second call-up notice. If I may be presumptuous enough to offer a viewpoint, as some doubt has occurred it was thought advisable to clear up the doubt by including in the section an express provision making it clear that where the first call-up notice has not been complied with a second call-up notice may be issued.
– I ask the Minister: What is the consequence of failure to comply with a call-up notice under the National Service Act? Do not the provisions of the Act then operate?
– Not automatically; only if proceedings are instituted.
– If proceedings are instituted on the failure to comply with a notice-
– In acceptable cases it has been the practice to revoke the notice and issue a second one.
– The fact that there has been non-compliance with a notice would surely be enough, in my view, to allow proceedings to be taken. For the life of me I cannot see why the Department of Labour and National Service cannot act upon such a failure.
– The honourable senator would not expect the Department to act when the failure was for reasons which were acceptable, such as family circumstances or an accident?
– Having heard the Minister’s argument, it seems to me that we ought not to be satisfied. I cannot persuade myself that the proposed new clause 1 1a represents anything more than an over-abundance of caution that has been brought to the surface after a third or a fourth scanning of the Act. The Minister does not suggest that the absence of the clause has hampered the Department in any way or that there have been occasions when action might have been taken but for a flaw. It was a fine tooth comb, it seems to me, which was run over the Act, and that has led to all the trouble that we have had with the clause so far. For my part I can see no reason whatever to co-operate with the Government in relation to the clause.
– I agree with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) that the Opposition must view the Government’s proposed amendment with a great deal of suspicion. One must ask why the amendment is framed in such terms. It states:
Where a person has, whether before or after the commencement of this sub-section, failed to comply with the requirements of a notice the Secretary may at any time serve a further notice on the person.
We, as members of the Opposition, are suspicious of the Government’s motives. Having regard to the fact that the National Service Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on 1st May and has received some consideration during the debate at the second reading and committee singes over the last week or two, one wonders why, when it is introduced into this place at t his very late stage, there should be an amendment of this nature which, as it were, makes the provision retrospective. 1 repeat that the proposed new clause begins:
Where a person has. whether before or after the commencement of this sub-section . . . 1 cannot help but feel that there is some underlying motive for the introduction of the amendment, and that it is associated with the case of Simon Townsend, who was detained in the Holsworthy Military Corrective Establishment. I may be completely wrong. Nevertheless, I would like lo know exactly why this provision has been introduced now. The debate in the House of Representatives has taken place. A week after the Townsend case broke so far as the public was concerned the Bill was introduced in the Senate. Since then it has had a second reading, and now in Committee we are presented with this amendment. 1 would like to know the reason for the inclusion of the words before or after the commencement of the sub-section’ and why it is specifically stipulated that if there is a failure to comply with the requirements of a notice served on a man, the Secretary of the Department at any time in the future may serve a further notice on him. I know I may be ultra-suspicious. I believe 1 have reason to be ultra-suspicious of the Government. I cannot help but think, because of the circumstances, that the amendment is connected with the Simon Townsend affair.
– 1 do not want to discuss Senator McClelland’s suspicion, although I think that the honourable senator possibly may have some justification for it. I accept in good faith, the word of the Minister that he knows the intention of the Department of Labour and National Service and that there is no ulterior motive for the introduction of the proposed clause. The Minister said that, where matters are left to the Secretary of the Department, he can be trusted to act in a reasonable and honourable fashion, lt is not always the Secretary of the Department who makes the decision. When an Act provides that something shall be left to the secretary of a department it is very often a deputy in a distant place who determines the matter.
Clause .20, which proposes to amend section 51, provides for a fine of $200 plus imprisonment for 2 years for failure to comply with a direction to attend for military service. Could there be a succession of orders issued by the Department, and would failure to comply with each order warrant the imposition of the penalty suggested by clause 20? A person who is convicted can enter into a recognisance to comply with a court order under clause 20. Alternatively, the Department can continue to issue orders to the person concerned and to continue instigating prosecutions against him until be is, although not wanted by the Army, ruined financially by virtue of the operation of the law. If a person is called up and, because of sickness in his family or for other reasons, he cannot attend on that occasion, he should be given a second chance. The offence is not attending, and a person still commits the offence if he does not attend even though he has reasonable cause. In clause 20 the words without reasonable cause.’ are not used. So if a person does not attend he is guilty of an offence. 1 suggest thai there should be a clause under which the Secretary of the Department of Labor and National Service could amend and re-issue the order. Under this amendment he has to issue a fresh instruction, and under clause 20 the penally for failure to obey that instruction is $200. For the case in which, for acceptable reasons, the trainee cannot attend, there should be provision for re-service of the same notice with a different time and date. If such a provision were made, I do not think we could have the objection that we have now, which is to the issue of a new notice without the qualification under clause 20 that there will be only one prosecution, in spite of clause 26. I do not think any honourable senator could agree with this amendment.
– Let me answer Senator McClelland and Senator Cavanagh. Senator Cavanagh has raised the possibility of double penalty. Let us look at clause 20, which introduces a new section 51. Sub-section (1.) of that new section reads:
Where a notice has-
I ask Senator McClelland to observe this expression - . . whether before or after the commencement of the National Service Act 1968, been served on a person under section twenty-six of this Act-
That is the one to which the amendment with which we are dealing is directed - . . and the person fails after the commencement of that Act to comply with the requirements of the notice, the person is guilty of an offence punishable, upon conviction, in accordance with the next succeeding sub-section.
Sub-section (2.) says that if a person is convicted he may be fined up to $200, and then says that the court shall ask the person whether he is willing to enter forthwith into a recognisance that he will comply with the requirements of any notice that is subsequently served on him. I ask Senator McClelland to note those words. It was that expression, together with the factors I have mentioned, that gave rise to the doubt whether the primary expression in clause 26 provided for successive notices. I suggest to Senator Cavanagh that paragraph (c) of sub-section (2.) of new section 5 1 is relevant to his concern. It says that if the person does not forthwith enter into such a recognisance the court shall sentence him to imprisonment, but any order of the court imposing a fine on him ceases to have effect: So I believe that on consideration of the scheme it will be seen that it accurately–
– What about a person who does enter into a recognisance? He faces a series of fines.
– The court considers the fine in relation to that, does it not?
– But there could be three prosecutions. He might have three orders issued against him.
– I think the only reasonable-
– We do not want you to think; we want you to make it law.
– I regret to say that I do not aspire to the perfection that, I think, Senator Ormonde demanded of legislation today. I cannot be of any assistance to Senator Cavanagh unless I do think. I shall think with all the capacity that I have. 1 hope to establish in his mind a corresponding understanding. I suggest that, if he will consider the printed word in the light that my thinking sheds on it, his careful consideration will show that the scheme is designed to prevent, on any rational basis, the untoward result to which he refers.
– The matter that we are discussing is very pertinent to the case that has been exercising the minds of many people in this Parliament and outside it.I would like to have from the Minister an assurance that a man who fails to comply with the requirements of the notice or who fails to render the service which he is liable to render under the Act - that means a 2-year period in the armed forces-
– From which part of the legislation is the honourable senator reading?
– I am reading from paragraphs (a) and (b) of section 51 (1.) of the principal Act. That sub-section reads:
A person on whom a notice under section twenty-six of this Act has been served -
who fails to comply with the requirements of the notice; or
who fails to render the service which he is liable to render under this Act, is guilty of an offence and, upon conviction, shall, subject to the next succeeding sub-section, be committed, for the purpose of rendering service in accordance with this section, to the custody of a prescribed authority specified by the court and, in addition, is liable to a fine not exceeding One hundred dollars.
In the case that has been given so much prominence recently, Simon Townsend, having gone through so many of the processes of conscientious objection or, as the Minister likes to call it, draft dodging-
– I did not use that expression.
– No, you did not. I am sorry. I must apologise.I withdraw it. It was used in another place. I was appalled by the use of that American expression. I withdraw it, and I wish that it could be expunged from Hansard. This is the point that I am making: If a man goes through whatever the military authorities interpret as being the proper punishment for a person who evades his national service responsibility, and eventually is discharged into the community again, does not this dragnet clause make it possible to serve another notice on him and to put him through the same process again? I want from the Minister an assurance that nothing like that is intended in this very late amendment.
As was pointed out earlier, this legislation has gone through the mincer in another place, where practically every aspect of it has been brought to light and has had the full searchlight of critical examination directed at it. But because of the rush of legislation and of human frailties, with honourable senators wanting to get back to their homes, their electorates, conferences and the like, a provision such as this could be rushed through at the last minute and some time later we could be accused, as we have been recently, of allowing legislation to be passed. Often the circumstances at the time bring about that situation. Senator McManus referred to the 1951 legislation. At that time the Labor Party had a majority in the Senate. We were coming up to the conditions for a double dissolution. That legislation was brought forward and we had to choose what the double dissolution issue would be. In those circumstances a good bit of backsliding and dodging went on. as Senator McManus knows goes on. Yet years later the principle that was involved in that rushed legislation and the politics of the matter can be thrown back at those whose who participated in that episode.
I want to be convinced that the Government, having been driven by public opinion and by the Parliament out of the recess into which it retreated after having conceived the obnoxious amendments that it proposed originally, is not now trying to extend the powers inherent in the Act to enable it, for reasons of vengeance, retribution or whatever else may be in the minds of those administering the Act, to pick up those who have failed to register. I want a very firm assurance from the Minister that that is not the intention because I believe it to be implicit in the proposed amendment.
– Emphasis has been placed by many honourable senators who participated in the second reading debate on the very small number of people who are not complying with their obligation under this Act, but it has been made quite clear throughout that these provisions are intended to operate in respect of certain conduct following passage of this legislation. Any person who, under the law, is liable to military service - irrespective of whether he has come into prominence heretofore or whether he has escaped his obligations heretofore - and who comes within the ambit of these provisions and does not comply with them will be subject to the penalties imposed by the provisions. I hope I have made that quite plain. Senator Wilkinson emphasised that the Bill was unnecessary because of the very few people to whom it was directed. The legislation is designed to enforce compliance with the obligations expressed in it.
A person who has, after the commencement of this section, been sentenced to imprisonment for an offence against section 51 or section S1a of this Act is not liable to render service under this Act.
So that on being sentenced there is not the slightest possibility under this Act of his being forced to comply any longer wilh his obligations for military service. The sentence of civil imprisonment is in complete substitution for his military obligation.
