26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMillin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator O’Byrne presented a petition from 1,200 persons showing that the National Service Act 1968 is unduly harsh in that it (i) makes provision for the use of conscripted young men for overseas service, (ii) makes no allowance for conscientious objection to a particular war, and (iii) provides an unduly harsh penalty of 2 years gaol for those young men whose conscience compels them not to comply with the Act. The petitioners pray that the Senate should respond to their plea for the early repeal of the Act, and the immediate release of any young men who are now in prison as a result of their conscientious refusal to comply with the Act.
Petition received and read.
Senator McClelland presented a petition from 611 citizens of New South Wales showing that the Copeton Dam is of major importance to Australia’s national development, and the Federal Government is causing unnecessary delay in the carrying out of the project. The petitioners pray that the Senate in Parliament assembled should strongly urge the Commonwealth Government to make sufficient funds available for the construction and early completion of the Copeton Dam.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the. Senate. I refer to the FI 1 1 aircraft. ls it correct that it is now 6 years since the planes were ordered, that Australia has actually paid out more than $l50m for them, that we have received no planes and that even if some are received in a flyable condition they will not be what were originally ordered? Is it correct also that the United States has greatly altered its plans for the use of such a limited number as it may possibly take? In these circumstances, can the Senate be assured that the Prime Minister, on his forthcoming visit to the United States, will take steps to get out of the bungle that has been created and that is hanging like a cloud over Australia’s defence arrangements?
– The Leader of the Opposition has made a series of statements rather than asked a question. They are not original. He has made them before. The fact is that some little time ago, in answer to a question by, I think, Senator Cohen, 1 gave some information as to what amount had been paid already for the acquisition of the Fill aircraft. 1 also indicated that the Minister for Defence had stated that delivery of this aircraft, which is an operational aircraft, could be expected during the early part of this year. I have nothing to add to that statement. As to the broad sweeping statements by the Leader of the Opposition as to what he thinks about the aircraft, I still maintain that in these matters one relies upon one’s advisers and experts rather than upon the opinion of parliamentarians.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. The Minister will recall that in this chamber last night it was alleged that the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science has not indicated whether the Commonwealth is backing the national survey of educational needs which has been undertaken by the Australian Education Council. Will the Minister indicate whether this allegation is correct, and will he explain the Commonwealth’s attitude towards the survey?
– I wish to make it quite clear that the Minister has offered his full co-operation to the Australian Education Council in the inquiry that it has undertaken. That indication of co-operation is consistent with the whole operation between the Commonwealth Minister for Education and Science and the State Ministers for Education in their joint consultations over the last 4 or 5 years.
– My question without notice, I am sorry to say, Mr President, is directed to you. Would you consider discussing with the Principal Parliamentary Reporter the recording in Hansard, when quorums are called in this place, of the name of the person responsible for calling the quorum? I think it is most unfair that if 1 call a quorum and the Opposition wants to challenge me on it the next day, the name of the person responsible for calling the quorum is not reported in Hansard. Also, where there is comment with respect to a quorum being called, I think that comment should be recorded as should be recorded the reasons that may be given by the person responsible for calling the quorum. Will you give consideration to discussing this matter with the Principal Parliamentary Reporter?
– Yes, I shall look into the matter and advise the honourable senator at a later date.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Has the Government accepted the Nimmo modification of the Whitlam plan as its policy in regard to health insurance?
– That is a most extraordinary question, if I may say so. I think the Minister made it very clear yesterday that the report is being looked at.
– ls the Minister representing the Postmaster-General fully aware of the dissatisfaction with the decision to curtail mail deliveries to one a day in some very important country centres? Is this treatment being meted out to all clients of the Postmaster-General’s Department or only to people in rural areas? If a once a day service is to be introduced is the Department alert to the importance to business of an early morning delivery?
– The honourable senator asked me a question, I think last week, about deliveries and ] am getting an answer for him from the Postmaster-General.
– Did the Leader of the Government in the Senate hear the radio announcement by the Australian Broadcasting Commission this morning that President Thieu of South Vietnam was prepared to talk with representatives of the National Liberation Front about a united government for South Vietnam? Has the Minister any comment to make?
– I did hear the comment on the ABC radio this morning but as yet I have not been given any official information on the broadcast. Therefore I am not in a position to comment. The honourable senator will appreciate that it would be very unwise to comment without being in possession of the precise text of what was said.
– Yes, I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Prime Minister. There is an aspect of the proposition to which I am sure we all would have regard, namely, that advance knowledge may well make emergency arrangements possible. If a stoppage occurred and there was not sufficient advance knowledge, it could well be that emergency arrangements could not be made. However, as I have said, I will direct the question to tha Prime Minister for reply.
– By way of explanation of my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, I mention that the subject of the question was discussed at a meeting of the Trades and Labour Council of Western Australia held in Perth last night, and that it has been referred to me by the Secretary of the Council, Mr Coleman, as a matter of some urgency. Is the Minister informed on the present serious industrial dispute in Port Hedland? Is he aware that Bell Bros Pty Ltd, which is not a registered stevedoring company, has arbitrarily dispensed with the services of the registered stevedores, Robert Laurie Pty Ltd, whom it previously employed, and is now itself engaged in the loading at the wharfside of manganese ore, thereby excluding the employment of registered waterfront labour? fs the Minister aware that when a picket line was formed by members of the Port Hedland branch of the Waterside Workers Federation the management of Bell Bros Pty Ltd summoned the police who arrested seven members of the Federation who were demonstrating in opposition to the loss of their livelihood because of the action of Bell Bros Pty Ltd? fs it not a fact that the arrested workers had done nothing other than form a picket line on the road adjacent to the wharf? In view of the seriousness and urgency of the present situation will the Minister intervene in an attempt to find a settlement of the dispute? Will he find out why the local stevedoring authority failed to take effective control of the situation in order to prevent the present crisis developing?
– I wish to inform the honourable senator that the existence of this dispute and the issues contained in it have not come to my knowledge. I shall convey what the honourable senator has said as a matter of urgency to the Minister whom I would not expect to intervene but whose Department will use all its good offices to resolve the dispute.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army: Is it a fact that Australian troops in Malaysia are being supplied with New Zealand lamb? Will the Minister explain how this situation is brought about? Will he make every effort to see that Australian troops are supplied with Australian meat after the withdrawal of British troops from this area?
– The Australian force in Malaysia is dependent logistically on the British Army for its support. As a consequence, the provision of all foodstuffs and their origin is not influenced by the Australian Army. However, the Australians are rationed in accordance with the ration scale consistent with the Australian feeding pattern. Following the withdrawal of British troops from the area, the Australian and New Zealand force will be maintained logistically jointly by the two countries concerned. It can be anticipated that the meat for the force will be supplied by those two countries.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Minister aware that Australia’s two major domestic airlines are operating on a load factor of approximately 75%? Is not this load figure substantially higher than that of any other airline in the worl’d? Is the Minister aware further of the serious deficiencies in regard to the service now provided by the airlines, such as was raised in Hobart some days ago and is known to exist in other centres? In these circumstances, is he unable to take such action as would ensure that having been guaranteed a market the airlines keep faith with the travelling public of Australia by providing the sort of service that the public has demonstrated clearly it is willing to pay for?
– The honourable senator asks me a question as to the payload factor of our airline operating companies in Australia. He asked: Is it a fact that they have a load factor of 75%? Then he went on to say: Is it a fact that this percentage is higher than that in any other country in the world? His claim of course is that it is too low. 1 suggest that the honourable senator frame his question in such a way that it can be answered by the Minister concerned because he is not indicating, by the question that he has asked, the type of answer that he wants. I therefore ask the honourable senator to put his question on notice and 1 will gel a reply from the Minister.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Has there been a request to the Minister from growers in the dried vine fruits industry to have a statutory marketing authority established? If so, what is the position in respect of such request?
– The Minister for Primary Industry made a statement the other day - this was in response to the request mentioned by the honourable senator - in which he said that:
That is the Australian Dried Fruits
He said that in the circumstances, the Council could not see its way clear to support a request for a poll of growers on the scheme; nor for a royal commission as some growers had suggested. However, a poll of growers was desirable to ascertain the views of the industry on any proposal for the continuation of a dried fruits stabilisation scheme.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for National Development been drawn to a statement by Mr G. V. Lawrence, Organising Secretary of the Murray Valley Development League, that the executive of the League on 15th March had agreed that the decision for the proposed dam at Dartmouth was the right decision for the next major conservation work of the River Murray Commission? Could the Minister offer a comment on the statement, and particularly on the last paragraph of it as to the need to reduce the salinity level and so make it unnecessary, or less necessary, to provide dilution flows in the River Murray?
– I have seen the statement outlined by the honourable senator and I would like to congratulate that organisation for its forward thinking in supporting the River Murray Commission’s decision that the first dam to be built should be the dam at Dartmouth. The reason, of course, that it is supporting this project is that it will guarantee South Australia an extra 0.246 million acre feet of water per year. This is quite different from the recommendations that have been made in this place by members of the Opposition, in which they have said that they want Chowilla. Chowilla can never, under any circumstances, provide this additional amount of water for South Australia. Therefore, I can understand people living in the valley of the River Murray congratulating the authorities concerned on their decision to build the Dartmouth Dam as the first stage in providing extra water for South Australia. The authorities go on to say that in their belief consideration should be given, when this is completed, to the next stage, and when that comes about serious consideration could be given to the building of the Chowilla project. ] know that this Government: and other governments will be looking at this site in the years ahead.
In relation to the latter part of the question as to what is being done in regard to reducing salinity in the River Murray, two projects have already been approved by this Government and finance has been made available to, 1 think, Victoria, for the expenditure of about $3m to reduce salinity in the River Murray, and no doubt the Minister for National Development, together with other members of the River Murray Commission, will be looking at other ways of keeping the salinity of the River Murray to a minimum.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question which is consequential upon the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition about the calamitous financial arrangements for the Fill aircraft. How much is the Australian Government paying each month by way of interest on money borrowed in the United States to pay for the enormous cost of the FI 1 1 purchase, over and above the original contract price? If the Minister has not the information ready, will he please undertake to get it for us?
– Yes. I shall refer the question to the Minister for Defence and I hope to produce an answer that will give the information which the honourable senator seeks.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. Was the Federal Treasurer, Mr McMahon, correctly reported as saying that home building in Australia at the beginning of this year had reached record proportions? Was he further correctly reported as saying that in the 3 months to January dwelling approvals, seasonally adjusted, were at the record annual rate of more than 150,000? If this is so, does the Minister feel that the housing industry in general can look forward to a calendar year of very sound business?
– The honourable senator is quite correct in his reference to the remarks of the Treasurer concerning the record housing figures. As I said in this chamber either last week or the week before, the last year has been a record one, with 130,000 commencements. Also we have the record figures of approvals which have been stated by the Treasurer. As I said on that occasion, this all points to the very healthy condition of the home building industry.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Works. Was he correctly reported in Hansard in his answer to my question relating to the readiness for operation of the Tullamarine Airport? In fact, will not the Tullamarine international terminal, be ready for use prior to the domestic terminal?
– The actual position is that the completion date for the international terminal is in the first half of J 970 and the completion date for the domestic terminal is in the first half of 1971.
– Can the Minister for Supply advise the Senate whether it is a fact that the Macchi construction programme is to be curtailed or phased out? If that is so, will it mean further dismissals in the aircraft industry in Victoria? Would the purchase of trainer aircraft in Japan, as referred to in a previous question, further aggravate the crisis that the aircraft industry is now facing?
– Let me deal with the second part of the question first. I noted the earlier question, which was directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. The situation would be that any number of overseas companies in the aircraft industry would attempt to offer types of aircraft to the various Services. I do not think there is anything unique in that, lt is quite clear that one should not draw conclusions from that. In other words, if there was an aircraft industry in Japan and it was producing a small aircraft, it would be quite competent for its representatives to come to Australia and to offer to sell their aircraft to the Services. I do not attach any great importance to that at this stage because, as I have said here several times recently, the whole question of Australia’s requirements for the Services is currently under examination.
Let me deal now with the first part of the question. The Macchi programme has about 2 or 3 years - I think 3 years - to go. The aircraft will be provided to the Royal Australian Air Force as it requires the replacements. It is my understanding that the programme will go on until 1972. It is true to say that the present figure in relation to the Macchi requirement is under consideration. However, it is equally true to say that there are other considerations and other prospects which possibly will increase the figures in relation to the Macchi programme. To sum up, present requirements of the Services arc currently under very immediate examination. That examination, which is proceeding at the present time, involves myself and the Department of Supply, the Service departments and the Minister for Defence.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for National Development aware that last Sunday in Adelaide the Minister for National Development in an address to a Methodist Church congregation said that if salinity in the Murray River could be controlled it would put up the value of Chowilla? As this statement claims to represent the real cause for the rejection of the Chowilla project, I ask what the Minister is doing in relation to the control of salinity in the upper regions of the Murray River.
– I think I answered a question on similar lines a little earlier today when I said that the Government had made about $3m available for two projects to reduce the salinity of the Murray River. As to the part of the honourable senator’s question in which he said that Chowilla Dam should be considered as an alternative to the Dartmouth project. I might say that whatever is done at Chowilla it will give the South Australian people less water than will be available from the Dartmouth project.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. On 25th February of this yearI asked of the Minister a question arising out of a nebulous answer he gave asto the amountof money being spent by the Commonwealth Government on the salinity problem in the River Murray. My question has two parts each requiring a simple answer. In view of the answer that the Minister just gave to Senator Bishop, I will now repeat my question. I asked:
– On what date was that asked?
– That was one month ago.
– I am sorry, but I do not get the honourable senator’s question.
– The Minister has replied twice in vague terms, but I asked a specific question.
Question not answered.
– Is the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral aware of the serious difficulties being experienced by telephone users in Perth owing to the overloading of switches at the old Perth telephone exchange, which apparently is still being used? Is it a fact that there will be no improvement in the position until the new exchange in Pier Street. Perth is completed? Is the exchange yet completed? If not, as it was anticipated that the new exchange would be completed by about August of last year will the Minister indicate what stage the erection of the exchange has reached and when the people of Perth can expect to have a satisfactory telephone service?
– The honourable senator has drawn the PostmasterGeneral’s attention to the difficulties of the telephone service in the city of Perth. He has asked when the new exchange may be in operation. I will endeavour to get that information for him from the PostmasterGeneral.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing jointly the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Immigration. I ask: As it is over 2 years since requests were made by leaders of the Maltese people for a reciprocal social services agreement between Australia and Malta, will the Minister as a matter of urgency ascertain from the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Immigration when the agreement will be finalised? If the information is not readily available, will she find out the reasons why the agreement is taking such a long time to finalise?
– If my memory serves me correctly, this question was asked by the honourable senator before the end of last year. I replied on behalf of the Minister for Social Services on, I think, the last day of the sittings and said that I believed the matter was being given consideration.
– It had not been finalised.
– And that it had not been finalised. I will bring before the Minister for Social Services the points raised by the honourable senator and will inform him accordingly.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is the Minister aware of a report that the Queenskind Government has deferred indefinitely the granting of new authorities to prospect for oil and minerals in off-shore waters of the Great Barrier Reef? Can the Minister inform the Senate what area of Great Barrier Reef waters is held under authority to prospect for oil at the present time? Further, if there is sound reasoning to defer indefinitely new prospecting authorities, is there reason for Federal and State authorities jointly to approach those who hold prospecting licences in order to achieve the reduction in exploration in those waters?
– I saw recently a statement in a newspaper referring to a decision of the Queensland Government relating to off-shore drilling licences adjacent to and on the Great Barrier Reef. In relation to the other part of the question, I ask the honourable senator to put it on notice so that I can get a detailed reply from the Minister for National Development.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister read an article by Peter Hastings, which appeared in the ‘Australian’, complaining of undue pressure being exerted by Australian authorities in New Guinea on a Mr Visser because of his pro-West Irian independence sympathies? Will the Minister define the political rights of such people in New Guinea?
– I have not seen the article referred to. 1 will read the article and then if I think it rates a reply I will be happy to give one to the honourable senator.
– I would like to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health a question. A week or so ago I raised the question of the pill containers Palm-n’-turn in regard to safety for children. Has the Minister or have officers of the Department of Health considered this matter again? Do they have any better ideas? Are they going to try to eliminate the problem caused by children swallowing tablets which they get out of containers that are not secure?
– I am very aware, as are all honourable senators, of the worry we all feel about children who take tablets which make them very ill or, in some very tragic cases, cause their death. The honourable senator asked a question last week about this particular tablet container. 1 have spoken to the Minister for Health about it and as soon as I get a considered reply from him I shall inform the honourable senator.
– I wish to preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, by reminding him that he promised me one week ago that he would endeavour to ascertain whether the sum of approximately $12,000, paid by way of oil search subsidy to a company or companies in which the Premier of Queensland holds major interests, was returned to the Commonwealth. Can the Minister now inform me whether the money has been refunded and if so on what date was is refunded?
– I ask the honourable senator to place his question on notice.
– lt is on the notice paper.
– T will endeavour to find out.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister seen a statement made recently by Tunku Abdul Rahman that as Britain has lost the leadership of the Commonwealth of Nations, the chairmanship of the Commonwealth should rotate among the twentyeight member governments? Has the Malaysian Government indicated these views to the Australian Government? What is this Government’s view of the Tunku’s suggestion?
– Obviously I could not make a statement on that matter.
I did see a Press reference to it. I will seek some information from the Minister for External Affairs. I hope to be able to obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Has he seen the report in this morning’s Press that the successful tenderers for the Queensland offshore petroleum leases had been decided in consultation with the Commonwealth? Is the Government prepared to release the list of names of successful tenderers for these leases?
