26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I refer to the assistance which the Department of Customs and Excise gave to Mr G. C. Hoffmann to find other employment after he resigned when he was under notice of dismissal. Why, in these circumstances, was this assistance given?
– I informed the Senate yesterday that after Mr Hoffmann’s dismissal was upheld by the appeal board the chief officer of the Department of Customs and Excise took action to assist Mr Hoffmann to obtain employment in Sydney. Mr Hoffmann had been suspended without pay since 17th September 1968. He had informed the chief officer that because of his family responsibilities he was becoming a bit desperate financially - he had recently incurred heavy medical expenses - and he had sought assistance in obtaining employment. The chief officer knew that until this incident Mr Hoffmann had been an efficient and reliable officer. He personally contacted a senior officer of the Department of Labour and National Service asking whether employment could be found. Subsequently, Mr Hoffmann was interviewed by the Commonwealth Employment Service and from that interview, following the normal placement procedure, Mr Hoffmann obtained employment in Sydney. I had nothing whatever to do with finding this job for Mr Hoffmann. I did not know that the chief officer of the Department had taken these steps to assist him. However, on pure humanitarian grounds I feel it was quite understandable that he should give this assistance. I should mention that in his present employment Mr Hoffmann is being paid , a salary significantly less than he received in the Department.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. What is the attitude of the Australian Government to the latest series of attacks by North Vietnamese forces on the civilian population of South Vietnamese cities, including the assassination by gunmen 2 days ago of a prominent university professor and yesterday’s attempted assassination of the South Vietnamese Premier? Does the Government feel that it is possible any longer to negotiate in Paris with murderers? As President Nixon has announced that he is considering action to deal with the problem, will our Government at least convey to him its views on people who, while professing to negotiate for peace, are promoting war and murder?
– The honourable senator has asked a question coming within the field of circumstances relating to an attempt to find, in Paris, a formula to end the hostilities in Vietnam. Whilst I readily appreciate the points he raised in his question I think it would be proper that any comments that the Australian Government would wish to make or could make in relation to these matters should come from the responsible Minister, the Minister for External Affairs.
– Surely the Government condemns murder and attempted assassination.
– The honourable senator does not have to convince me or the Senate of the extraordinary tragedy, cruelty and, indeed, absolute folly of what is being done. What I am saying to him - and I am sure he will take it on board - is that in such a climate of peace negotiations it would be quite unrealistic and indeed improper for me, off the cuff as it were, to make a statement on that issue at question time on behalf of the Minister.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he can advise me on the present position of the wheat industry. Is it true that the industry is heading for serious trouble unless it can find answers to its over-production problems, as stated several days ago by the Minister? Can the Minister give us the facts and tell us what the Government is doing to solve the problem facing the wheat growers of Australia?
– I have given answers during the last couple of weeks on matters concerning this question. I think the Minister for Primary Industry has made it clear that this is not a matter for the Federal Government. The honourable senator would know that meetings of wheat growers are being held throughout Australia with a view to the wheat growers themselves arriving at a scheme which would assist in the sale of a large crop, if we happen to be fortunate enough to have another large crop next year. Such an event would bring troubles, of course, but it would also mean wealth. Until the wheat growers themselves can come up with a scheme and put it to the Federal Government the matter is outside the hands of the Government.
– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: Do customs officers have to produce a warrant or an authority to enter before they enter premises?
– Under certain circumstances a customs officer has to present a warrant before he enters premises. He would get that warrant under an authority delegated by me to the Collector of Customs to carry out this work.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General give me any information about the proposed special postage stamp to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the historic flight from England to Australia by Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith which took place in 1919? Has the Minister any information as to when such a stamp might be issued and who will be entrusted with the designing of it?
– Some time ago the Postmaster-General made a statement concerning this very matter in which he said that the Australian Post Office will issue special postage stamps in 1969 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the first flight from England to Australia. This was a very important occasion in our history and we feel that we should issue a stamp to commemorate it.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the Government intends to lift the embargo on the export of merino breeding stock? If so, what are the reasons for such a reversal of the present policy?
– I think I answered a question on this matter last week. I have nothing to add to the answer I gave then except that I expect that Cabinet will be looking at the position in the very near future.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware of the current financial problems which beset most sections of primary production in what is commonly referred to as the ‘cost-price squeeze’? If the Minister has a recognition of this problem and the intense feeling of producers on the matter, will he give serious consideration to a reduction in the interest rate for overdraft facilities and term loans for primary production?
– Quite clearly if a matter of that nature were in contemplation or under consideration, it would be a matter of government policy. We do not answer questions on policy at question time. In any event, the honourable senator’s question hypothecates certain things with relation to primary production as a ‘cost-price squeeze’. That is a very wide canvass. I suggest that the honourable senator’s question is of a type that should not be asked or answered at question time.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise, and I ask it in a most friendly spirit. The Minister intrigued me when he said in answer to Senator Ormonde’s question that under certain circumstances customs officers need to have warrants. Can he tell me when they do not need to have a warrant? I would be pleased if he would regard the question as being on notice so that I can get something definite on this matter because I am a little intrigued that a customs officer may be able to enter my home without a warrant.
– The honourable senator’s question is a very reasonable one. I understand that an officer of the Department of Customs and Excise, if he wants to search premises, must obtain a warrant. That warrant is issued under an authority delegated by me to the Collector of Customs in the capita] city concerned. I should like to advise the honourable senator that these warrants are not of a permanent nature; they are given for a specified period. If the honourable senator wants any further information, I shall be pleased to supply it.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it not a fact that the Australian Wool Industry Conference, which is representative of the whole of the wool industry, has agreed that there should be a lifting of the embargo on the export of merino rams under certain conditions?
– I think the answer to the honourable senator’s question is yes.
– My question to the Leader of the Government refers to a ministerial statement made by him in the Senate late last year concerning changes in the Commonwealth superannuation scheme. As members of the Public Service who will retire before this legislation is passed may lose some of the benefits proposed, will the Minister do all possible to expedite the passage of the legislation?
– This question rates being placed on notice to enable me to get further information. My understanding of the position is that it is intended to introduce the legislation to which the honourable senator refers during the autumn session of Parliament. Work is proceeding well and although it does not appear that the introduction of the legislation will be possible during the early stages of the session, it is intended to introduce it during the current sittings. There may be additions to the information that I have provided. I shall be happy to seek further information on the honourable senator’s behalf.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. By way of preface 1 refer to certain Sydney Press comments on the provisions of section 117a of the Broadcasting and Television Act. I ask: Can any person who feels that his reputation is affected by a radio commentator’s remarks have immediate access to the transcript by approaching the station manager, or has he to proceed via the Broadcasting Control Board? In the final analysis, has he to undertake costly legal action? Does station 2GB have a dispensation from section 11 7a as regards the utterances of Andrea?
– I saw the Press report referred to by the honourable senator, and because of it, I looked at this part of the Act. Very briefly the answer is that this section of the Act requires a station, broadcasting or television, Australian Broadcasting Commission or otherwise, to make a record in writing or on a recording of any news programme or discussion by a commentator, etc., relating to a political subject or current affairs. The station must keep this record for a period of 6 weeks after the date of broadcast or television. Where a person considers that such a record is admissible as evidence in court proceedings he may serve on the station a notice in writing informing the station that the record may be required for purposes of the proceedings. The station must then retain the record until the proposed proceedings have been finally determined. Where the proposed proceedings are not instituted within 3 months of the service of the notice the record need be no longer kept. This is briefly the content of the relevant section of the Broadcasting and Television Act, but I would refer the honourable senator, and other honourable senators who may be interested, to the provisions of the Act. I think the brief comments I have made answer the points raised by the honourable senator concerning stations having a dispensation.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General obtain for the Senate a statement from the PostmasterGeneral showing the total number of new stamp issues made in Australia during the year ended 31st December 1968, the approximate total cost for design and printing of these new issues and the estimated revenue received from the sale of these issues to philatelists?
– 1 shall be pleased to get what information I can concerning this matter from the PostmasterGeneral. I think we have all appreciated very much the many very fine special stamps which have been made available to those who are interested in stamps. I believe also that they have aroused great interest among persons overseas who are interested in this field. The points raised by Senator Marriott are of interest. I shall get the information for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I remind, him that yesterday he told the Senate that no officers of his Department had been charged as a result of an evasion of customs duty relating to cigarettes and tobacco but that they had merely been reprimanded, ls he aware that the May 1968 minutes of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association, New South Wales Branch, indicate that more than twenty officers were charged under the Customs Act with disgraceful and improper conduct in their handling of bonded cigars and that all were fined and several were reduced in status? Is the Minister also aware that the same minutes disclose that three of those officers appealed against the departmental decision; that their appeals were upheld by the appeals board, and that upon this determination by the appeals board the officers were then recharged by the Department with the offence of negligence and carelessness and were dealt with by the Department. Does he still say that the officers were not charged but were merely reprimanded by his Department?
– Although I mentioned a case involving cigarettes and tobacco yesterday, I think it may be a different case from the one the honourable senator is raising. However, because the matter is not clear in my mind, I ask him to place his question on the notice paper. Then I will obtain a detailed answer for him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has the Government received any further information as to the way Indonesia proposes to let the people of West Irian decide their future? Is the proposed type of self-determination in line with the undertaking given by Indonesia to the United Nations when that country took over the administration of West Irian from the Dutch?
– I recall that the Minister for External Affairs has made some comment in relation to the procedures to be adopted. For that reason it would be proper to refer this further question to him so that he may give an additional answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. When Mr Hoffmann came to meet the Minister on 26th November 1968 to proffer bis thanks and a bible, had the Minister spoken to or had any other communication with Mr Hoffmann before that date?
– I said that I saw Mr Hoffmann on only the one occasion, and that was on 26th November 1968.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. As a report of the interrogation of Mr James Francis O’Brien by Commonwealth police last November was made to the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, will the Minister advise the nature of the report and whether any breaches of the Public Service Act were indicated?
– Yesterday I gave a series of answers to related questions. I suggest that this question be placed on the notice paper. Then I will obtain a further answer.
– Can the Minister for Works indicate the progress which has been achieved in the preparation of the Tullamarine jet airport for commercial use?
What is the current state of construction contracts? On what date will the airport be ready for use?
– I refer the honourable senator to the details that are set out in the works review issued by the Department of Works in December. However, it may be of interest to honourable senators to be reminded that the 8,500 feet north and south runway and the 7,500 feet east and west runway, with associated taxiways and aircraft parking aprons, have been completed. The control tower and operations building have been completed. The fire station and the services building have been completed and the elevated road and car park have already been completed. I am sure that honourable senators would like to be reminded that the elevated road and car park cover an area 1,500 feet long and 32 feet wide, with provision in the design for parking of 1,200 cars.
I wish to inform the Senate that 3 weeks ago I had an opportunity to make a further inspection of the progress on the terminal building at Tullamarine. I am sure honourable senators will be gratified to know of the interest indicated by Mr Morton, the New South Wales Minister for Highways, Mr Morris, the New South Wales Minister for Transport, and the Victorian Minister for Transport who accompanied me on the inspection. We were able to see that progress on the terminal building, notwithstanding considerable industrial dislocation, is proceeding so that completion is expected by the date programmed. I think it is in the first half of 1971, but I do not wish to be tied to that half year precisely. I will get confirmation of the expected completion date during the day and if any correction is needed of what I have said, I will give it on Tuesday.
On that same day of inspection we visited the freeway that is being constructed into Melbourne. Its construction is making excellent progress. We also saw other very impressive programmes being carried out by the Victorian Government, including work at the St Kilda intersection and the South Yarra bridge. I hope that all I have said has given honourable senators an idea of the way in which Commonwealth works at the airport are being integrated with Melbourne’s developmental projects.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Has the Premier of Queensland made recent representations to the Prime Minister for drought relief for Queenslanders entitled to such relief? If the answer is in the affirmative, what was the total amount sought for drought relief? Have any moneys sought for drought relief been forwarded to the Queensland Government?
– I believe that the Acting Premier of Queensland - this would suggest that the application must have been made when the Premier was overseas or interstate - made recent representations to the Commonwealth for drought relief in the pattern of drought relief that was given to the States last year. It is within my knowledge that the Minister for the Interior has acknowledged the current drought conditions that exist in certain areas in Queensland. He has suggested that the drought is quite serious in certain areas. My only information as to what has been done about the representations up to the present is that the representations are currently under examination. As honourable senators will recall, a formula is used to determine when a drought becomes a national situation. The Treasurer would then enter into these considerations and a decision would be made as to whether intervention by the Commonwealth over and above what the States have done would be justified. As honourable senators will recall, the formula applied last year in Queensland, Tasmania, Western Australia and notably New South Wales. The only precise information that I have at the moment, and it is as recent as at the beginning of the month, is that the representations made by the Queensland Government are currently under examination. As soon as I obtain some further information I shall forward it to the honourable senator.
– Can the Minister for Supply indicate the purposes of the Black Arrow programme, which I believe is to become effective in about 3 months time at Woomera in South Australia? Will the programme cause any increase in building or general scientific activity at Salisbury and at Woomera? Does the Minister expect the Black Arrow programme to counteract to some extent the effect of the general fading out of the European Launcher Development Organisation programme at Woomera and at Salisbury?