– My remarks will follow the theme of Senator O’Byrne’s remarks. I am not satisfied with the Minister’s reply. As I said earlier, a number of orders could be issued under this proposed new section and there could be a number of cases of refusal to obey the orders which would justify prosecution. The Minister seems to have accepted that and thinks that there is nothing wrong in it because he seeks protection in clause 20 of the Bill which relates to civil imprisonment. Therefore no fine is payable.
Let us consider the case of a national serviceman who received three orders, each of which he disobeyed. The important point is that we know that the Secretary of the Department does not always determine these questions. Some deputy along the line could do it on occasions. Suppose he decided that although the serviceman had reasonable grounds for disobeying the first two orders, on the third occasion he was not playing straight and had been giving the Department the run-around. Suppose the Secretary or his deputy decided that since three notices had been issued, three prosecutions would follow. Let us suppose also that upon trial by the court he is found guilty on the three charges. If, in accordance with proposed section 51 (2.), he refuses to enter into a recognisance to serve, all he can get is 2 years imprisonment, but if he enters into that recognisance to the satisfaction of the court he does his 2 years military training and has to pay the fines that have been imposed.
– If I speak now I may be able to impart persuasion to the honourable senators concerned. Senator Cavanagh has put to me the possibility of three notices being issued against Jim Smith, one in April, one in May and one in June. He comes before the court, in accordance with the provisions of section 51, for failure to comply with a notice. He is adjudged guilty of an offence and convicted under the provisions of section 51 (2.). He thereupon becomes subject to a fine. He is then asked whether he will enter into a recognisance. If he does not, certain things will follow. I shall read the express words at line 30, paragraph (c) on page 9 of the Bill: If the person does nol forthwith enter into such a recognisance-
That means there, in the face of the court - to the satisfaction of the court, the court shall sentence him to imprisonment . . .
The fine ceases to have effect. The section means that on the hearing of a charge in respect of April the court is required to sentence him. Thereupon that attracts the operation of section 5 Id. Having been sentenced to that term he is, by virtue of the sentence, automatically released from any liability to render service, and that would preclude him from further conviction even if any court could be found in the country which would enter upon a second conviction in those circumstances.
– What if he enters into the recognisance?
– I want to be as lucid as possible and I am better without interruption. I am pretty clear when given a fair go but I become a little confused by interruptions. 1 was about to say that after being sentenced, and therefore under section 51d automatically released from liability to render service, he would not be subject to conviction for non-compliance with the notices in respect of May and June.
– Could they not be heard together?
– Even if they were heard together, only one sentence could be recorded and on the record of the sentence the automatic discharge would take place under proposed new section 5 Id.
– The Minister referred to proposed new section 5 Id, which reads:
A person who has, after the commencement of this section, been sentenced to imprisonment for an offence against section 51 or section SI a of this Act is not liable to render service under this Act.
One of the few redeeming features of this Bill is that punishment is being removed from the military area to the civil courts. Therefore we are starting a new page on the form of punishment for failure to render service.
– We are altering the nature of the punishment from military to civil.
– A person will be sentenced to imprisonment, which is a phrase applied to civil action, not military action. If my memory serves me correctly, in 1966 there were 123 cases, in 1967 there were 105, and in the last period there were only 3, so it can be seen that well over 200 persons have gone through the process of military punishment in its various forms for not having complied with the terms of the Act. After a man has done his military imprisonment, can a letter be sent to him and will he be liable to go through the process now to be prescribed?
– I want honourable senators to get this point clear. If a man goes into a military camp and he is there detained for a default, first for a month, and is then out for a week, then in for another month, out for a week, and in for another month, none of that military detention operates to cut down the period of service for which he remains liable. He could go on in those circumstances under the old law for 5 years with indefinite terms and still be liable for 2 years military service at the end of that time. Under this awful legislation - as the Opposition says - that we are introducing, we are terminating that unsatisfactory procedure. Instead of requiring him on conviction to be committed to the custody of a military authority, we are providing that he will now be sentenced in the civil court to imprisonment not for the full 2 years but for 2 years less any periods of detention that he may have served previously in the camp. On the sentence - at the beginning of the sentence, not at the end of it - he takes his discharge under section 5 Id from further liability for military service under the Act.
– The Minister has adequately and thoroughly covered the case of a person who refuses to enter into a bond. There is only one penalty, whether or not there are a dozen charges. A person who does enter into a recognisance seems to be at a disadvantage. He is the one about whom I am concerned. If three notices are issued and three prosecutions are launched under the proposed new section 51, a person will be subject upon conviction to the penalty prescribed in proposed new sub-section (2.), which provides for a fine not exceeding $200. There is a provision in paragraph (c) of this sub-section for failure to enter into a recognisance. Paragraph (b) provides: the court shall, whether or not a fine is imposed on the person, ask the person whether he is willing to enter forthwith into a recognisance, to the satisfaction of the court, that he will comply with the requirements of any notice that is subsequently served on him under section twenty-six of this Act.
If he then agrees to enter into a recognisance to render military service, there is no provision for remitting the fine. The Minister staled in his second reading speech that there would be power to deduct amounts from wages for the recovery of fines. A person may in addition to rendering 2 years military service be subject to a fine of $200. There could be no objection if the Secretary were empowered to issue an amended document which would permit one prosecution. At the present time no protection is proposed for the lad who enters into a recognisance.
– Senator Cavanagh has now put to me a problem in relation to a defaulter who is before the court and who is willing to enter into a recognisance. He is liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $200; the court has a discretion as to the amount. It is true that if he enters into a recognisance the court may impose a fine, but it must be taken as an indication of a lack of acquaintance with the approach of the courts to impute to a court the likelihood of its imposing a maximum fine or a substantial fine, when a man has said in the face of the court: T have not complied with my notice, Your Worship, but today I am quite prepared to enter into a solemn undertaking that I. will perform my military duty’. I hope it is recognised that I have endeavoured to outline the position up io date to the best of my understanding.
– .Despite the closing remarks of the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) I feel that there is a principle involved here. The Minister’s acquaintance with the judiciary has been from the Bar table whereas mine has been as a layman. He is confident that the judges will treat each case on its merits. He is relying on the leniency of the judiciary. But it is known that from time to time unsatisfactory judges are appointed, and judges have been known to take a dim view of the attitude of a defendant in the witness box. But should that matter to the Department of Labour and National Service if the person concerned is prepared to serve? Although a judge does have power to reduce a penalty, he may be inclined to impose the maximum penally if he is annoyed by a defendant.
– The defendant may have long hair.
– Yes, he may have long hair or may not have washed. The individual’s peculiarities may upset the judge. The Minister admitted that three penalties could be imposed if three notices were issued. We will be relying on the leniency of the judiciary. Surely we should not be passing legislation like this. Surely a lad should not have three convictions against his name for the rest of his life simply because he was not anxious to do military service and did not attend the callup. Even if the judge were lenient in imposing penalties there would still be the question of costs. The Army has power to deduct fines from the wages of a national serviceman. So while a lad is fighting and taking the risk of sacrificing his life in Vietnam the Government is permitting money to be taken from his pay packet to pay fines imposed by an unsympathetic judge. The attempts of the Minister to justify such a provision are completely out of character with his attitude in this chamber during the last 6 years that I have known him.I ask him to reconsider the suggestion I made. It should be recognised that there may be some reason why a person has not complied with a notice to attend a call-up. If another order is issued, failure to comply with it should not carry liability to a second penalty. As I suggested earlier, the Department should have power to re-issue an amended order and it should be regarded at all times as the one order.
That the proposed new clause (Senator Wright’s amendment) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clauses 12 and 13 agreed to.
Proposed new clause 13a.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill: 13a. Section 29a of the principal Act is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (1.) the words “any form of military service” and inserting in their stead the words “military service, whether in relation to a particular war or otherwise”; and
by omitting sub-sections (3.) and (4.).’.
I should point out immediately that these are really two separate amendments. They deal with two separate subject matters and one does not necessarily depend upon the other. One may vote for both of them or for neither of them or for either of them. The matter raised by the first of them is one of the most significant matters involved in the debate on this Bill - that is whether the present exemption from liability to render service under the Act is sufficiently wide to be just or whether it should be extended to cover other categories. Put in another way, we believe that the scope of the present exemption is too narrow because it is limited to the person who has a conscientious objection to any form of military service. A person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of military service is, so long as he holds those beliefs, exempt from liability to render service under this Act. That is the provision contained in section 29a, subsection (1.). Sub-section (2.) relates to a person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in military duties of a combatant nature but allow him to engage in military duties of a non-combatant nature. It provides that such a person shall not, so long as he holds those beliefs, be required to engage in duties of a combatant nature.
The present definition has been subjected to a number of different interpretations in the courts, but the interpretation which seems to have prevailed is that given to it in the the case of the Queen v. The District Court, ex parte White, in which His Honour, Mr Justice Windeyer, indicated that ‘any form of military service’ as defined in this section meant service in any capacity at any time, anywhere, in any arm, corps or unit. His Honour said:
The requisite for total exemption is thus, it seems, a conscientious and complete pacifism. I do not read section 29a (1.) as referable to an objection to participation only in a particular war or in operations against a particular enemy. I mention this because the stringency of conditions for exemptions under Australian law is not always appreciated. Elsewhere and under other Acts claims for exemption have been upheld in the past because of a conscientious objection to participation only in a war then in progress. This was so in the United Kingdom during the war 1939-45.
We are dealing here with a very real question. It has given rise to a great deal of the controversy over the introduction of this legislation and the treatment of consciention objectors. Any time a conscientious objector, or person claiming to be a conscientious objector, has been subject, as happened recently, to military detention, often under conditions which are, to say the least, suggestive of duress, the public has been stirred to discuss the question as to whether exemption should not be extended to encompass a man who has not a conscientious objection to taking part in any war at any time but who abhors the war in Vietnam and has a moral and conscientious objection to taking part in such a war.
During the second reading debate, a great deal of scorn was heaped by Government senators on those who suggested that one could have a conscientious objection which was limited to a particular war. I think I am correct when I say that, in addition to honourable senators on the Government side, Senator Gair said that this was not a conscientious objection but a political objection, that it ought to be dealt with on that basis, and that if a man was merely opposing the Government’s war policy his objection was not sufficient to merit exemption for him.
– But could not that be conscientious, all the same?
– That is what we are saying.
– It could be a political objection conscientiously held, and that is the distinction you do not recognise.
– We do not see why a man who objects to taking part, on the basis of conscience, to an actual war at present in progress should not be just as much entitled to exemption as is the man who is prepared to say he would not take part in any war, no matter what the circumstance is. I ask honourable senators to pardon my voice; I am struggling with a Canberra wog.