– I. have nol seen the list referred to by the honourable senator. I shall endeavour to obtain the information for him as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, although it might concern the Attorney-General. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to reports from a Sydney based sporting pools organisation, during the currency of the Australian-Nauru air service negotiations, that that organisation would operate from Nauru pools on rugby league football, Australian rules and soccer as soon as the new air service is established? As the agreement in respect of the new air service has been reached, can the Minister indicate the Government’s attitude to this sporting pools organisation’s proposal?
– My judgment would be that in the first instance 1 should refer the question to the Attorney-General’s Department. I shall do that and obtain a reply.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development: When may 1 expect an answer to the question which refers to the $22,906 Commonwealth oil subsidy paid to Artesian Basin Oil Pty Ltd in Queensland and which asks, among other things, if the amount can be related to the $60,000 paid by Exoil N.L. to Artesian Basin Oil Co.?
– The subject matter of the honourable senator’s question is almost identical with that of a question asked by Senator Keeffe. My answer to the questions is that I shall endeavour at the first available opportunity to obtain the information from the Minister for National Development.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Supply concerning the light aircraft industry. Is there in Australia any system whereby the manufacturers of light aircraft can be helped and encouraged to establish the industry on a viable basis in competition with overseas manufacturers?
– To some extent the nature of this question is outside the ambit of my portfolio. The Department of Supply has an aircraft industry commitment in relation to the defence Services. I think that this question comes within the ambit of the Department of Trade and Industry and I shall direct the question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I recall that a Tariff Board inquiry was held into the light aircraft industry some little time ago and that a decision was taken on the Tariff Board report. I think that that report may still be on the business paper. 1 shall obtain information from the Department of Trade and Industry. It should be understood that the Government aircraft factories are responsible primarily for manufacture for the Services. We look for extra work as a means of keeping our operatives and the factories at optimum capacity. However, I think the honourable senator’s question related more to outside industry. I shall feat it on that basis and try to obtain the information he requires.
(Question No. 748)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What action is being taken by the Government to ensure that ships carrying cargoes, particularly wool, at rates of 15% to 20% below conference rates, are not forced out of the trade?
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government supports the operations of closed shipping conferences, provided that the conference gives an adequate, economic and efficient service. The Government believes, that soundly managed conferences offer the best long run shipping basis for Australian exports as a whole. However, the Government places no restriction on shippers who decide to use nonconference operators. The decision is one for shippers themselves.
Laic last year, the conference lines serving the Australia to Europe trade used their rights to introduce dual rate contracts to deter shippers from using outside lines such us the Russian line, the Baltic Steamship Co. A small group of British and European wool importers nevertheless contracted with (he Russian line. Presumably these shippers made a decision on whether the outsider’s service was adequate lo their needs, in the knowledge that .they . would have incurred conference penalty rates if they they shipped part of their cargo with non-conference lines and part on conference vessels.
In the meantime, the Baltic Steamship Co. has become a member of the conference and, consequently, would not, in the future, be offering rates different from the conference rales.
(Question No. 834)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
In i he light of the statement by the Minister in the ‘Good Neighbour’ journal of January 1969, inviting the Yugoslav Government to send a delegation lo Australia, to discuss the enactment of a migration agreement, what has been the reaction of the Yugoslav Government?
– The Minister for Immigration has provided the following answer to the honourable senators question:
I visited Belgrade from the 9th to 14th December 1968 for discussion with Yugoslav Ministers and officials on a proposed agreement for assisted migration from Yugoslavia.
I invited the Yugoslav Government to send a delegation lo Australia lo continue these discussions. The delegation is expected to come to Australia later this year. In the meantime discussions between my Department and the Yugoslav Embassy are proceeding.
(Question No. 87ft)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 8961
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 913)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 914)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 915)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
How many persons in Australia,, in each of the last 10 years, have been arrested and charged wilh treason, espionage or sabotage?
– The AttorneyGeneral has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
One man was arrested in 1965 on a charge under sub-section (2.) of section 24ab of the Crimes Act 1914-1960 which relates to sabotage, but subsequently he was proceeded against on another charge. There have been no other arrests or charges in the last 10 years for the offences mentioned.
(Question No. 1001)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1056)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
- Senator McClelland has advised me that he requires this information only in respect of the Port of Sydney. The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
I am advised that a survey made since this question was asked yesterday, indicates that these circumstances occurred in two cases:
I am also advised that, in three other cases since 1964, goods were sold because the importer or the agent did not carry out the procedures laid down, in respect of either documentation or advice to the bonds in which the goods were lodged. In none of these cases had the duty been paid. In this connection, the Senate will be interested to know that during 1968 in the Port of Sydney over 500,000 entries for imports were passed; over 22,000 entries for warehousing were passed; 3,82 1 lines of goods were sold at auction.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency, namely:
The desirability of Australia signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. ls the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
Mr Deputy President, we are considering now whether Australia should sign and ratify the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear energy is the most powerful, the most radical and the most revolutionary force in the history of man. It is the fundamental power of the universe. It cannot be fitted into the confines of nationalism. No defence is possible no control is possible except through the understanding and insistence of the peoples of the world on those defences and that control. If a major war occurs between nations with nuclear weapons, these nuclear weapons will be used. Such a war with nuclear weapons means at the least disaster and the result probably would be the extinction of all life on Earth.
Some people still think of the use of atomic weapons as meaning the destruction of cities, that while an old atom bomb could obliterate Hiroshima a new H. bomb could obliterate even New York, London or Moscow. No doubt, a hydrogen bomb would destroy such great cities. This may be dreadful, but it would still be only a minor consequence of a nuclear war. A bomb if exploded even under the ground or under water will mean that radioactive particles will be sent into the upper air. They will sink gradually and reach the earth in the form of deadly dust or radioactive rain. This means universal death, sudden for a few but for most a slow torture of disease and disintegration. Every possible step should be taken to minimise the spread of nuclear weapons and to prevent conflict between those who have them. In the past we have had the partial ban on the testing of nuclear weapons. Australia supported that and we in the Opposition congratulated the Government on its support of that. Now we have the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a copy of the resolution of the General Assembly which incorporates the Treaty.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY ROUND-UP RESUMED TWENTY-SECOND SESSION
Subject of Resolution: Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Date Adopted: 12 June 1968
Vote: 95 in favour, 4 against, with 21 abstentions (roll-call)
Committee Report to Assembly: First Committee report A/7016/ Add.l
Resolution Adopted by Assembly: 2373 (XXII)
TEXT OF RESOLUTION
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolutions 2346 (XX II] of 19 December 1967, 2153 A (XXI) of 17 November 1966, 2149 (XXI) of 4 November 1966, 2028 (XX) of 19 November 1965 and 1665 (XVI) of 4 December 1961,
Convincedof the urgency and great importance of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and of intensifying international co-operation in the development of peaceful applications of atomic energy,
Having considered the report of the Conference of the EighteenNation Committee on Disarmament, dated 14 March 1968,1’ and appreciative of the work of the Committee on theelaboration of the draft non-proliferation treaty, which is attached to that report,2
Convinced that, pursuant to the provisions of the treaty, all signatories have the rightto engage in research, production and’ use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and will be ableto acquire source and special fissionable materials as well as equipment for the processing, use and production of nuclear material for peaceful purposes,
Convinced further that an agreement to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons must be followed as soon as possible by effective measures on the cessation of the nuclear arms race and on nuclear disarmament, and that the non-proliferation treaty will contribute to this aim,
Affirming that in the interest of international peace and security both nuclearweapon and nonnuclearweapon States carry the responsibility of acting in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations that the sovereign equality of all States shall be respected that the threat or use of force in international relations shall be refrained from and that international disputes shall be settled by peaceful means.
Treat)’ on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
The States concluding this Treaty, hereinafter referred to as the ‘Parties to the Treaty’,
Considering the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to lake measures to safeguard the security of peoples.
Believing that the proliferation of nuclear weapons would seriously enhance the danger of nuclear war,
In conformity with resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly calling for the conclusion of an agreement on the prevention of wider dissemination of nuclear weapons,
Undertaking to co-operate in facilitating the application of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on peaceful nuclear activities.
Expressing their support for research, development and other efforts to further the application, within the framework of the international Atomic Energy Agency safeguards system, of the principle of safeguarding effectively the flow of source and special fissionable materials by use of instruments and other techniques at certain strategic points,
Affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon Slates from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties to the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear-weapon Stales,
Convinced that, in furtherance of this principle, all Parties to the Treaty are entitled to participate in the fullest possible exchange of scientific information for, and to contribute alone or in co-operation with other States to, the further development of the applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes,
Declaring their intention lo achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament,
Urging the co-operation of all States in the attainment of this objective,
Recalling the determination expressed by the Parlies to the 1963 Treaty banning nuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water in its preamble to seek to achieve the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time and to continue negotiations to this end,
Desiring to further the easing of international tension and the strengthening of trust between States in order to facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery pursuant to a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control,
Recalling that, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, States must refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations, and that the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security are to be promoted with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources, Have agreed as follows:
Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly, and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices.
Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Each Party to this Treaty undertakes to lake appropriate measures to ensure that, in accordance with this Treaty, under appropriate international observation and through appropriate international procedures, potential benefits from any peaceful applications of nuclear explosions will be made available to non-nuclear-weapon Slates Party to this Treaty on a non-discriminatory basis and that the charge to such Parties for the explosive devices used will be as low as possible and exclude nay charge for research and development. Nonnuclearweapon States Party to the Treaty shall be able to obtain such benefits, pursuant to a special international agreement or agreements, through an appropriate international body wilh adequate representation of non-nuclear-weapon Slates. Negotiations on this subject shall commence as soon as possible after the Treaty enters into force. Non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty so desiring may also obtain such benefits pursuant to bilateral agreements.
Each of the Parlies to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Nothing in this Treaty affects the right of any group of Slates to conclude regional treaties in order lo assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories.
This Treaty, the English, Russian, French, Spanish and Chinese texts of which are equally authentic, shall be deposited in the archives of the Depositary Governments. Duly certified copies of this Treaty shall be transmitted by the Depositary Governments to the Governments of the signatory and acceding States.
In witness whereof the undersigned, duly authorized, have signed this Treaty.
Done in………… at………… this……….. dale of…………
ROLL CALL: In favour: Alghanistan, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Cameron, Canada, Ceylon, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Dahomey, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesetho, Liberia, Libya, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldive Islands, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Singapore, Somali, South Africa, Southern Yemen, Sudan, Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, United Kingdom, United States, Upper Volta, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia.
Against: Albania, Cuba, United Republic of Tanzania, Gambia.
Abstaining: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo (Brazzaville), France, Gabon, Guinea, India, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Portugal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Uganda.
Absent: Cambodia, Gambia. (The names of the Dominican Republic and Haiti were not culled.)
– What is the date of it?
– The resolution was adopted on 12th June 1968. The voting was 95 in favour, 4 against, with 21 abstentions on a roll call.
– Who were the four against?
– The four against were Albania, Cuba, Tanzania and Zambia. The 95 in favour of the resolution included Australia and most of the nations of the world. There were 21 abstentions, including France and India. The Treaty may De summarised shortly, and I hope accurately, in this way: It divides all nations into nuclear weapon states - of those which are parties to the Treaty there are the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom - and non-nuclear weapon states. It seeks to maintain the nuclear status quo, that is, to prevent the dissemination or horizontal spread of nuclear weapons. The three nuclear weapon states which are parties to the Treaty are known as the depositary governments by the Treaty. The other two nuclear weapon states, France and China, have refused to have anything to do with the Treaty. If I might interpolate, this should not blind Australia to the advantages for world peace and co-operation demonstrated by the willingness of the other three powers to take a leading part in the Treaty.
The three basic parts of the Treaty deal with (a) the non-acquisition of nuclear weapons and (b) the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons and (c) safeguards on nuclear activity. The crux of the Treaty is Article II, under which each of the non-nuclear weapon states undertakes not to receive the transfer from anyone whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly or indirectly; not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices; and not to seek or receive any assistance in the manufacture of any of these. Under this Article Australia would be forbidden to* acquire either nuclear weapons or nuclear explosives. She would not be able to manufacture such weapons or explosives or receive them from abroad from any source. There is no obligation on her, however, not to use nuclear energy for non-explosive military purposes such as providing military ships and aircraft with nuclear propulsion.
Article II is balanced by Article J which forbids nuclear weapon states to transfer nuclear weapons or explosive devices to non-nuclear weapon states. This would also prevent the close nuclear co-operation and dissemination that operates in organisations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. The meaning of this provision for Australia is that if at some future date she sought an agreement, say, with the United States for assistance in acquiring a nuclear force or joint control of such a force the United States would be bound to refuse. Such co-operation would be in violation of the Treaty. The basic nonacquisition and dissemination obligations are strengthened by a provision for safeguards. There are two separate safeguards undertaken. The first is an obligation on all signatories not to provide nuclear source material such as uranium or special fissionable material such as enriched uranium or nuclear equipment such as reactors to nonnuclear weapon states unless this material or equipment is subject to safeguards. These safeguards are designed to ensure that it will not be used for the construction of nuclear explosive devices. The effect of this provision would be to strengthen already existing safeguards by making them obligatory on all donor states who sign the Treaty. It would also establish the safeguards system of the International Atomic Energy Agency as a common system for nations signatory to the Treaty.
The second undertaking in the Treaty is that all non-nuclear states accept safeguards on all their peaceful nuclear activities. These safeguards are to be set down for each state in an agreement to be negotiated and concluded with the International Atomic Energy Agency in accordance with the Agency’s statute. Australia’s nuclear activities are already subject to inspection by the Agency. Any help she receives from a signatory to the Treaty, such as the United States or the United Kingdom, will be subject to safeguards, whether or not she ratifies the Treaty. The difference will be, if she signs the Treaty, that any nuclear activity or construction she may undertake on her own accord will also be subject to inspection.
These safeguard provisions provide only a means of verifying compliance with the Treaty, not a means of enforcing it. No sanctions are provided for in the Treaty. No sanctions exist beyond those of selfhelp to which states can resort only if they have the power and the will to do so. This verification provided by the safeguard provisions is not a comprehensive system of inspection designed to detect or to deter any military nuclear programme that might be undertaken secretly by a signatory to the Treaty. It is only designed to prevent diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful purposes. Nuclear plant and materials that are part of a non-nuclear state’s peaceful programme will be subject to inspection, but there will be no general surveillance of a nation’s territory to seek out secret military nuclear activities.
– Does not the honourable, senator think that that is a weakness?
– The Treaty might be subject to all sorts of improvements; but it is not easy to get great nations to agree. In this case we have the United States and the Soviet Union agreeing. No doubt there was a lot of pushing and pulling on how these provisions were to be expressed. The Treaty is binding for 25 years. There are provisions for review and for amendment. The most important element of flexibility in the Treaty is the escape clause. Each party has the right to withdraw ‘if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardised the supreme interests of its country’. A party must also give 3 months notice and a note of explanation to the United Nations Security Council and the other signatories, before withdrawing. Australia stated in the United Nations on 18th May 1968 that it regarded this provision as ‘an ultimate resort for non-nuclear countries’.
There is some discrimination in the Treaty between the nuclear and non-nuclear nations. Nuclear states are not required to subject their peaceful nuclear activities to inspection. They can also refuse inspection on the ground of military security. These states, however, do guarantee in the Treaty that they will provide scientific aid and assistance to non-nuclear states, and a Security Council resolution has guaranteed that the three will act to defend non-nuclear states from aggression. The Treaty also guarantees that research and development will not be impeded. According to my information, this Treaty had been signed by eighty-eight countries up to 28th January this year. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard a list of those countries and of the dates upon which they signed.
– Before the honourable senator goes any further, would he care to tell us whether the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic have signed? He seems to be well versed in this matter.
– - have the list here, but it would use the time allotted to me to answer your query. I cannot quickly extract that information out of the long list, but I can tell the honourable senator this: Up to March 1969 eleven countries have ratified the Treaty, with a qualification about the
United States of America. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate in Hansard the list of those countries and the dates of ratification.
Irish Republic, 1st July 1968.
Nigeria. 27th September 1968.
United Kingdom, 27th November 1968.
Denmark. 1st January 1969.
Canada. 8th January 1969.
Mexico. 21st January 1969.
Finland, 2nd February 1969.
Norway, 2nd February 1969.
Ecuador, 3rd March 1969.
United States Senate, 13th March 1969 (President still to sign as at 26th March 1969).
I should say that, on 13th March the United States Senate advised ratification, but at 26th March the President has still to sign.
– They have not yet ratified it.
– One would be justified in thinking that as the United States Senate has acted in that way, there would not be any doubt about what the United States would do.I wish to offer our congratulations to the United States of America for having negotiated this Treaty and to the United States Senate for having so quickly expressed its advice and consent. The Australian attitude at the time of the United Nations resolution on the matter was stated by Mr Hasluck, as he then was, in the House of Representatives on 26th March 1968. He said:
The Australian Government has consistently seen the dangers inherent in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and in the increase in the number of nations possessing such weapons. We therefore fully share the hope that effective measures will be foundto prevent such further spread of nuclear weapons. We also share the hope that this proposed treaty may become such an effective measure.
A number of statements have been made on behalf of the Government in relation to this matter. Various doubts were expressed. Basically, in general terms Government supporters said that they were in favour of the Treaty providing it did not endanger our future national security or hamper our development. They wanted the nations of the world to arrive at an effective treaty that we could support and adhere to, and to see whether there was equality in the restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons. They wanted in various ways to establish that there were assurances that the relative positions of the various countries and the levels of their technological development would not be frozen and that there would be reasonable assurances on the inspection system, and so on. These views were expanded somewhat by the Australian Ambassador at the United Nations on 18th May 1968.
A number of reservations, doubts and queries were raised on matters such as research and the withdrawal clause. This was said to be an essential ultimate resort for non-nuclear countries who might be faced with the prospect of aggression. Those doubts and reservations and the requirement for time to consider the matter were no doubt reasonable steps for Australia to take, but that was back in May 1968. We have now reached March 1969 and although eightyeight nations have signed that Treaty, Australia has not. Subject to the signature of the President of the United States but one realises that that is probably a formality in view of the United States Senate decision eleven nations have ratified the Treaty and Australia has still not signed it.