– I shall obtain a departmental reply on the particularity of the question. My understanding of the situation is that the European Launcher Development Organisation programme currently is in some difficulty because of a difference of view between the United Kingdom Government and the other members of ELDO as to the future programming of the ELDO launchings. The United Kingdom Government believes that there should be a concentration on the applications in satellite programming and that there should not be as much emphasis on the launchings; that is to say, the communications side and the studies that can be done in that area should be emphasised. I do not believe that the Black Arrow programme will make a significant variation in the work load factor at Woomera. I am still confident that this year there will be firings in the ELDO programme. There may possibly be two firings, one in July and the other later in the year. I am not confident that this other work will make a significant difference in the work factor. I accept what the honourable senator said, but it must always be recognised that any new study of this type gives our Australian technologists and our Australian experts an opportunity to become more efficient in establishing one of the wonders of the modern world in outer space.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it a fact that James Francis O’Brien, who resigned as an officer of the Department of Trade and Industry, is now engaged as a publicity promotions organiser or in some similar position with a chain of New South Wales south coast newspapers? Will the Minister inform the Parliament whether Mr O’Brien was given assistance in obtaining the position by the Minister for Trade and Industry, the Honourable John McEwen. in the same way as Mr G. C. Hoffmann was assisted by the Minister for Customs and
Excise? Is the Minister aware and able to inform the Parliament of the details of membership and ownership of the newspaper chain mentioned?
– Yesterday I supplied an answer to a question on notice in relation to the person named by the honourable senator which revealed that this person had resigned from the Department of Trade and Industry. Where he went and what he did after he left the Department obviously would not be within my knowledge. I would suggest that the honourable senator ask Mr O’Brien.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. A recent statement shows the number of industries in the United States in which graduate foremen are in use in top management because of the American wish to avoid stratification in industry and business. Can the Minister inform the Senate in due course whether any comparable figures are available for the range of Australian industry?
– I am not aware of any figures being available for industry generally but I have been furnished with figures by the Public Service Board which indicate that that trend is very evident in recruitment to the Commonwealth Service.
– My question to the Minister for Supply relates to the Australian aircraft industry. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the recent statement by Mr Percival, the Australian aviation pioneer, urging that the Australian aircraft industry should resist the role of parts manufacturer and stating that the Australian industry could and should produce a 40- passenger aircraft for which a ready market exists in semi-governmental and governmental agencies? Will the Minister investigate the possibility of any such orders?
– I did not see the article but it was mentioned to me yesterday and I have asked for it to be brought to my notice for study. I immediately put under challenge the proposition, which I am quite certain has been stated by Senator
Bishop in good faith, that we should resist carrying out certain part time work in the aircraft industry. We all know that you do not decide today that you will have an aircraft and expect to have it in 6 months, 12 months or even possibly 2 years. The more sophisticated the aircraft the longer it .takes. It will be recalled, for example, what has been happening with the Concorde, which had its first trial flights a few days ago. Now it has been indicated that it will be 2 years before the aircraft is brought into commercial operation. Qantas Airways Ltd has an option to take a number of the aircraft when they become available. A tremendous amount of research, developmental work and tooling up is necessary to produce even a small aircraft of the short take-off and landing type. You just cannot say: ‘Very well, we will solve the problems of the aircraft industry by deciding to build an aircraft’.
– I am not saying that.
– The honourable senator asked a question about a particular matter and I am trying to give him an honest and fair answer. If we can get some work into the aircraft factories and the industry generally which will help to train the operatives and to provide them with employment, that is all to the good. That is what I have been trying to do. It is also what the Minister for Defence has been trying to do. I do not accept the proposition that has been enunciated by Mr Percival. Nevertheless, I will have a look at his statement and if there is anything that should be said I shall be most happy to discuss the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. I refer to the address given by the Minister for Trade and Industry to the Australian Mining Industry Council on 3rd March last in which he referred to the limitations of the local loan market to satisfy the mining industry’s massively growing needs and the need to tap the overseas loan market. Will the Minister supply the Parliament with recent examples known to him of, firstly, opportunities available to the local loan market to finance in whole or in part in dustrial and mining ventures in Australia, and, secondly, the inability of the local loan market to take advantage of these opportunities?
– I shall refer the honourable senator’s question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. As I interpret the honourable senator’s question, he is seeking an expansion of the points made by the Minister for Trade and Industry in a recent address. I am quite certain that the Minister will be prepared to give some expansion of the views he expressed on that occasion. There is no doubt in my mind, and I do not think that there is any doubt in the minds of anybody who thinks about it, that overseas investment in Australia is still needed and will be needed for many years to come because it is consistent with our expansion and development. It should be obvious to everybody that Australia cannot generate within itself the capital that is needed for the tremendous expansion that is taking place, an expansion which I believe is unequalled in any other part of the world in contemporary history.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. It relates to a report in today’s Press that the Government will appoint forty-six Australian police as guards in overseas embassies to replace the nationals of overseas countries who were previously employed in that capacity. Has the Government taken this action because of a feeling that local employees in overseas embassies may be sometimes untrustworthy?
– No, I would not accede to that as a proposition. I think this is normal routine procedure. If it will help the honourable senator, I will treat his; question as being on notice.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As it is evident from the attempted trial and denunciation of MrHoffmann by the Australian Labor Party that its senators and members believe that all information on this case which appearsin the newspapers is the truth-
– I rise to order, Mr President,
– Under what standing order is the honourable senator taking objection?
– Is the honourable senator asking a question or giving information?
– It is not for the honourable senator to determine that. I shall make up my mind about it.
– To continue, can the Leader of the Government state whether any action is being taken to discover whether, and if so how, official correspondence or documents on this subject have been, perhaps wrongfully, given to senators and members of the Australian Labor Party, as is alleged in a section of this morning’s Press? Mr President, I do not think I am transgressing the Standing Orders by quoting that allegation. It reads:
Over the past few days many of the questions asked by the Opposition have been based on documents obtained by Labor senators from official sources.
– Order! The honourable senator is giving information.
– In my mind there are no difficulties about this question at all. Every public servant undertakes certain obligations in relation to his employment when he enters the Public Service. Every person does that; every senator does it and that is a good thing to remember. The situation is that if an officer in a department - he could be in my Department - gives a document away, allows it to be copied, or does anything contrary to his responsibilities, contrary to the Public Service Act or contrary to any regulation relating to his employment, he can be dealt with under the conditions of his employment. Any person who attempts to prevail upon an officer of the Public Service to provide something in that way becomes a party to the felony.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that members of the Australian Labor Party have complained that the Premier of Queensland holds shares in a public company which is involved in the search for oil in Australia? So as to demonstrate the fairness of this matter, will the Leader of the Government request the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate to volunteer to compile a list of the interests in public companies involved in mining or in oil search which are held or have been held by members of the Australian Labor Party and table it in the Senate? Does the Australian Labor Party support investment of Australian money in the development of Australian resources?
– In answer to the first part of the question, yes, it is true that certain questions have been asked in this place on this matter and that there were further references to it on the motion for the adjournment last night. Therefore there is nothing to add in that regard. As to whether I would ask members of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate or anybody else to table a record of his transactions, I would not do so because I have maintained all along that a man’s business is his own affair. I do not believe it is necessary for any senator or any member of the Parliament to be called upon to disclose his private affairs. I have always accepted the view - and I hope everybody will accept it - that a member of Parliament acts in good faith in whatever he does, as I am quite certain the Premier of Queensland has done.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. What work is being done on underground water resources in Australia? Will the Minister for National Development consider setting up an expert committee to investigate the source, reserves and potential of underground water in Australia? I refer particularly to the south east of South Australia where there are big areas of underground water but where also great amounts are being used annually.
– Water is a very vital commodity to Australia. We have set up the National Water Resources Council which is taking evidence on the stream water that will be available in Austrafia. I cannot say off the cuff what is being done with relation to underground water, but I shall find out from the Minister and let the honourable senator know.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. It is complementary to that asked by Senator Poyser, who is secretary of the primary industries committee of the Opposition. Would the Minister inform the Senate of the names of the graziers’ or wool1 growers’ or farmers’ organisations from which representations came to lift the 40-year long embargo on the export of merino rams from Australia? Has a figure of 300 rams been stated as a first quota? Is the Minister aware that, by artificial insemination, such a quota, if exported, could fertilise hundreds of thousands of ewes whose progeny would in the future compete with our merino wool on the difficult world textile market? Will the Minister for Primary Industry make a statement giving the reasons advanced for a change of policy that would adversely affect thousands of merino wool growers throughout Australia?
– I informed the Senate, I think last week, and it is common knowledge amongst primary producers, that for some years there have been divergent views regarding the embargo on the export of merino rams. The Merino Sheep Breeders Association has been in favour of lifting the embargo for some time. Various primary producers’ organisations have been opposed to this. I think the opposition to it is now weakening. I speak only from my own observations.
I have some further information that I think will be helpful. Because of an answer I gave to Senator Young, Senator O’Byrne has asked what organisations requested the Minister for Primary Industry to lift the embargo. At its meeting on 27th and 28th November 1968, the Australian Wool Industry Conference agreed to recommend to the Government a partial - I emphasise ‘partial’ - lifting of the embargo on the export of merino sheep subject 10 certain conditions. The relevant motion passed by the Conference was:
That the merino export embargo be lifted subject to the following conditions:
That merino rams may be exported subject to their having been sold at public auction sales nominated by State associations who are members of the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders; (is) That merino ewes shall not be exported;
That no merino semen and no fertilised ova be exported;
That the conditions be reviewed annually;
That there be a maximum of 300 rams for export in the first year.
This motion was carried by 37 votes to 16, and two members of the Conference were absent when the vote was taken. The voting was not on organisational1 lines, members of the same organisation voting differently. This is the AWIC, the Federal organisation with which most State primary producers are affiliated. I would not be able to inform the honourable senator what representations, if any, have been made to the Minister by separate organisations. If the honourable senator would like any further information I shall endeavour to get it for him.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government.. Has his attention been drawn to a desire expressed by Mr and Mrs Hoffmann to be left alone as indicated in Mrs Hoffmann’s words: ‘We are trying to take things quietly and let our children lead a normal life’? Does he regard this as an expression of sorrow and despair at the continued pillorising that Mr Hoffmann is suffering through the unending questioning in this place in respect of his resignation from the Department of Customs and Excise? Is this uncharitable attitude, displayed by unrelenting and repetitive questioning, in keeping with the traditional and highly desirable Australian character trait of giving one’s fellows a fair go?
– I rise to order. This is a question which should not be permitted.
– Why not?
– Because it is reflecting upon other honourable senators in this place and their proper conduct in this chamber. As senators they are entitled to ask questions. Those questions have been accepted by the President. They have been asked in the discharge of their public business in probing ministerial responsibility in this chamber. No one has asked questions about the Hoffmanns’ private affairs; they have been directed to the conduct of the Ministers and their handling of the Hoffmann affair. Otherwise they would have been ruled out of order- as being not proper for persons to ask in this chamber. As you will appreciate, Mr President, every question that has been asked has been directed, as it must be directed, to areas of ministerial responsibility. It is the Government which is on trial. It is the Government which is being questioned. The most serious charges are being made directly and indirectly against Ministers. Answers are not being given when they are sought. You, Mr President, should not accept a question which is offensive and reflects upon honourable senators in the proper conduct of their functions in this chamber.
– The point of order is not upheld.
– <I remind the Senate that for about 6 sitting days these people have been the centre of a most vitriolic attack associated with the resignation by Mr Hoffmann. On Tuesday night I pleaded with the Senate to stop crucifying these people. Every honourable senator in this place should ask himself the simple questions: Have I ever made a mistake? Have I ever done something wrong? Have honourable senators ever been in the situation that, having made a mistake and paid the penalty, because of party politics their character has been assassinated continually from that time on? Here is a man who has made a mistake. He has resigned from the Public Service after 16 or 17 years. He has taken another job. Showing a bit of human charity, the Department of Customs and Excise tried to help to see that he was rehabilitated in some way in a job. This man has a wife and two children. Many honourable senators opposite have children. If those honourable senators make a mistake, I hope to God that the people who have the unfortunate job of correcting them will not follow them to the last day in crucifying them. They should have some humanity. They should remember that they are supposed to be representing the community. They should look at their own consciences. Have they made a mistake at some time in their lives? All I want to say is that if any officer of mine ever makes a mistake and certain things have to be done to him I will make certain that he will not be pursued after he has paid the price. Honourable senators opposite should look at themselves in this regard.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Works. What has been done to provide passenger conveyor belts or vehicles at the Tullamarine Airport between the widely separated domestic and international sections, as suggested by Senator Bishop in this chamber last year?
– I am not clear on the suggestion that the honourable senator makes. I ask him to put his question on the notice paper and in doing so to clarify the meaning.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, follows my previous question. Is the Minister serious when he states that the future of the Wheat industry depends wholly on the wheat growers? If he is serious, does this not show a lack of government leadership which, if we are fortunate enough to have good seasons in the future, will mean the destruction of the wheat industry?
– I do not think I said in as many words what the honourable senator alleges I said. I have repeated on several occasions now that what is happening is that the wheat grower organisations throughout Australia are having meetings and are endeavouring to decide on some scheme that will avoid the difficulties that we will have in marketing and storing wheat if we have another record crop. The Australian Government has not the power to curtail acreage, as apparently is being suggested in some quarters. The Minister for Primary Industry has stated that. I have stated it here, too. That is the position. But this Government has always adopted the view that if primary producer organisations desire some scheme that will benefit their industry and if the Government is convinced that that is the wish of the majority of those organisations, as a rule a referendum should be held to determine the views of the primary producers, unless they are clearly indicated, with a view to carrying out the wishes of the industry concerned. The position that we are in today is exactly that.
– 1 did not quite hear the last part of the question.
– Senator Scott w:n given warning of an oral question.
– Senator Ormonde altered his question. That is what happened, and he knows it.
(Senator Marriott having addressed a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate)
– I asked: Can he prevail or not?
– I rise on a point of order, if you. Mr President, rule a question is out of order, irrespective of whether it affects anyone else-
– You ruled that. With great respect, Mr President, I say that I took it that you ruled that Senator Marriott was out of order because there was no ministerial responsibility. You having done that, I should like to know, with great respect to my friend the Leader of the Government, how he can ask that the question be put on notice.