– You are certainly struggling.
– I am not struggling in that sense. I have never been so confident in my life that the argument that I am putting forward is based on sound, humane and just grounds. I refer now to the case of O’Donnell, the young objector who applied for exemption and whose case, on appeal, was heard by Judge Norris, a Victorian judge of very high repute. Judge Norris found as follows:
That is, O’Donnell- does hold 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.
The Government’s solution in the case ot a man who is found by a court to hold such beliefs as a matter of conscience is to lock him up. Many people are shocked at the thought that the policy is to punish as a criminal a man who honestly and sincerely holds a conscientious belief that he cannot in any way participate in the Vietnam war and is able to satisfy a court to that effect. That is the reality of the present situation, and that is what we face with this amendment.
In Britain, as His Honour, Mr Justice Windeyer, said in the White case, they dealt with this problem in a very different way in the course of the Second World War. There is in existence an interesting volume entitled ‘Challenge of Conscience’, written by Denis Hayes, to which there was a foreword written by Fenner Brockway, a former member of the House of Commons, now Lord Brockway and a member of the House of Lords. He dealt with the situation that obtained in Britain during the Second World War, and he put it in these words:
There was one notable victory for liberty gained by the conscientious objectors of the second World War. After some hesitation, the Appellate Tribunals, the highest authority, accepted nonpacifist political objections as conscientious objections. On one occasion I represented an Indian Nationalist who stated unequivocally that he would fight in defence of- a free India. He was granted exemption. On another occasion I represented a Socialist who said he would defend a Socialist State by arms. He was granted exemption. The test made by these Tribunals was not the ground of the objection but the depth of the objection. If an applicant convinced them that he held his convictions so rootedly that they represented to him an issue of right or wrong, in his own conduct, they exempted him despite the fact that in another war he might take up arms.
I remind honourable senators of the case of the young man who said: ‘I would fight for my family, to defend my country if it were invaded, but I would not go to Vietnam because I think it is a morally wrong war there and I cannot join in it.’ Why should not the law, assuming that there is general application, permit him to have the issue of conscience decided and, if a court finds in his favour, to gain exemption in the same way? That is what the Opposition seeks. Fenner Brockway went on to say:
The implications of these decisions are immense. They mean literally that it is recognised that the final judgment on participation in any war should be made not by the State but by the individual. This is a revolutionary invasion of the sphere of the State. It is a revolutionary acceptance of the right of the individual within the most totalitarian form which a State can assume, the State mobilised for war. In practice the use of this right may not become extensive; but the precedent has been set and its effect on the relationship of the State to the individual will persist.
– The passage you have read suggests that the view does not have widespread acceptance.
– On the contrary. He is saying that this is the view that was accepted by tribunals in Great Britain. He says that its use may not be widespread. His words were: ‘In practice, the use of the right may not become extensive’. That is very different from saying that the acceptance of the right is not widespread. It means that a person must have a conscientious objection based upon a moral conviction.
In opening for the Opposition in this debate I dealt at some length with the question of conscience because it seemed to me to be an extremely important matter for the Senate to consider. I suggest that we need to make this legislation correspond to the realities of life in Australia. The community is divided on political issues. It is deeply divided over the war in Vietnam.
There is division not only in this country but also in the United States. In this country we should be considering at present not so much tightening the screws as much as. relaxing them a little. The Canberra ‘Times’ said in a leading article on 28th May that the Government should consider whether the national service provisions should not be relaxed, rather than tightened, in view of the improving situation.
This country is deeply divided over this issue. A number of young men eligible for national service and otherwise liable under this legislation are as a matter of conscience unwilling to take part in the Vietnam war. Is the solution of this Government nothing better than to try to make criminals out of these kids, to put them in gaol after being sentenced without any opportunity for parole? Section 4 of the Commonwealth Prisoners Act is specifically excluded from this legislation and I will deal more fully with that later on.
– Order! The honourable senatime has expired.
– I wish to intervene merely to allow Senator Cohen to continue his remarks.
– I am obliged to my colleague Senator Willesee and to the Committee. I hope not to trespass too much on the generosity of honourable senators. I find that there is in all sorts of odd places support for the view that I have been putting. Collier’s Encyclopedia seems to take it for granted that the term conscientious objector’ is wide enough in its ordinary connotation to include the objection that we are discussing. I will quote the opening paragraph of its definition. It states:
They are those who, because of religious, political or philosophical principles, refuse to participate directly in war or preparation for war. Direct participation for some objectors means merely service in the combatant branches of the Armed Services; for others it signifies service in either combatant or non-combatant branches; and for a third group it means not only combatant or non-combatant service in the Armed Forces, but also any alternative civilian service which may be required in lieu of conscripted service. For a few objectors, direct participation includes not only the above forms of service but also payment of taxes for the support of war. The term conscientious objector’ may be legitimately applied not only to those who refuse to support all war activities but also to those who for conscientious reasons refuse to participate directly in some particular war.
– Am I correct in thinking that your authority extends the term to cover objection to pay taxes for a particular war?
– For a few objectors.
– If it applies to one, it applies to all. Is that what the authority says?
– 1 do not think the Minister should be so scornful about my authority. I will hand the quotation to him afterwards and he will have an opportunity to dissect it and make what he can of it. I do not believe that Colliers Encyclopedia produced a definition of ‘conscientious objection’ some time ago in order to suit the Australian Labor Party in a debate on the National Service Bill in the Australian Parliament.
– The assertion of the Encyclopedia is useful to your case. That is the point.
– Of course it is. No doubt when the honourable senator’s turn comes, next week or the week after, he will find an opportunity to cite authorities and to address arguments in support of his own case. I am arguing the case for widening the scope of the present exemption. 1 am producing as many arguments as I can. I am putting them as cogently as I can in support of my case. It is interesting to examine the background and some of the literature associated with conscience and objection. I have quoted the definition of conscientious objection given by such a well known authority as Colliers Encyclopedia. I will repeat part of that quotation. It states:
The term conscientious objector may be legitimately applied not only to those who refuse . to support all war activities but also to those who for conscientious reasons refuse to participate directly in some particular war.
The Australian Council of Churches, through a sub-committee formed for the purpose, has produced an excellent report on this subject. I take it that honourable senators have had an opportunity to see it. ft is written in restrained language. It indicates how seriously concerned sections of the people are about the problems of conscientious objection.
They say, for example, thai there are three positions of conscience possible at the moment. The first is: 1 have a conscientious objection to participating in any war whatsoever. The second is: I have a conscientious objection to participating in this particular war because it is an unjustifiable war. The third is: I have a conscientious objection to participating in this particular war because my country should not be involved in it. Their case is that the first category is covered, and the second and third are not covered.
– What is the difference between the second and third?
– lt is political.
– In the second case they say: ‘Not justifiable’, and in the third what do they say?
– The first is a moral one. I can snort too, as Senator Wright does. The second is also a moral one. The third is a question of judgment based on the political1 realities. The report of the Special Committee of the Australian Council of Churches staled: . . disagreement with an elected government’s decisions cannot be a matter of conscience. However, while in a democracy it is the rule that a minority submits to the decision of the majority, the decision to wage war raises so serious a moral issue that it may reasonably be regarded as a matter of conscience and an exception to the rule. lt is especially difficult in this context to distinguish between persons whose objection is conscientious and those whose objection is asserted merely to embarrass the government or to gel publicity for a point of view. This difficulty should not preclude the granting of exemption to the former.
I do not think one could find a fairer statement of the principle that I am arguing for than is to be found in that document.
– It proceeds with absolute a priori substance that conscientious objection to a particular war is completely justified.
– That is all right. That was the position that was taken in Great Britain. The whole approach to this question in Great Britain when there was compulsory military service was an entirely different one from that which this Government takes up.
– And different from that which Mr Justice Windeyer in the High Court takes up.
– No. Mr Justice Windeyer was construing the Australian statute as he saw it. There have been cases where a magistrate has exempted a young man, because he gave the law a little bit more elbow room at the seams; he gave the definition a wider sphere of operation.
– Before the High Court’s decision.
– Before the High Court’s decision. But while he was telling us what his view of the law was His Honour Mr Justice Windeyer was drawing attention to the fact that it is not generally understood how narrow the thing is in Australia, and we are trying to give it a little bit of elbow room and a little bit of humanity, that is all. Certainly, Mr Justice Norris was impressed by the sincerity of the young man O’Donnell and he said: ‘I find that he has a conscientious objection here, but it is not an objection thatI can allow to form the basis of an application for exemption. Therefore, the law does not allow me to exempt him’.I only want to say that this is a question that has to be looked at very carefully. When we first had the national security legislation in Australia, this matter was dealt with under the National Security (Conscientious Objectors) Regulations of 1942, and there the definition was somewhat different, providing for a conscientious belief which did not allow the person to perform naval, military or Air Force service whether combatant or non-combatant, nor to perform combatant naval, military or Air Force service. A person who held such a belief could make application. The regulation did not say: ‘any form of military service’. When the National Security Act was drafted, it was drawn more tightly to allow a smaller scope for exemption than under the National Security Regulations.
– The 1951 Act said the same as the 1942 regulations. The present provision was introduced in 1953.
-I think that is right. It cut down the scope, making it harder to get exemption, because it introduced this phrase ‘any form of military service’.
– It just cut out the words ‘naval or Air Force’.
– And introduced the words ‘any form of military service’, which meant that a person had to go the whole way - that hehad to say that in no circumstances would he fight. He had to be a complete pacifist. I conclude by drawing attention to an editorial in the June issue of the ‘Catholic Worker’ published in Melbourne dealing with conscientious objection. I commend this editorial to the attention of all honourable senators because it puts the position very clearly. It says:
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 personto surrender his conscience into its hands. No Government can insist that all the wars which it undertakes are by definition ‘just’; nor does history support such a contention. Since a Government has never admitted that a war which it is undertaking is unjust or immoral, it cannot be regarded as the sole authority on the ultimate tightness of its actions. 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 journal concludes:
There is nothing mysterious about people thinking a particular war morally wrong, any more than there is intheir regarding any other course of action as morally wrong.
That sums up the case.I invite the Minister to act even at this late hour. If it is possible for the Government at this late hour to think up amendments which suit its own case, it ought to be possible for the Government to give some greater weight to public opinion and to the opinion of such concerned groups as the churches and to do something to widen this exemption from service for the genuine conscientious objector whose conscientious objection is to this particular war. If this is not done, the Government is just trying to enforce a system from which a substantial section of the community dissents, and in the course of doing this it is making many fine young Australians into criminals.