Australia is rapidly demonstrating by its neglect that the unfortunate reputation it has apparently achieved in recent years is correct. The reputation is that Australia is not in the forefront of attempts to reach international peace but rather is one of the laggards. If there are doubts to be raised, if difficulties are to be presented, if anyone is to hang back, it seems that Australia will be one of the countries in that group, while similarly situated countries such as Canada are foremost in endeavours to achieve international peace and to seek to take any step towards that end. I do not know why this is so. People speak of the nuclear umbrella. Some people speak of a threat to humanity as though humanity were a vague, abstract term. The threat and the horror of nuclear war are a threat and a horror to each one of us, to every Australian, to us who stand here and to the people we represent; to our children and our grandchildren and to those whom we love. It is not a case of it being a threat to something abstract. It is a threat to the living peoples of this world and those who are to follow in succeeding generations.
It is extraordinary to hear these matters discussed as if we were in some way able to stand aside from humanity and consider the threat that faces us. The possible use of atomic energy is important, but while there is a threat of nuclear war the peaceful use of atomic energy pales into insignificance. When the threat of war is removed the peaceful uses of atomic energy will become important, but one cannot compare the importance of the two issues at this stage of society. Under existing conditions the development of nuclear weapons by Australia would not add to our security, lt would jeopardise it by helping to precipitate a nuclear arms race by the smaller nations. There would be a chain reaction of nuclear proliferation. To refuse to sign the Treaty would seriously impair our chance to be a major influence on world peace.
We are unlikely ever to be a major nuclear power or a major threat in the field of nuclear warfare even if we could join the major nuclear powers - which we cannot because of their stand on the Treaty. By signing the Treaty Australia can become a force for world peace. A step in that direction is a step forward, however small it may be. We cannot afford in our national conscience to become part of the balance of fear and to join the insane arms race, spending millions of dollars which should properly be spent on peaceful development and help to humanity.
Some authorities have said that in any event, although we could develop a nuclear bomb we could not afford to pay for the delivery systems and the ancillary equipment which would be necessary and must constantly be kept up to date. This would be completely beyond the capacity of a country such as Australia. The Australian Government can help best by joining in the active search for peace by the United Nations, which in this case means joining in with the three great nations who have negotiated the Treaty.
– What about the other two nations who have not - Communist China and France?
– The honourable senator can make his own speech. This Treaty provides a means whereby small nations such as Australia can have some hope, because the great nations are bound to come to our assistance. Without this Treaty, how could we hope to stand up against those nations if they wanted to fight us? With the Treaty there is some hope, and a great chance of minimising the causes of such a conflict. To go against the United States stand on the Treaty would be to cause grave offence to a major ally in pursuit of a futile dream of world influence with our own nuclear arms. There is no better way to uphold the principles of the United Nations than to support and aid its collective authority. To aim for nuclear power and to rely on our own strength by a method which offends world opinion and increases tension is to negate the very aims of the United Nations. Our acquisition of nuclear weapons would be support for international anarchy and would not do anything towards international security.
Instead of reducing the possibility of a world nuclear war - and such a war would be the end of mankind - we would be taking the blatantly immoral and militaristic attitude that if it comes to a showdown we can destroy also. But could we ever have a capability such that a potential enemy would be deterred or such that after attack we could retaliate and destroy our enemy? Even the United States and Russia, with all their wealth and technology! cannot guarantee their citizens even reasonable protection against nuclear attack or the dubious satis-‘ faction of dead man’s revenge. For Australia to work towards such a goal would be to go against all reason. As for this ability to hit a nuclear enemy with some son of similar weapons, could any attitude be further from a hopeful step towards world peace? Australia, by using, her influence as the leader of small nations and throwing her weight against those nations pushing for a spread of nuclear weapons, and by supporting the present enlightened signatories to the Treaty, can move positively in the direction of peace.
– What is enlightened about it?
– lt is : enlightened lo enter into this Treaty. If we acquired nuclear weapons, other small nations nol bound by the Treaty would act to develop their own nuclear potential. Would that not heighten tension and lessen the chance for peace? Even though mutual possession of nuclear arms is some deterrent and a controller of national tempers, nations ure not always guided by reason. There is always the chance of national temperaments which even the threat of nuclear retaliation cannot control. In the book ‘The Spread of Nuclear Weapons’, John Maddox and Leonard Beaton show the horrors of nuclear war. They state quite plainly that the holocaust would be such that it would be only vaguely suggested by the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They also say that for countries like Canada and Sweden, a nuclear weapons programme only sets a bad example, lt is a bad example that Canada has avoided and we also ought to avoid. Australia is at the same technological level of development and we should join the Canadians in their attitude to this Treaty.
There is also the ever present possibility that some nation one day may take the view that defeat would be worse than mutual destruction. Such a situation could arise where a fervid nationalism took control of an unstable government which possessed nuclear arms. Then, with this situation, all talk of nuclear deterrents flies out the window, lt’ China ever decided to attack Australia with nuclear weapons, what chance would any capability we could possibly produce have in such a conflict? Obviously the protection offered by the nuclear weapon powers under this Treaty is far more security for us than any nuclear weapons we could develop against any attack. Far from providing a neutralising effect around the Pacific, which is comparatively tranquil, our refusal to sign the Treaty, or any endeavour to go ahead and acquire nuclear arms, would only disturb) to a great extent, that tranquillity. Would Australia be more secure if we developed our own nuclear arms and the means to deliver them and at the same time were surrounded by a host of other nations with nuclear weapons and the power to deliver them? Obviously the answer is no.
This Treaty is a major step towards achieving agreement on general disarmament, a slate when some of the nuclear threat over humanity would be dissipated. If we abandon the hope held out by this Treaty and join in a race by smaller nations to get the most destructive of weapons, we would be pursuing a course of despair based on fear. This course would hold out no hope for mankind, only a precarious balance of terror so unstable that it would inevitably end in total destruction.
Mr Acting Deputy President, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is about to go to the United Slates to discuss major matters with the President of that country. We of the Opposition would hope that before he does so Australia takes some positive step, at least the step of signing the Treaty, to show that it is in support of this remarkable advance towards international peace. No doubt this Treaty is not perfect. No doubt it implies some limitation on national sovereignty, lt is not, perhaps, a theoretical limitation because it is like any other treaty in that one enters into it freely. But I would concede that in practice it involves some limitation on national sovereignty. That is a limitation which we ought to accept without any reluctance whatever because if the world is going to control the use of nuclear energy, if we are going to prevent the destruction of mankind by nuclear weapons, it can only be by steps such as this and further steps which will involve even greater limitations on national sovereignty.
The choice for Australia, as for the world, is between life and death. This Treaty is a step towards life. I ask the Senate to support this proposal and thereby indicate to the Government that the Senate of Australia, along with the Senate of the United States and the other powers in the world which have signed this Treaty, is prepared to take the step towards life, to take this great step towards international understanding, co-operation and peace.
4.31 - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has taken the opportunity to discuss as a matter of urgency the desirability of Australia signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. For the most part his time was taken up with reading relevant parts of the Treaty. I do not have any quarrel with that. The balance of his speech, if I may say so, was a rather emotional contribution. Whilst one recognises the emotion that may have been engendered, this matter has to be analysed in the cold light of reality.
Firstly, he has brought this matter up as one of urgency. If he had moved a substantive motion which would have enabled us to have a considered debate I think his position would have been much stronger. The first thing that is brought out in this debate is the question of urgency. After all. it is a fact - and the Leader of the Opposition acknowledged this - that of the nuclear powers which were the architects of this Treaty - the United States of America, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, in another respect, the United Kingdom - the only one which has so far ratified it is the Government of the United Kingdom. The two initial states which were the prime movers in respect of this Treaty - the US and the USSR - have yet to ratify the agreement.
– They have all signed it.
– The Leader of the Opposition cannot produce an argument and then, when it is under pressure, shift his ground. The fact of the matter is that the Opposition has brought this matter up as being one of urgency when the prime movers for the proposed Treaty have not yet ratified it. I am not arguing this matter on merit; I am arguing it on the proposition of urgency. The Leader of the Opposition immediately moved away from his position in relation to urgency. Tt is true that the other two most important nuclear powers in the world, France and China, are not parties to the Treaty. They have not signed and therefore have not ratified it. The subject is one of tremendous importance. The Government recognises that. Senator Murphy quoted from what the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr Hasluck, said in relation to the Treaty, but he quoted only the first paragraph of the Minister’s statement under the heading ‘Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons’. I shall quote that paragraph and also the ones that follow it. The Government has never moved away from recognising the importance of the Treaty.
Let us study the implications involved in the signing of the Treaty and let us ascertain the position. It should be made clear that to sign the Treaty is, in the first place, an earnest of intent in regard to it, provided that the country concerned can satisfy itself as to the generality and, in some cases, the particulars of the Treaty. The Treaty does not become operative until it is ratified. It is interesting to note that countries in this part of the world which are important from our point of view have not signed. Japan, Pakistan, India, Israel, South Africa and Singapore have not signed it. West
Germany and a whole host of other countries have not signed it. I have tried to list the countries which are close to Australia.
– What about New Zealand?
– New Zealand has signed it. Burma and Cambodia have not signed it. It is extraordinary that Byelorussia has not signed it. I address my mind-
– It is a matter of urgency.
– The honourable senator will have his turn. I address my mind to the argument of urgency. I repeat that the Leader of the Opposition’s case for an urgency debate is not well founded because, whilst it is true that the subject is one of importance, many countries have yet to reach the point where they are prepared first to sign and then to ratify the Treaty, which is the ultimate step. Of the countries which were the initial sponsors, the prime movers and the architects of the Treaty, two of the three have yet lo ratify it. lt is true, as Senator Murphy said, that the American Senate is undertaking a series of processes preparatory to ratification. Because of that he chose to cite the figures 10 and 1 1. The fact is that 10 countries have ratified so far, not .11. As he indicated, they are: Ireland, Nigeria, Britain, Ecuador, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Mexico and the Cameroons. A tremendous amount of work has to be done and a tremendous amount of judgment has to be made before the Treaty can become a viable one. The thing to remember is that Australia has to accept the responsibility of its sovereignty. I think that Senator Murphy said - and as Leader of the Opposition he is speaking for his Party - that his Party is prepared to sign and ratify the Treaty now. Am I to understand that?
– From that statement I go on to say that it is extraordinary that a political party, would be prepared to go to that extent while so many matters have yet to be determined and so many issues relating to the sovereignty of the country have yet to be resolved. Because the Government has a sense of responsibility to its people it says that before it can sign or ratify a treaty it has to be satisfied, in the long term, that the treaty is in the best interests of the country.
– What is the Leader of the Government talking about?
– I ask you, Mr Deputy President, to call’ upon Senator Georges to refrain from interrupting me. If he wants to make the debate a rough one I will be glad to co-operate. But I gave the Leader of the Opposition the courtesy of a good hearing, despite great provocation at times. I shall reply to some of the provocative statements in a few moments. I expect the same courtesy from honourable senators opposite. The Government has said that before it can sign or ratify the Treaty it has to do certain things in the interests of the country. It has a concrete responsibility to satisfy itself that the decision is made not in the emotional sense, as was said by the Leader of the Opposition, but in the cold hard light of day on the basis of what is in the best interests of Australia. The Government is proceeding to do that very thing. Senator Murphy said that this will mean some (imitation of our sovereignty, in the next breath he said-
– 1 said in theory.
– In theory, it could. I will give him that qualification. He said that in theory it could well mean some limitation to our sovereignty. Obviously the Labor Party has satisfied itself that it will not worry about any limitation on sovereignty. The Government is not prepared to do that easily, lt has to be satisfied that, in the (ong run, a decision taken on a treaty of this nature, which would be for keeps, was made after all the necessary steps had been taken in relation to any possibility of limitation of sovereignty.
T now deal with some of the matters referred to by the Leader of the Opposition which concerned me. He quoted a statement made in Parliament by Mr Paul Hasluck, the then Minister for External Affairs, on 26th March 1968. Mr Hasluck had dealt with defence matters on a very wide canvas. In the fourth paragraph of his statement, under the heading: Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons’ - and I want honourable senators to keep the sequence of this in mind because it is important - he said:
The Australian Government has consistently seen the dangers inherent in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and in the increase in the number of nations possessing such weapons. We therefore fully share the hope that effective measures will be found to prevent such further spread of nuclear weapons. We also share the hope that this proposed treaty may become such an effective measure.
That was quoted by the Leader of the Opposition. The statement is a good one. We all subscribe to it. The next paragraph starts with the word ‘However’. Mr Hasluck’s statement, in the next and subsequent paragraphs, continued:
However, the draft treaty has many implications for Australia and has to be examined very carefully. The broad principles and some particular aspects have of course been under consideration within the Government for a long while. When a text emerged this month’ from the Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee - and it was issued only on 15th March - it became necessary for further special and intensive study on the basis of this text to be undertaken in our defence committee and in other parts of the Government so that Australia’s position can be settled by the time the General Assembly meets next month. This discussion and examination are still going on.
I shall refer briefly lo some aspects which will indicate to the House why it is necessary to examine the text of the draft treaty very carefully before taking a final and detailed position. As I said, the basic approach of the Australian Government is that we want an effective and equitable treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, provided thai it does not endanger our future national security and hamper our development, and we therefore want the nations of the world to arrive at a text of an effective treaty which we can support and adhere to.
I want to make it perfectly clear that the Government’s position on this issue has been completely consistent! Ratification of the Treaty can come only when it is signed, but we believe that before we can sign the Treaty we will have to take certain measures to satisfy ourselves that to sign would be in the best interests of Australia. This must not be considered in any emotional sense - it is easy enough to become caught up with emotions - but must be considered in the light of Australia’s long term security and sovereignty.
The Government is looking at this Treaty against a background in which two major nuclear powers, France and China, have dissociated themselves from it. We believe that the provisions of the Treaty must be effective in their operation. Senator Murphy quite fairly read out some of the proposed measures which would be taken as safeguards, lt must be remembered that the Government has sought some clarification of safeguards and that the situation is currently being examined in a safeguards agreement which is before the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. The very point that Australia is raising in relation to safeguards is currently being examined by the International Atomic Energy Agency. These are matters on which the Government has finally to make a judgment. It is important that it should have all the information available before making such a judgment. We believe also that the Government needs further time to consider the decision taken by some important countries in this part of the world. The Treaty has not been signed by Japan, Singapore, India, Pakistan and Communist China, although one could no! expect Communist China to sign as it is not a member of the United Nations and so is not involved. But of the countries that are members of the United Nations, many are still critically examining their position. 1 do not think it is right to assume that there is hostility to the Treaty. Under ideal conditions I could not conceive of any country being hostile to the concept of the Treaty. However, a government must always accept the responsibility of satisfying itself, before committing itself as a signatory to a treaty, that it is not acting in the short term and in an emotional way but is considering the long term and what the ultimate effects will be on its sovereignty. I suggest that the Government’s position has been made quite clear. We voted for the resolution, when the Treaty was open for signature in Washington, London and Moscow, on 3rd July 1968; but we made it abundantly clear that we were seeking further information. When that information comes lo hand the Government will examine it and make a decision which will be in the best interests of Australia’s future security. I do not think anybody can criticise us for doing that. For that reason 1 do not accept this proposal as a matter of urgency. If the Leader of the Opposition had been able to say that the matter was urgent because, perhaps, our near neighbours had signed, that the nuclear powers had signed and that we were standing out, his case might have had some validity, but he has not been able to say that. I should imagine that many of the countries to which I have referred and which have not signed would be seeking the same sort of information, the same sort of detail and the same sorts of guarantees that this Government, very properly, is seeking. For that reason I do not and the Government will not support this urgency proposal.
– I am afraid that the contribution made by the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) to this debate has left me singularly unimpressed. In the opening part of his speech, in answer to Senator Murphy whom I believe presented a practical case for the signing and ratification of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Leader of the Government said that he could not see’ any reason for an urgency proposal. Perhaps during the turmoil of the last few days in his own Party arrangements he has not realised that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) leaves this week-end to go to the United States of America. Perhaps the Prime Minister has been able to get one or two messages through to those of his supporters who have been so keen to perpetuate his future as Prime Minister that the Treaty is important and may be one of the matters that he will be discussing with Mr Nixon, the newfledged President of the United States of America, a world power which has seen fit to sign the Treaty.
– Does the honourable senator suggest that we should follow America?
– I am not listening to Senator Greenwood’s interjections; I shall wait for the pearls of wisdom to fall from his lips. Usually they are very disappointing and are not even of the Mikimoto variety. They are usually imitation pearls of wisdom, more like glass than of the Mikimoto variety. However, I do not intend to be diverted. I have seen Senator Byrne, who is now interjecting, most impressed by the pearls that have been cast before him. I propose to revert to what the Minister said and to ask him whether it is not a matter of tremendous urgency that the Prime Minister should take with him the assurance of this nation that, in relation to a matter which could be one of life or death to the future security of this nation, we have made up our minds. This is a subject that has been before the Parliament and before the people of Australia for more than 12 months. We are at the stage now in March 1969 when eighty-eight other nations have discussed the matter and have signed the Treaty. Many of them have discussed the matter widely and have ratified the Treaty, yet in this place we are hearing mere froth and bubble from the Government to the effect that we must examine the Treaty in the cold light of reality.
He has accused the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) of talcing up time by reading parts of the Treaty. They need to be read, because the Government has done so little to advise the people of Australia of the implications of the Treaty. I go so far as to say that many backbenchers on the Government side, because of lack of interest and lack of knowledge of its importance, have not even read the Treaty. We have been criticised for submitting this substantive motion, It is submitted because we have only one sitting day - tomorrow - left before the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) proceeds overseas to discuss matters of great national importance with the President of the United States of America. We are emphasising the fact that this is one very important matter which needs to be discussed.