– With great respect, I thought you did.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
With regard to the issue of patents to produce synthetic meat in Australia, will the Minister ban the production and importation of all synthetic ments, so that one of Australia’s main industries, the meat industry, will not be adversely affected?
Senator ANDERSON- The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer:
The Commonwealth has no power to ban the production in Australia of synthetic meat. Any proposal for a ban on the manufacture of these products would be for consideration by the State governments.
As regards the possibility of a ban on the importation of synthetic meat it is open for any industry to seek protection against market disruption from imports. In the event of imported synthetic meat ever causing or threatening damage to the Australian meat industry, the Government would give consideration to appropriate action in response to a request to protect the interests of the local industry. ] believe, however, that the question of the production or importation of synthetic meat should be considered in its proper context. For example, 1 understand that at a meeting of the Australian Meat Board last year, samples of synthetic meats - pork and beef flavours - made from soya beans were tasted by Board members. It is reported that Board members concluded that synthetic meat products did not, at the present time, constitute a threat to the Australian meat industry. Nevertheless, relevant Commonwealth departments and the Meat Board are maintaining a close watch on developments in the synthetic meat field. It should be added that the fact that a number of patents have been registered in Australia does not mean that the manufacture of synthetic meat in this country is imminent. It is quite common for inventors to take out patent rights in a large number of countries, irrespective of the immediate commercial prospects of their inventions. I am informed that there are at present no plans to manufacture synthetic meat in Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
When will the Government’s defence plan be made known to this Parliament and to the people, and on what date will a statement on the plan be made available for debate in the Senate?
Senator ANDERSON- I refer the honourable senator to the defence statement which was made in the Senate on Tuesday, 25th February 1969. (Hansard p. 35.)
asked the minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
With reference to the matter raised by me in the Senate on 25th February 1969, at 10.52 p.m., relating to correspondence addressed to the Bulgarian Embassy which was opened by the Department of External Affairs, on which the Minister immediately promised an . inquiry, what are the results of that inquiry?
Senator ANDERSON- The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply:
The honourable senator’s letter to the Bulgarian Embassy to which he referred in the Senate on 25th February was delivered to the Department of External Affairs marked Try External Affairs’. Letters so addressed and similarly endorsed are frequently received in the Departemnt where the practice has been to endeavour to assist senders by writing a letter in each case explaining that the country concerned does not have an Embassy in Canberra and supplying the address from which the information or the service sought is likely to be obtained. More often than not these letters have to be opened to obtain the address of the sender. The addresses offered to the senders as the source of information or service required are generally those of the appropriate Ministries in the countries concerned. In the case of the honourable senator’s letter, the address of the Bulgarian ConsulateGeneral in Sydney was offered as the closest source of information.
I can assure the honourable senator that the Department of External Affairs is not making security checks or checks of any kind on the private mail of members of Parliament or mail of any other person. I can also assure him that there is nothing sinister in the letter he received and that mail is not being intercepted by the Department of External Affairs in the sense or for the purpose he suggests.
– I ask for leave to ask my question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Is leave granted? There being an objection, leave is not granted.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to: That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would enable Senator Cavanagh to ask his question.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In the hearing of charges by the Public Service Appeals Board, resulting in the dismissal notice against G. C. Hoffmann, as published in the Government ‘Gazette’, was the name of any other employee of the Department of Customs and Excise or any other department mentioned as being implicated in the breach of section 55 of the Public Service Act for which Mr Hoffmann was found guilty? If so. who was the employee and was he ever charged with an offence?
Senator ANDERSON- The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The name of no member of the Department of Customs and Excise, other than that of Mr Hoffmann, has ever been mentioned as being involved in the activities for which Mr Hoffmann was charged.
As regards an officer of any other department, see the answer to question No. 925. (Question No. 925)
Senator KEEFFE - by leave- asked the
Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Can the Prime Minister advise the Parliament if evidence at the Public Service Appeals Board indicated that Gerald Charles Hoffmann was acting in liaison with James Francis O’Brien, then an officer in the Department of Trade and Industry, in the falsification of import documents, or did Mr Hoffmann, in fact, act on an instruction from James Francis O’Brien?
Senator ANDERSON - The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Mr Hoffmann has stated that Mr O’Brien telephoned him to ask him to expedite a decision on the by-law application for turtle skins, but has not stated that Mr O’Brien gave him any instructions, or that he. Mr Hoffmann, acted on any instruction. The Department has no evidence to indicate that Mr O’Brien and Mr Hoffmann were acting in liaison in the activities for which Mr Hoffmann was charged.
– by leave - asked the
Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Senator WRIGHT- The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
The next day he rang and asked where he could get the directive referred to in the Act. Hewas told, if a copy was available in the office, he would be telephoned. No further communication has been had with him.
(Question No. 920)
(Question No. 934)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
Did the Minister or any of his staff, departmental or otherwise, arrange for Mrs Hoffmann or anyone else to obtain copies of documents from the Japanese Embassy or any other Embassy?
Senator ANDERSON- The answer, as supplied by the Minister for Trade and Industry is:
– by leaveasked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator ANDERSON- The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Senator CAVANAGH - by leave - asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice: ls the obtaining of commercial documents from the embassy of a foreign power within the charter of security operations justifying secrecy of operations?
Senator ANDERSON - The Prime Minister has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The charter is set forth in the Australian Security Intelligence Organization Act 1956 to which it is suggested that the honourable senator might refer. (Question No. 943)
Senator HENDRICKSON asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
To whom did Mr Hoffmann issue advice that a by-law to import 5,000 pairs of turtle skins had been approved, knowing that this was not true?
Senator SCOTT - The answer is as follows:
To the Collector of Customs, New South Wales, and to M. McGrath Pty Ltd. (Question No. 949)
Senator MCCLELLAND- by leaveasked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
Senator SCOTT - The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
Senator O’BYRNE - by leave - asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
Senator SCOTT - The answers are as follows:
-(Victoria)- I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee:
One hundred and fourth Report - Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission.
Ordered to be printed.
I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - There being no objection, leave is granted.
-(Western Australia- Minister for Customs and Excise [12.45] - I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.
The provisions of this Bill are consequent upon the amendments proposed in the Excise Tariff Bill which I introduced earlier. Section 3 of the Spirits Act 1906-1968, contains definitions of the terms ‘pure Australian standard brandy’ and ‘Australian blended brandy’. The amendments proposed by this Bill will allow brandy distilled at a strength of up to 45% overproof, which otherwise complies with the terms of the definitions, to be described as ‘pure Australian standard brandy’ and ‘Australian blended brandy’, as the case may be. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr President, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has the adjournment of this debate but I wish to intervene because I seek leave to amend my motion.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.
-There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The motion will now read:
Subject to the following modification: Leave out all words after ‘Parliament House’.
The effect of the modification will be that the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the
Senate will be added as full members, and not members merely for the purpose of considering the matter of the site of the new building.
– If I might say so, I do not object to the adjournment at all. I know that Senator Murphy is at an official luncheon and I know that he concurs in the modification. If the honourable senator insists upon an adjournment I shall not oppose it. We can bring the matter on for discussion later this afternoon. I understand that an amendment is to be moved. I have no objection to this suggestion.
– I suggest that we take the amendment now and then adjourn the debate to a later hour of the day.
– I am quite happy with that.
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.
– This is based on the pre-positioning of logistical resources in the area to which they want to airlift troops.
– On this question of logistics, within the last fortnight I have had the opportunity to visit the Holsworthy area. In a discussion with Army officers I developed this argument. I think the honourable senator will find that the Maginot line complex that we have in Australia has failed us often in the past. I concede to the honourable senator that there are political implications as well as implications of defence. However, I think it will be agreed that when we speak in terms of 1,200 men we are not speaking of a large force. Perhaps there is some symbolism about stationing troops in the area, but I remind the Senate that Great Britain and the United States have conducted similar exercises without success. Let us consider also the situation with the former French empire. Gradually the French were left on their own in some of the African States. On a number of occasions some of the African States have been sympathetic to de Gaulle and great powers other than the French, but what would the situation be if the French were to come back to those states with paratroops and attempt a coup d-etal such as has been achieved by lesser military powers? When it has been necessary to do so the French have sent in equipment and paratroops to help stabilise the African countries. I am not suggesting that the Australian Government should be at the beck and call of any country, but the point I am developing is the one advanced by our leader about a mobile defence force. This is not something new; it is a method that has been used in the past. Our big objection to the defence report is as stated in a very fair fashion by the Canberra Times’ on Friday, 28th February. Among other things the report stated:
In practice, of course, the Government rests on our association with the Anglo-Malaysian Defence Agreement for the legality of the presence in Malaysia.
The report continues in that fashion. When I read the early statements by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) I thought he was developing a sort of rugged Australianism or what could perhaps be called a healthy nationalism. The logical collorary lo that would be that if our Government signed a tripartite agreement with the Tunku in Malaysia and Lee in Singapore we would be partners, the same as we are with other parties in ANZUS. By this agreement Britain has been in Malaya in her own right, as have other countries which are party to the agreement, and we have tagged along. There is to be a top level meeting in Canberra in June. To my way of thinking, if we had to wait 6 months before getting this defence statement, why could we not have waited until June until the other powers had signed an agreement before deciding what our commitment was to be? Secret agreements were a product of the period before World War 1. We are supposed to have grown beyond that stage. 1 think that all of us in this chamber would agree in relation to ANZUS and pacts of that nature that the countries concerned know what their commitment is to be. That is as it should be. No Prime Minister should take it upon himself to make these under-the-counter agreements. My view is that the agreement that we are now discussing should have been entered into as a prelude to the future deployment of troops. There are inherent dangers in an agreement of this nature, lt has been said by my leader and by the Prime Minister in reference to our relationship with the United States that we are not so naive as to imagine that as United States Presidents come and go they will not have different systems of priority. Let us take this to its logical conclusion. At the moment the Government is saying that we should go all the way with Malaysia and all the way with Singapore. We of the Labor Party feel that if there were more people like Lee the Asian nations would have improved living standards. Consider also the situation in the Philippines.
In 1952 under Prime Minister Magsaysay the Philippines experienced a tremendous upsurge of economic development and the subversive Huks were beaten because the Philippines were offered an alternative or better society. No-one will deny that since the days when Magsaysay passed from the scene problems in the Philippines have become more difficult. But what worries me is that we have other problems. Vested American interests in the Philippines have probably had some influence on the situation there, but Australia could find itself in a difficult position in Singapore and Malaysia. If we had an agreement to supersede the Anglo-Malaysian agreement we could perhaps provide for any contingencies that might arise. The view that 1 present is not a Utopian one. Consider the ways in which Australia’s external affairs policy has somersaulted. Our Minister was influenced by Mr Bunker of the United States, for reasons of his own or of his government, to change his view in relation to West Irian. Strange as it may seem we find now that the Sydney “Daily Telegraph’ and Senator Lawrie, whom I respect, are concerned about a proposed plebescite relating to the future of West Irian. It seems to me that our Government and the Governments of the United States and Great Britain have to decide whether it is better for the present Government of Indonesia to continue or whether it would be better if that country were to have another government with a different ideology, at which time we might have to throw out the window any idea of plebescites and majority rule. This is probably a matter that exercises Senator Gair’s mind in relation to the masses of South Vietnam.
The point I am getting at is that as history moves along over the next 6 months a peculiar situation will develop. That is evident from the asides that we heard today between Senator McManus and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) about what will happen in Vietnam. I do not want to harp on this issue, but I think we should learn the history of the situation and opt out of it. At the moment the United States would have a greater affinity with the Philippines than with Malaysia and Singapore. Mr Lee of Singapore is a dynamic man and there is no doubt that he is leaving his mark on history. I commend, particularly to honourable senators opposite, a book on Mr Lee’s life by Alex Josey which was reviewed in the ‘Herald’ last Saturday. Critics of the Australian Labor Party are inclined to refer to the People’s Action Party in Singapore and to refer to what Mr Lee has said, but they should be reminded that when Mr Lee was fighting for his own political career some years ago and was making his mark in 1959, the view of our Government was that we were going all the way with Lira Yew Hock. It is undeniable that Mr Lee puts the view of Singapore first and foremost.
The basis of my criticism is the idea that seems to be in the mind of the Australian Government that it must know what the Americans are thinking or what the British are thinking. The Government never comes up with a policy that we can say is ours, it seems that if our Government can play one country against another it will do so. We all have a general idea about equity in voting, although perhaps more could be said about the trend in Australia in redistributions of electorates. However, that is hardly a question for this debate. The Opposition is particularly critical of the defence document because of its vagueness as to our right to be in Malaya on the terms suggested. 1 should like to refer next to the question of keeping troops in a foreign country. As a reader of ‘News Weekly’ and ‘Focus’ I shall be waiting to hear Senator McManus’ views on this. So far the theme ‘Go home Yank’ has not been applied generally to Australia, but unless we have an agreement we will be in Malaysia in the form of a miniImperialism, for want of a better term, and I have no doubt that the peasants will be asking why we are there. I spoke to a senior Army officer on this subject within the last 3 weeks and I suppose his answer was satisfactory. He said that he was going up t-here and I said to him that the hot spot to which he was going in Singapore would be in relation to civil rights. 1 said: ‘I hope you will not get our people into a position where they will be endeavouring to preserve order in some internal situation’. He said: ‘No, I would wait for a cable from Canberra’. That is fair enough and I accepted it, but there is some danger in the situation. I suggest that no government in Asia has the ball at its feet when it comes to combatting internal subversion. Senator Gair’s Party has the idea that we have to be there. I do not wish to disparage anybody. I think Senator Gair and Senator McManus appreciate that this is not a question of white versus coloured; that the people of any country resent being under any occupying power at all. The West Germans probably preferred the Americans to the Red armies for the first few years of the occupation, but they do not do so now. As Senator Gair knows, the people of southern Ireland in the early 1920s were fully entitled to expect an agreement with Britain. The British troops left that country, but that did not make them Marxists. I do not say that the attitude of the West Germans makes them Communists either.