– It has been indicated in the second reading debate on this Bill that the objections of the Opposition turn upon this imponderable area of conscience. As I have listened to the word ‘conscience’ being bandied around the chamber tonight I have been reminded of a deputation of young men who came to see me in Melbourne some time ago, giving me the pleasure and the responsibility of arguing with them on their own ground. I found that their argument turned upon the same word ‘conscience’, and I was reminded in the most emphatic way of what conscience is. Has it length? Has it breadth? Has it depth? Is it grey? Is it black? Is it white? In other words, has conscience definition?
For many hundreds of years philosophers of one sort and another have sought to examine this question. Senator Wheeldon in the second reading debate ascribed to Senator Gair that the religious espousal of his nature depended on the definition of just wars and unjust wars. This was a question of conscience. Honourable senators will recollect that I intervened at that stage to say that it was not a doctrine of any particular church. 1 said that this was a philosophical belief which is described as ‘Thomism’. It is a philosophical doctrine of St Thomas Aquinas, which was espoused by the Dominican Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church. Conscience, therefore, is something which is undefined. But we cannot exist in any society in which the fabric of society is based upon a concept of law, order and justice not defined by the Parliament. There must be a definition of this. The Bill quite clearly sets out to provide the process by which conscience shall be tested. We cannot do any better than that. We cannot rely upon the mere assertion by an individual in any circumstance that his conscience refuses to allow him to do this, that or the other. The conscience must be tested.
– That which tells me right from wrong is my conscience.
– Perhaps the honourable senator would define ‘right’ and wrong’. No society can maintain itself on the mere assertion by individuals of one simple word which is undefinable, that their conscience refuses to allow them to do this, that or the other. A test must be applied. We cannot rely on the simple assertion that the conscience - undefined - of the individual will allow him to say ‘I will do this’ or ‘I will not do that’. This was the essence of the argument that I had with the young students who came to see me. When the argument had gone to and fro across the room they relied on the word ‘conscience’ and I said: ‘Define it for me. Does it have length, breadth or depth? Does it have a greyness or a whiteness? What is conscience?’ That was something they could not answer. It was a mere assertion. The point is that all that is said by us is that the assertion must be submitted to test.
– Senator Cohen does not argue against this.
– I do not want to get into partisan politics on this matter, but it is quite clear that the Opposition applies different tests. If Russian tanks overrun the ironworkers of Hungary some people will say that this is an assertion of the right of a Socialist government to put down a revolution and it becomes, in this context, a just act. If North Korea wants to invade South Korea, some will suggest that this is a just cause. Some would say that if North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam that would be a just war. I do not want to argue that matter. I do not want to discuss the political overtones involved in it, but it was asserted in the second reading debate quite constantly that this was the test. I do not apply this test. All I say is that within the dominion of this country we say: ‘Yes, we acknowledge conscience, but we apply a test to conscience’. That is what this debate is about.
– That is the only way we can do it.
– Yes, it is the only way. This is happening not only in Australia. I have been interested enough to look up a case that was heard in the United States of America this year, in which an officer of the United States Air Force, a Captain Noyd, was charged before a general court martial and in which this question of conscience was tested. I shall mention the ground for his charge before the general court martial. It was that as an officer of the United States Air Force he had refused the duty of training a pilot, not because the pilot would go to Vietnam but because the pilot might have been posted to fight in Vietnam. He made the assertion that he had the right to refuse duty in the United States Army Air Corps, not on the basis that the pilot was being posted to Vietnam but on the assertion that he might be posted to Vietnam. He said he could not train this pilot. This case involved a test of conscience, and this is the test which this Bill seeks to impose. Not only did this happen, but Captain Noyd, having served his term of duty in the Army Air Corps in north Western Europe, was then provided with the opportunity to do a postgraduate course at the University of Michigan. At that university he fell into the toils of some of those to whom 1 referred before the suspension of the sitting as the sorcerers. Having been through the sorcerers’ hands he refused the duty which 1 have outlined. 1 do not want to go through the whole process of the court martial, but when the test of his conscience was applied he made remarks which 1 shall quote from the ‘New Yorker’. If any honourable senator wishes to verify this report, it appeared in the edition of 30th March 1968 at page 106. At page 112 there is a reference to the hearing and the intellectual difficulties that are involved in the question of conscience. Noyd involved himself in a sort of gobbledygook which was barely understandable, but I quote it for the benefit of the Senate. When Captain Noyd was charged with the test, the ‘New Yorker* reports: . . Noyd, with the seriousness often found among those who revere intellectural matters while living in non-intellectural environments-
I think that might apply to Senator Cohen: can speak about the lessons of, say, Camus more or less religiously.
I ask honourable senators to mark this next quotation in order that they may understand how difficult it is for a group, such as we who are sitting here at the present moment, to be charged with the responsibility of examining the question of conscience.
– Does the honourable senator think that he has a conscience?
– Indeed I have; 1 have a conscience about you.
– The honourable senator does not know what it is. He thinks it can be measured.
– lt is difficult to define. The quotation is as follows:
If the definition of ‘Supreme Being’ is limited to include only the traditional Christian concept of a personalistic, anthropomorphic, and omnipotent supernatural-creator-object-being whom 1 worship and upon whom I depend for salvation or a meaning for my life, then I do not believe in such an object-being.
He had written in his conscientiousobjection application:
If, however, the definition is to include the ‘Cod beyond God’ or the ‘ground of Being’ of Paul Tillich, the ‘existential Being’ of Martin Buber, or ‘the perfect pattern, envisioned by faith, of humanity as it should be’ of David Muzzey, then 1 believe in a Supreme Being.
This was his definition of conscience. As a result of my experience among the young men of the university I feel1 that they have this curious introverted attitude to conscience.
– Metaphysics, they call it.
– That is the honourable senator’s word for it and I am glad to have his correction. I am glad to adopt the word ‘metaphysics’, but if it is metaphysics 1 do not understand it.
– The honourable senator should not condemn it because he cannot understand it.
– 1 am not prepared to try to understand it because I think it is not understandable. The whole question of the Committee stage of this Bill turns on the word ‘conscience’. I accept the traditional attitude of our society, that conscience should be tested. 1 do not accept the test proposed by Senator Cohen. 1 do not accept the test suggested by the nonscientific unphilosophical people in our universities at the present moment. I accept the fundamental concept that a man who claims conscience as a refusal to accept a duty to the community in which he finds himself involved, not only on questions of military service but also on all other questions of service to the community, such as paying taxes and so on, should be subjected to the test of law, or of the common law, and the authority of the judges who preside over the courts in which the tests shall be applied. The test is not the administrative test one would find in a Socialist society, whether it be in Hungary, Poland, Germany, Bulgaria or China, but an administrative test subject to the rule of law and as to which the judges are not bound by any persuasion of the government of the day or of public clamour. That is the test to which I cling, and I wil’l accept no other. I reject the amendment on those grounds.
– I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Cohen because I believe that it provides the only means by which a true conscientious objector in this country may put his case properly before the court. A man who has a conscientious objection is not getting a fair deal in this country today because the very narrowness of the National Service Act makes the exemption procedure a very cruel and improper thing. In my view some of the questions that an applicant is asked are utterly disgraceful. For instance, he is asked whether or not he would fight in a war. Some of the personal questions that are asked of a conscientious objector are impossible for him to answer truthfully. The broadening of the concept of conscientious objection is absolutely necessary. I can think of some members of the Liberal Party of Australia, at least in another place, who would have sincere conscientious objections to the intervention in Rhodesia by armed forces of British Commonwealth countries, including, perhaps, those of Australia. Certainly they would have conscientious objections because of their racial philosophy. They would be as strong in support of the right to object to that type of war as we on this side of the House are in our belief that a young man of 20 years of age, who has no vote, should not be conscripted for war. Such a young man has no way of expressing his opinion at the polls, but he has a proper way of expressing his utter disgust at the immoral war that is going on at this point of time.
– Who is to decide whether it is an immoral war?
– If we areto believe reports so far as this young man Townsend is concerned, certainly not a judge who gives him in the course of examination a homily about his own war service. The men who talk most loudly about their war service usually are those who have seen the least service. When in a court of law war service is used as an example to a young chap whom I sincerely believe has a conscientious objection, it indicates that there has to be some broadening of the interpretation of conscientious objection for the views of a man such as Townsend to be considered properly. Much has been made of articles written by him in 1964. Honourable senators opposite say that if in 1964 a man thought that it was right to murder a person and he suddenly decides that that is wrong, this cannot be counted in any shape or form; he is still a murderer at heart, even if our prisons have tried to reform him. This is the kind of statement made in relation to Townsend. Honourable senators opposite say that he is not a conscientious objector because of some articles he wrote 4 years ago. This is something that cannot be judged within the narrow limits of the legislation as it stands now.
The legislation must be extended so that any person has a right to stand before a tribunal, not a single magistrate or judge, and put forward his proposition. The legislation should be broadened to that extent so that it is not the individual decision of a magistrate or a judge that condemns a person to go to war. One person should not have to make the judgment as to whether or not a particular person has a conscientious objection. That is why the legislation has to be broadened. That is why the adoption of Senator Cohen’s amendment is absolutely essential. It will ensure that every conscientious objector has a proper and real chance to prove his case and will not be forced to answer questions as to what he would do if his home were attacked or his daughter ravaged, and other questions that are not relevant in any shape or form to his objection to a war. That is the length to which people go in the courts of this country to say that a man like Townsend must go to gaol, that he has to be awakened every half hour or that he has to be given a diet of bread and water when, in my view, he has indicated clearly his strong objection to this war in Vietnam. In similar circumstancesI would take exactly the same action. I would prefer to be gaoled, and gaoled for life, rather than be made tofight in a war that is completely immoral. That is the issue that is at stake today, not the narrowing down of objections to force every boy of 20 years of age to go to war. We should look at the matter in a proper, moral way and give each young man every opportunity to prove his case. We should not narrow the opportunity to the extent that he has only one limited field in which to operate against the skilled questioning of persons who in many cases may be particularly biased in their own minds about what is going on.