The Leader of the- Government mentioned the architects of the Treaty. He said that neither the United States of America nor the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has ratified the Treaty. But I point out that those two great nuclear powers have signed it and it is a very weak argument indeed merely to say that they have not ratified it, in an endeavour to convince people that those powers are not interested in it. The Leader of the Government also said that France and Communist China were not parties to the Treaty. What encouragement has our Government given in the forum of the United Nations to Communist China to participate in world affairs? This Government will be marked down as being one of the most recreant governments that has ever occupied the Treasury bench of this country for its attitude towards Communist China, one of the world’s great powers, and for its utter stupidity in seeking to close its eyes to the facts of life in connection with that country, which covers such a vast area of the world’s surface and with which we have such enormous trading arrangements, lt is pure hypocrisy for this Government to talk about our not recognising this nation and then to argue that it has not yet signed or ratified the Treaty. Communist China suspects us, just as we suspect her. She would be quite justified in refusing to sign this nonproliferation treaty on the ground that Australia is dragging the chain and that we have consistently opposed her acceptance by the United Nations.
– Why should not China sign the agreement?
– China has not signed it-
– Why should not she sign it?
– She is a nuclear power and we are not a nuclear power. China is a vast military nation. We are a minor, inconsequential military nation, and we hope to remain that way, because we would have no chance if we tried to compete with a world power.
– Are you saying we should remain inconsequential?
– I am not going to be dragged into this any further. I am saying that, compared to China, we are inconsequential militarily. As a thermo-nuclear power, yes, we are inconsequential compared lo the United States of America, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, Communist China and, for that matter, France, although France also has not signed this Treaty.
In the few minutes available to me I should like to point out that when the goat eating grass tears the grass out by the roots it does not know that it is setting in motion a vital chain of events which may transform into a desert the country on which it is living. From this point of view, man has not got much further than the goat. I am trying to point out that, as a nation, we are taking the attitude of the goat.
– That is your attitude.
– You are bleating like one, so I have every reason to suggest that you are one.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Senator 0”Bryne will address his remarks to the Chair.
– And J seek the protection of the Chair at the same time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- You are getting it.
– I would like to reiterate what I have just said. Our Government’s policy is that of the goat. This Treaty offers the greatest possible protection to a country such as ours if it will seek the prolection of its umbrella. But all we are doing is sitting back in our self-satisfaction under a completely false impression of our own power in the world when we are dependent upon other countries. And we will have to remain dependent upon other countries because of the shadow of this vast destructive power of thermo-nuclear bombs. One of the originators, one of the instigators of this chain of circumstances, Einstein, said shortly before his death:
The power sei free from the atom has changed everything, except our ways of thought, and we arc sliding towards a catastrophe without precedent.
That is a point that stands out very predominantly at the present time with relation to this Government’s thought. The Government will not change its thought despite what the countries all around it believe. In all. eighty-eight other nations have signed this Treaty, yet this Government, with all its wisdom, wilh all its smug self-satisfaction, is going into the forums of the world and adopting the attitude of waiting and seeing while so many other countries have signed it. The Government is making a laughing slock of us in the other countries of the world by adopting the attitude that we can afford not to sign the Treaty. And all the Opposition asks is that Australia sign it. After wc sign it we can then study it in the cold hard light of reality, as suggested by the Leader of the Government, and we can have another look at it when we come to consider ratifying it. We are accusing this Government for its failure to sign the Treaty especially in view of the advantages it offers and because Australia cannot afford not to be a signatory to it. In the documents that 1 have relating to the Treaty this statement appears:
It is a well-known fact that the present stockpiles of nuclear weapons possessed by the nuclearweapon Stales have long since reached an over-kill capacity. Where is. then, the justification for the nuclear-weapon Powers continuing to produce more weapons, when they can kill each one of us not once but several times over, and a man dies only once?
Here we are faced with the situation of man choosing the watershed of history, choosing between setting in motion a chain of events leading to participation in a thermo-nuclear war and reaching that state to which man must aspire in which he can control and use man’s ability to divert science and the nuclear scientists towards the constructive end which is the only hope for mankind.
I repeat that the Prime Minister is going to the United States of America at the end of this week. 1 emphasise that we on this side of the chamber consider that this is a matter of very great national and international importance and that this nonproliferation treaty should be signed and ratified by practically every country in the world, for, the more countries that sign it the more likelihood will there be of its being respected. If we are going to take the hard line, if we are going to take the line that if we hold back and play hard to get we will perhaps build up our stature, we shall fail; instead, the reverse will happen, especially in the eyes of those countries which may be waiting for Australia to give a lead. As a matter of habit and practice, smaller countries such as Burma and Cambodia have often watched what Australia has done to give them a lead in Asia. The fact that we are not signing this Treaty could have that effect.
I am asking the Government to treat this as a matter of urgency and I am asking the people of Australia, who will know that we of the Opposition realise the importance and the urgency of this matter, to ensure that the Prime Minister will take from them and from us a message to the new President of the United States that we are a peace loving country. We realise the futility of a future overshadowed by the threat of thermo-nuclear war. We realise the negativeness of nuclear war because if one nuclear power presses the button it may as well drop the bomb on itself. The counter measures scattered throughout the world are so readily available that any country which starts a thermo-nuclear war is insane and will trigger off its own immediate destruction.
– Are not some nations likely to do that?
– That is the whole point. Various instruments have been set up through the United Nations Organisation. We should realise the danger caused by the disparagement and lack of assistance that the United Nations has received from countries such as ours which, in so many instances, have been the knockers in the United Nations. Over the years 1 have been absolutely disgusted with some aspects of our Government’s policy that has been pui forward in the United Nations. I support the motion. 1’he DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– With my leader I take the point that the aspect of urgency is not admissible. The proposal we are debating is in accordance with the Opposition’s tactics that we have seen in the Senate during the current sessional period of dealing with the affairs of the Senate by a series of urgency motions. In no circumstances can it be claimed that this is a matter of urgency.
– .1 will deal with that in a moment. It is not a matter of urgency as far as Australia is concerned. In the first place we had the academic exercise by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) who read large junks of the Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and had imbedded in Hansard other large junks of information. I am prepared to accept that his speech contained emotional overtones of one kind or another, which it is very proper to have when one espouses a cause of one kind or another; but at least the Senate should have been given the distinction of having a member of the Opposition other than Senator O’Byrne to follow the Leader of the Opposition. Senator O’Byrne has been paddling in some infantile puddle for 15 minutes and I announce here and now that I do not intend to pursue him into that area. 1 shall point out, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) pointed out. that those who are charged with the responsibility of governing a nation are required to investigate, firstly, the interests of the nation they are charged to govern and, when the interests of the nation have been fulfilled, to see that those interests are protected.
The Senate will recall that when the Leader of the Opposition was indulging in his exercise of reading from a skilfully prepared speech I interjected and asked whether he would explain to senators sitting in their places why the republics, in plural, of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, one of the two chief nuclear powers and the significant power which he praised for signing the Treaty - those republics include the Republics of Ukraine and Byelorussia - had assented in no way to the Treaty. Why have those two powerful Western-disposed republics inside the USSR not assented to the Treaty? I repeat that those two important, powerful so-called autonomous republics inside the Commonwealth, to use Mr Breznev’s more recent phrase, have not assented to the Treaty. Although the other members of the Russian bloc - Poland, Hungary and so on - have announced their adherence to it, those two republics of the USSR have not. I suggest the reason is perfectly clear - the USSR has given itself an escape passage out of the Treaty. In that context I do not think that the Treaty is a valid treaty into which the Commonwealth of Australia should embark. 1 want to deal now With the nations which are described as having a nuclear capacity - Japan, Italy, West Germany. Israel, South Africa and India. Honourable senators will recall that when Mrs Ghandi, the Prime Minister of India, was being entertained at lunch in Parliament House by the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, with members and senators assembled to do her honour, she stated in the most categorical terms that the Republic of India would not, in any circumstances, assent to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Besides those countries that I have mentioned we have the Peoples Republic of China and Republic of France, both nuclear powers, which also refused to have anything to do with it. All this indicates that this is not a treaty which is acceptable to Australia at the present time unless additional safeguards are placed in it. Additional safeguards must be placed in it. but that factor has not been evident from the attitude of the Australian Labor Party in the Senate. All the Labor Party has done has been to praise the Treaty and to say that Australia should accept it with all its risks, whereas I say that it is proper that Australia should not have anything to do with it until such time as the significant powers in the area in which Australia exists also have agreed to accept the Treaty. They have not done so.
As time is limited in a debate of this nature I think it is proper that at this juncture I should direct the attention of honourable senators sitting opposite to the highly dangerous problem that is not covered in (his Treaty. The problem relates to the balance of nuclear deterrent in which the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States and the United Kingdom are involved. Let us take Russia, for example, or America if you like. The problem that arises in relation to nuclear weapons in the sole possession of the people who have them at present is not that Russia suddenly will launch a swarm of intercontinental ballistic missiles directed at America in a first or second strike. That is not the problem at all. The problem exists in the context that, knowing that in a nuclear situation there will be retaliatory strikes, there evolves consequentially the strategy known as the strategy of the hostage nation. The strategy of the hostage nation involves this kind of thing: Nation No. 1 says to its equally developed nuclear opponent: ‘We will not strike you, of course, but we will launch missiles on Australia’ - Australia, for example, being the hostage nation - ‘unless you concede’. I know perfectly well, and 1 am sure every honourable senator knows, that although we have the capability to develop a nuclear explosion and, moreover, that we have the capacity to deliver it. this means a diversion of resources of such an order that anyone in his senses would not argue at present that we should develop a nuclear weapon of any kind, whether it is one which can be delivered in an aircraft or one which can be delivered, in the jargon of the trade, as a clandestine weapon. We have the capacity to do that. No-one argues that we should but I argue, and I am sure that honourable senators on this side of the chamber would argue with me, that we should not enter into a treaty of this order until additional safeguards are built into it. That is one reason why addi tional safeguards should be built into it to protect Australia.
– What kind of safeguards?
– I have just mentioned one - the strategy of the hostage nation.
– He has not been listening.
– It is not a question of his listening. The Australian Labor Party at one stage had been properly advised by incorporating into its foreign affairs committee a distinguished professor of the Australian National University. He has been good enough to allow me to quote, if I feel it necessary, from a seminar called the ‘Pugwash Seminar on Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Technology and the NonProliferation Treaty’, held at the Australian National University on 18th and 19th May of last year. This eminent, charming and distinguished professor, whom I have the pleasure of knowing and admiring, is a man who has categorically rejected the arguments that are being advanced by the Australian Labor Party here this afternoon through Senator Murphy and other speakers. He deals with the problem that I have mentioned in part.
– Did the honourable senator say that he was a member of our foreign affairs committee?
– I understand that he is one of the Labor Party’s foreign affairs advisers, on its policy committee.
– He is not a member of that committee.
– He rejects-
– He is not on the Australian Labor Party’s foreign affairs committee, whoever he is. He may be very eminent, but he is not on the Labor Party’s foreign affairs committee.
– I do not know. I understood he was there. All I can say is that he is an eminent man who has studied this subject with great care and who obviously has a responsive audience at least in elements of the Australian Labor Party if not all of them sitting here this afternoon. I repeat, as 1 began, by stating that theca is no reason why the Government of Australia at this juncture should adhere in any way whatsoever to the Treaty. What happens in Ecuador, the Cameroons, Dahomey or Nigeria in this context has nothing to do with Australia at all. The nations that have every right to be suspicious are the hostage nations such as West Germany. Australia is a possible hostage nation and, at this juncture, should make no attempt to assent to this Treaty and deprive itself of the capacity that may exist at some future time to enable it to be developed.
I know that there are great, dramatic and powerful arguments such as advanced by Senator Murphy on the terms of what is known as the world holocaust. I do not believe that there will be a world holocaust. What I do believe is that there are middle nations such as Australia that are going to be in some future time which cannot be discerned clearly at the present moment put in as hostage nations by nations which have nuclear capacity at the present moment. Therefore, I reject at this juncture totally and absolutely any pressure that should be brought to bear upon the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) or the Australian Government to adhere to this Treaty at this moment.
To illustrate this in Japan - I say this in terms of no emnity to the Japanese people because I have a great affection for them notwithstanding the fact that I have been a soldier involved in war - I point out that Japan bought two atomic piles from the United Kingdom. Under the terms of the agreement, Japan had to return the stuff that came out of the bottom for reprocessing. In other words, this did nol provide Japan - with a means of getting access to enriched fuel. Since then* in the power group of Japan, other nuclear piles have been established under Japanese techniques and technology. Japan is a nuclear power in every sense except one. That is time. It is my belief that Japan requires no longer than 6 months to bring the three areas of Japanese techniques, technology and atomicweaponry into focus. Japan is de facto a nuclear power. Australia, I suggest, and India are de facto nuclear powers. 1’ think that it is the height of unwisdom, to put it in no other terms, to contend other than that until both countries - Japan and India - in the Asian context in which we live at the moment become signatories and accede to this Treaty under no circumstances should Australia put itself in the position suggested by the Opposition. I reject the matter proposed for discussion.
Senator McMANUS (Victoria) [5.25J- Mr President, there are three courses open to Australia in regard to the .Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear .Weapons. The first course would be to. sign. The second course would be to refuse to sign. The third course would be to. defer a decision until all the implcations had been examined thoroughly and until we found out what were the results of strong representations to improve the Treaty that have been made by a number of countries: The Australian Democratic Labor Party believes that the third attitude - the attitude of waiting until all the implications are clear and seeing the result of representations to improve the Treaty - is the one that has: been adopted by our Government. We therefore support that course.
There are, as we all know,’ very heavy pressures on Australia to sign. The United States qf America is pressing us to sign. There has even been the suggestion of a kind of mild blackmail, the suggestion that the United States will riot carry out the proposed experiment to build a harbour in Western Australia by exploding a hydrogen bomb unless we do sign.. If there is any truth in that suggestion of blackmail, I have no doubt that our Government will stand up to it. Secondly, there are pressures from people who simply think that because it is called a non-proliferation treaty it is all that the name suggests, who say that it would cost us a lot of money to have atomic weapons and who say therefore: ‘Let us save our budget by signing the Treaty’. Thirdly, 1 have even seen suggestions from some people that we might get into bad odour with some of our neighbours, like Indonesia, if they thought that we had atomic aspirations.
In spite of all the pressures, our Government has deferred a decision and is still examining the situation. There are plenty of other countries doing the same. If we are erring in not signing, as some people believe, then we are erring in pretty considerable company because Japan, India, West Germany and quite a number of other countries also have deferred any action in regard to the Treaty. The reasons are obvious. There is a very different situation in the last year or two in regard to the atomic weapon than existed 10 years or IS years ago when only a couple of countries had a nuclear capacity. That old situation has gone now. Quite a number of other countries have the capacity to produce atomic weapons. China and France have come into the field. There, is no indication from them that they will sign the Treaty. In fact, the indications are quite the opposite.
Thirdly, we have had revealed that there are certain cheaper new techniques. I do not say ‘cheap’ because obviously any attempt to produce atomic weapons will cost a lot of money. But there are considerably cheaper techniques which have been invented or discovered in recent years and which make the production of the bomb much easier than it used to be. The result of this today is that, for example, India, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel and Canada all have the resources to produce an atomic bomb within 5 years after a decision to make one. That is the situation today. There are serious political advocates for national nuclear weapons programmes in Japan, Germany, Israel and Sweden. Some people in Sweden, for example, have argued that a country cannot be neutral in the modern world without having a nuclear deterrent since it cannot depend on other countries to protect it. In Japan, the nuclear advocates argue that without nuclear weapons Japan cannot hope to counter the total dominance of China over Asia. In Germany, Franz Josef Strauss, the former Defence Minister and others have argued that without nuclear weapons Germany will not ‘have a chance to be heard’ in negotiations on the future of Europe. In Israel some defence officials argue that Israel must have the bomb if it is to be sure of survival. Even in such an unlikely candidate for nuclear status as Mexico there are strong pressures at the present time that it should not rely upon its neighbour and that it also requires nuclear weapons for its defence.
What is the situation in regard to this Treaty? When one of the chief protagonists of the Treaty, former Secretary of Defence McNamara of the United States, was discussing this matter before the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy he laid down three principles which he said would have to be observed for an effective nonproliferation treaty. Firstly, it must provide security and protection for legitimate interests of non-nuclear states. Secondly, it must deny the utility of nuclear weapons to any state with aggressive purposes. Thirdly, it must not permit the acquisition of nuclear weapons or a nuclear test to increase the prestige, political influence and power of a nation above and beyond the influence which is its due because of its political and economic position. In other words, Secretary McNamara, one of the people who produced the Treaty, said that a successful non-proliferation programme must assure non-nuclear states that they can achieve their legitimate objectives without nuclear weapons. Such a programme must put potential aggressors on notice that possession of nuclear weapons will not make their aggression either easier or less dangerous, and it must make clear to great nations such as India, Japan and Germany that they do not need nuclear weapons to have the status of major world power. Those are the principles that he said an effective treaty on nuclear non-proliferation must have. If we examine this Treaty we find that it does not have those principles. On the contrary, if Secretary McNamara were describing it in the words of Shakespeare he would say:
It is a poor thing but mine own.
First we find that although suggestions have been made by the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that they are prepared to go a certain distance in providing safeguards, that is not the case. The United States and the Soviet Union have issued a declaration in which they say they would provide or support immediate assistance to any non-nuclear state, a party to the Treaty on nonproliferation, that is a victim of an act or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used. They say: There you are. There is the safeguard. Why not sign?’ But, unfortunately, when we examine the Treaty we find that action such as that would be subject, to a veto in the Security Council, which is to say that it would mean very little where the Soviet Union felt that its interests were concerned. Secondly, we find there is no agreed definition of aggression. The nations could argue for days as to whether the action was aggression or was not aggression. The third thing is that if a non-nuclear nation happened to be attacked and was being devastated with atomic bombs its people might find little comfort in the knowledge that in its leisurely course the United Nations would be meeting to consider whether action should be taken under the Treaty and that after the United Nations had discussed it for a couple of weeks it might get down to doing something for the particular nation attacked. Under those circumstances it is understandable that many countries are not enthusiastic over this Treaty.