We have to get it into our heads that the attitude of the people of any of the Asian countries is: Why should Australia have to be there with a big brother attitude? It is a different matter if there is an agreement. I agree with mutual’ defence arrangements. But the Government’s idea is to have a garrison force. Do we expect to cram down the throats of the Asian students in Australia the idea that we are better than they are and that we have to be in their countries? By all means let us have our 12-mile limit in regard to pirate fishermen and that sort of thing. But that is different from having troops doing garrison duty, which was done in other parts of Asia in years gone by. Honourable senators opposite know in their hearts that, irrespective of the government that was in power in Britain at the time, it was because of the combination of the administratorship of Lord Mountbatten and the political generalship of Attlee that Britain got out of Pakistan and India with a minimum of dislocation.
In regard to Vietnam, honourable senators opposite said 2 or 3 years ago that we were making a better life for the people and that we would be liked. But whit did we do? We made a better life for the racketeers and prostitutes. I am not gloating over the activities of the Vietcong.
Honourable senators opposite know that that is not the sort of life that the p- “pie want. We should say to the South Vietnamese: “While we are giving you economic aid and have forces in your country, we want to see positive proof that a better society is being created’. What is the alternative? lt was to the credit of Britain and Australia that Indonesia achieved nationhood. The French were slow to recognise change. In this regard 1 indict the whole of the French nation. For the benefit of Senator Cormack, let me say that 1 indict the French Socialist Party too. Every party in France refused to face up to change.
There is another lesson to be learnt from Indonesia. Whatever we might say about the PKI and left wing subversion, the members of that party did not have very much American equipment for their internal use. When there was a resurgence of nationalism and the wi PI to survive, the Indonesians were able to deal wilh subversion themselves. My position is perfectly clear. When General Nasution’s children were murdered, his people were entitled to get even with the people who started the trouble. But that does not alter the fact that purges can be continued for too long.
The point that I am trying to develop is that the general idea seems to be that if we do not have troops in Singapore and Malaysia they will go left wing. If our friends in South Vietnam had developed the economic reforms that Lee has developed in Singapore and if our Government had insisted that this was the price for the presence of our troops, there would not have been corruption, and a new society would have been created. The tragedy of the situation is that we all probably know boys of 21 years of age who have been shot down in Vietnam. For what purpose were they shot? The better society that we sought to build did not ever come about. We have to apply to Vietnam the lessons that have been learned in other paris of Asia.
Lel me return to the question of internal subversion. While Lee is Prime Minister of Singapore there is a complete object lesson for other Asian countries. But nobody knows that if he dies tomorrow the new Prime Minister will not be some odd bod who is interested only in getting Cadillacs and other things at the expense of the people. That is when a society starts to fester. These are things about which we are concerned. When we talk to some of our ambassadors in these countries, our former ambassadors and former Army intelligence officers, we find that there is no doubt that the attitude of the Government is that if we do not maintain the existing government of South Vietnam there will be a Communist government. If honourable senators studied the career of Lee they would find that he went close to being forced to adopt that attitude by some of the intransigent attitudes adopted by our Government.
It is on that basis that we members of the Opposition say that in the field of dc- fence not enough specific targets are drawn out. In the field of air defence, the less said the better. The time is not too far distant when we will have to shop elsewhere for sophisticated aircraft. Of course, we must not forget our own industries and the matters that have been raised by my colleague Senator Bishop from time to time. Quite a number of Australian manufacturers have been concerned about the reluctance of United States manufacturers to grant licences for the manufacture of components, which is a field that could bc developed by Australian secondary industries.
The question of defence and regional politics in Asia is not one on which we should indulge in smears and discussions, on whether this person is a greater Australian than the other one. It is a question to bc faced up to objectively. We members of the Labor Party have never had any inhibitions about regional pacts. What we have resented is (hat Australia is put in a position in which it is an occupying power or a garrison force power. Obviously, when wc give higher educational standards to these Asian countries they want the right to stand on their own feet. In the field of Australia’s lies with Britain and the United States in the last 4 or 5 years we have seen things which, before that time, would have been regarded as base treason. I am talking about not only the appointment of Australian born Governors-General but also the right (o differ with certain ideas of the British Government. In regard to the United States, we can talk about the person who happens to be the American ambassador in Australia. The Americans play their politics tough. We welcomed the present ambassador, who succeeded Mr Ed Clark. We said what he was going to do. Now Mr Nixon has come to office and there will be a new ambassador.
In regard to defence mobility we believe that the Government has been lacking in the provision of patrol boats. In the field of aerial defence, the present Government inherited certain problems because previous Ministers negotiated agreements in America for the purchase of aircraft. While the United States and Britain can withdraw from this area, we have to live here. We argue the psychological1 aspect of the matter. It is not a question of colour. If we are in the position of a permanent carelaker, that is when the resentment will occur. Although it is not quite the same, I can see the problem that faces the people of Okinawa in relation to the elections that have’ been held. People who were elected as senior officials were certainly antiAmerican, but there were times when they felt that the native Japanese were somewhat oppressive. 1 suggest that ;ill the examples I have enunciated this afternoon can be applied to our present situation, lt is not a matter of our having a Maginot line complex. Our idea is that with sophisticated forces and mobility, if the situation arose in which there was some external subversion against Singapore and Malaysia, it could bc met in the way I have suggested. Of course, we have to look beyond that. We are all aware that the greatest crisis will face the world, and particularly Australia, when Red China as a world power assumes some form of atomic parity with Great Britain and the Soviet Union. The real difficulties will then arise. Australians are inclined to believe that this region is the be-all and end-all of our defences.
I do not wish at this stage to argue unduly about the nuclear non-proliferation treaty but I would say that it is remarkable that Senator Scott spoke eulogistically about the possibilities of developing a harbour site in Western Australia by a nuclear explosion. Suddenly a message came from Washington: ‘Where does Australia stand on this treaty? ls it a signatory?’. I think my original conception has been borne out. that there has been a tendency to say that we have to make this system work in the light of a regional defence pact, and to regard it in those broad terms. But I repeat that the greatest problem that will face all governments - particularly our own, the government of a country of European origin in this area - will arise when Communist China gains nuclear parity with other powers. While there are reasonable relations between Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States of America a deterrent faces Communist China. When Mao and his colleagues pass over the Great Divide they may be replaced by people who put greater emphasis, as the Soviet Union did for a while, on developing a greater need for consumer goods, as distinct from engaging in wartime expeditions. Australia’s survival depends on how we are able to handle Communist China when she becomes a nuclear power, lt is a case of putting a far greater amount of concern-
– 1 do not wish to be sidetracked on to other issues. I have read ‘Focus’ and ‘Newsweek’ and I am right on the ball with the thinking. I am just putting the Labor Party viewpoint. 1 think we are quite realistic about the situation.
– I am quoting from Mr Whitlands statement on defence. These decisions have been made. It is the same Labor Party as existed in 1957 when Senator Gair was quite happy to attend with me a Federal Labor Conference in Brisbane where he was applauded for a fine speech on uniform taxation. The point I am making is quite simple: No party has a monopoly on Australianism or nationalism. 1 make that very clear. We argue that if a public treaty were negotiated between Mr Lee Kuan Yeu and a Labor Government we would know what we were doing. A Labor Government in stationing troops in South East Asia would do so with a view to establishing a better society there. We are not concerned about preserving law and order for the rich rubber monopolists or anybody of that nature. You do noi create democracy by helping such people, as honourable senators know. That is the difference between us and them. 1 will put it in another way. There has been a lot of criticism of Mr Healey, the United Kingdom Minister of Defence, because of the British withdrawal from east of Suez. There were strong and cogent economic reasons for that withdrawal. As Mr Healey said, you do not stay where you are not wanted, and you are not to be a policeman. The term ‘policeman’ has connotations in respect of the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth). Mr Healey said: ‘You are not prepared to act as a policeman where you would be upholding unjust laws or a corrupt society’. That is the yardstick we apply. We do not gloat over what has happened in regard to Australia’s policy on Vietnam. However, f insist that we could have helped to create a better society there and a will to fight. That does not exist among the majority of the young South Vietnamese. They are dodging their Army obligations, and honourable senators opposite know that is true. That is one of the squeals.
– They are dodging their Army obligations.
– lt is true. I will now sum up. We argue firstly, in relation to defence logistics, that our secondary industries have not been sufficiently geared because our sophisticated weapons have been obtained from overseas, and overseas licences have not been granted to Australian manufacturers for the production of that equipment. We say secondly in respect of the deployment of our troops in Malaysia and Singapore, that the Anglo-Malaysian Agreement treats Australia as an inferior place. We are not a signatory to the Agreement and it is obvious that the Prime Minister has reservations. When he holds the forthcoming conference in June or July with all the leaders, perhaps as a result of our criticism an agreement will be signed. If it is signed and we know what we are in for, that will be fair enough. But even so, we want to know what sort of society we are propping up. If you delay a country’s accession to nationhood assistance is given to extreme viewpoints. We support the concept of troop movements as illustrated by Great
Britain in flying troops into Aden and by the Americans who engage in long aerial transport of troops.
– Will you kindly indicate the position? There was an original motion by the Government and then a proposed Government amendment.
– I understand that that has been modified and it now becomes the motion. The modification by Senator Anderson has the effect of omitting certain words in the motion.
– The amendment has the effect of leaving out the words ‘when sitting’, because they were producing the complication. We have agreed to the proposition to the extent that the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate be added to the membership of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. The other words that were originally in the motion, which related to consideration of a site for the new building, have been deleted by a modification.
– They are left out altogether. Perhaps for the convenience of honourable senators the present motion moved by Senator Anderson might be read. If an amendment has been moved that might be read also. Everyone would understand the position. I would ask that that course be followed.
– I would appreciate that course being followed.
– I am endeavouring to answer the queries put to me by Senator Byrne. It would be helpful, for the further consideration of the matter, if everyone was quite clear as to the precise motion which has been put by Senator Anderson. The original motion was modified. As I understand it, the modification is simply to leave certain words out of the motion. Now an amendment has been moved by Senator McManus of the Democratic Labor Party. His amendment seeks to add certain other words. It would be helpful if the motion and the amendment were read.
– Certain honourable senators were not present when the amendment was moved. For the benefit of all of us now here the motion moved by Senator Anderson is as follows:
That the Senate concurs in the Resolution transmitted to the Senate by Message No. 160 of the House of Representatives, viz. - That the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate be added to the membership of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House.
– J asked leave to read the motion. I suggested that you read the amendment.
– I think the sensible thing to say is that the Opposition has no attitude on the matter. This is beside the point because the realities of the matter arc that there will be enough numbers to carry the amendment. I do not propose to waste time in considering the various possibilities one way or the other in relation to a predetermined event.
– The honourable senator will not be here when it is built.
– That may be so. Nevertheless our Party has a very sensitive regard for the future generations of Australia. If my learned friend is cynical enough to think that I am interested only in what happens to those at present in the chamber, he does not reflect the thinking of my Party, whatever may be the thinking that he is reflecting. I make the point that the House of Representatives strongly asserted its rights in relation to the composition of the Committee. It more than asserted its rights, it purported to reflect the political distribution of strength in that House because the Committee was not composed of a certain number of members of the House of Representatives representing the Government and a certain number representing the Opposition. The Leader of the Country Party in that chamber is a member of the Committee under that title. The Committee is to deal with the permanent housing of the political representatives of Parties as they exist under our present system. It was considered appropriate that in the future all Parties in that chamber should have the opportunity of participating on the Committee. Tt is strange that in this chamber there has not been an equal insistence and an equal enthusiasm for such a right. While I accept the position of disclosed neutrality of Senator Murphy I confess that I am disappointed that his Party was unable to support enthusiastically the amendment to appoint Senator Gair, the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, to the Committee.
The Senate was very jealous of its position in relation to the House of Representatives when the salaries Bills were discussed towards the end of last session. Honourable senators will remember the series of amendments moved enthusiastically or supported by the official Opposition, including Senator Murphy. The Bill was relayed to the House of Representatives in the very early hours of the morning. Senators Rae, Greenwood and others made speeches on the Bill. The Senate took a very definite stand and made its position quite clear to the House of Representatives. Why should it do that in relation to the salaries Bills and not in relation to this motion, when the same principle in a different context is involved? The Opposition has not adopted the same attitude. 1 can draw only one inference - and it is an unfortunate and an unhappy one - and that is that the Opposition objects to the representative who will be appointed to the Committee. If that is so I think it is extremely disappointing that the Opposition has not been able to lift itself above the ordinary levels of Party political disputation and consider its position in the Senate and the Senate’s position in the Parliament. I had a very brief opportunity to study the Standing Orders in relation to joint, committees. I am concerned about one or two things. I would ask honourable senators to bear with me and to cast their eyes over standing order 3S2 and standing order 3S3. Standing order 352 states:
On receipt of a Message from the House of Representatives agreeing to appoint the same number of Members of that House to serve on the proposed Joint Committee, the Senate will proceed to appoint such number of Senators to serve on such Committee.
Apparently the interpretation that there should be equality of representation between the two Houses on a joint committee has been departed from as a matter of practice by laying aside or. by some method, suspending that standing order. Apparently the House of Representatives has insisted that the ratio shall be approximately 2 to 1 . The present composition of the Committee is much more disadvantageous to the Senate. The ratio has been 14 to 4. With the appointment of the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party to the Committee the proportion will still be less than 50%. Therefore, to some extent, the Senate is still surrendering portion of its proportional entitlement.