– I think we are hearing more rubbish tonight than we have heard for a long time in this place. Yesterday I spoke on the question of a political objection. I am not speaking about a true conscientious objection now because a person who has a conscientious objection to carrying arms or engaging in a war is protected. Senator Poyser says that the decision as to a conscientious objection should not be one for a single magistrate but one for a tribunal. If a tribunal of two or three persons decided that a man did not have a true conscientious objection, would Senator Poyser accept that decision or would he say, as he has just said in regard to Townsend, that the man had established a political objection to the war in Vietnam7 If a tribunal said that Townsend - as indeed a judge has said - has not a true conscientious objection, would Senator Poyser be prepared to accept the unbiased decision? Or would he want some other tribunal which in his view - he is making the decision - would accept the position as he puts it to us? I do not know if I am being unfair to Senator Poyser, but I must say that the only thing that impressed me about his argument was that he wanted only one view to be sustained, and that was his view.
I find myself somewhat amazed by the complete lack of principle being displayed by members of the Australian Labor Party who wish to isolate moral or political conscience. I do not believe they are sincere in saying that a person is entitled to a political conscience in deciding whether a war is just or unjust. I do not believe that a person is entitled to a political or a moral conscientious objection to belonging to a trade union or a moral or political objection to going on strike. One cannot isolate moral or political conscience and say that il applies only to war. One has to make up one’s mind and decide whether a man employed in the Garden Island dockyard has or has not a political or a moral right to say: ‘I do not agree to go on strike.’ That man should bc protected.
– Do you think he has that right?
– I am not saying whether he has that right or not. The honourable senator has to make up his mind whether that man has that right and whether, if he has a political or moral conscience that leads him to say that, he is not entitled to the same protection as the honourable senator demands for somebody who says: ‘1 have a political or moral conscience against fighting in a particular war’. On this question of political or moral conscience, my mind goes back to the last war. In 1939 the Communists had a political or moral conscience against fighting Nazi Germany. At that time Russia was an ally of Nazi
Germany, lt was not until. Hitler turned dog on his pal Stalin that the conflict became a holy war. I remember very vividly that it was an imperialist war and that the Communists opposed the United Kingdom and Australia being engaged in it. I presume that that was a political objection to the war against Nazism.
– That was not so with the Communists in 1940.
– In 1940 it was, but in 1941 it was not. The conflict became a holy war. Let us be quite clear in defining what is a political or moral conscience.
– The Hurseys - father and son - had a moral or political objection to paying a levy to a political party in which they were not interested.
– I thank Senator Gair for that interjection. My objection is to the great weaknesses and lack of sincerity in the arguments of members of the Labor Party. They want to isolate the political or moral conscience. I put it to them quite plainly that that cannot be done. Although I will not agree with members of the Opposition, I will accept that they are sincere if they will stand up and say that the man at the Garden Island dockyard is entitled not to go on strike, is entitled to the complete protection of the law, is entitled to have his views respected by the unions and is entitled to earn his livelihood in the way he wants to because of his. political or moral judgment. The position is as simple as that. When members of the Labor Party stand up and say that, then I will accept their sincerity. But until they do that I will believe that they are insincere and that they oppose this legislation purely on either emotional or doctrinaire grounds.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) [9.42 jI join issue with Senator Sim. He has shown us all that he does not understand because he does not possess a conscience. He has also shown us all that he has a very slippery grasp on what are known as morals. 1 point out that the principle that is involved here is a new one that is being established. Do wo through the history of this country we have been involved in wars and to my knowledge, from reading of the Boer War, the Boxer rebellion and other wars like those, there was never the same dissent on a matter of policy and law as there is today.
A law that is not a good law should be altered. It is the responsibility of the Parliament to try to alter a bad law. 1 believe from the point of view of my conscience and my moral outlook that the Vietnam war is a bad war. It was formed out of the idea that might is right. It was formed out of a society of people who are now reaping the results of a whirlwind of violence. The people in the United States of America today are finding that the idea of being the international housekeeper and the international bully is coming home to roost. Internally, the idea that might is right, that anyone can tote a gun and that people can teach their children that the old pioneer of their country picked up a gun and shot and shot and became a hero, has polluted the minds of the children. The concept is that might is right and that violence pays off.
The intervention by the United States - and consequently by Australia - in the Vietnam war is on the basis that the taking up of arms is acceptable. If a country has a law that will allow that to happen and if it can use its propaganda machine to get people into the frame of mind in which that is tolerated, then it can proceed. Under that umbrella of protection, through the Press, the propaganda machine, the accepted customs of the country and the men and women who represent the people in the Parliament, that principle can be accepted.
I look upon this matter in this way: The intervention of the United States - the most powerful materialist country in the world - in the war in Vietnam is the outcome of the sickness of the American society. Had the Americans really seen what they are seeing today - namely, that they have to get out of Vietnam whatever happens and that they should do anything to get out of the war because they know it is immoral - they would not have intervened. Their intervention in Vietnam is destroying their own community. Their own community is crumbling because the war is immoral and unless we have moral standards and unless we have conscience man cannot survive. Conscience is the divine thing in man. It is the thing that inspires him to be better than the animal. It is the thing that has lifted him up from the jungle. Man’s moral standards and his conscience-
– Why not tell this to the communists in North Vietnam?
– 1 am not interested in them; I am telling it to honourable senators. That will suffice for the moment. Rationalisation is no good. We have to face up to this issue at this moment. This is what we are debating at the moment. The red herrings drawn across the trail by honourable senators opposite will not influence me. This adventure of ours in Vietnam is the same as tolerating the Ku Klux Klan and similar organisations in a so-called democratic and progressive society in which there can be legalised violence and subversive people because of the so-called right of the individual.
The right of the individual is to make up his own mind about things. But he should do that only insofar as it does not affect his fellow man. In order to be able to live in a civilised community, man must exercise his rights as an individual only insofar as they do not affect his fellow man. He has to conform in that respect. From that point on, the whole community has to be aware of its obligations to its fellow man. A community such as Australia or the United States has to be aware of what it is doing to its fellow man, wherever it embarks on a war. That is the position in which we are placed in respect of Vietnam.
– If the honourable senator directed his speech to Ho Chi Minh I would agree with him.
– We will have a debate on Ho Chi Minh some other time, when the honourable senator stops selling wheat to China, when the Country Party opposes the sale of wheat to China and when the honourable senator stands up at a Country Party conference-
– Mr Temporary Chairman, I raise a point of order. 1 am not a member of the Country Party.
– It is offensive to associate Senator Branson with the Country Party.
– I am sorry if 1 offended Senator Branson by associating him with the Country Party. As William Morris Hughes said, you have to draw the line somewhere. Senator Cormack referred to what has happened in the United States this year, the record of conscientious objection there and the various methods that are being used to dodge the draft. But he must realise that the days of hijacking and the press gangs are over. Without a doubt, this is legalised press-ganging. What the Government can do to the 20-year old youths whose names come out of the death barrel can be classified as nothing but legalised pressganging.
No matter how the Government tries to smother it with all sorts of verbiage, once that name comes out of the barrel the young man has three courses open to him. He can choose to suffer in the circumstances presently existing in Vietnam; he can choose to do his duty by his unit and try to destroy as many women and children as he can, Vietcong or anyone else who comes within the sights of his gun after curfew and kill or be killed; or he can look forward to being locked in a 9 feet by 9 feet cell with two blankets on a concrete floor, with bread and water and with a turn-screw coming along every half an hour asking: ‘Are you suffering from claustrophobia? Are you going to commit suicide? Stand and be counted’. That is the field in which the legislation operates, one way or the other. We are back to the old days of yours not to reason why, yours but to do and die’.
– I rise to order, Mr Temporary Chairman. May I ask that the honourable senator be requested to display some relevance in his remarks to conscientious objection?
– I am doing that. I am directing my remarks to section 29a of the principal Act which provides:
A person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of military service is, so long as he holds those beliefs, exempt from liability to render service under this Act.
But he is not exempted if he objects conscientiously to participating to an immoral, undeclared, dirty war of the kind that is going on in Vietnam.
– Where does that appear in the Bil1!?
– If the honourable senator had the legal authority to do so he would put me behind bars for expressing the views I have expressed. I have been named in another place for having taken part in a procession and demonstration, but as long as this country does not have laws to prevent my taking part in a procession or a demonstration, I have the conscientious belief that I can participate in them. It has not been driven home firmly enough to Government members that an exceptional situation has arisen. We have become involved in a war that we want to get out of as quickly as we can. We now can see the stupidity of our policy. We now can see that our great ally, the United States of America, wants to get out of it because she too realises how stupid it was to get into the conflict.
– Now, now.
– This is so. America has to get out of it. She has her representatives in Paris now trying to find an honourable way out of it. America has committed her own people to it and she has committed Australia to it. The hawks of the United States have got themselves into such a fix that if they can find any way to get out of Vietnam they will take it.
– I rise to order. I think the Senate is entitled to have the subject matter of the amendment discussed. We should not have to listen now to a second reading speech. The honourable senator has already made a second reading speech on this Bill. He is not now addressing himself to the clause of the Bill before us and I think that as a wise judge you, Mr Temporary Chairman, should exercise your authority in this matter. If you do not the debate will become intolerable.
– Order! Senator O’Byrne will confine his remarks to the clause before the Committee.
– I have completed my remarks.
– One of the substantial pleas made by Senator Cohen in support of his proposed amendment was that unless the amendment were carried we would continue to make criminals of a certain class of conscientious objectors. I mention that only because during the second reading debate I challenged the Opposition to say why any young person liable to register under this Act and who has an objection to the war in Vietnam has to offend his conscience in any way. Why can he not join the Citizen Military Forces? That is part of the framework within which this Act operates. The fact that the Opposition has neglected or not chosen to answer that point indicates the paucity of any argument to answer it. 1 issue my challenge again. If the Opposition now has an answer let us hear it because otherwise a conscientious objector may have to do military service and may be sent to Vietnam.
Some of the facts associated with Senator Cohen’s proposed amendment have not been disclosed. They become apparent when one considers the words of the amendment. We know that at the present time the Labor Party is motivated in its attitude towards the Government by twin objectives and beliefs. Firstly, it has a conscientious belief that this Government is not in the best interests of Australia, and secondly, it has a conscientious belief our participation in the Vietnam conflict is not in the best interests of Australia. If those two conscientious beliefs can be combined and made as one. the Opposition will be satisfied. That has been the whole purpose of Labor’s activities over the past 2 years. Notwithstanding that it has been electorally unsuccessful, Labor still has pursued it. The argument which currently is being whipped up so significantly by Opposition members in this Parliament is an indication of the way in which it is being used as a political stratagem.