Mr Hasluck, in his discussion of it, pointed out that, firstly, if we signed this Treaty it could have very serious disadvantages for Australia if it wanted to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes; secondly, that the existing machinery provided could leave Australia open to certain forms of commercial espionage; and thirdly, that access to fissionable material for peaceful nuclear purposes by Australia could be seriously restricted. That is why the Government says that it has to examine this whole Treaty very carefully. That is why I and my Party support the attitude of the Government. This is such a serious matter that it is not the kind of thing that we can rush into even if some people think that it is urgent. Why do we need to do anything about it? We are told that two countries are not going to sign the Treaty. One of them is China. We all got a copy of a speech by Professor Fitzgerald the other day decrying the suggestion that we could ever be in danger from China. That is fashionable these days. He pointed out that China did not have sea transport, but I was under the impression that we were in the days of the submarine that can fire missiles from under the sea and that we were in the days of the intercontinental ballistic missile. 1 was under the impression that these things existed. We find that Japan, for example, has already begun the initial steps to provide itself wilh a nuclear capacity. As one of our Australian professors told us, when he was in Japan the other day and said that he would like to examine some of these new nuclear plants that they had, they said: They are so immature that you would not be interested’. Our version of that, of course, is that for obvious reasons they did not want people to see how far they had gone.
At any rate, the situation is this: We do face in the modern world the prospect of attack. If there was one lesson that was taught when the Allies dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was this: The bombs would never have been dropped if the other side had had the capacity to retaliate. If we are to accept a situation where some nations - and one nation in particular - refuse to be interested in the Treaty and is to be nuclear armed, and we are to divest ourselves of any possibility of having any nuclear weapons, we are running a risk that I do not feel inclined to take.
A lot of publicity has been given to the attitude of my Party. It has been said that we are atomic crazy and that we want to rush into having atomic weapons. Let me say that we propose atomic weapons for Australia only if world nuclear disarmament has failed and is impossible to attain. Firstly, we support world nuclear disarmament. Secondly, if it were possible to have a proper treaty for nuclear non-proliferation - not this one, which has no real safeguards for the smaller countries like ourselves - we would re-examine our position. But we say that when we will not have world nuclear disarmament because of the attitude of the Soviet Union, when we cannot get a reasonable nuclear non-proliferation treaty because of the attitude of some of the big powers, we ought to try to have that capacity to deter an aggressor which comes from the ability to retaliate. We do not suggest that
Australia should necessarily build her own weapons at the start. We would hope that we could get them from our allies. But if our allies are not disposed to do anything we have to try to do something ourselves and be self-reliant.
There are some people who say that it will never happen in this country. 1 think that the logic of events will force our Government to act. 1 do not know what its views are on the matter but I believe that events will force it to take action to see that Australia is in a position to resist an aggressor armed with nuclear weapons. May I cite the words of the Chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Sir Philip Baxter, who would probably know something about nuclear weapons and nuclear energy. Speaking on the matter he said that he would urge Australians to defend their lives and their country with the most sophisticated, effective weapons that man can devise - with no type excluded. Asked if he included nuclear weapons in his armory of sophisticated weapons. Sir Philip said:
You must draw your own conclusions; with the position I hold, an elaboration could prove embarrassing.
I know that there are people who ascribe the best of motives to those who brought about the Treaty, but let me point out that there are other people who are not prepared to ascribe the best of motives to those who have done so. In the case of the Soviet Union it is generally agreed amongst strategists that by proposing this particular Treaty which, after all, will not affect it very much, the Soviet Union has thrown the apple of discord onto the table of NATO. One of the strategic objects of the Soviet Union today is to destroy the NATO alliance. One of the objections that a number of members of NATO have to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is that it suggests that one or two of their allies will not make this weapon available to them. That is a cause of grave concern to them.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin, - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– lt is with some diffidence that 1 follow Senator McManus, who has just resumed his seat, because in the last 15 minutes he has made a very valuable and learned contribution to this debate. I believe that we should be grateful to him for so doing. I am somewhat at a loss to understand why we should be debating this matter this afternoon. This being an urgency motion, one would imagine that there was some urgency about it. I would like to canvass for a moment the reasons why this matter is alleged to be urgent. As 1 understood the position, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has been open for signatures since 1st July last year. Some 10 months later it becomes somewhat urgent.
Not being as pure of heart as some other people, I am firmly convinced that this matter became urgent some time today, when members of the Opposition realised that if they could not dream up something to debate they would have to talk about the defence statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton).
– They had to scuttle.
– They have run away from debating it because the proceedings have been broadcast on the last couple of Wednesdays. This is another illustration of their running away from debating it. I would have thought that all the matters raised by the Opposition in connection with nuclear weapons could have been raised as part of their contribution lo the debate on defence policy. But, for some reason or other, they prefer to drag this red herring across the trail on this Wednesday afternoon when the proceedings are being broadcast and again to take away 3 hours of debate on the Prime Minister’s defence statement while the proceedings are being broadcast. I believe that that was the reason for urgency. At about midday today it became terribly urgent to find something on which to waste the time of the Senate this afternoon.
The other peculiar aspect of ths matter is that it refers to desirability. One would have thought that had there been something urgent about this matter the Opposition would have put down a positive step to take. Without having looked at a dictionary to see the meaning of ‘desirability’, I believe that it means that one should consider the pros and cons of doing something. Surely that is exactly what the Government is doing. I fail to see how something can be urgent and desirable at one and the same time. I am desirable, I suppose; but perhaps ] am not very urgent.
-minute contribution, referred to the fact that the Treaty needs reading over. From the contributions made by the Opposition today, one would imagine that the Treaty did need reading over and that today was the first time members of the Opposition had read it. Senator O’Byrne also said that we were closing our eyes to the facts of life. Perhaps he wants to have his eyes open to the facts of life by seeing us walk naked in the world without any ability to defend ourselves or to make a contribution to those who are prepared to assist us to defend ourselves.
He went on to discuss at some length the recognition of Red China and all that sort of business. What fascinated me was his statement that for some reason senators on this side of the chamber suspect Red China. With your indulgence, Mr President, I will quote at some length from a very learned paper written by Mr Leslie Marchant of the University of Western Australia. He writes:
The most important question that confronts the observer o£ China today is not how she made her bombs, but what she intends to do with them.
Chinese official statements on the latter point have done little to indicate China’s long term intentions. For the most part the statements have been issued for propaganda reasons, and consequently they are vague and often contradictory. Two points, however, stand out as certain policy lines. Firstly, the present Chinese regime is opposed to any talks and negotiations about a test ban treaty, about disarmament and about the proliferation of the bomb. Secondly, Mao Tse-tung’s government have made it clear that they have not constructed the bomb merely lo join an exclusive club among the powers. They intend to stockpile and make China into an arsenal ‘for the revolutionary socialist camp’, although it must be pointed out thai Mao has made it clear that China will not be the first lo use atomic weapons.
Apart from these policy lines, three other points about me bomb have emerged in Chinese propaganda statements which could be of concern as her nuclear capacity develops. Firstly, Mao has maintained his theory that ‘power comes out of a barrel of a gun’, that violence and struggle creates success and that communism and higher civilisations emerge from the rubble of war, including nuclear ones, lt was this intemperate altitude, which is still held by China, that partly caused Russia not to hand across her bomb to China.
Yet Senator O’Byrne asks, from the opposite side of the chamber, why we suspect China. Let me return to the evidence before us. From the statements made by honourable senators opposite, one would gather that Australia has absolutely no desire at all to enter into any treaty concerning the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. I quote the following from the statement made to the United Nations by Mr Patrick Shaw on 17th May 1968:
Australian support for an effective nonproliferation measure has been established in successive sessions of the General Assembly. In the Australian Parliament, as recently as 26th March 1968, the Minister for External Affairs, Mr Paul Hasluck, said that:
The Australian Government has consistently seen the dangers inherent in the proliferation of nuclear weapons and in the increase in the number of nations possessing such weapons. We therefore fully share the hope that effective measures will be found to prevent such further spread of nuclear weapons. We also share the hope that this proposed treaty may become such an effective measure’.
– On what date was that said?
- Mr Hasluck mads that statement on 26th March 1968.
– A year ago.
– We have been attempting to rind something effective. The honourable senator criticises the Government for being unable to put some effective deterrent into a United Nations treaty when members of his Party have been trying for years to put some effective deterrent into their own squabbling. They have not yet succeeded. I refer now to another passage in the statement by Mr Shaw, in which there are three important terms, namely, effective’, ‘world security’ and ‘economic development’. I believe that the Government’s present attitude hinges upon this statement. Mr Shaw said:
If the treaty is to be effective, lt must bring a real increase in world security, and at the same time assure to all countries the maximum benefit in economic development from progress in the field of nuclear science and technology.
Is that an unrealistic attitude for the Government to take in this situation? Would the Opposition have us jump into a situation which would not be to the best advantage of the Australian nation? I have no intention of supporting this matter of urgency. I reject the wording of it. I reject the intention of it. I reject the thinking behind the whole of this alleged urgency motion that has been brought forward here today. I trust that the Senate will not just talk the matter out hut will have an opportunity to vote on the motion and so to express its opinion in a proper form.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– The Labor movement has raised as a matter of urgency the desirability of Australias signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This afternoon Senator Cormack said on behalf of the Government that consideration of the signing of the Treaty is not a matter of urgency for Australia. Obviously that attitude of supporters of the. present Government explains the delay and procrastination that has taken place in consideration of the Treaty. Both Senator Cormack and Senator Withers strongly implied or suggested, as did Senator McManus of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, that it would not be in Australia’s interests to sign such a treaty because, amongst other- reasons, China is now a nuclear power and other countries such as India, Pakistan and West Germany, to name some of them, also have not signed the Treaty to date. Last week in the House of Representatives the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) said that in principle the Australian Government believes that a treaty of this kind is desirable. It appears that that statement is now being disowned by some of the backbench supporters of the Government and is not getting the sideline support that the Government generally receives from the Democratic Labor Parly.
Senator Withers could not understand the reason for the motion being moved and said that by raising this very vital subject today the Opposition was wasting the time of the Parliament. But I remind honourable senators that next week the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) will go to Washington for discussions with President Nixon. Because the United States Senate recently discussed and agreed to ratification of the Treaty by the United States, we want to indicate to the American President, who himself supported the signing of the Treaty as quickly as possible by his own country, and to indicate to the rest of the world, that many people in Australia are urging the Australian Government to expedite its long-winded, drawnout and searching examination of the
Treaty, and to make up its mind finally one way or the other. The late President Kennedy once said that every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when it may no longer be inhabitable; that every man, woman and child lives under the nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by miscalculation or madness. The Labor movement completely agrees with that expression of opinion. No longer can nuclear weapons or armaments be regarded as the defence of one nation against another. No longer can they be regarded as a test of the future industrial capacity or potential of one country compared with another.
We are now engaged as citizens of the world in a battle for the future survival of man and the right of future - generations to determine their own destinies rather than to allow the generation of our time to set the world on fire and possibly to start the greatest ever and final holocaust; to allow us to swallow up everything so much like the piranha fish of South America. The two honourable senators opposite who have opposed the holding of this debate might consider that that statement sounds dramatic. Indeed, it is meant to be dramatic, because the threat that is facing mankind is of complete and absolute extinction. The late Pope John once said: ‘Nothing is lost by peace but everything may- be lost by war’.
Let us look at the present- situation. In 1964 - 5 years ago - it was reported that radiation sickness had struck many Eskimos in the Canadian Arctic. Plant life had been polluted and caribou herds, which supply the staple diet of Eskimos, had been poisoned by the atmosphere. Sir John Cockcroft, British Nobel Peace Prize winning physicist, reported in 1964 that at least during the preceding 2 years it was necessary to halt the supply of fresh milk to children in Great Britain due to: poisoning caused by atmospheric nuclear tests. There was more than a two-fold increase in physical abnormalities in children born between 1959 and 1961. In 1964 the United Nations World Health Organisation, reported that the highest single cause of death to American children aged from 4 to 14 years was leukemia. The second highest cause was congenital deformity.
– When was that?
– That was the position in 1964, according to the World Health Organisation. All honourable senators know of radiation effects on Japanese fishermen in the Pacific as a result of the nuclear testing in that area. All honourable senators will remember the panic that started in Spain when a United States bomber went down off the Spanish coast, loaded with nuclear bombs. Since that time of 4 or 5 years ago other nations have acquired nuclear weapons and are further polluting the atmosphere. Is it any wonder that while scientists experiment with weapons of extinction, trying to get bigger and better bombs, greater explosions and more destructive weapons, the really great statesmen of the world today are facing up to the perilous course on which this generation has embarked and are trying to bring sanity and reality back into the world situation. Eighty-eight countries to date have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nine of them have ratified it, including the Soviet Union and Great Britain. As I said earlier, the United States Senate has recommended ratification of the Treaty. Because President Nixon has urged ratification by the United States as quickly as possible, it is fair to say that that is now a mere formality.
Next week the Prime Minister will go to Washington for discussions with President Nixon. All that the Prime Minister will be able to say is that the Australian Government has been considering the Treaty. It has been considering it since March 1968, over a period of 12 months but, despite this long-winded and drawn-out consideration, whilst the Government agrees in principle with a treaty of this nature it is still examining the matter from the point of view of industrial and defence safeguards. In short, this is the gravamen of the complaint by the Opposition, and the reason why we have raised this as a matter of urgency. If that is all that the Australian Prime Minister will be able to say to the American President on behalf of this country, then we want to show, by raising this matter of urgency, that there is a large body of opinion in Australia that wants some action taken by the Australian Government; that so far as the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty is concerned, we, the Labor men, are prepared to give a lead in
Australia and are anxious to see Australia, in turn, give a lead to the other small nations to come and join us in this document of humanity.
– That would include China, I suppose?
– We sincerely hope it will include China. We hope that all nations will come into this Treaty, but I am not going to be impeded, in making my speech, by the honourable senator in the short time left to me. This is what Professor Norman Harper said in an address over the Australian Broadcasting Commission on 10th February, about 7 weeks ago:
When the Treaty was adopted by the General Assembly, the United States and the Soviet Union held such similar views as one delegate commented, I quote ‘the only thing they didn’t do was hold hands’. American ratification has been delayed by the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, an event which has brought to a stand-still nearly all fruitful discussions about further disarmament in the United Nations.
Of course, the American Senate now has agreed on ratification of the Treaty by the United States. Professor Harper continued:
President Nixon’s request, likely to succeed, will help to break the deadlock. France has agreed not to violate the Treaty which she declines to ratify. Peking still regards it as, I quote ‘a fraud jointly hatched by the United States and the Soviet Union’ and part of an anti-Chinese plot. Few of the 126 members of the United Nations share this view.
So now, Mr Deputy President, the United States has taken the bit in her teeth and we of the Labor movement suggest, as Professor Harper has suggested, that other nations are likely to follow in the near future. The Labor movement urges the Australian Prime Minister to go to the United States next week and to say to President Nixon: ‘We, the Australian Government, acting on behalf of the Australian people, will join you in the signing of this Treaty. We will encourage all the other smaller nations to join in this quest for sanity and humanity’. Wars begin in the minds of men and so it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace have to be constructed.
Government supporters have raised questions about sovereignty in defence of their negative and lethargic attitude on this matter but the real cause for hesitancy, according to a recent report in the Canberra Times’, is a conflict between the
Government’s diplomatic and defence advisers on the one hand, who want to accept the Treaty, and its scientific advisers on the other hand, who still have some reservations about it. But if the Australian Government genuinely believes that there are defects and deficiencies in the Treaty document, let it say so here and now. Let Government supporters say what those things are. Let them suggest alterations, deletions or amendments, but for goodness sake, I urge the Government, stop saying: Despite the fact that we have had the document for some 12 months, it is still being examined; although we have had it for this period of time we are still examining it from the point of view of industrial and defence safeguards’.
This matter certainly is one of urgency. lt is a matter of vitality and importance not only to our own beloved nation but to the continuation of mankind generally. I support the raising of this matter of urgency.
– On 26th March 1968 the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr Hasluck, explained in this Parliament why Australia was not prepared at that stage to go beyond a general principle of support for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. On 17th May 1968, in the United Nations, the Australian delegate voted in favour of the resolution supporting, in principle, this Treaty but at that time he indicated that there were doubts which Australia had as to the working out of the Treaty. In the intervening period, the Government’s position has been quite clear. It has said that we support, as any nation should support, the principles of this Treaty but so far as Australia is concerned there are particular matters involving Australia’s development of nuclear power and nuclear propulsion for civil purposes which may be put in jeopardy if this Treaty is signed without proper safeguards.
That has been the view of the Government and it has been reiterated time and again, yet that is the one issue which, tonight, the Opposition is not prepared to argue. Opposition senators come forward with high sounding platitudes about the desirability of the time of this Senate being taken up in the consideration of whether Australia should sign this particular Treaty.
– The Government prefers to spend the time chasing students from Monash University, I suppose.
– That remark is as irrelevant as the other things which have been said in support of their proposition. The claim has been made that this is a matter of urgency. I suggest that the real reason for the Opposition bringing this matter forward today is because of a general inability or unwillingness to support or to discuss .propositions which are part of the government of this country. Wednesday after Wednesday, over a long period, the Opposition has come forward with some motion of supposed urgency. One can only suppose that, as we would otherwise have been discussing the defence statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) today, this is a convenient way, while the Senate debates are being broadcast, to avoid having the Labor Party’s divisions on that subject revealed. There may be, of course, a further reason which descends to the particular. That is that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate is Senator Murphy and today he spoke in this Senate for the first time this year on a matter of any substance.