– That is quite true. The standing order requires that at least the ratio should be equitable. There is some measure of logic in perpetuating the ratio because of the relative strength of the two Houses. I do not justify that situation, but at least there would be some element of logic in extending distribution of strength in the two Houses to the distribution of strength in committees. However in the application or standing order 352 the Senate has surrendered its position. I ask honourable senators to turn to standing order 353, which states:
The Senate shall fix the Quorum of its Members who shall be present to constitute a sitting of a Joint Committee. Subject to this a Joint Committee shall fix its own Quorum.
Probably that has not been done on this Joint Committee but the Senate, by resolution, has determined how many senators on a committee shall constitute a quorum. I think this is a matter to which the Senate could very well give its mind and attention. In relation to the New and Permanent Parliament House Committee, on which the Senate is so heavily outweighed - until now it was even more so - it would have been of prime importance to determine how many senators must be present at committee meetings before the Committee became viable and a quorum was present.
– It is possible that one group could stultify the other. That, of course, is something which I agree is possible under the application of the Standing Orders. That may be one reason why the provision is inserted in the Standing Orders. 1 do not know. I admit that is not the way that things operate in parliamentary practice. The fact is that the
Senate not only is empowered to do that; apparently the standing order makes it mandatory, lt slates:
The Senate shall hx the Quorum of its Members . . .
– 1 do not think so. We received a message from the House of Representatives agreeing to appoint the same number of members from each House. You think that all this is governed by a committee initiated by this House?
– I do not know. 1 would be inclined to think that that is not the operative provision which excludes us from determining our own quorum on a committee which has originated elsewhere. We are discussing this matter in an atmosphere which is disappointing to me. I am gratified that the Government is prepared to accept the Democratic Labor Party’s amendment. Senator Gair, as Leader, will join the Committee. We al’l know that he is an experienced parliamentarian. He will bring to the Committee not only a knowledge of the Parliament and the requirements of the Parliament but also a sense of the parliamentary atmosphere. The Senate will now operate much more efficiently and effectively because of the increased Senate representation on the Committee and the diversified nature of that representation.
I commend the amendment to honourable senators and trust that merely directing attention to the relative powers of the Senate may result in our refusing at any time to participate in any action which could cause a diminution of those powers in relation to another place.
– He is deleting those words.
– Yes. 1 want to be clear about this because it was part of the resolution transmitted to the Senate. The matter before us is the deletion of those words from the original motion to which now has been added an amendment. Senator Byrne has directed his criticism towards the Opposition, but the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) said that we had not formed any attitude to this matter and that it had never been discussed in any great depth by the Opposition. I learned of it for the first time when this subject was raised. Therefore it was not well known to me.
The Government itself is responsible for this motion. The Government itself has seen fit to enlarge the membership of the Committee to give the Senate greater representation and it was the Government’s responsibility to include a representative of tha Australian Democratic Labor Parly in the membership of the Committee. I thought that Senator Byrne would have directed his fire towards the Government for omitting to include his Party. I should like to hear his Party’s view on why it feels that we are more responsible than is the Government, which has sponsored the resolution, for omitting it.
– All that the Leader of the Opposition said was that we had not declared an attitude. When its amendment is proposed does the DLP expect us to say immediately: ‘We are very pleased indeed that the amendment has been put forward’? In my view the Government has been remiss in not considering the matters that the honourable senator has put before the Senate if. as he claims, we should consider the numerical representation on these committees as between the House of Representatives and the Senate. After all. the House of Representatives has twice as many members as has the Senate. But this is a separate House. We are equally responsible for and involved in a new and permanent Parliament House. These matters were canyas-ed very widely during the debate. Now that -he matter has come before the Senate, he equality of members on these committees could well be canvassed when a question of mutual concern to both Houses is being dealt with.
I rose mainly to clear up the point whether we have to deal with a deletion from the original motion, and also to point out that Senator Byrne, rather than criticise the Opposition when proposing his Party’s amendment, should have criticised the Government for omitting his Party from the resolution in the first place-
– I think the honourable senator will find that the Standing Orders have been taken care of in the terms of reference. The Standing Orders have been excluded.
– What about the home forces of the country that we would defend.
– I shall elaborate because Senator Mulvihill has not clone very well so far, and he will not do much better by the time I have finished. Senator Mulvihill used some wide sounding swinging phrases when he spoke on this subject. But let us consider the situation if we were to move a single Australian battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment with its component added to it. A battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment at the present moment with the proper components and fire support forces which are attached to it has the fire power of a division of the 1939-45 war; in other words, a battalion of 850 men with its components, bringing it up to, say, 1,250 men, has the fire power of an Australian division in 1945 of 16,000 men. Fire power means ammunition and ammunition is the heaviest load that has to be carried in order to support a force. So if we are to fly an Austraiian battalion into area A, we have to fly in with it all its war equipment, all the things that are carried on the war equipment table and all tha things that are laid down in its war establishment. This is extremely heavy and is equal to the weight of ammunition available to an Australian division which I was responsible for moving in 1943 by air over a couple of mountain ranges, as I mentioned earlier. The division has to carry all its food, even if it is only hard rations. That would probably weigh, in the initial stage, about 4 lb per man per day. The division must carry with it a minimum of 30 days maintenance, and then there must be support flights and the build-up has to take place. This would require massive resources in aircraft today.
So this great phrase, that we will build up in Australia mobile forces which can be flown into an area of danger at a moment’s notice, does not bear any validity. It may have validity in Papua and New Guinea where we have pre-positioned sources, or it may be simple in the Malaysian area where we will have pre-positioned supplies and stores. If there is an inability to move a mobile force by air quickly into an area of threat to Australia, it has to bc done by sea. If it has to be done by sea there would need to be close support of naval ships and air power in order to give it cover while it moves across the sea. The movement of mobile forces can be safely undertaken with this close support of naval ships and aircraft only if there exists in the area through which the force is moving a strategic naval capacity. At the moment a strategic naval capacity exists only in the United States of America with its Seventh Fleet. We have no naval strategic capacity in the Indian Ocean, although a statement was made by a United Kingdom Rear Admiral in Borneo in the last 2 or 3 days that the United Kingdom proposed to leave two or three ships in the Indian Ocean.
As there is a strategic problem involved In the movement of troops, we must have allies and the allies must be friendly people in the area. Our foreign policy must be directed to obtain an assurance from the friendly people in the area that they wish us to be there and that they will provide us with security for our forces, either naval, army or air, if we become involved there. None of these things have been mentioned in the criticism that has been made in another place and here this afternoon of the national security and defence statement.
I move on now to the second phase. I wish to make it perfectly clear that any concept that I have of Australia’s defence needs is based on conventional forces and not on nuclear strategy. Nuclear weapons do not come within our purview at this stage. At present Australia exists under what is known as a nuclear umbrella. It is provided by the United States of America. So the operation of conventional forces is possible under the nuclear strategy that we are able to obtain because we are allied with the United States of America.
As I see it, the first priority in the defence needs of Australia in time of threat is the maintenance of Australia’s trade routes, because the economy of this country depends on trade. There are three areas in which Australia’s trade routes have to be protected. According to the priorities that I give to them, firstly we have to protect our trade routes across the central Pacific to the western seaboard of the United States of America; secondly we have to protect our trade routes north to Japan; and thirdly we have to protect our trade routes across the Indian Ocean to South Africa. When we start to formulate a defence policy, some of the foreign policy matters start to surface with enormous speed. We know that we can get reasonable protection of our trade routes across the central Pacific because we have an alliance with the United Slates of America, which has naval or strategic capacity.
If we consider our trade routes north to Japan to be of great importance and of second priority - as I consider them to be - in our foreign policy relationships we have to see what the Japanese intend to do about their defence policy. 1 know that they are hamstrung by treaty and by the constitution imposed on them by the United States of America. But the problem of protecting Australia’s second most important trade routes depends on the foreign policy relationships that we can establish with the Kingdom of Japan. Finally - I can sec that some members of the Opposition are already beginning to wince - we require some means of revictualling and replenishing in South Africa because the third priority in the maintenance of our trade routes is not possible without this. We need in the Republic of South Africa a revictualling and replenishing accessibility for naval vessels or landing rights for maritime reconnaissance aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force if the Indian Ocean becomes or seems to become untenable. I believe that I have illustrated that we have no three-ocean naval capacity. We have only a naval tactical capacity. We have to develop as part of our foreign policy alliances with nations that can provide the strategic capacity to Australia.
I have made the statement in other places within this building that the highest priority in Australia’s defence is to have a thoroughly trained Army positioned inside Australia. This is made clear to me when we send only one battalion abroad. Disregarding for the present the Vietnamese problem, which exhausts our Army strength, in the long term - when we are involved in defence problems we are involved in long term problems - the Royal Australian Regiment of the Regular Army is the component that remains inside Australia for movement wherever required in Australia and in the areas which are vital and which Australia seeks to protect strategically. I do not see very much of a problem there.
The second statement that I have made quite clearly is that in the years preceding the Second World War and for a period subsequent to that war there grew up a concept that the air forces, as an arm of defence, were capable of their own strategic capacity. To a substantial degree, that was true of the operations in western Europe, in which air forces certainly did exert an enormous strategic capacity. But in the Australian context neither the Royal Australian Air Force nor the Royal Australian Navy has a strategic capacity in its own right. These arms of the Services operating in conjunction have an enormous strategic influence. So, after the protection of our trade routes in my order of priorities for the defence of Australia, I put the planning and use of air and maritime forces in a role that I describe as maritime strategy. The RAN and the RAAF have to see this quite clearly.
It is not a question of whether the RAAF should say that it will not agree to the RAN having helicopters with a lifting capacity of more than 2,500 ib, or whatever it is, or to the RAN having aircraft of a certain type because the RAN would be moving into the traditional tactical or strategic responsibilities of the RAAF. This is the way the arms of the Services are moving. This has been made clear by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) in the last 2 years in the appointment of a new Secretary of the Department of Defence, the reorganisation that is taking place in the Department of Defence and the rearrangement of the defence intelligence system, under which a distinguished officer of the Department of External Affairs has been named as the man who will take over the direction of the defence intelligence system. There is slowly gathering into the Department of Defence the warp and woof of all the requirements that go to make up a defence capacity.
Therefore, within the limitations that the Prime Minister necessarily imposed on himself in presenting a paper that related only to a minor aspect of the Australian defence structure - that relating to Singapore and Malaysia - I believe that the paper should be supported. But this cannot be conclusive. The reason why it cannot be conclusive and why the Prime Minister has not been able to make a definitive defence statement before this has been quite clear. There was always a grasping at the hope that it would be possible to persuade the United Kingdom to reconsider its decision. He has said that he took the opportunity to discuss this while in London. He has announced his intention to visit the United States of America and to hold discussions there with the President. When it becomes clear as to whether the United Kingdom will leave residual forces in the area after 1971, what the United States will do in relation to its strategic obligations will then be established. I use the word ‘obligations’ advisedly. Its future course will be established not only for the area in which since 1943 it has observed strategic obligations, but also in respect of the lack of strategic naval capacity in the Indian Ocean.
The components of the forces in the Indian Ocean are known. Defence intelligence has a very shrewd idea of the extent of Chinese and Russian submarine penetration of the Indian Ocean. The people who believe that their armed forces are the extension of the national and foreign policy of the country have moved naval forces into the Indian Ocean. Therefore, until the
Prime Minister of Australia has discussed this situation with the President of the United States of America it is not possible to establish a definitive defence concept; and it is not possible to inform the Parliament and the Australian people of what would be the end result of an Australian defence effort.
I conclude by making the final observation that I wish to goodness members of the Opposition would go back to their primers, their elementary school books on defence matters, and begin to learn some of the imperatives of power that are required from any political party which decides to establish a defence policy. I will not sit down without repeating the story with which I began: Any defence policy or foreign policy in the final analysis depends upon the will of the people from which it draws its strength. While the will of the Australian people to defend themselves is constantly weakened by attacks of the nature of those I have heard here and in another place in the last few years, no defence capacity marked down in orders of battle or tons of stores will be effective.
– Minister for Housing) [4.31] - I have listened to what the honourable senator said. I shall place the matter before the appropriate Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.32 p.m., till Tuesday, 18 March at 3 p.m.
Report of Public Accounts Committee
– This report relates to your Committee’s inquiry into the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission. The Serum Laboratories themselves were established during World War 1 and were administered as part of the Department of Health until 1961 when they were transferred to Commission control. By that stage the wide area of activity of the Laboratories had involved substantial investment and development and the Government recognised the importance of the Laboratories continuing to maintain their position in the various health fields. The evidence taken during our inquiry shows that the Commission has applied itself vigorously and imaginatively to the achievement of this objective, notwithstanding local and import competition for its commercially produced products over the period and certain administrative impediments that have confronted it and which are referred to in chapter eleven of your Committee’s report.
Since their establishment, the Laboratories themselves have been located at Parkville in Victoria. Arising from the evidence tendered, your Committee believes that the stage may now have been reached where, for strategic reasons, consideration should be given to a greater degree of decentralisation of development of the production facilities for vital sera. Your Committee also believes that, in the interests of flexibility in the convening of meetings of the Commission, the Department of Health should confer with the Commission to assess whether an amendment to section 16 (2) of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act is desirable. In connection with the Commission’s powers of delegation, your Committee believes that, in the interests of efficient administration, the Commission should complete the re-development of its scheme of delegations, in written form, at the earliest opportunity.
Your Committee has also considered the argument advanced during the inquiry that a conflict exists between sections 19, 21 and 22 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act and the claim that the introduction by the Commission of more refined accounting techniques will not achieve their full purpose until the costs of non-profit making research-type activities have been isolated in the Commission’s accounts. Your Committee believes that a useful purpose would be served if sections 19. 21 and 22 of the Act were to be reviewed. It also believes that the Department of Health should seek funds under its own votes to meet the cost of activities that are currently subject to ministerial determination under section 19 (b) of the Act.