This becomes apparent when one considers what Senator Cohen is proposing. I advise honourable senators to look carefully at the words of the amendment. If his amendment is carried, as he hopes it will be, section 29 of the Act will read as follows:
A person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of military service, whether in relation to a particular war or otherwise is, so long as he holds those beliefs, exempt from liability to render service under this Act.
Of course the interesting words are whether in relation to a particular war or otherwise’. The first point is that a person must hold his beliefs conscientiously. That simply means that he must hold his beliefs deeply and sincerely. But beliefs about what? Under the Act as it has always stood, it has been a belief that he cannot engage in any form of military service. That - nothing more or less - has been the basic objection to the Defence Act from the time it was introduced in Australia. The Opposition now proposes that a person can hold a belief and obtain exemption. Presumably if a person does not like a particular war he should not be required to engage in military service because he holds that belief. That is the argument that has been put to us.
– The honourable senator has left out the word ‘conscientious’. He is misleading.
– Very well - conscientious belief. But what about the words ‘or otherwise’? Let us consider the scope and comprehensiveness of those two innocent, looking words ‘or otherwise’. I suggest, that the whole plan of what is intended becomes apparent. 1 challenge Senator Cohen to apply his legal knowledge to prove that the argument is not this: A person can go into a court and say: ‘I hold a conscientious belief- ‘
– A conscientious belief.
– That means only a belief held sincerely, deeply, inwardly that he cannot engage in military service. But why does he hold that belief? He says: ‘lt is simply because the political party to which I. belong has this as its policy and 1 am wedded to the policy of my political party.’ A person can hold that sort of opinion conscientiously. That is a conscientious belief. There is absolutely no limit to the type of conscientious belief which is comprehended by the amendment that Senator Cohen has moved. To accept that amendment is to make a farce of the National Service Act.
We have to recognise thai the National Service Act has been introduced to enable Australia to have always available a well equipped and readily operational Army. The National Service Act is designed to facilitate that end because national security - our own defence - reasonably demands it. Because in the past too seldom has the world been prepared to resist aggression when it first appeared, we ought to be prepared in this day and age lo recognise international obligations. Without some form of defence force we could not do that. This is the purpose of our National Service Act. We have not been able, despite the millions of dollars which have been spent on the effort, to obtain through voluntary means a defence force of the size, scope, ability and equipment which we need. That is a fact and I think we ought to recognise that fact. Therefore the National Service
Act spreads the burden evenly amongst all young people. I think it is far better that way.
If there are in the group of young people to whom this Act applies some who hold a genuine belief which is above party - you will find pacifists in the Liberal party, in the Australian Country party and in the Australian Labor Party - then we can, because it has been part of our history and because it is part of our philosophy, give to them an exemption which recognises their conscientious belief that they cannot engage in any form of military service. Once we alter that and seek to whittle it down and say that a conscientious belief in something less is a belief which enables a person to gel out of service we destroy the whole fabric of our society, as Senator Cormack so eloquently pointed out, and no one has been prepared to answer him.
There are many beliefs which may be conscientiously held. We. read in the newspapers letters simply signed ‘Conscience’, because some person has a conscience about the fact that he has not paid income tax. We can find the earliest expressions of conscientious belief in law reports in relation to people who were not prepared to take an oath and decided to make an affirmation. There have been many examples of a conscientious belief in the course of the debate tonight, as expressed by a person who holds a belief so strongly that he says: ‘This is my belief. But because we have a society in which the majority does rule and a country which does require to be defended, it is the obligation of everybody in this community to whom the Act applies to accept it. The one ground of exemption is that which has been stated.I think we would be doing less than justice and serviceto our country if we did not keep the Act as it is in this respect and reject the amendment.
Airport to a length of 13,000 feet. The extra reclamation needed will provide not only for the additional runway length and supporting taxiways but also for the installation of very high quality low visibility landing aids. It will be recalled that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), and Ministers for Civil Aviation before him, repeatedly stated that when the runway requirements for the large Boeing 747 - the jumbo jet - and for the supersonic aircraft became known, the existing planned pavement length of 9,100 feet would be extended to the length needed for these new aircraft. The Government’s decision fulfils these statements. The length of 13,000 feet has been determined after discussions with aircraft manufacturers, airline companies and airport authorities of other countries.It will enable the Boeing 747 to fly non-stop at full payload to places such as Singapore and Manila in the high summer temperatures which must be expected at Sydney. The length of 13,000 feet will accommodate the supersonic Anglo-French Concorde and the United States Boeing 2707.
The runway extension project is estimated to cost about $23m. Construction will be scheduled in such a way that there will be sufficient length available for those Boeing 747 services which Qantas Airways Ltd expects to introduce late in 1971. The whole project is expected to be completed early in 1972. Approval will be sought for the project to be referred to the Public Works Committee for its consideration and its subsequent report to Parliament. When this and other projects now in hand are completed, the Commonwealth will have spent about $120m on the development of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
– I move:
I ask for leave to make my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia)I present the Second Report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– As Vice-Chairman I present the Ninety-seventh, Ninety-eighth and Ninetyninth Reports of the Public Accounts Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Ninetyseventh Report relates to the Treasury minute on your Committee’s Eighty-third Report, which dealt with the National Capital Development Commission; the Ninety-eighth Report refers to your Committee’s inquiry, into the report of the Auditor-General for the financial year 1966- 67, and the Ninety-ninth Report relates to Treasury minutes on your Committee’s Fifty-fifth Report on the form of the Estimates and Seventy-first Report on the Northern Territory Administration.
In regard to the Auditor-General’s report we would again pay tribute to the AuditorGeneral and his staff for the sustained effort they have made, over many years, to ensure that the report is presented to the Parliament during August. The early tabling of that report facilitates greatly the work of your Committee in this important field of its operations. Your Committee’s inquiry for 1966-67 concerned eleven departments compared with six examined in the corresponding inquiry of the previous financial year. In some cases, such as those relating to accounting arrangements in New York and naval procurement problems, the evidence related to current issues requiring early solutions. In regard to the matter of fraud that had occurred in the Commonwealth Police office in Sydney, your Committee felt that while the immediate problem had been solved the circumstances in which the fraud had occurred should be examined and reported upon for the information of the Parliament and for the guidance of departments generally regarding weaknesses in administration that permit frauds to occur. In the case of the Stores and Services Trust Account operated by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department on the other hand, we felt that with accounting and procedural changes pending in that Department a useful purpose would be served for the Parliament if we were to obtain information relative to the current operations of that account.
In regard to the Ninety-ninth Report your Committee would invite the attention of honourable senators to the observations which it has made regarding the development of a formal, authentic statement setting out the structure of the Northern Territory Administration and listing the Commonwealth departments represented in the Territory with their respective functions under both Commonwealth and Territory law. We believe that the Department of the Interior, which is now concerned with the administration of that Territory should explore with the Attorney-General’s Department, the areas of difficulty that appear to have impeded the formulation of such a statement. I commend the reports to honourable senators.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1555).
– 1 wish to comment on the amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen). But before doing so 1 wish to refer to certain speeches that have been made tonight. First we had Senator Cormack who sounded like a waffling, white-maned old war hawk cum philosopher wandering on for a long period of time talking about the philosophical background of the word ‘conscience’. But we did not hear a great deal of value. Yet later he took exception to the fact that one honourable senator was wandering away from the terms of the amendment. Senator Sim adopted that good old Australian attitude of getting out from under. Apparently his conscience was suitably comforted by the fact that he described our objection as a political objection or a matter of political conscience. It is a shocking state of affairs when a responsible politician in this country uses this good old get-out-from-under attitude. Then we heard from Senator Greenwood, who sounded like a secondrate lawyer. He was completely out of his depth, even though he did say that he was dedicated to his political principles, I wonder whether he would consider it a matter of conscience if he altered his political principles in some way, such as by making an application to join the Communist Party or perhaps the Democratic Labor Party. Would he say: ‘No, I cannot do this’? Or would his conscience be so easily bent that he would say: ‘Certainly. Just give me an application form and I will fill it out for you’?
– What do you think?
– Senator Sim at least was honest. He just got out from under and unloaded the whole issue. Senator Greenwood tried to fool us by telling us that as a matter of conscience we are committed under an international obligation. Which one? We are not committed to the Vietnam conflict under any international obligation. lt is a so-called matter of honour between the Tories of this country and the Conservative element in other countries.
– The undertaking was made in the name of this country, which at least we on this side of the chamber respect.
– Well, the Government made it falsely and there are a lot of people in this country who wish it had never been made. As a result of accepting this obligation there are a lot of Australians who are now dead and a lot more Vietnamese who are dead - all because the Government is satisfying its shady honour. These things should be highlighted at this stage because smokescreens are being thrown up. If the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) feels that he can find some way around this problem of conscientious objection that will be acceptable to the Opposition I am sure that the Opposition would not worry if he adjourned the Senate for the rest of the evening so that we could hammer out a formula. But the present legislation is not acceptable to us. The amendment proposed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition is acceptable to us and to a lot of people outside this Parliament.
– What do you think the words ‘or otherwise* mean?
– 1 do not have to give legal definitions. They might be as silly as some of the honourable senator’s and I do not want to come into that category. I ask the Minister what would happen if this country - perhaps because of Senator Greenwood’s international obligation - de clared war on Greece or Italy? What would happen to young men who have migrated from those countries, but who are now naturalised Australians, if their names were among the unlucky one in eight that come out of the barrel, as Senator Branson mentioned a while ago.
– I did not.
– The honourable senator did by interjection. He was indulging in a little byplay when somebody suggested that he was a member of the Australian Country Party. He raised a point of order and said that he was a member not of the Country Party but of the Liberal Party of Australia. Somebody had said that his Party was selling wheat to China. But he knows that we are selling not only wheat but also steel to China - steel that is coming back as bullets from North Vietnam. If the honourable senator thinks back he will remember that he raised this point-
– I never said anything about a name coming out of a barrel.
– The honourable senator raised this particular point. If he wants to do anything about it now 1 suggest that he should take a point of order. He should either do that or reserve his remarks for his own speech. What I am asking of the Minister is what will happen if, say, a young Greek migrant objects to being sent to Greece to fight against his home country? If war were declared on Italy or if Australia went to help Italy in some civil strife would Italian migrants be exempted or would they be forced to go and perhaps shoot some of their own blood relations? There are more ways of looking at the problem of conscientious objection than those suggested by Government supporters in offering objection to our amendment.