Of course, Senator Murphy spoke in a manner which indicated that he was at home when dealing with abstractions and general ideas. He showed, I think, by the emotive way in which he talked about the horrors of nuclear war - and no-one would disagree with him on that point - that he. was concerned only with that aspect and nol with the particular issue of whether Australia should be prepared to sign this Treaty. 1 say, with all respect to Senator McClelland, that a similar view was taken by him. He spoke with his head in the clouds without the saving grace of having his feet on the ground. The points he put forward lacked the reality of what Australia requires. 1 do not know why the Opposition seems so concerned about these matters. One would have thought that if Opposition senators had the responsibility they would give some regard to what ought to be the matters which Australia should consider in determining whether this particular Treaty should be adhered to.
Senator McClelland, in particular, by means of statistics - which I do not challenge - referred to the fact that there is evidence of the effects of radiation in the atmosphere as a result of nuclear testing. 1 asked him the date which the last figures he gave referred to and he said that it was 1964. But, of course, since 1963 there has been an atomic test ban treaty which has been signed by the major nations. The only testing of nuclear weapons by the countries involved in that test ban has occurred underground. Yet a tremendous number of atomic explosions of one kind or another have taken place in the atmosphere since 1964. The countries which have engaged particularly in these activities have been France and China. Those two nations are not prepared to accept the Treaty. France, although a member of the United Nations, maintains that she desires her independence in these matters, and she will not be bound by the terms of the Treaty. China, because she chooses not to enter into the community of nations on a basis which is acceptable to the community of nations, is apart from the United Nations and owes no respect or allegiance to any treaty that might be made under the aegis of the United Nations. While France and China are outside the scope of the Treaty, the matters about which Senator McClelland was so concerned will be ever present. His argument failed to establish the point that he was on his feet supposedly to sustain - that Australia, because of the facts that he evidenced, ought to sign the Treaty. There was a complete lack of consequence or inevitability in his argument.
I indicated that the Treaty was adopted by the United Nations in 1968. Specifically, it was adopted on 12th June 1968. lt followed a debate in the United Nations after the report of the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament had been tabled 3 to 4 months earlier. The Committee had met in Geneva for approximately 3 years before presenting its report. Australia has had since last June to determine precisely what attitude it should take to a treaty which leaves open and yet to be decided a number of points which arc of vital importance lo the country.
– What are they?
– I am coming to them. I think the important point which ought to be recognised is that Australia has indicated its support in principle. I refer to what the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr Hasluck, said in March last year because this ought to be remembered by those who want to challenge the Government for apparently being dilatory in the matter. Mr Hasluck said:
The basic approach of the Australian Government is that we want an effective and equitable treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, provided that it does not endanger our future national security and hamper our development, and we therefore want the nations of the world to arrive at a text of an effective treaty which we can support and adhere to.’
I think it is relevant to consider what is required to be done under the Treaty. After the resolution was carried by the United Nations the Treaty was available for all nations to consider. Nations may sign the Treaty at any time. No obligation flows from the signing; it is merely a commitment of intention to ratify. If a nation is honest in what it intends to do, naturally it will not sign until it is prepared to take the further step of ratification. Australia is awaiting certain assurances and the resolution of certain problems before it takes the step of indicating such a commitment, lt is only when the Treaty is ratified by the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Russia and 40 other countries that it becomes effective. The position at this point of time is that the United Kingdom has ratified the Treaty, the United States is about to ratify it, Russia has not yet ratified it and only 9 other nations have signed the agreement. We are a long way from the point where this Treaty, in its own terms, would have any operation.
– Only 9 have ratified it, but 88 have signed it.
– I am not talking about signatures. I have passed that stage. I am talking about the event which brings the Treaty into force, which is ratification.
– You used the expression signed the agreement’.
– I am sorry if I misrepresented you; I apologise. I meant ratification. It is ratification which is important. At present only one of the three major nations has ratified and 9 of the required 40 have ratified. Earlier I instanced that France and China were outside the scope of the agreement. If the purpose of the agreement is to bring within the comprehension of its terms, and to subject to the legal obligation which its terms impose, the nations possessing nuclear weapons as well as all the nations which have not nuclear weapons but might like to have them, I would think the whole purpose of the agreement must fall down if major nations stand outside it and interested non-nuclear possessing nations also stand outside it.
I think it is part of the fallacy of human relations in world affairs that we accept something which is signed as a treaty or as a document and regard that as being sufficient security in itself. It was the folly of the nations between 1918 and 1939 that they believed that they could put their faith in documents which were signed and ignore the fact that unless there was an enforceable sanction those agreements were worth nothing more than the value of the paper on which they were written. So it proved. I do not believe human nature in this day and age is any different. If we like we can put our faith in documents such as a treaty under which nations solemnly swear that they will not agree to the spread of nuclear weapons. If it suits a nation’s purpose, if it suits the interests of one nation - as it suited the interests of Italy or of Germany in the years before 1939 - ‘the paper which solemnly records their promises will mean absolutely nothing.
– lt is a bad outlook for the world if that attitude is adopted.
– In response to Senator Milliner, we may express in moralistic terms that it is a bad outlook for the world, but where does it get us? We will not stop events from occurring, although we agree that we should be united in striving to prevent them from occurring, simply by being moralistic and hoping that by signing a treaty that objective can be achieved; it will not be. I believe - and I am sure that I am at one with what the Government has expressed and is trying to achieve - that a nation which looks after itself will save itself and will have the prospect of saving others as well. Certain safeguards have been sought. Australia is entitled to seek safeguards. We are entitled to know the extent to which the safeguards that the Treaty proposes will prevent Aus tralia from developing nuclear power and nuclear propulsion for civil purposes.
The Treaty contains a provision which permits safeguards to be entered into, but those safeguards have yet to be defined; they are nowhere to be found. Australia does not know to what it may be committing itself. In particular, the safeguards, when they are created, are supposed to contain a power of inspection and a power of control over what is called the source material, which is uranium. At what point of time do those safeguards operate? Do they operate at the point of time when the material may be used for civil purposes or do they operate only at the. time when it may be put to military purposes? These are matters on which I think it is appropriate that some assurances be obtained. The efforts which the Government has been making over a period of some 8 months since the Treaty came before the country for acceptance or rejection have been directed towards having these matters clarified. In those circumstances it is unreasonable to say that the Government has been laggard, that it has been dilatory or that it is not concerned with the pursuit of peace in this world. The Government’s primary responsibility is to its own citizens and to the development of the resources of this country for the benefit of its citizens. In those circumstances, what the Government has been doing not only is thoroughly justified but also is what any respectable government would do
– The matter which we are debating tonight is one of considerable importance, not only to the survival of this country but also to world peace and the continuing existence of civilisation. Both Senator Withers and Senator Greenwood have asked what is the urgency of this matter, what is the Opposition trying to escape from that it should .raise a trivial question such as nuclear disarmament. They suggest that we should be dealing with important matters which are on the notice paper and which Senator Greenwood believes are of significance to the Australian people and of much greater significance to the Australian people than is the proposition which has been submitted by the Opposition tonight. If the honourable senator were to cast his eye over the notice paper and look at these urgent matters on which he thinks we are trying to evade discussion and which are of so much greater importance than the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, he would find that they are the Excise Tariff Bill 1969, the Spirits Bill 1969, the Currency Bill 1969, the Loan (Supplementary Borrowing) Bill 1969 and a Bill which is of great interest but one which I would say is not of the same importance as the subject we are discussing - the Customs Tariff Bill 1969.
The Opposition believes that despite the fact that the Government would be acutely embarrassed by any discussion of customs tariffs, it should take advantage of this opportunity to discuss a matter of importance to all Australians and to all people of this world, that is, the prevention of the nuclear destruction of the world in which we live. I have listened with very great interest to what some honourable senators have said tonight. We have heard Senator Cormack, the Chairman of the Joint Foreign Affairs Committee of this Parliament, no less. He has made some very interesting observations. Senator Cormack has told us that one of the very serious reasons why he has reservations about Australia signing this Treaty is because of a peculiar device of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics which he was able to detect because he had met a professor who, he claimed, was a member of the Australian Labor Party Foreign Affairs Committee - if he was, he must have been going there under an alias - with whose assistance he has been able to expose a cunning trick of the Soviet Union. This cunning trick is that although the Soviet Union has signed the Treaty, Byelorussia and the Ukraine have not signed it and therefore the USSR will be developing its bombs inside these two countries. I must confess that if this is the level of contribution that comes from the Foreign Affairs Committee, the sooner public money is no longer wasted on the deliberations of this body the better off the Australian people will be. lt is well recognised that the existence of the Ukraine and Byelorussia as member countries of the United Nations is a peculiar juridical device, and that any treaties to which the Soviet Union is party are binding on Byelorussia and the Ukraine. I am surprised that the Chairman of the Foreign
Affairs Committee, in the course of his detailed studies of this complex subject, did not become aware of this. If he were to look at Article IX he would see in paragraph 2:
This Treaty shall be subject to ratification by signatory States. Instruments of ratification and instruments of accession shall be deposited with the Governments of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America, which are hereby designated the Depositary Governments.
I would have thought that this would have been known to anybody who has any knowledge of international relationships, and especially to the Chairman of the Committee which is supposed to study these matters. The United States of America and Great Britain do not recognise the independent existence of the Ukraine and Byelorussia and have not authorised their representatives to accept signatures from them in London and Washington on a number of occasions in the past, despite the fact that the Soviet Union has pressed that Byelorussia and the Ukraine be permitted to send delegates to take part in the discussions. The fact is that it has been through the actions of the United States and Great Britain that Byelorussia and the Ukraine have not signed. In any event, any treaty to which the Soviet Union is party is binding upon Byelorussia and the Ukraine which are two constituent republics of the Soviet Union.
– Why would they need to sign, in that case?
– I shall answer Senator Prowse privately. I know that he has difficulty with these matters, but I shall sort them out with him later and not waste time by trying to explain them to him now. Senator McManus also has spoken on this subject. He is not with us now. I must say that he always intrigues me because he has a very peculiar sense of moral judgment and political judgment. Senator McManus has told us tonight that he believes in the good intentions of the countries which have signed the Treaty, but apparently, according to him, they are rather gullible. Apparently the United States has not had the same experience as Senator McManus has had in exposing Communists inside Monash University and therefore would not be as well equipped to deal with Soviet wiles as he is with his years of training.
Only last night he was telling us about the horrors that face us owing to the dissemination of propaganda advocating birth control, yet tonight he has shown complete equanimity and no dismay whatever at the use of nuclear weapons. One can well imagine that, if instead of dropping napalm on North Vietnam, the United States were dropping birth control pills Senator McManus would almost have gone into hysterics by now. If this were not a treaty to prevent the production and spread of nuclear weapons but were a treaty to prevent the spread of contraceptives, Senator McManus would have been moving an urgency resolution as soon as he heard about it and would press to have it carried by the Senate. But when it comes to a question as important as this, we find that he has strangely distorted moral values. He is very concerned about people not born but not very much concerned about people who are living at the present time.
Senator Greenwood referred to the urgency of the Customs Tariff Bill, which he is so anxious to debate tonight. He has told us that the countries of the world were very naive in placing their reliance on treaties and alliances, lt is his Government which places so much reliance on ANZUS and SEATO. His view is that those treaties are always binding, that ANZUS and SEATO will save us, that we can rely on all the parties to those treaties never to betray us, but that that is nol so with a treaty like this. In fact. Senator Greenwood and his colleagues have even talked about the American alliance. Having spent a little time in the United States. 1 must confess that all the time I was there I never heard any American refer to the Australian alliance. But Senator Greenwood has great faith in the American alliance which nobody has ever signed, ratified or even seen. Yet he places no faith in a document which whoever has not signed it, has been signed by the United States of America, was endorsed by Mr Johnson, the former President of that country, and has been ratified by the United States Senate. We have a Government whose former leader spoke about going all the way with LB J but which went all the way with LBJ only when LBJ was being reactionary. If any serious proposition for world peace was ever put forward by LBJ or any other American, the Government was not so enthusiastic. If our Government is so
enthusiastic about the American alliance and not just in associating itself with America when America is involved in aggression against some other country, why does it not show that devotion and dedication to the American alliance by joining with the United Slates of America, as that country has urged, in signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty? The United States of America has made it very clear that it wants all countries of the world to be parties to this Treaty. It has been said that the signing of this Treaty will prevent Australia from engaging in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. No treaty can be perfect, but this Treaty quite clearly in its preamble describes its signatories as: Undertaking to co-operate in facilitating the application of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on peaceful nuclear activities, Expressing their support for research, development and other efforts to further the application, within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards system, of the principle of safeguarding effectively the flow of source and special fissionable materials by use of instruments and other techniques at certain strategic points.
That is what the Treaty says, lt goes on to say that its signatories are:
Affirming the principle that the benefits nf peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes lo all Parties to the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear-weapon States.
The Treaty goes on lo he more specific as to the peaceful application which can bc made of nuclear power. Government senators place no reliance on this, they say. Senator Greenwood is grinning away there. He finds this very amusing. He is not engrossed in his favourite occupation of chasing some conscript. He is showing his devotion to his country. His form of military service is to urge someone else’s prosecution for not going to war. That is the usual contribution of this great military hero, this super military hero, the great atomic bomber. Senator Greenwood, the dedicated patriot. This Treaty clearly provides for the provision of the uses of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. If the Government does not believe that it does provide for those peaceful purposes then it is saying that it repudiates the Administration of the United Slates of America and that it repudiates the decision by the United States Senate.
Senator Little seeks to interject. The United States Senate has ratified it. Senator Little, of course, would be a greater custodian of the United States security than would be the United States Senate. Apparently Senator Little does not believe that the United States Senate has clearly examined this situation.
This is a matter of very great importance to all of the people of this world. It is more important than any of the Bills that Senator Greenwood wanted to discuss tonight, despite the urgency which he says they demand. If Australia is not to be a party to this Treaty it means either that we do intend to develop nuclear weapons or we do not intend to develop nuclear weapons. If we do intend to develop nuclear weapons, then we are asking for our own destruction, because any country which uses nuclear weapons will have nuclear weapons used on it. If we intend to develop nuclear weapons without using nuclear weapons, then we are squandering the resources of this country without any foreseeable consequence of our doing so, and at the same time further arousing the great suspicions which many countries throughout the world already have of us.
I am prepared to accept the judgment of the United States Administration and the United States Senate on this issue. This Government is prepared to accept it on some things, but not on this, lt accepted it on Vietnam, but not on this. I am not the advocate of the American alliance. I am not the one who talks about the American alliance. The onus is on those senators who always talk about the American alliance to justify their failure to endorse action which the United States Government has taken. The Opposition believes that this is a matter of greater importance than any of the other issues which have come before this Parliament.
We believe that this is something which should not be used merely as a political gimmick in order to terrify the Australian people. No doubt Senator Greenwood, Senator Little and the other heroes will be saying how patriotic they are because they are opposed to this Treaty. We believe that, whatever faults it may have in it - and any treaty has faults in it - at least this Treaty is a declaration of intention to prevent the world being subjected to a nuclear holocaust, that it is at least a repudiation of insanity, of insanity and death, and it is an affirmation and declaration in favour of civilisation and in favour of life. For that reason, it is supported by the Australian Labor Party, and we urge its signing and ratification.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) 18.451- I do not propose to join Senator Wheeldon on the verge of the gutter. I do not want to get on to the soapbox next to him nor enter his chemist shop. The only reference that 1 desire to make to his speech is to say that he read out a list of Bills that are awaiting consideration by the Senate and then stopped reading from the notice paper. Judging from the way the Australian Labor Party is baulking at a full debate on defence and external affairs, there is a definite need, if it was politically possible, for a swab to be taken to find out why the members of the Australian Labor Party will not be upstanding and talk on defence. They have the opportunity.
Senator Wheeldon tried to say that it was most important that the Senate should be dealing today with the question of the signing of the Non-proliferation Treaty. Where has the Labor Party been putting this question in its mind in the last 12 months? Time and again notices of motion have come from the Labor Party, but never any mention of a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
This matter has been brought on for two specific reasons. The first is to abstain from a debate on defence. The second is to try to give to the people of Australia the feeling that a debate in the Senate on an urgency motion, when the speaking time of Senators is restricted to only 15 minutes, and there is a time limit on the debate as a whole, could be of some value to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) who is going to have talks with the President of the United States of America. The Opposition talks about the need for the Government to hurry into a decision. In June 1968 the United Nations adopted the resolution by 95 votes to 4, with 21 abstentions. Since then, Australia has been faced first of ali with a decision as to whether she should sign or not sign. To this Government, a signature to a treaty means a declaration of honest intent.
Perhaps to the Australian Labor Party a signature means nothing more than a scribble on a piece of paper. This Government, quite rightly, wants to take cognisance of all the factors before it puts this country’s name as a signatory to a treaty. The question of whether or not the treaty should be ratified, if we signed ii, would be easily answered, in my belief, lt is my opinion that, all things being equal, ratification would follow, once we signed.
Let us see where Australia is at the present time. There are three arenas in which it can be on this question, lt can be uncommitted, as it is now; it can be amongst the signatories; or it can be amongst those who have agreed to ratify the Treaty. Wherever it is or should be, it would be in pretty good and influential company, lt is a very important country in this part of the world, where we are playing an increasingly important role. Uncommitted, we have Japan, China, Indonesia and Singapore. There are others, but 1 am talking about those which are of particular significance to this nation. If we signed, we would be with Malaysia and eighty-seven other countries, some of which are of great importance to us. If we finally ratified the Treaty we would be, at the present time, with the United Kingdom and Canada, both very important countries seeing that we are members of the Commonwealth of Nations; but let us not forget that they are in a completely different position geographically, in the development of their natural resources and in respect to defence from that in which Australia finds itself. Therefore the question whether to sign or not to sign is, for us, totally different from that which confronts them.