During the inquiry we were disturbed to find that the Department of Health, which had framed the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories legislation, was unable to define the meaning of a reasonable return on the capital of the Commission as required by section 21 of the Act. Your Committee believes that the Department of Health and the Department of the Treasury should seek to clarify for the guidance of the Commission the meaning of the expression reasonable return on capital’. Under Section 34 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act there is no requirement that the Minister must consent to borrowing by the Commission. No limit is placed on the amount that may be borrowed and no reference is made to the rate of interest at which borrowings may be made. When this section is compared with corresponding sections in the legislation governing the Australian National Airlines Commission and the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission it appears to your Committee that all statutory authority legislation governing trading enterprises should be examined critically with a view to achieving uniformity of arrangements between the enterprises concerned, wherever practicable.
Finally, your Committee believes that, subject to its nature as a competitive trading undertaking, the Commission should ensure that its reports provide as much information as possible regarding its activities, for the benefit of the Parliament and the public. I commend the report to honourable senators.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 18 March at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Cohen) agreed to:
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the National Service Act 195 1^1 968.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Consideration resumed from 14 August 1968 (vide page 54), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Senate take note of the following statement:
Post and Telegraph Acts - Postmaster-General -First Annual Statement: Post Office Prospects and Capital Programme 1968-69.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 5 June 1968 (vide page 1414) on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 9 May 1968 (vide page 936), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following paper:
Defence - Ministerial Statement, 2 May 1968.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Discharge of Motion
Motion (by Senator Anderson) agreed to:
That the following Order of the Day. Government Business, be discharged:
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 27 March 1968.
Upon which Senator McManus had moved by way of amendment:
At end of motion add ‘, but the Senate expresses concern at the deterioration of Australia’s defence position occasioned by -
Britain’s impending withdrawal from east of Suez;
increasing United States of America opposition to military commitments in Asia and our area:
China’s development of long range atomic weapons, and, accordingly, calls on the Government for action to improve our defences under a 4 year plan for -
significant increases in the strength of our armed forces generally;
a naval programme, including an aircraft carrier;
initial steps to development of our own aircraft industry; and
in default of a satisfactory treaty for world nuclear disarmament, acquisition by Australia of its own nuclear deterrent’.
Consideration resumed from 3 April 1968 (vide page 535), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following paper:
Vietnam: Statement by President of United States of America - Ministerial Statement, 3 April 1968.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 13 March 1968 (vide page 30), on the following paper presented by Senator Anderson:
Act of Grace payment to Captain R. J. Robertson -
Ministerial Statement, 13 March 1968 - and on the motion by Senator Wright:
That the Senate lake note of the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 29 May 1968 (vide page 1250), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 12 June 1968 (vide page 1636), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the following paper:
Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act - Ministerial Statement, 12 June 1968.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 12 June 1968 (vide page 1640), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Senate take note of the following paper: Frequency Modulation Broadcasting - Ministerial Statement, 12 June 1968.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is intended to give effect to the Government’s decision to reintroduce the 50c coin in a new form. It will be a twelvesided coin, made of cupro-nickel, the same alloy as is used for the 5c, 10c and 20c pieces. The earlier version of the 50c coin was made of an alloy of 80% silver and 20% copper. It became evident, after it had been in circulation for a few months, that many people felt it could be too easily confused with the 20c coin. In addition, the price of silver on world markets began to rise steeply around the beginning of 1967 and before long the value of the silver content of the coin exceeded its face value. It was therefore decided to discontinue its issue, and the treasurer (Mr McMahon) informed the House of this decision in April 1968. Up to that time, some 36 million 50c silver coins had been placed in circulation.
The Government, however, felt that the 50c denomination was a useful one, and this was supported by a number of representations from members of the public received after its issue was suspended. The Royal Australian Mint therefore carried out experiments to see whether the coin could be reissued in a new form which would, on the one hand, avoid having a much larger and heavier coin, on the other hand, remove the possibility of its being confused with the 20c piece in daily handling.
After examination of a number of possible shapes and alloys, it was decided that a 12-sided cupro-nickel coin of approximately the same dimensions as the earlier version would achieve these objectives. While Australia has not previously issued a multi-sided coin, such coins are in use in a number of countries and they appear to be acceptable to members of the public in those places. The United Kingdom, for example, has had a twelve-sided threepence for many years, and will be issuing a seven-sided coin as one of its new decimal series.
The present Currency Act specifies the alloy to be used in each of the coins on issue, and it is necessary to amend the Act to allow the proposed 50c to be issued. The shape and designs of the coins are prescribed by regulation under the Act. It is intended to retain the present designs, which consist of an effigy of the Queen on the obverse side, and a representation of the Australian coat of arms on the reverse. The regulations will, however, be amended to prescribe the new shape for the 50c coin.
The new 50c coin should appear in circulation approximately 6 months after the Currency Act has been amended. The Government has also decided to mint a special issue of the new 50c coin in 1970 to commemorate the bi-centenary of Captain James Cook’s discovery of the east coast of Australia. The commemorative issue will carry a suitable design, and a commission to execute this has been given to Mr Stuart Devlin. Mr Devlin was responsible for the reverse designs of the Australian decimal coins. Regulations necessary to authorise the commemorative coin design will be promulgated as soon as the details have been settled. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill will make provision, additional to that now contained in the two 1968 Loan (Housing) Acts, for the appropriation of the proceeds of Commonwealth Borrowings. The additional appropriation is needed because further opportunities for Commonwealth borrowings abroad are expected to arise in the remaining months of this financial year and, in all, loan raisings for the Commonwealth this year will exceed the amount of the appropriation available in the Loan (Housing) Acts.
Since 1950-51, overseas loans have provided the equivalent of more than $1, 050m for borrowing programmes approved by the Australian Loan Council for State works and housing. Nevertheless, in each year from 1951-52, except in 1962- 63 and 1 963-64, Commonwealth borrowings in Australia and overseas have fallen short of the full amount of the approved programmes. The Commonwealth has found from its own resources $2, 1 87m to meet the shortfall in these programmes and has as well financed over $5,400m of Commonwealth capital expenditure from revenue. There are very good reasons therefore for the Commonwealth to take advantage of opportunities to borrow overseas when loans are available on acceptable terms.
By virtue of the Financial Agreement and associated Commonwealth legislation, the Commonwealth may borrow in its own name, or on behalf of the States, such amounts as the Loan Council approves each year, apart from borrowings for defence purposes approved by the Parliament which are excluded from the financial agreement. This year the Loan Council has approved a borrowing programme for the Commonwealth of $126m to cover advances to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The Loan Council has also approved borrowing programmes totalling $584m for the States for works purposes, so that the total works and housing programme is $7 10m.
Since 1966 all oversea loans raised against the works and housing programme have been allocated to the Commonwealth. This results from an undertaking given by the Commonwealth in 1966 to arrange for the refinancing at Australian market rates of interest of all State debt maturing overseas for the subsequent 3 years - a period in which a very heavy series of loans matured. Most of the maturing loans in the names of the States had had their origins in loan raising operations in the 1920s or earlier. In 1966-67 and 1967-68 the Commonwealth’s approved programme for housing purposes was adequate to cover its borrowings overseas. This year it will not be sufficient.
While no specific legislative authority is necessary to raise further loans and credit the proceeds to the Loan Fund, the money cannot be appropriated without parliamentary authority. This Bill will provide legislative authority to appropriate loan funds up to a maximum of $150 to enable the proceeds of any further oversea loans to be credited to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, in which they would then be available for investment in the special loan to be raised later in the year to complete the financing of the States’ share of the 1968-69 work’s and housing programme approved by the Loan Council.
The effect will be to make available to the States the proceeds of oversea loans at Australian rates of interest. The concurrence of all State Premiers has been obtained to this course. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26 February (vide page 96), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate concurs in the resolution transmitted to the Senate by message No. 160 of the House of Representatives, namely: ‘That the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate be added to the membership of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House when the Committee is considering the matter of the site for the new building.
– I seek leave to amend my motion.
– I move:
That the debate be now adjourned.
Senator Murphy will be dealing with this matter later.
– I only want to say that I do not intend to contradict in any way what the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) has said, but I have no personal knowledge of what was discussed between the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition. It would be convenient if this matter were adjourned. I am quite sure that it can come on again for discussion later in the afternoon.
– I move:
After ‘Leader of the Opposition in the Senate’ insert ‘and the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party’.
The effect of the amendment will be to give every Party recognised in this Parliament representation on the Committee. Previously there had been representations for all the Parties except one. I do not think I have to labour the point that the provision of a new parliament house is a matter in the discussion of which every political party should have representation on the Committee so that every Party’s views may be expressed. We have given notice to both the Government and the Opposition of our intention to move this amendment and I hope that in accordancewtih the spirit of fair play it will be accepted by both.
Debate resumed from 25 February (vide page 39), on motion by Senator Anderson:
Thai the Senate lake note of the following paper:
Defence - Ministerial statement, 25 February 1969.
– The statement under discussion was made originally by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on 25th February. Although it is called a ‘defence statement’. 1 think all will agree that there is a high degree of political overtone in it. By that 1 mean that it deals mainly with the position which does and will continue to prevail in the Singapore and Malaysia area and the effect this will have on our own military disposition. But since it is alleged to be a statement relating to defence matters, I think it is wise to recall that this idea of triennial defence programming actually emanated from Mr John Dedman, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister for Defence in the Chifley Government.
I do not think we should get too much up in the air about what is visualised. When talking about the Great Barrier Reef yesterday. Senator Lawrie said that we had twenty patrol boats. I remind the Senate that Admiral Crabb said that we wanted another twenty. From answers that we have had to questions about the placing of these patrol boats, it would seem that they are fairly thinly spread. But there is no continuity about the programme. We are told nothing about contracts for equipment and tooling up. There are too many be-alls and end-als about the statement, and not enough information is given either in another place or here as to what the continuous programme is. I mention the patrol boats as an example of that.
I refer now to the question of Army equipment. I visited Puckapunyal camp not long ago and was told that the anti-tank guns were supplied under licence from Sweden. Increasing use is being made of highly .sophisticated equipment, but I gather from what I read in the trade journals that those who are engaged in the electronics industry here feel that they are not being given a fair share of the orders for the supply of this equipment. Again, when the situation was different in Indonesia a short time ago invidious comparisons were being made about our bombers. The complaint was that their bombers had a longer range than ours did.
Here there is no need for me to dwell on the terrible fate that seemed to befall us when we put all of our eggs into one basket and confined our attention to ordering the Fill aircraft. Just prior to the publication of the Prime Minister’s statement, we heard a great deal of talk about the Labor Party’s policy of hitching your star, as it were, to the Swedish and Israeli concept of defence. However much we may have hoped and prayed that there would not be an upsurge of war in the Middle East, the plain fact of the matter is that if Israel had geared herself to the FI 1 1 she would not have had much with which to defend herself against Nasser and his hordes. The point I make here is that it might have been better if we had shopped elsewhere instead of being dazzled by the brochures issued by the General Dynamics Corporation in the United States about the qualifications of their plane. I do not say this in any spirit of carping criticism. Everybody knew that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and other Ministers were seeking to obtain a multi purpose plane - one that would satisfy both the Air Force and the Navy - and that was a fairly tall order. But when we get the Prime Minister’s statement - incidentally, it is 6 months overdue if we are to continue with the determination of a defence plan every 3 years - it would seem that we might have done a lot better if we had shopped elsewhere. That thought was underlined earlier this morning when the Leader of the Government in the Senate instanced the troubles being experienced with the Concorde in emphasising that bugging problems are inherent in any new product. I do not think we have any cause for complacency in the Prime Minister’s statement.
Another facet of the issue is the conflict between the Government’s policy of deploying certain forces in the South-East Asia region and the Labor Party’s preference for mobility - a policy of transporting troops from Australia to other places. There is nothing new about the system we advocate. Anyone who has made a study of the methods adopted by the United States will know that they spent a great deal of time in developing the speediest possible methods of transporting land based troops from the United States to West Germany. We also know of the troop carrying operations they have carried out in transporting troops to Okinawa and other places in the Pacific region. From these manoeuvres it is obvious that the United States is thinking along the lines we advocate. Again, before Great Britain withdrew from Aden she carried out high manoeuvres, transporting paratroops and other units into the Aden area. We of the Opposition, and I am sure Government supporters also, heard Defence Minister Healey expound this philosophy.
– Would you not match like with like?
– But there are three or four Labor Party viewpoints.
– 1 do not know it.
– That is not true.
– Before the suspension of the sitting for lunch I went to the Parliamentary Library to obtain a copy of a pamphlet to which I had heard references, known as the Pamphlet on Defence’ published by the Fabian Society of Victoria and written by Mr Barnard, a member of another place. In one of those curious ways in which one’s mind works from time to time, when listening to Senator Mulvihill the word ‘Fabian’ was translated in my mind to ‘Fabius Cunctator’, a defence expert of the nature of Senator Mulvihill. Fabius Cunctator marched and countermarched for 10 years up and down Italy, never coming to grips with the problems facing him. I intend to come to grips with the problem when the Senate has re-asserted its authority over the conduct of its business and therefore I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted: debate adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 354).
– I understand that an amendment has been moved to the original motion by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson). As has been explained, the purpose of the amendment is to bring the motion into line with the original intention. The matter has passed through the House of Representatives. Apparently the original intention was that the Leader of the Government in the Senate and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate should be added to the Committee dealing with a new and permanent Parliament House. The Opposition has no objection to the motion as it has now been amended.
– Does the motion then stand in the form in which it appears on the notice paper?
– The words are left out.
– Why? We were all here.