An alien who becomes a citizen of this country may wish to be regarded as a pacificist. He should be allowed to object to a particular war. Quite frankly, if I was in the eligible age group and was a conscript I would not fight in Vietnam. I believe that the Vietnam war is morally wrong and that we are in it dishonestly. But if the Government can twist its conscience to the extent that it thinks that this is not so, then that is its moral responsibility. The amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition is reasonable.
Our lawyer friend from the Government side of the chamber, Senator Greenwood, in his attempt to distort its legality, said that it would open the flood gate. It will not do this at all.
– Give us some reason why it does not.
– The honourable senator has had his go at making a speech and he made a horrible mess of it. I believe that if we look at this amendment honestly as a matter of conscience we will see that it is reasonable. If Government supporters reject it, the responsibility will be on them. There are obvious loopholes in the National Service Act. In Brisbane a member of the Liberal Party quarrelled with an opposing faction. He rang a lady and said: Mf you do not stop looking into the background of members of the Liberal Party we will send your son to Vietnam’.
– Can the honourable senator prove that?
– Dr Hartwig said that was true.
– Can the honourable senator prove it?
– Dr Hartwig is the man to prove it. I do not have to prove it. He has publicly stated this.
– Order! The honourable senator should address his remarks to the chair.
– Yes. If Senator Sim requires proof of this he should contact the deflated President of the Liberal Party in Queensland and obtain that information from him. I do not have to provide information concerning the inner workings of the Liberal Party. The story is on the front page of every newspaper in Queensland at the moment. This is one of the threats that have been used. Are there other victims of the Act that Government supporters who off side with each other can use as a threat? 1 believe that the amendment should be carried. If the Minister cannot see his way clear to suggest to the Government that it should accept the amendment in toto, I hope that he will consult with the Acting Leader of the Opposition to see if an acceptable alternative can be arranged.
– I accept the compliment Senator Keeffe paid me when he referred to me as a good Australian and a loyal citizen of his country. I am afraid I cannot return the compliment. Senator Keeffe referred to an alleged Press statement that some member of the Liberal Party had been told that if he did not toe the Party line his son would be sent to Vietnam. I asked Senator Keeffe by way of interjection to prove that assertion. But, of course, as he always does, Senator Keeffe ran for cover. Senator Keeffe has come into this House for only one purpose - to make wild, reckless allegations of which he never will, indeed never can, produce proof. When he is challenged he makes some smart alec reply, in other words, he ducks for cover. We saw an example of this today when he referred in a most disgusting manner to the death of the former most respected Prime Minister of this country. His action brought nothing but disgrace and contempt upon himself.
Senator Keeffe challenged us to say by virtue of what international obligation Australia is in Vietnam. Our international obligation is quite clear. It is stated in Article TV of the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. If Senator Keeffe wishes me to read that article I shall do so, for it clearly lays down the obligations and responsibilities of the member countries of SEATO to come to the aid of any signatory to the agreement, if that country is threatened or its own interests are threatened, at the invitation or with the consent of the government of the country concerned.
– What government in Vietnam?
– We act at the request or with the consent of whatever is the lawful government of the country at the time. The Protocol to the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty sets out the countries which come under the umbrella of the Treaty. I shall read it, because it is relevant to my argument. It states:
The Parties to the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty unanimously designate for the purposes of Article IV of the Treaty the States of Cambodia and Laos and the free territory under the jurisdiction of the State of Vietnam.
Australia is one of the signatories to the Treaty. It is clear, therefore, that we have an international obligation.
– You are out of order.
– If I am out of order, Senator Keeffe was equally out of order when he raised the issue. I intervened earlier in the debate to challenge the Opposition to let us hear clearly stated the principles for which the Labor Party stands. We do not want to hear them stated in any narrow isolated sense. Do the members of the Labor Party believe that if a person had a sincerely held political and moral objection to belonging to a trade union that would be a valid reason for his refusal to go on strike? Moral or political objections cannot be applied in isolation. They apply to every facet of life.
I am still waiting for a member of the Opposition to rise and admit the right of the man at Garden Island dockyard to whom I referred to oppose a strike on the grounds of his concientiously held moral or political beliefs. If members of the Labor Parly will admit that he has such a right. I will say that at least they are sincere in the arguments they are putting forward tonight; but until they do that I will never be satisfied that they are sincere. As X said before, I believe that this amendment is bused purely on emotionalism, lt has been moved in order to gain some political advantage, and for no other reason.
– What we have just heard from Senator Sim was a repetition of what he said during the second reading debate. Although it is not relevant to the issue tonight, I shall try to answer him. I avoided doing so at the second reading stage because what he said was not relevant. However, if we are to wander all over the place because Senator Sim may think he has a point, we shall endeavour to satisfy him.
During the whole of the debate this evening we have been trying to define just what is a conscientious objection. We have seen dragged in all the political disputations in the world which have no relevance to the matter. The amendment under discussion imposes no duty to define what is a conscientious objection. No-one seems to be able to agree as to what it is. Even Senator Greenwood’s interpretation was no more than a guess, just as were the definitions suggested by everyone else who spoke. If a conscientious objection is only a belief which is sincerely and deeply held, then 1 think Simon Townsend should be exempt from service because no-one doubts that his belief is sincerely and deeply held. But a judge has ruled that Townsend has not a conscientious belief within the meaning of the Act. The whole point is that we must have a belief, lt must be a certain type of belief. It must be a conscientious belief, whatever that is. That is all’ that the amendment seeks to establish. The amendment does nol change the position in any way. Whatever a conscientious belief may be, there is provision for it in the Act now. The judge concerned apparently did not think that Townsend held a conscientious belief within the meaning of the Act. I repeat that our amendment does not alter the wording in any way. Nor does it seek to give a legal definition of ‘conscientious belief.
There have been varying interpretations of the term, and I am indebted to a special committee of the Australian Council of Churches which, this year, published a report entitled ‘Conscientious Objection to Military Service’. That report points out that different standards seem to be accepted by judges in the various States. This report points out that in New South Wales, where almost all1 applications are heard by the same magistrate, only 19 out of 79 applications for total exemption were granted at first instance, lt also states that 16 appeals from these decisions had been heard as at 19th September 1967 and that 12 had been successful. It goes on to quote figures to show that the percentage of successes was higher in other States. I mention these facts merely to emphasise that, whatever the legal interpretation of ‘conscientious belief may be. there are certain people who have established that they have that belief. The present legislation requires that the conscientious objector must be a person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of military service. So long as he holds those beliefs, he is exempt from liability to render service under the Act. But, in the main, under this requirement only persons such as Quakers and the members of other unorthodox religious sects, such as Christadelphians, Plymouth Brethren and Jehovah’s Witnesses; would have any hope, because of deep religious beliefs of being regarded as holding conscientious objections to engaging in any form of war service. Generally speaking, average Christian people do not hold the view that there is not some cause that justifies fighting. There are a few who can get over this question and hold conscientious beliefs. While we do not have conscientious beliefs that prohibit us from engaging in any form of armed activity, it seems to me to have been implied in discussions here tonight that there are those who have conscientious beliefs in respect of other forms of military activity. Senator Sim referred to the rights of men who work at Garden Island dockyard. He said that if a man working there has a conscientious belief that he should refrain from going on strike, such an action justifies legislation to protect that man. Senator Sim is lacking in his duty if he is not working to introduce that legislation.
– No. The Opposition should recognise the position.
– That is not the point. We have not recognised it yet. You have recognised that this man might have a conscientious belief that justifies him in taking the action he has taken. The honourable senator wants me to say that I admit it, and then there is the question of the establishment of a conscientious belief. There is a conscientious belief if it has been established by a legal tribunal. I believe that I should recognise any conscientious belief that is established according to the principles of this legislation. The next question is whether a person with an accepted legal conscientious belief in an industrial principle should have the right to remain on a job when his fellow workers arc out on strike. That is another question which we may debate at a future time. If Senator Sim thinks that an injustice is being done to a man at Garden Island dockyard, he has a responsibility to see that that man’s conscientious belief is recognised and that he is not forced to do anything contrary to his conscience. There is the question of joining a union. If he has a conscience he may be deserving of protection and we should have legislation to recognise his conscientious belief.
Senator Gair referred to a man named Hersey who had a conscientious belief about paying a political levy. If it was a well founded conscientious belief, we would look to legislation to give him the protec tion that Senator Gair said he should have had. The Principal Act contains provision for the recognition of a conscientious belief. We have proposed an amendment because other beliefs might prohibit people from engaging in military activity. Our conscientious belief may not permit us to decline military activity, but if we have a conscientious belief against engagement in a particular war, why have not we a right not to engage in that war? Senator Greenwood has repeated tonight what he said at the second reading stage of this debate.
– Only because it has not been answered by you.
– Senator Greenwood must be one of those people about whom Senator Turnbull complained who are not here in the chamber after asking questions when answers to those questions are given. Senator Greenwood’s points have been answered on three occasions. I have asked to be supplied with a copy of the amendments made in 1964 to the Defence Act. Members of the Citizen Military Forces have an obligation to serve in the defence of this country when called up for that purpose. A man who wants to dodge service in Vietnam can do so by joining the CMF, because it is unlikely that members of the CMF will be sent to Vietnam. But there is no redress by joining the CMF for a man who holds sincerely a conscientious objection to service in Vietnam. He would offend against his conscientious belief by joining a unit Which could be sent to the war against which he holds that conscientious belief.
– Only if a state of emergency were proclaimed.
– Or if there were a declaration of law.
– But he would have committed himself if the need arose to engage in the conflict that he conscientiously believed should be opposed. Joining the CMF is a method by which a shirker can dodge the war in Vietnam, but the man holding the conscientious belief which the proposed amendment seeks to protect has no protection. He cannot join the CMF for any military engagement because be might be sent to the particular war to which he is conscientiously opposed.
– To escape his responsibility.
– As 1 said in my speech during the debate on the second reading of this Bill, it is the responsibility of everyone to defend his country, lt is a moral responsibility. It becomes the moral responsibility of the men of military age in the Liberal Party, who firmly believe that the war in Vietnam is a war for the protection of Australia, to offer for military service in that war, but it is nol Ihe moral responsibility of Simon Townsend and the men who have studied the history and have seen the division of Vietnam and who have seen the invasion of that country for the purpose of stopping a Communist victory which a free election would have given to the Communists in 1 954.