Fancy the Labor Party having the hide to infer that a decision on this Treaty, which is of terrific importance, is binding for 25 years, should bc rushed through. Does the Labor Party adopt the attitude to treaties that as long as you sign and ratify them you are free to tear them up when you do not need them? I hope that is not and never will be the attitude of this Government or any government which 1 support. I believe that we should be honourable and should prove to the world at all times that once we enter into a treaty we stand by it through good and ill.
Senator O’Byrne said that Australia was an inconsequential power in the matter of nuclear energy. All I say to Senator O’Byrne is that Australia is not an inconsequential power so far as Asia and this part of the world are concerned. I emphasise that far from being inconsequential Australia is of growing importance and is the subject of increasing respect among the people who live to our north. We have a growing responsibility in taking important decisions that affect the whole of this part of the Southern Hemisphere.
Decisions have not been easy to make in matters of defence. I shall confine my remarks to the past 12 months. Any fairminded citizen will realise that decisions in relation to defence and the signing of this Treaty in the past 12 months have not been easy to make for two particular reasons. The first is that the United Kingdom has taken steps in the fields of defence and her economy which will affect Australia vitally from now till the end of time. The United Kingdom has made its decisions in the time of the Gorton Government. The second reason is that within the past 12 months the United States of America, the greatest power in the world as far as Western civilisation is concerned, was in the process of conducting a presidential election. If the Labor Party does not know it, the rest of Australia knows that election time is a time in which the United States will not enter into firm agreements and alliances with other nations or alter her policies because a complete change of view follows a change of President, particularly when the party to which the President belongs is changed also. So it is absolute unadulterated humbug to accuse this Government of being slow to make a decision when those great matters have been playing, and will continue to play, an important part in deciding not only what we can do but also what friends and lasting alliances we can make. 1 should like to take time off here to say to members of the Australian Labor Party - this comes right from my heart - that 1 believe they are doing great harm to Australia’s reputation as a nation by some of their attitudes and the abuse that they hurl at this Government in relation to defence and national service. This nation, through the Government, is trying to make friends so that not only will we be safe but also that we will be able to play a part in bringing peace to this area in which we have a grave responsibility. Although we are a nation of only 12 million people we have great potential. I believe that the Government is right in not rushing into a decision. The three sponsors of the Treaty are the only countries which could wipe out the rest of the world, if they so desired, with nuclear armaments. It is very easy to sponsor something and to say to the rest of the world: ‘All of you forgo nuclear weapons. We have them and if you join us you will get them’. That is a very easy attitude to adopt. 1 applaud the Government. Its action in refusing to rush into signing the Treaty is a sign of statesmanship, a realisation of responsibility and the need to take time in deciding this issue which affects not only our defence and our alliances but also our development and our potential for development. It is a matter of great importance whether we use nuclear energy. 1 wonder what our children and their children would say if Australia became a signatory to this Treaty and had no nuclear deterrent and was about to be attacked. They would say: ‘The oldies, our parents, let us down in time of need’.
Before the last war broke out and during the 51 years in which I was a member of the Australian Imperial Force there was a capacity in every country taking part on all fronts for chemical warfare beyond the imagination of people in 1939. It was not used. It had been used in the 1914-18 war. Many of us had relatives who died young because of being gassed in the First World War but gas was not used to any great extent - I saw a bit of it in New Guinea - during the Second World War. Why? It was not used for one reason only. The power of each country participating in that war was known to the other side and, thank God, our allies and our enemies were too frightened, and therefore too wise, to use it. Because I believe that the possession of the potential for chemical warfare helped to save us from the devastation that would have followed its use, I am not prepared at this time to stand in the Senate and say that we in Australia should not have a nuclear deterrent. I am not inclined to say either that we must go ahead and arm in this nuclear world.
I believe that this motion has ‘been a waste of time. It has been conceived in an attempt to delay the business of the Senate. While on the subject of defence I should like to say one final thing about the members of the Australian Labor Party. They forget the axiom of the armed Services that officers lead their troops into battle. We have not heard the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) talk to us about defence, and I doubt if we ever will.
- Mr Acting Deputy President, Senator Marriott thinks that we have been wasting time in discussing the subject matter of this debate which is perhaps as vital as any matter that anybody in the world today could discuss. This is the question of whether Australia as a matter of urgency should indicate its adherence to the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which was agreed to in the United Nations last May, which eighty-eight nations have so far signed, which Australia voted for in principle last May but has not yet signed and which ten or eleven nations already have ratified, including the United States of America. We are dealing here with a vital subject on the eve of the departure of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) to have talks with the President of the United States of America. Senator after senator on the Government side has risen to say that there are many more important subjects to talk about than this. Senator Marriott and, I think, one of his predecessors. Senator Withers, thought-
– He is not a predecessor of mine, surely.
– Well, one of Senator Marriott’s predecessors in this debate. They apparently believe that we should have been discussing that highly inadequate document that passes for a defence statement produced by the Prime Minister. The mountain laboured and brought forth such a small mouse. For a year the Government has hesitated about signing the Treaty. Honourable senators opposite are asking us to turn aside from debating this urgent subject to go back to discussing what has been stale for the last 3 weeks.
– Give us your idea of it.
– I do not wish to discuss it with the honourable senator just now. I have heard a number of extraordinary arguments put forward by the Government in support of its attitude. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) was frank up to a point. He said: ‘We would like to ratify it but there are difficulties. You know, we need safeguards. You must know how complicated the thing is. It is not easy to rush into’ and so on. He did not indicate, as far as 1 could understand, what progress is being made. We are confronted by a Government that stands pat on the position that it took a month before the United Nations met to consider this problem. Last March, on the 26th - good heavens, it is 12 months ago tonight - ‘the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr Hasluck as he then was, told us that we now had a draft treaty. It was from the eighteen-nation disarmament committee. We were studying it. It was necessary to give real study to it so that Australia’s position could be settled by the lime the General Assembly met the following month. That was April. Twelve months have passed. We still have not had from the Government any indication of what progress has occurred in the matter.
Are we getting anywhere? With whom are we talking? Are we putting up possible amendments for a redrafting of the Treaty? Are we seeking specific assurances from particular countries? What are we up to? Or are we, what I suggest seems to be plain from the way this debate has proceeded, just stalling? Is it because there is a real division in the ranks of the Government about this question? I do not want anyone to tell me that I am making this as a political point. Some of the journalists whose job it is to get the gossip on these things have said in perfectly open language in recent times that there is a split in the Government about this nuclear treaty and that Federal Cabinet is strongly divided on whether Australia should sign it. It is said that the Government’s diplomatic and defence advisers favour signature, but the Australian Atomic Energy Commission opposes it. Another journalist said as recently as 4lh March:
What has actually been going on behind the scenes i> an inter-departmental conflict which has escalated into divisions within the Cabinet as to whether Australia should sign and ratify the treaty.
Is this why we are getting all this mumbo jumbo?
It is said that we should not rush into the Treaty. Of course we should not rush into it. All the issues should be properly explored. I would expect a responsible government to do so. But New Zealand has managed to get over the difficulties that there are. So has Canada. The Government talks about not rushing it. The ‘Australian’ of 7th February 1969 reports that President Nixon asked the United States Senate to pass the nuclear treaty quickly. The article reads:
President Nixon, declaring that his policy to Russia was ‘negotiation rather than confrontation,’ yesterday urged prompt Senate approval of the treaty to ban the spread of nuclear weapons.
The President urged that. Senator Fulbright, the distinguished Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate, said that he saw no reasonable chance of the pact being defeated. He said:
This is a small, deranged, confused world and if you can get anybody to work together, it’s a miracle.
The minority leader, the Republican leader in the Senate, Senator Everett Dirksen, said that he expected quick Senate approval of it within a week. The United States Senate, which is the operative body for this purpose, has ratified this treaty because the ‘go ahead’ was there.
I want to know what is the real holdup here. We have heard 3 or 4 different explanations. Never mind about whether we are wasting time, ls the Government stalling? What progress are we making? I see that the Leader of the Government has entered the Senate. I am sorry that he did not tell us whether we have advanced from the position we were in I year ago tonight when the then Minister for External Affairs made his statement. Some of the Government senators have given the game away in the same way as the Democratic Labor Party senator did because they do not want this Treaty ratified. They say, as Senator Cormack said: ‘The longer we hold out the better’. Senator McManus said that he really did not want atomic weapons in Australia unless world nuclear disarmament failed. I think that his leader. Senator Gair, made it clear last week in the defence debate, which Senator Marriott wanted resumed and resolved tonight, that Australia needed a nuclear capacity. 1 want to know what efforts the Australian Democratic Labor Party is prepared lo make towards disarmament, ls the DLP to take the position that Australia will never ratify this Treaty as long as the present position with China, for example, exists? The DLP does not want even to sell wheat to China, let alone enter into some treaty in which it would expect China to be a signatory.
– We want to know-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– Will the honourable senator tell us–
– What about-
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– They are all trying to stop me saying what they all know to be true. What they all know to be true is that the United States Senate-
– The honourable senator is trying to interpret what we say.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order!
– Will you just stop talking this rubbish and interjecting as though I am putting some view that is not a proper Australian view? The United States ratified this Treaty last week. Let me say this: This matter is a real worry to members of the Australian Cabinet, I know. There have been some not very subtle hints within the last week or two from the United States Foreign Relations Committee that preference will be given in assistance in nonmilitary nuclear power activities, such as the proposed explosion at Cape Keraudren, to signatories over non-signatories to the Treaty. So, I am sure-
– Should we give in to America?
– I am sure that this is a real question for members of the Australian Government. What is the good of pretending that it is not?
– Does the honourable senator think that we should surrender our independence of action on that basis?
– We should not surrender our independence of action at all on that basis. But we should, as Australians, confront the problem and say what we will do. I have listened to the Leader of the Government in the Senate; 1 have listened to the Chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Cormack; and 1 have listened to the Deputy leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. 1 do not know precisely what problems are being tackled to see whether any deadlock that may exist can be broken. It seems to me that the Government is sitting pat in the hope that in due course some kind of miracle will overtake us and the DLP will agree to let it sign the Treaty and it will get on and do what New Zealand is doing and what Great Britain has done. Already eighty-eight countries have signed this Treaty, and the best that we can get from these people who do not want this matter debated is a series of unruly interjections and what amounts to a deliberate and sustained attack to stop me making a speech that I have waited until 9 o’clock to make.
– That is a reflection on the Chair. Brush the hair out of your eyes and apologise.
– J do not intend to be put off by any of this vulgarity. There is a serious question here. We have to face it. Canada faced it, and faced it courageously. As recently as January of this year Canada announced in a very carefully worded statement its decision to sign the Treaty and to come to terms with the reality of the problem. This is what it said:
The Canadian Government has supported the principles embodied in the Treaty as essential to progress in reducing international tensions and in curtailing the nuclear arms race. The Canadian decision to ratify the Non-proliferation Treaty was based in part on the belief of the Canadian Government that there is little prospect of progress toward controlling dissemination of nuclear weapons or towards general disarmament unless this Treaty comes into force.
The statement makes this plain:
The right of non-nuclear powers to exploit nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is reaffirmed and the principle that the benefits of peaceful nuclear explosions should be made available to non-nuclear parties is acknowledged.
There is a specific right to withdraw from the Treaty if extraordinary circumstances, which should be reported by the withdrawing government, make that inevitable in the interests of the particular party. So why are we not told frankly that there is a real difference within the Government parties and within the Cabinet on this issue and that there is a question mark as to which way Australia should go? Are we marking time simply because there is disagreement or are we marking time because we do not know whom to approach about our difficulties? To me, either way seems to be a confession of failure.
The Opposition has seriously raised this question tonight on the eve of the Prime Ministers departure because we would like him to be reinforced by the view of the Senate, if that is. possible. We would like the Prime Minister to understand the view of the Senate, which we at any rate put forward, that Australia should be a party to this Treaty. I have heard nothing but silly objections in the main. There may be real objections, and nobody wants to rush us into a treaty that we may have cause to regret, but if there are still outstanding questions to be resolved before the Treaty is signed let us have some frankness from the Government about what they are and let us see-
– Why not ask questions about it?
– I want to know what questions the Government is asking. Is it raising matters? As far as I can see, the Government, on what it says through its spokesman, the Leader of the Government in this House, has failed to advance a quarter of an inch since the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs in this Parliament exactly 12 months ago tonight. It is as simple as that. Why do we not have some realism from the Government in the matter? Is it going to wait until the end of time before it indicates its readiness to sign and ultimately to ratify a treaty for which it voted in princple? It has not the courage to stand up and say: We voted for it because we believed in it and we are prepared to sign it and we are prepared to co-operate with everybody in making it a reality.’
– The debate on what the Australian Labor Party regards as an urgency motion quickly degenerated into a low level exercise. As I sat here and listened to Senator Wheeldon he reminded me of a performer in some fourth rate vaudeville act. Senator Cohen has told us of the importance that the Labor Party places on this matter. I was interested and amused at one stage this afternoon to note the importance that the Labor Party placed on it, because looking across to the other side I noticed that there were but three Labor senators in the chamber. This is the degree of importance that the Opposition places on this debate. The only degree of urgency, if I understand what Senator Cohen and Senator Murphy are saying is that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is leaving for overseas and they want him to know that the Senate regards this as a matter of great importance. I have sufficient confidence in the Prime Minister to know that he realises the importance of this particular matter. Also, as a responsible leader, he is responsible for the security of this country.
– You have had flu injections. You look like Ho Chi Minh.
– I am not worried about interjections. I noted that when Senator Cohen was speaking he adopted his holier than thou attitude and said that he objected to unruly interjections from this side that prevented him from speaking. But I noticed also that when Senator Greenwood and Senator Marriott were speaking they could hardly be heard because of unruly interjections from Senator Cohen’s side of the House. Apparently he has no objection to this. He has an objection only when he is speaking, but he cannot have it both ways. Let me come back to the major issue. It is not a question, as somebody suggested, of our opposing the signing of the Nonproliferation Treaty. It is a question of the responsibility of the Australian Government and of the people of Australia now and in the future, and this is the important issue.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Order! The time allowed for the debate on the motion having expired, the Senate will now proceed with the business of the day.
– I present the interim report of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources.
On 27th November 1968. I made comment on the work of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources. I said then that we were the only Committee with no date set for the completion and presentation of our report and that we were conscious of our responsibility to the Senate in this regard. Standing order 309 states:
By leave of the Senate a Committee may report from lime to time its proceedings with or without the evidence, or the evidence only.
The Senate, in setting up the Committee, gave the Committee -
The Committee proposes to use this provision, although at this stage we do not intend to present the evidence or submit any recommendations in relation to our terms of reference. We do, however, propose to draw the attention of the Senate to the provisions of the Standing Orders relating to the procedure of Senate Select Committees. Accordingly I now furnish, for the information of the Senate, a short report on the work which has been done by the Committee.
The legislation which is being investigated by the Committee covers an entirely new sphere of activity for the Commonwealth Government, lt concerns a major industry of great national importance and defence potential. The off-shore petroleum industry is being established in Australia under new legislation and the Committee, under instruction from the Senate, is conducting its inquiry to assess whether this legislation adequately protects not only the interests of the Commonwealth, the States and capital investments in the industry but also the interests of all of those working in off-shore areas and, overall, the people of Australia. Oil and gas will provide an ever increasing percentage of the energy requirements of the Australian people, and it is essential that legislation relating to the industry be estab lished on a proper footing. We have found our terms of reference to be very extensive, covering just about every aspect of this industry. We are conscious of the responsibility of the task which has been assigned to us and the number of meetings held by the Committee indicates that we have used whatever time has been available to us to do a considerable amount of work.
The Committee was first constituted on 28th November 1967 by resolution of this House. Members of the Committee were finally appointed just prior to Christmas 1967, and the Committee held its first meeting on 19th January 1968. A further two meetings were held before the prorogation of the Parliament and the reconstitution of the Committee in the new session of 1968. Prior to the reconstitution of the Committee, the former Chairman, Senator Wright, was appointed to the Ministry and at the first meeting of the newly constituted Committee on 19th March 1968 I was appointed Chairman. Since then the Committee has held seventy meetings. The Committee has visited each of the States and has held numerous meetings in Canberra.
Advertisements have been placed in most of the daily newspapers of each of the capital cities, and the Press in each centre which the Committee has visited has been informed of the Committee’s work. Expert and informed witnesses, including representatives from government, State and Federal, industry and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, lawyers, geologists, economists, marine biologists and many others, have presented evidence before the Committee. In all, sixty-eight witnesses have so far been heard.
During the course of its investigations the Committee has made a number of field trips and tours of inspections, lt commenced these visits in Queensland with a tour of inspection of oil and gas production and pipeline construction in the Roma area and a tour of installations at Moonie, Australia’s first oil field. We have visited Barrow Island, with its many wells, and inspected the installations and operations, including the off-shore berthing terminal for tankers shipping oil from the island to Kwinana and eastern States refineries.
Members of the Committee made a 2-day inspection of on-shore and off-shore operations and installations in the Gippsland area.
We flew by helicopter to the floating rig Discoverer IT which was then doing exploration drilling at Snapper Al; we observed development drilling on the Martin A platform: and. on-shore, we were conducted on a tour of inspection of the Gippsland gas processing and crude stabilisation plant near Dutson and saw the fabrication of offshore platforms at Barry Beach marine terminal. We have also visited refineries in Brisbane and Kwinana and the Kwinana Nitrogen Co. site. During the course of the Committee’s visit to Townsville, just prior to the commencement of the current parliamentary meetings, the Committee received much evidence on the question of damage to the Great Barrier Reef by exploration for oil. We were able to observe growing coral, although unfortunately weather prevented the Committee from visiting the Barrier Reef proper. Whilst in Townsville we also took the opportunity to inspect the marine biological sciences establishment at the Townsville University College.