– I would like to help Senator Murphy, without curtailing his speech. I ask leave of the Senate to read again the motion moved by Senator Anderson. Perhaps Senator Byrne could then read the amendment moved by Senator McManus. Senator Murphy could resume bis speech after that.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
– When the amendment was proposed by Senator McManus I formally seconded it and reserved my right to speak on it. as was the correct procedure. 1 do not know if I should do that now. I do not know what the attitude of the Opposition will be to the amendment. Mr Acting Deputy President, I ask for your indulgence on this. What is my position? Can I speak to the amendment now or should I wait till the attitude of the chamber has been determined? Will I reserve my right to speak later?
– I thought the Acting Deputy President actually presented the amendment as a matter for debate. I do not know whether this is an appropriate time to debate it.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Senator Murphy, have you finished?
– In speaking to the motion moved by Senator McManus and seconded by myself I am gratified that its passage perhaps is ensured, but I am disappointed that the official Opposition has not seen fit to adopt an attitude in relation to the amendment because it involves a principle that revolves around the status of .the Senate and its status relative to the House of Representatives. I think, on matters such as this, where it is possible to do so, all Parties should be heard and their points of view expressed as to representation of the Senate and the position that it should occupy in relation to joint committees. The House of Representatives had no doubts whatever as to what should be the strength and the complexion of the Joint Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. The Committee, as determined, constitutes the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Country Party in the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and a number of private members and three honourable senators, making the original total composition of 14 members of the House of Representatives and 4 members of the Senate. The site of the new and permanent Parliament House is of equal significance to the Senate.
– Why should the ratio be 2 to 1 on any committee?
– It might never meet
– Do you not think that those things apply to a joint committee which the Senate itself proposes?
– I had in mind standing order 351.
– I rise to attempt to clear up two or three matters. On the question now before the Senate the Government has moved on the lines of Order of the Day No. 1; but the Minister, when reading the resolution, did not complete it. It concludes with the words:
– I did nol say that the Labor Party was responsible for the omission.
– 1 do not want to cause any break in the calm of this quiet Thursday afternoon in the Senate. In supporting both amendments I feel I must criticise, if I am allowed to do so, what is becoming a farce in respect of a committee of this Parliament. I think the matter before us indicates how we were hurried without proper care into forming this Committee. It will be called Topsy before it is much older either because it is top heavy - all the leaders of the parties are on it - or because it will continue to grow. No regard was paid to the rights of the Senate. A joint committee was set up to inquire into the site for the new and permanent Parliament House and the leaders of the parties in the Senate were not members of the Committee. Now because of faulty drafting in another place our leaders in the Senate are required on the Committee to join in the deliberations in respect of one small portion of the Committee’s work. This is just another endeavour to squeeze away from the Senate its just rights.
I do not think that anyone can criticise the inclusion of the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party on the Committee as both major parties will be represented. Let us be frank about it, in politics there is safety in numbers provided the numbers are not too great. One probably gets more loyalty and cohesion in a small political party than in a large party. The Leader of the DLP will represent possibly a very united party front on this Committee. But if it is a matter of upholding the rights of this Committee and of the Senate, why should not the Senate’s representation, like Topsy, grow a bit more. Why should not my illustrious and distinguished colleague from Tasmania, Senator O’Byrne, who is the Opposition Whip, also represent the Senate on the Committee? Why should not the Government Whip, too, represent the Senate?
Upon reading the names of the personnel comprising the Committee, 1 noticed the name of Mr Erwin. Is Mr Erwin on it as an ex-Whip? Are ex-Whips from another place to continue as members of the Committee? Or is Mr Erwin on the Committee as Minister for Air? Are there to be more Ministers on this already top-heavy committee or has someone not woken up to the fact that there has been a change in the Ministry in another place? The membership of the Committee is already too large. I heard it said at lunch time that a committee of three is best if two are absent. I do not think that any committee of this Parliament which has more than nine or eleven members can function effectively.
The Committee comprises the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and others holding high ranking offices. The men whom it is most difficult to get together in order that they can concentrate on an important task are all on this one Committee. Is there any wonder that there is little headway? Is it any wonder that there is disputation over a suitable site? This has been caused because when it was decided that the site for a new and permanent parliament house should be other than that on the Griffin plan a public inquiry was not held by the Committee of which I am Chairman, the Joint Committee of the Australian Capital Territory. So far as this Parliament is concerned, that Committee has the sole right to report on any alterations to the Burley Griffin plan.
The Parliament House Committee is getting far too big. Certainly it will become more illustrious with Senator Gair on it. But would it not be even more illustrious if Senators Cotton and O’Byrne were on it? Then we could argue that the Senate was properly represented and sticking up for its rights. Senator Byrne, in a much more erudite discussion than mine, was talking about a quorum when I interjected. It might be most embarrassing to those on the Committee who really want it to function and who really want it to make progress in the provision of a new and permanent parliament house, if a large quorum were necessary. Because the Committee comprises the leaders of the various political parties, and the Whips - the busiest people in the Parliament - you, Mr President, will have a hard job leading them to a decision. If you had a good but small committee comprising back benchers you would be a far happier man. However, I do not oppose the amendment or the motion.
– Mr President, I rise only because I am a little perturbed at the interpretation of standing order 353, which was referred to by Senator Byrne. 1 have always been under the impression that it applies to a joint committee of the Senate - interpreting joint’ as being a joint committee of senators from both sides of the chamber. 1 find it hard to believe that the Senate should decide that a quorum of its members would determine whether a joint committee of both Houses could sit. Could they overrule the members of the House of Representatives, with the larger representation of that House? If one looks at Senate select committees one will see that a quorum is stated quite specifically in standing order 295 to be four. With standing order 353 I am at a loss to understand whether, if there were three senators on a joint committee of both Houses, and the quorum was fixed and the specific number of senators were not there, the Committee could then function. I would like some clarification on standing order 353.
– I rise only to point out the composition of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House because I do not think that some honourable senators are aware of it. At the present time the Committee consists of thirteen members of the other place and five members of this chamber. Lf the motion and the amendment are carried in the Senate it will mean that the Senate will have an additional three members on the Committee. There will then be thirteen members of the other place and eight members of this chamber. I think that looks after the ratio aspect of the matter.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Debate resumed (vide page 360).
– When 1 asked for and was granted the leave of the Senate to resume my remarks at a later hour of the day I was mentioning the courious sort of relevance that existed between the word “Fabian’, which seems to be the source of the Opposition’s remarks on defence, and the Roman general Fabius Cunctator. I was going to add, and J do so now, that Fabius Cunctator having marched and counter-marched against Hannibal in Italy for about 10 years, eventually Hannibal was defeated. The reason he was defeated was that he had been defeated back in Carthage. The problem is that we are constantly involved in periods of great crisis in Australia because of an antipathy bred into the Fabian concept of Socialism. When we are involved in the immediacy of danger we find ourselves in circumstances and situations where we have to move precipitately towards setting up an effective defence for Australia.
For the last 7 years that I have been in this chamber I have continuously said that the problem which confronts Australia in relation to defence is based upon two significant factors. One is an obvious movement of the United Kingdom from its posture in South East Asia. I was so sure of this movement that in 1965. in a discussion with the then Defence Minister, Senator Sir Shane Paltridge, who unfortunately has since died, 1 made the forecast that the United Kingdom would be out of the area of east of Suez by the end of the 1960s. In fact, that proviso has been borne out because the United Kingdom will leave the area - I believe for ever - in 1971. So, this is the first significant factor. It has been faced many time in the last 2 or 3 years in this place. The second factor is that it has always been possible for Australia in its strategic examinations of the problems of defence to be able to rely on two strategic powers - I emphasise the words ‘strategic powers’ - the United Kingdom and the United States of America so that Australia could move with some freedom to the areas to which it might be necessary to move in her own true defence interests.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place made a casual and fleeting reference in his pamphlet to the Institute for Strategic Studies in London. I suppose that the influence of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place is fairly pervasive in this place amongst those honourable senators sitting on your left, Mr President. In his pamphlet he mentioned the name Alastair Buchan who, from memory, has just been appointed head of the intelligence section of the Ministry of Defence in the United Kingdom. He quoted approvingly from Buchan’s conclusion on the function of strategic studies and used this phrase: The function of strategic studies is the analysis of the role of force in international relations. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the other place quoted this phrase in his pamphlet but nowhere in it did he pay any acknowledgment to its validity. No member of the Opposition in another place acknowledged the function of strategy as an analysis of the role of force in international relations; nor did our Fabius Cunctator earlier this afternoon.
I propose to devote part of my speech to dealing with that phrase and with another dictum which I shall quote for the benefit of honourable senators opposite. I have already quoted it once before in this chamber. The dictum is that Russian foreign policy and military preparations are based upon the concept that war is the extension of foreign policy by other means. If the dictum that war is the extension of foreign policy by other means is firmly grasped by the honourable senators sitting opposite, as it should be, and if it sinks into the collective mind of the Australian Labor Party, then the criticisms or suggestions which could properly be offered in a debate on defence policy become quite clear.
To prove in a very short time that the Russian policy is that war is the extension of foreign policy by other means, we merely have to look, as we have looked from time to time over the last 10 years, at the operation of this policy. We have the problem of Berlin at the present moment.
Aircraft of international airlines are flying in from West Germany in accordance with the treaty obligations covering the air corridors to West Berlin and are being threatened by military aircraft of the armed forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. We also have read truthful accounts of traffic on the autobahn from West Germany to Berlin being impeded by massive tank movements. This is an illustration of defiance of treaty obligations undertaken by the USSR and is an example of the extension of foreign policy by that other means. Senator Mulvihill, with that delicious childish innocence which is characteristic of him, referred to the problem of Czechoslovakia. The extension of Russian foreign policy was given focus and overwhelmning power by the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. There were token additions to the Russian forces by the East German forces, the Polish forces and the Hungarian forces; and by some means or other the Bulgarians got around the corner also. It was subsequently announced by Mr Breznev in Warsaw, as a new policy, that any feeling of sensitivity that the USSR might have in relation to what it conceives to be its own interests would be matched by the application of force. In other words, Russian foreign policy is extended by other means.
This is characteristic of Communist societies, of course. The Chinese have done exactly the same thing by extending and giving impact to their foreign policy in Tibet and in other areas. They have done this on the Himalayan frontier and in Assam. There is this running sore of Communist aggressive imperialism. They are using the extension of their foreign policy by other means in the invasion of the Republic of Vietnam by the forces of the Hanoi Government. Murder and rapine are continuing while so-called peace talks are taking place in Paris. 1 recently returned from South East Asia. I met there a delegate from the Kingdom of Laos. That country is almost in a state of prostration due to the invasion of military forces from their northern boundaries. This too is the extension of foreign policy by other means. Honourable senators will know that this is constantly occurring in the north east of Thailand. Also, there is evidence of infiltration of Chinese weapons and advisers into the Philippines.
The reason I have given this catalogue is quite plain; it is because the defence of Australia, and any concept of our defence, is intimately involved with our foreign policy. In other words, it is not possible to have a defence policy unless there is a proper acknowledgment and understanding of foreign policy because defence policy stems from foreign policy. The operation of Australia’s defence weapon will come about only when our foreign policy has failed. When our foreign policy fails we will be thrown on the resources of our defence structure. It is obvious therefore that our first priority must go to a careful selection as to what our foreign policy should be because this really involves the national security. This is the function in the first instance of the Department of External Affairs and in the second instance, in desperation, when an insufferable situation arises, of our defence structure when we have to defend ourselves.
What is the foreign policy being followed by Australia at the present moment? We have to determine this in order to get at the nub of this matter which the Australian Labor Party has refused to face. Our foreign policy in this area is clearly discernible. It is to support friendly nations of similar needs and wants in the area in which we live. The friendly nations in this area with similar wants and needs look to Australia for some form of security. I do not necessarily mean military security but economic security and help, the provision of technological services, scientific resources and so on. All of these things form part of the foreign policy. Finally, a minor component of that foreign policy must be available to them. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) spelt this out in his defence statement. We are not putting forces into the Malaysian Peninsula to play the role of a man with a mailed fist. The Prime Minister has agreed to put forces into the South East Asian area of Malaysia and Singapore at the request of the Governments of Malaysia and Singapore. Those Governments have exerted a great deal of pressure on Australia to provide them with this military support.
In this context the defence statement states that some forces will be provided. As the Prime Minister mentioned, it is proposed to establish a two-battalion group of Australian and New Zealand troops in the
Singapore area and there will be some Mirage aircraft - the most modern in the world - at Butterworth and at Tengah. The New Zealanders are providing transport components and an assurance has been given that some ships would be stationed permanently in the area. There is an old saying about naval power which I think I should repeat to the Senate. It was a vivid phrase used by Admiral Mahan who, in referring to the influences that naval power had, stated that it was the storm tossed frigates of the Royal Navy on which the eyes of the grand army never looked that stood between Napoleon and dominion of the world. It is not a token force when a ship is permanently stationed in the area. The effect of naval power is the unseen power that it exercises over the horizon. So it is no good using flippant phrases and saying that these are token contributions to the defence of the area.
The final test of the Opposition’s sincerity in this debate on the Prime Minister’s defence statement, or in anything that I have been able to read of the Australian Labor Party’s defence policy is the question: What is its foreign policy? If we examine the speeches on defence delivered by the Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr Whitlam) and his Deputy (Mr Barnard) we see that the role that foreign policy has a final function in defence is never spelled out. There cannot be a coherent defence policy until certain foreign policy components have been established. For example, what is the influence, or what is the problem represented by the Republic of the Philippines in relation to regional security? We have the seeds of danger in that Republic’s claim to the Territory of North Borneo. We also have the problem of the Republic of Indonesia which refuses to join in a regional security. Indonesia will join in something such as the Asian and Pacific Council, where there is some aid to be obtained, but to move into an area of regional security and to make a contribution to regional security, the Indonesians have proffered nothing. The great problem in relation to defence that is imposed upon the foreign policy makers of this country and the echelon of the Department of External Affairs, which is responsible for giving administrative point to these matters is that we have to try to find a solution of the
Indonesian problem in the Australian context and in the South East Asian regional context. This then becomes primarily a matter of foreign policy.