I come now to deal with the words ‘or otherwise’. I do not suppose that an exact interpretation would be available until a legal judgment were given. Senator Greenwood is aware that when a word is ambiguous in a document, the canons of interpretation permit the interpreting authority to look behind the words to discover the intention of the legislature. I believe that the intention of the legislature must be read from the document itself. In interpreting the words ‘or otherwise1, a study is necessary of what the Act seeks to achieve. It becomes very clear that the purpose of this legislation is to recruit servicemen, and exemption is provided for people with conscientious beliefs opposed to military service in relation to a particular war, or otherwise - perhaps to some other sort of war. The words ‘or otherwise’ replace the present words ‘any war’. In fact, it need not be only a particular war. ft could be a group of wars.
– What would be the position if a man had a conscientious objection to only one war of that group?
– I do not think it could be taken into account when the interpreting authority is reading the section in conjunction with the Act.
Ihe CHAIRMAN (Senator DrakeBrockman) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise chiefly to refute some of the arguments put by Senator
Greenwood and Senator Sim. Senator Greenwood attempted to paint a picture of another World War II, or for that matter, another World War I atmosphere. He said that those people who attempted to avoid their responsibility to defend this country would be assisted if the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were approved thus affecting the prospects for survival of this motion. Il is significant in studying the status of Australia in this sphere - notwithstanding the quotation by Senator Sim - that when World War II ended Australia had equal rights in making the final decisions on the Japanese Peace Treaty. In fact, this Parliament decided whether it would accept it or not, but at least the Government was represented at the discussions from their inception right through to the ultimate signing.
Take the present situation. It is true that the Prime Minister had discussions with the President of the United States of America, but when questions were asked of him about our status in the Paris peace talks, which Senator Keeffe spoke about, the Prime Minister of this country very casually said: ‘Yes, we have an observer there from the Department of External Affairs.’ In other words, the Government just has somebody sitting over there. That portrays this country’s position as far as the Vietnam conflict is concerned. We are not regarded as being in a big battle. We are not equal allies or anything like that. We are j ist sort of involved in this situation. Of course, the struggle in South Vietnam is all linked up with the whole fabric of society there. Would anyone deny the response of the French people when the allied armies went into France in World War I? Will anyone deny the response of the people of the Philippines when American forces and our troops went in there? In both instances there was an immediate response to throw out the invader. However, at least onethird of the people of South Vietnam are neutral, one-third are for the Vietcong, and one-third are supposed to be with us. But when we talk about the third of the people there who are supposed to be our glorious South Vietnam allies, what do we find? According to the ‘Canberra Times’, today one of the top regiments was found to be stealing from the people during the attack in the last Tet offensive. If that is the sort of morale that Australians are expected to be excited about it is equally wrong.
The Government also has been caught with another problem. It has been a long time in government, as Senator Henty said, and it has determined defence strategy. For a period after the Korean conflict there was talk about pentropic brigades and there were all sorts of accents on mobility. The Opposition will still probably argue with the Government in military contexts on where it should deploy Australian troops, but honourable senators know as well as J do that the whole of this debate would not have taken place tonight if it were engaged in a conflict where it bad deployed our permanent forces. However, it was caught up in a situation where it had to dig deeper, and perhaps if the Prime Minister were coming to the microphone or to the television screen and saying: ‘We’ are at war. It is a total war, with all the attendant economic problems’, perhaps the attitude of the people would be different. But of course the Government has played it cool and endeavoured to cover up. It has endeavoured to avoid disclosing in the Budget that there is any seriousness in the position in Vietnam. Naturally, when the position is known to the 20-year olds there is a backlash. This problem never arose in World War II. There were some difficulties in World War I with some aspects of it, but if any honourable senator can tell me who are the black and who are the white in the Vietnam conflict, I would be obliged. There is much grey in this conflict which creates all the misunderstandings in relation to it.
Honourable senators recall some of the submissions made by my colleagues in the second reading debate. In my contribution to that debate I pointed out that the Government had given us figures on those who had registered, those who were serving, and all other attendant figures, but if the Minister was trying to convince mc that the same sort of situation, exists now as confronted President Lincoln in I860, when his draft laws failed and 50,000 men would not take arms although they had been called up, I am not convinced. Everyone knows that there will probably be some sort of drawn out negotiations on the Vietnam conflict, which is tapering off. There will not be an escalation of the war either now or when the new American President takes office.
In the present situation, whatever the Americans agree upon with the Vietnamese, North or South, it wiM probably be accepted. I shall not gloat over that; I would welcome it, but I do say respectfully that one of the problems facing the Government is that people will ask: ‘Why were so many sacrifices made, and what little did Australia get out of it?’ I accept the concept of problems in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. They can have obvious problems in their own defence, but not South Vietnam at all. It is not as important to us strategically, because I know and other honourable senators know that in this age of missile warfare it is just a passing whistle stop.
– 1 support the amendment that has been moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cohen. I find myself with a problem that is very difficult to resolve, and I hand it over to the Minister to see what his way of resolving it is. I have always been of the opinion that the section in the principal Act which refers to ‘any form of military service’ had the interpretation which was later put on it by Mr Justice Windeyer - that this referred to all forms of warfare. When I have had anything to do with men who had particular objections to war 1 have advised them that I though^ they were barking up the wrong tree’ and they did not have a chance of success. This evening Senator Cohen gave the instance of one young fellow by the name of O’Donnell who presented a very well prepared case to the court but the magistrate said: ‘I am quite convinced that this man has a conscientious belief, but because of the way in which the Act is worded I find that I cannot grant him exemption, and his case is dismissed.’
I come now to the case of a young man named Monahan, who was a Victorian as Senator Greenwood would probably know. Monahan started to study the Vietnam conflict two years prior to the amendment of the principal Act in 1964, and as a result of his studies he applied for exemption as a conscientious objector because he objected to the war in Vietnam. With legal assistance he presented a case in Melbourne, and as a result of the presentation of that case the magistrate came to the conclusion that Monahan did have a conscientious objection to a particular war. He interpreted the word ‘any’ to mean ‘a’. Monahan was registered as a conscientious objector. This was not the only case. There was also the case of a young fellow by the name of Hovey in Queensland who presented a similar sort of argument and was also granted registration as a conscientious objector.
The point that is disturbing me is that there are more than one or two of these people who can present a case which can meet the wishes of a magistrate and they have established that they hold a conscientious objection under the Act. 1 do noi feel, as in the case of O’Donnell, that they should have been granted their exemption. However, they have been adjudged to have proved that they have a conscientious objection.
– Does the honourable senator know when those cases were decided? Were they before White’s case or after?
– To the best of my knowledge both of them were subsequent to White’s case, lt seems to me that to meet this type of objection, which is raised purely on the ground of conscience, it is necessary to have some way in which the objection can be made. It applies to only a few people. For this reason I consider that some sort of amendment must be included which gives them the opportunity I have mentioned. This legislation contains a fairly good recognition of the rights of conscientious objectors, and it should be broad enough to include people who have made a very thoughtful study of the situation and have come to their decision without any emotionalism. They have brought cases recently to show why they feel that theirs is a conscientious objection. Consequently I suggest that in this amendment which has been moved by Senator Cohen we have a way of getting around this situation. I hope that the amendment will meet with the approval of the Minister because it seems to me that this is a legitimate matter that should be given some consideration in our approach to this Bill.
– I support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) to insert after clause 13 the following new clause 13a:
As my colleague Senator Cavanagh has said, the Senate should be greatly indebted to the publication put out by a subcommittee of the Australian Council of Churches. I understand that this document has been circulated to all honourable senators. That committee, which was set up by the Australian Council of Churches, inquired into and reported upon the rights of conscientious objectors throughout various parts of the world, comparing the situation in other parts of the globe wilh the situation in Australia. I notice in the preface to the report that the recommendations of the committee were adopted unanimously by the Australian Council of Churches. At pages 46 and 47 of the publication we see that six recommendations of the committee were unanimously adopted by the Australian Council of Churches. Recommendation 6 (v) states:
Clear provision bc made for the exemption nf persons who conscientiously object to participating in a particular war, declared or undeclared.
That recommendation comes from a very important body which should know a great deal about problems of morals and matters of conscience.
– But it is not binding on the Parliament.
– 1 agree that it is not binding on the Parliament, but surely it is a body that has some ecclesiastical weight and its recommendations should be taken into consideration by the Parliament. We should take cognisance of the Council’s views.
– Does the honourable senator think that there are any erratic statements in that publication?
– 1 have not read the whole document; I have studied it only so far as it relates to this amendment. But so far as the report relates to this amendment I completely agree with it and endorse every word that has been said by the Council. After having given detailed and weighty consideration to the matter of conscience, this body, which might be regarded by lawyers as an expert body on matters of conscience, suggested that clear provision be made for the exemption of persons who conscientiously object to participating in a particular war, declared or undeclared.
In relation to this aspect the Council said in its recommendations that it was of opinion that at least three decisions on conscience were possible: Firstly, that a person might have a conscientious objection to participating in any war whatsoever.
– We have had all that read to us tonight.
– That might be so, but I am repeating it in the hope that it might impress itself on the Minister. Secondly, the Council suggests that there might be a conscientious objection to participating in this particular war because it is an unjustifiable war and that a conscientious objector might quite conscientiously object to participating in a particular war because he feels that it is an unjustifiable war. Then it takes up the position that a man might say that he has a conscientious objection to participating in a particular war because his country should not be involved in it. It then goes on to point out that in Australia today there is a great section of the community of non-pacifist origin which objects to Australia’s participation in Vietnam. In my speech on the second reading todayI referred to a case that I know of in which a young man who was violently opposed politically, morally and conscientiously to Australia’s participation in the war in Vietnam was called up. He was conscripted. He was trained and sent away to Vietnam. He was a member of my own political Party. That boy was killed in action in Vietnam.
Surely when a man who is prepared to protest on moral, conscientious and political grounds about a war in which he might become involved because he is in a certain age bracket and to which he violently objects - whether the basis of his objection is that it is an unjustifiable war or that his country should not be involved in the war - there should be provision for it in the legislation now being considered by the Parliament. Therefore I suggest that the present section does not go far enough. It reads:
A person whose conscientious beliefs do not allow him to engage in any form of military service is, so far as he holds those beliefs, exempt from liability to render service under this Act.
The Opposition, the Australian Council of Churches and other organisations have suggested that provision should be made for conscientious objection to any form of military service, whether in relation to any particular war or otherwise. It is on these very sound, solid and conscientious grounds that the Labor movement supports the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
That the proposed new clause be inserted in theBill (Senator Cohen’s amendment).
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the Chairman do leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 June 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19680606_senate_26_s37/>.