Mr Adam Malik, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, who thinks a little at least of our ability to extend our foreign policy, says that the Republic of Indonesia offers no objection whatsoever to the presence of Australian forces in Malaysia. There is a reason for that, of course. The Republic of Indonesia does not fear the presence of small Australian forces in Malaysia, but. it was fearful of the presence of a large force from the United Kingdom. 1 am not prepared to accept one single item of criticism of the Government’s defence policy as announced to this date from any member of the Opposition until the Labor Party has produced some coherence in its foreign policy because, unless there is coherence in its foreign policy there can be no coherence in its defence policy.
Let us see what the Prime Minister said in his statement, which was read here, and a copy of which every honourable senator has. lt laid down certain things and gave expression to the concepts that I have mentioned. I suggest that he did that subjectively because he thought he was addressing across the chamber in another place at least an informed Opposition which had come to conclusions as to defence policies by a process of rational examination of the problems presented by Australia in this area and the problems of friendly nations also in this area. He said that the Government had agreed to put forces into the Singapore-Malaysia area at the request of the Republics of Singapore and Malaysia. These are the two battalions I have mentioned and a squadron of aircraft. New Zealand, with the concurrence of the Labor Leader of the Opposition in the New Zealand House of Representatives, has agreed to provide certain forces. These are token forces, but they are of enormous importance in that they are a token of the intent of the two Governments that I have mentioned to regard an area as far forward as that at least as being involved in the long term defence needs of Australia.
The Prime Minister made reference to Sabah. He issued, as it were, a warning signal to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines that Australia acknow ledges that Sabah is properly part of the Kingdom of Malaysia. But he severely limited the role that Australian forces could find themselves involved in in that area. In other words, the Prime Minister has, with great flexibility as far as the Australian Government is concerned, left Australia’s option open in the clouded condition that this area represents at the present moment. In reply to the suggestions by Senator McManus and Senator Mulvihill that there is something significant and dangerous in the attitude that the Government adopts at the present moment 1 say this: Since the Australian forces first went into Malaysia in 1951 when we exchanged letters with the Government of Malaysia, we have had full rights in accordance with the AngloMalaysian Treaty. 1 well remember that in 1962 when, in this place, the Opposition was pursuing this matter on the basis that there was something sinister - some secret treaty - I was able, very quickly, with the aid of our present Prime Minister, who then used to sit in front of me to produce a White Paper printed by Her Majesty’s Stationery Office in London, and which can be purchased for half a crown. That White Paper set out all the details of the AngloMalaysian Treaty. If any honourable senator opposite feels unsure about this situation and thinks we are going to be committed to all sorts of problems, I suggest that if he cares to go to the reference section of the Parliamentary Library and ask for a photostat copy of the Anglo-Malaysian Treaty, he will be provided with one. There is nothing sinister about it. It protects Australia. But the Prime Minister did forecast that in the period of establishment of Australian forces there we would have to negotiate with the respective governments a Status of Forces Act such as we negotiated with the United States of America with relation to military forces that might be in Australia from time to time.
Another thing that I object to is the misuse of the term ‘fortress Australia’. I must confess that I think I was responsible for first using this phrase in the Senate 6 or 7 years ago, in reply to Senator Bishop, when I said that the Australian Labor Party had a fortress Australia mentality. Now it has become a sort of slogan - a characteristic of the times in which we live. People believe that by using slogans they can express ideas. Then a word develops all sorts of other characteristics, and so. today, fortress Australia’ means that we withdraw within the boundaries of Australia, which is what the Australian Labor Party wishes us to do. But when I used the words fortress Australia’ in the context of the debate in which I first used it. it was in a proper context, that Australia was the main base for the defence of Australia, lt is a base area, but it is not a fortress. With a fortress one sits behind his fortified walls and gives up the principle of war, which is mobility. Whereas Australia is the main base for defence purposes, it becomes an area that must be protected as a main base because, of course, the main base is useless without the security of that base.
In the odd, elegant phrases so fancied by the Leader of the Opposition in another place, and characteristically, in the defence debate he used expressions like ‘what is required is a new insight, new attitudes, new initiatives to policy. There has to be a fresh assessment’. But he made no fresh assessment. He claimed that the Government was involved in a vestigial, nostalgic role in the affairs of the region. He referred to Australia’s clinging to an old role. He said that the term ‘forward defence’ was merely a euphemism for keeping our eyes in the area, and so on. I do not intend to repeat all these things. But then he came out with a statement in which he was supported by his deputy and which was repeated in the Senate this afternoon by Senator Mulvihill who spoke about Australia having mobile forces which could be quickly flown from the fortress area into the area of danger.
I remember when I was a young man in the beginning of a fearful war and 1 was being put through the machine of the Australian Defence Staff College. There were always people who, when it came to an exercise and they were asked a question, would say that they would throw a division in here or a brigade in there. The teaching staff at the College took endless pains to teach these future commanders and leaders that they could not throw divisions or brigades about in that way. J know this very well because a couple of years later I was part of the planning staff, and subsequently part of the management staff, if 1 may say so, in the movement of a division by air over two mountain ranges in Papua and New Guinea to the Markham Valley and subsequently to maintain it. This took months of planning, lt was a tremendous job. One just does not fly a brigade of troops from Australia to areas where one may want them. I interjected when Senator Mulvihill was saying that he had read Newsweek’ and so was up to date on the latest strategy of moving forces from area A to area B by the effective and fast means of air transport that this was predicated on the basis of a pre-positioning of the logistical support that would be needed far the forces that it was intended to move into the area. We cannot quickly fly troops into an area and send with them all the logistical support that is required unless we have pre.positioned logistic support facilities which will be required in the area. Therefore, if the concept of the Leader of the Opposition and his defence experts is to be accepted as valid, Australia has to pre-position the resources that it will require if it is moving troops from Australia to some other area in clouds of aircraft. If we have troops in an area we must protect them. This means that if we have an Australian garrison in the Singapore area it is there to protect the logistical support needs of a future Australian force that may be required to be in the area.
– If Senator Cormack said in his final remarks that the defence policy or foreign policy of a country rests on the will of the electorate, one of the things we must have in future is an educated electorate. We will not achieve that end through statements such as that made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) on this occasion, lt deals almost ad hoc with a situation of long standing and conceals as much information as it possibly can. I intend to say more about that towards the end of my speech. One of the things that is sadly lacking is communication with the Australian people who have found themselves in vastly different defence circumstances in the last few years. There is one thing that this defence policy will do. It will stop the almost weekly reports by the Press that Cabinet is about to meet in order to decide on a defence policy. I do not know what some newspapers will find to report in future because we have read month after month that Cabinet was about to meet and to decide on a defence policy. Finally, it has done so.
It should be and it probably is, a very important policy because of all the circumstances surrounding the area with which it deals. An analysis of our situation in relation to Great Britain and the United States shows the manner in which we have been basing our defence policy in this area for many years. Of course, in the near future that will no longer be the case. I feel after rc-reading the defence statement that this point has not been grasped by the Government. I believe that far more analysis should have been contained in the defence statement. There should be a frank admission of the weaknesses and the planning lo deal with them. The analysis should be made and put on record to be read by all who are interested.
Senator Cormack said that the defence policy of a nation is the servant of the foreign policy. I believe this is very true of our present defence policy as outlined in the statement. It also should be true that in examining the statement we must appreciate the changing considerations and what have been the considerations of this Government since the end of World War II. Since this Government came to power in 1949 one aim has had complete priority over everything else in its foreign policy. I refer to the decision to obtain a United States commitment in this area. To some degree this has been a natural aim. It was accentuated by the position in which Britain found itself during World War II. No doubt it would have liked to have given much more help to us during our dark days of the war, but as it was heavily overcommitted all over the world that was impossible. I believe there is a lesson to be learned from that experience. The same situation could arise through any reliance we place on great powers, including the United Slates of America.
I believe that the Government’s aim has been distorted out of perspective since about 1950. Over the last few years, the predominance of thought by the Government has led us to accept in this area analyses by the Americans of just about everything in our foreign policy and our aims. The position is illustrated in Vietnam. Warnings were given by sections of the Australian community and by groups all over the world but the Government has always accepted the analyses of the United States that we were winning the war and that the bombing of North Vietnam was essential and contained no dangers. I believe that the Government came to a mental full stop only after the Tet offensive, with which I have dealt before and will not go into now. This brought a jolt in the thinking. It wiped out the improvements that had been made in the villages and hamlets of South Vietnam. It also brought about the very disgraceful episode in relations between the United States and Australia when President Johnson made his famous speech announcing his impending resignation and the halt to the bombing. It was obvious that the decision was made without discussion with the Australian authorities because only a day or so before Mr Fairhall and Mr Hasluck had proclaimed that we ought to proceed with the bombing and that any criticism of it coming from the Labor Party or any other section of the community was not worthy of attention.
One thing was constantly in mind - that if ever the occasion arose that we needed help to defend our country, what we were doing today would ensure that the Americans would come to our aid. It seems to be on a par with the old British fleet concept with which we grew up as children. Our security lay in the belief that whatever happened in the Indian Ocean or the Pacific Ocean, the good old British fleet would be there to protect us in our hour of need. lt is all very well in times of peace to think about these things, but the British have already demonstrated that it does not work that way. History could repeat itself in our relationship with the United States.
This concept brought about the treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States - ANZUS. It was because of the desire to have the United States committed to this area - to have an interest in this area - that the ANZUS treaty was signed. It does just that. Its advantage is that at least on paper the Americans are committed to a fairly vague area. It is not a well-defined area. A warning note ought to be injected into this debate. The ANZUS treaty is not a mutual defence pact. It does not say what the Americans and the New Zealanders would have to do in the event of certain things happening in the world, but it places a moral and psychological pressure on all the signatories, including Australia, to do something. What is to be done is left to the nation itself to determine.
It is not a mutual defence pact and, therefore, too much reliance should not be placed on it. Honourable senators should remember that the United States of America has similar treaties with forty other countries so that top priority would not necessarily be given to the ANZUS Pact if trouble flared simultaneously at different spots throughout the world. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! I wish to correct a statement that I made at question time this morning when I said, in reply to Senator Kennelly, that I did not think that I had ruled out of order a question by Senator Marriott. On checking the Hansard report I find that I did rule the question out of order. Senator Kennelly was correct. I hope he was not inconvenienced.
Shipping Entering Australian Ports from Hai iphong - Vietnam
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I have been asked by a number of Melbourne citizens to raise a matter concerning the Polish ship ‘Stefan Okrzrja’. This ship visited Australia in August, arriving in Melbourne on 4th August 1968. Advice from seamen on the ship indicates that prior to coming to Australia it had unloaded in Haiphong. The ship had spent several years on the Russia-North Vietnam route prior to its first visit to Australia. The ship was next reported on its outward bound forward voyage from Europe at Capetown on 3rd December. Advice from crew members indicates that the ship proceeded via Bangkok to Haiphong, where it unloaded material and then proceeded north to Shanghai and picked up further material, mainly deck cargo believed to be Chinese, and returned to Haiphong, unloading there. It then proceeded to Bangkok and to Australia. It arrived at Brisbane on 20th February, proceeded to Newcastle on 24th February, to Sydney on 26th February and currently is in Melbourne. Lloyds Register of Shipping confirms that it is own d by the Polish Ocean Line.
The point that the indignant citizens make is that repeated representations have been made to the Government and to responsible Ministers that if we are sincere in what we are doing in Vietnam the Government ought to deny port facilities to ships which have unloaded cargoes in Haiphong, lt has been said that any business these ships obtain in Australia is an indirect subsidy to the North Vietnamese war effort since cargoes for the return trip to Europe make it cheaper to send material from Europe to North Vietnam. The Government has sheltered behind the Convention and Statute of the International Regime of Maritime Ports and has staled that the ports of Australia should be made available on a non-discriminatory basis, but it will have to admit, however, that it might be possible for Australia to deny access to such ships because neither the Soviet Union nor Poland is a party to the Convention. The Government has been extremely reluctant to take action in this matter, but that reluctance was not evident when the fishing industry was in jeopardy. Under pressure from Australian fishing interests who were concerned at the inroads being made into Australian scallops, prawns and other fish by Japanese, Russian and other fishing fleets, on 1 0th January the Government announced that foreign fishing vessels would no longer be permitted to call at Australian ports except in cases of genuine and unforeseen emergency. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) announced that the ban would apply to all foreign vessels, whether privately owned or government owned, engaged in any kind of fishing. If nothing is done the only conclusion which might be drawn is that the Government is more concerned about the preservation of the Australian fishing industry than it is about the welfare of Australian soldiers fighting in Vietnam.
Another matter has been brought to my notice by a gentleman who was recently in Vietnam, where he saw an Australian soldier killed by a light rocket. He sent me a copy of the Communist paper ‘Tribune’ of 26th February 1969 which glamourises a photograph sent to the paper by the National Liberation Front. The caption to the photograph states:
The guerrilla is using a light rocket of the type which have proved so successful against United States and puppet troops.
With great indignation this Australian citizen asks whether we have reached the stage at which Australians can be killed in Vietnam and our enemies can send photographs, to be featured here, of the kind of weapons used to kill our soldiers. I appeal to the Government to show its sincerity by not sending Australian soldiers to fight in Vietnam while it condones the efforts of people opposing our troops in that country.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690306_senate_26_s40/>.