During the course of its inquiry, the Committee has had occasion to consider the provisions of the Senate standing orders relating to the availability of documents presented to and the evidence given before the Committee. In accordance with practice, the Committee resolved last year to make available, to the Press and other interested persons, written submissions presented to the Committee in public. The Committee also resolved to make available to prospective witnesses, upon request, transcript of evidence given before the Committee in public. Accordingly, the Committee made transcript of evidence given in public session available to prospective witnesses, to witnesses for correction and, with the approval of the witness, has made his written submissions, given publicly, available to the Press and persons present at the particular public session.
Recently the Committee has received a number of requests from interested persons for copies of the transcript of evidence. In considering these requests the Committee has again examined the terms of standing orders 305 and 308, which read: 305. When a Committee is examining Witnesses, Strangers may be admitted, but shall be excluded at the request of any Senator or at the discretion of the Chairman of the Committee, and shall always be excluded when the Committee is deliberating. 308. The evidence taken by any Select Committee of the Senate and documents presented to such Committee, which have not been reported to the Senate, shall not be disclosed or published by any member of such Committee, or by any other person.
The Committee considers that there is a practical problem in reconciling these standing orders. Although a recognised practice has developed whereby Press reports have been permitted and evidence and documents presented in public have been made available to prospective witnesses and, in some cases, other interested persons at the discretion of a particular committee, the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources is of opinion that this practice is in conflict with the provisions of the standing orders. With the development of the committee system in the Senate, it is essential that all Senate committees follow a uniform procedure and that committees find no difficulty in interpreting the standing orders relating thereto. Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the Standing Orders Committee urgently consider the standing orders relating to select committees, particularly standing orders 305 and 308.
I want to say at this stage that the Committee has worked very well together as a group of senators representing this chamber and, through it, I believe, the people of Australia. The Committee is anxious to complete its inquiry and report to the Senate as soon as possible. Before doing so it is necessary for usto digest masses of correspondence and documents and over 4,000 pages of evidence. However, the Committee hopes to present its report to the Senate in the Budget session.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of the Parliament for the ratification by Australia ofthe International Sugar
Agreement 1968. lt may be helpful to honourable senators if I briefly outline the background to the Sugar Conference held in Geneva last year at which this new Agreement was negotiated. Because of the nature of the world sugar trade it has been accepted for many years that some form of regulation of supplies on to the so called residual or free market is essential if sugar producers are to obtain reasonable and stable returns for their output. Most countries produce sugar either in the form of beet or cane and over forty countries are engaged in the export trade. Harsh experience has shown that in the absence of international arrangements there will be chaos in the market to the detriment of producers. I need hardly emphasise that most producers are in developing countries and the economic and political stability of many of these countries depends on stable and predictable foreign exchange earnings from the sale of sugar.
The first International Sugar Agreement was negotiated in 1937 and subsequently renewed in 1953 and 1958. These earlier agreements worked reasonably well until the breach in relations between the United States and Cuba in 1960. At that time Cuba lost its preferred position in the United States market. Cuba is the world’s largest exporter of sugar and held an export quota entitlement to the United States market totalling about 3 million metric tons. The embargo on trade between Cuba and the United States meant that this Cuban sugar had to find new market outlets. The new situation could not be accommodated within the provisions of the then current International Sugar Agreement and its economic provisions were therefore suspended in 1961. Since that time there have been some dramatic changes in the world sugar trade.
In late 1963 and early 1964 there was a short period when prices rose to extremely high levels in world markets due primarily to poor crops in Cuba. In fact, the London price rose above £Stgl00 per long ton in November 1963. Since the end of 1964, however, prices have been at very low levels and for the last 3 years have averaged less than £Stg20 per ton delivered London. During the 1960s, and following the negotiation of our Trade Treaty with that country, the Japanese market has been opened up for Australian sugar. In 1967-68 the industry sold over 540,000 long tons to
Japan compared with sporadic shipments of around 50,000 tons a year before the Trade Treaty was signed. Over the same period there has also been a large expansion of the Australian industry with production rising from 1.38 million long tons in 1961 to the record level of 2.7 million tons in 1968. The decision to expand was taken by the industry itself after an exhaustive study by a committee of inquiry set up by the Queensland Government.
The expansion programme created some major difficulties for both the canegrowers and the mills. The real problem was that although a significant proportion of the total crop was guaranteed market outlets at reasonable prices, an ever increasing proportion could only bc sold in the so-called free market at very low prices, lt may be of interest to honourable senators if I identify the various categories of markets supplied by the Australian industry. First, there is the domestic market of about 670.000 long tons which is completely reserved to the local industry at highly remunerative prices mutually agreed by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments. This arrangement has operated for nearly 45 years and, quite properly, has been endorsed by governments of all political persuasions. Secondly, the industry enjoys a negotiated price quota under the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. This Agreement was recently reviewed in London and the Australian industry is assured access to the United Kingdom market for 335.000 long tons until 1974 at a negotiated price of £Stg43.IO a ton, which will be reviewed in 1971. Thirdly, there is our hard won quota entitlement into the United States market. In 1960 we had no such quota. Today, after considerable effort, we enjoy a quota entitlement of 140,000 Iona tons and last year, in fact, we supplied 177.000 tons to that market. The f.o.b. return on sales to the United States market is about 6.5c per lb or the equivalent of about £Stg65 a ton delivered London.
Australia has also gained the opportunity of supplying the refined sugar requirements of the allied forces in South Vietnam. We have already shipped, or have under contract. 20,000 tons under this arrangement. The high price export opportunities provided by the United States must be preserved. In fact, we must never let up trying to get our quota into that market improved. Finally, all the sugar not sold in the three markets already mentioned must be disposed of in the residual or free market. This is the sugar covered by the new International Sugar Agreement. Why is the new Sugar Agreement so important to Australia? The answer is simple. The proportion of local production sold on the free market has risen from less than one-third before the planned expansion to nearly 60% in 1968. Moreover, as already noted, the free market price has been at disastrously low levels since 1964.
The effect of these developments has been that the pooled returns to the industry - the average return per ton of sugar from all markets - have fallen sharply in recent years and, in fact, have only been maintained above subsistence levels because of substantial financial assistance extended to the industry by the Commonwealth Government in 1966 and 1967. The sugar industry can be justifiably proud of its recent achievements. It has reacted to the pressures of constantly changing technology as reflected in new varietal strains of cane, mechanical harvesting and loading of cane, improved processes in mills and better storage and bulk handling facilities. Moreover, the industry itself has financed the basic research and met the costs of the capital installations required for the efficient handling of sugar. Obviously the industry has no wish to be a supplicant for aid nor does the Commonwealth Government wish to be in the business of providing financial assistance to this industry. In the circumstances of the past 2 or 3 years, however, there was no practical alternative but for the Commonwealth to provide loan finance on special repayment terms and to spare no effort in negotiating for a new International Sugar Agreement which would raise world prices to more reasonable levels.
This is the background against which the Australian delegations went to the International Sugar Conferences in 1965 and 1968. The negotiations were both difficult and protracted. However, the efforts of our delegation were ultimately successful. The Agreement is a most complex document and the Department of Trade and Industry has prepared a paper which provides a layman’s interpretation of its main provisions. This paper has been made available with the sole purpose of helping honourable senators comprehend the essential elements of the Agreement. Accordingly, I do not propose today to elaborate at any great length on the detailed provisions of the Agreement. The basic objective of the Agreement is to maintain stable prices for sugar - prices which will be remunerative to producers but which protect the consumers against exploitation. The mechanism by which this objective is to be achieved will be by way of regulating supplies on to the market by export quotas. The Agreement itself will be administered by the Sugar Council, comprising representatives of all member Governments.
Article 40 sets out the basic export tonnages which have been established with respect lo individual exporting countries or groups of countries. Although these basic export tonnages do not in themselves create export entitlements as such, they do represent the basis on which permissible exports from each country are determined. The individual basic export tonnages have a basis in historical performance but they were not in the strict sense of the word negotiated. in the course of the Conference it was agreed that the quantity of sugar coming on to the market must be strictly limited if better and more stable prices were to prevail. However, within this overall limit, every exporter wanted the biggest possible allocation for itself.
In these circumstances, it was necessary to have recourse to an independent referee and for this purpose the services of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Dr Prebisch, were enlisted. The tonnages listed in Article 40 represent Dr Prebisch’s judgment of the essential needs of individual countries. I suppose that no one country is really satisfied with the particular tonnage allocated to it but exporters have accepted their individual quotas in the general interest of reaching agreement. Actual quotas at any particular time are determined under the provisions of Articles 48 and 49 of the Agreement where a rather elaborate mechanism or formula is spelt out for the purpose. These provisions introduce a considerable degree of automaticity into the determination of quota levels. However, the Sugar Council may, by special vote, vary the quota levels derived under the formula. In addition to their actual quotas, exporting countries with available supplies of sugar will be eligible to share in any shortfalls which may be redistributed when the prevailing market price is above US3£c per lb.
Honourable senators will note that the formula set out in these Articles is designed to exert upward pressure on prices until a level of US4c per lb or about £Stg41 a ton is reached. When prices are below US4c per lb quotas in effect will only be 90% of basic export tonnages unless the Council decides otherwise. When prices go beyond US4c per lb quotas will be increased in order to preserve price stability. When prices rise above 4ic per lb reserves of sugar held for the purpose will be progressively released on to the market in order to dampen clown pressure on prices.
The final negotiations commenced on 23rd September and between that date and the entry into force of the Agreement on 1st January this year, the London price rose from £Stgl7 10s a ton to £St,:31 a ton. This movement in prices demonstrated that the mere existence of an agreement was already favourably influencing the market. The price has continued to rise since the beginning of the year and now stands at £Stg37 10s per ton. In fact the world price is approaching the level at which quotas may be liberalised. This is a quite remarkable achievement, ft is certainly a practical demonstration of the value of this new Agreement. The full benefits of the new Agreement will become evident this year: the higher prices will be reflected in el urns from the 1969 crop soon to be harvested. When the price objective of 4c is achieved, it is estimated that the returns to the sugar industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales will be increased by as much as S40m annually.
All honourable senators will undoubtedly welcome the greatly improved financial prospects of this great Australian industry. The new International Sugar Agreement will restore order and predictability in the market, which has been singularly missing since 1961. There are some difficulties yet to be overcome. Regrettably the European Economic Community and its member states, which as a unit could be significant exporters in the future, have yet to accede to the Agreement. Provision has been made for a basic export tonnage for the EEC totalling 300,000 tons. On the basis of recent performance this is reasonable and it is hoped that the Community will shortly join or at least observe the disciplines accepted by all other exporters, lt is also true that the United States has yet to accept the Agreement. Although it would be most desirable for the United States to be a member, its participation is less important because its imports are covered by domestic legislation and are outside the scope of the Agreement. 1 would like to lake this opportunity to publicly thank all members of the Australian delegations who gave the Minister for Trade and Industry their wholehearted support in the course of the long and difficult negotiations. All sections of the sugar industry were represented and consulted at all stages of the negotiations - the Australian Cane Growers’ Council, the Australian Sugar Producers’ Association, the Sugar Board and its marketing agents, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. In particular the representatives of the Queensland Government should be specially commended. Sir Frank Nicklin attended the Conference in 1965. The late Mr Pizzey and the present Premier. Mr BjelkePetersen attended the first and second sessions respectively of the 1968 Conference. Finally, I would like to mention the senior Commonwealth officials from the Departments of Trade and Industry and Primary Industry and the Queensland Agent-General in London. Sir Alan Summerville, all of whom have worked hard over the years to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.
I am satisfied that this Agreement offers the industry the prospect and reality of many stable and prosperous years ahead. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25 March (vide page 577), on motion by Senator Scott: “111 at the [till be now read a first lime.
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) [9.44J- Mr Deputy President, when the sitting was suspended for dinner last night I had just commenced my remarks in the first reading debate on this Bill. I did so in the same terms as Senator Branson used. In other words, this is a Bill which we cannot amend. For the purpose of the record I think I should repeat the first paragraph of my speech. I said: lt is almost time for the suspension of the sitting but I must say that 1 am surprised at the manner in which Senator Branson has raised this matter. In his own words he has virtually accused every member of the Opposition of being party to the demonstration that took place in this chamber this afternoon.
To say the least. Senator Branson’s approach to this matter was rather childish. Most honourable senators recall quite vividly the things that transpired here yesterday afternoon. In his opening remarks, Senator Branson, on behalf of the Government, said:
I believe that I would be remiss as a senator if I did not make some reference to the incident which occurred here this afternoon and which. 1 am sure, all honourable senators genuinely regret.
The general trend of the debate that then took place, and the interjections, would indicate that the Australian Labor Party was solely to blame for the demonstration that occurred. I want to say quite clearly, as did a couple of my colleagues in the brief time available yesterday afternoon, that the Labor Party was not involved in any way in the demonstration. The incident was one of those things that happen. In fact this was drawn to Senator Branson’s attention when it was known that there were people sitting on the Government side of the chamber and in the galleries who produced precisely the same type of placard and must have been guests of Government supporters. One could assume that this was so anyhow. I thought Senator Branson made quite an unfair statement. I think the honourable senator was quite unfair and I want to make that point clear.
In the brief time available to me 1 want to mention a few other things about the National Service Act which provoked Government supporters to put on their display and to make another attempt to blame the Labor Party, quite unjustly, for anything that might have taken place, lt is no use Government supporters saying that we are losing time by indulging in a debate of this nature. This has been the general tenor of their attack in the last few days. We have been criticised for holding up the affairs of the country. I might point out that on the first three Thursdays this chamber was in session this year the Government decided to suspend the sitting at about 4.30 or 5 p.m. If one can believe the rumours in the corridors tonight we will be knocking off early again tomorrow. This is not good enough. We come to Canberra to do a job. At the end of the session we will be passing legislation by the process of exhaustion, as we have done ever since I came to this place. I do not think the reason put forward by Government supporters should be used as an exercise to prevent members of the Opposition putting forward their points of view now. I suggest that we take the job of government a little more seriously and sit for the full time available » us when we come to this city. 1 think the real thing [hat worried Government supporters yesterday was not so much the demonstration as the fact that a point was brought home to them very forcibly about the unfortunate gaoling of lohn Zarb. This was the basis of the demonstration and this was the message that got home, rather forcibly, to Government supporters. That was the thing that really annoyed them. John Zarb is not the only one who is a prisoner of conscience. A number of other people have been fined or gaoled and 1 propose. Mr Deputy President, to place on record the names of a number of these unfortunate individuals and the charges which have been laid against them. In many instances they have already been punished, or are in the process of receiving punishment, according to the immoral terms of the National Service Act.
John Zarb is the name best known to us at the moment because there has been a fair bit of publicity about this case. He is a postman and a member of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union. He was convicted in Melbourne on 14th October 1968 of failing to obey a call-up notice in August that year. He was sentenced to 2 years gaol which he is currently serving in Pentridge Gaol, Victoria. He was the first victim of the Government’s amended National Service Act. I heard a Government supporter say in the last day or two that the amended Act was not opposed by the Labor Party when the Bill was before the Parliament. This is untrue. A number of Opposition members were listed and they spoke al length in opposition to the amendments to the National Service Act.
Stephen Townsend is another name which was well known to us some months ago. He was a part-time arts student. He wrote to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) in January 1967, when he was liable to register for national service, and asked what he should do as there was no provision for conscientious objection to a particular war which he believed to be morally wrong. He was convicted on 27th November 1968 for remaining unregistered and was fined. On 25th February 1969 he was arrested and sentenced to serve 29 days gaol. I have a list of cases. I propose to cite only some of them. The punishment meted out to these people is symbolic of what is likely to happen to other youngsters caught in the net of this infamous legislation. Brian Ross, a farmer, registered in February 1967, when liable so to do, but in July he informed the Minister of his inability to comply with the Act in future. On 6th March 1968 he was convicted of failing to attend for a medical examination. He was fined and later was sentenced to and served 1 day’s gaol for non-payment. He failed to comply with call-up notices on 17th August 1968 and 5th January 1969. When summoned, upon conviction, he will be sentenced to 2 years gaol. This lad will go the same way as John Zarb did. Government members have displayed hearts of brick. In fact the only interest that they have displayed in the legislation is when they can be participants in the gaoling season that takes place.
Geoffrey Mullen, an arts student and a grandson of a life member of the Waterside Workers Federation, Geoff Pender, was committed to Long Bay Gaol on 20th January 1969 to serve 29 days for nonpayment of fines. He is currently awaiting summons for failing to obey a call-up notice. Upon conviction he will be sentenced to 2 years gaol. He registered when liable in January 1967, but in November he informed the Minister of his inability to comply with the Act. On 3rd July 1968 he was convicted for failing to attend for a medical examination in February. He was fined. On 23rd October 1968 he was convicted for failing to attend for a medical examination in August and fined. Michael Matteson, a social work student, who was liable to register in January 1967, informed the Department of his inability to register. On 9th December 1968 he was convicted for remaining unregistered. He was fined. He is awaiting arrest and committal to gaol for 29 days. Michael Jones, a student, who was liable to register in July 1967, informed the Department of his refusal to comply with the National Service Act. On 9th December 1968 he was convicted of remaining unregistered and was fined. On 7th March 1969, during a students march demonstrating against the National Service Act, he was arrested and committed to Long Bay Gaol for 29 days for failing to register. Almost all the lads I have mentioned have served or will serve gaol sentences. In other words they have been or will be treated like common criminals for an act of conscience, which they are perfectly entitled to express.
Graham Jensen, a theological student, who was liable to register in July 1968, informed the Minister of his inability to comply with the National Service Act. On 19th January 1969 he was convicted of remaining unregistered. He was fined $40 plus $10 costs or 25 days imprisonment in lieu. The latest ‘News Release’ from the Department of Labour and National Service specifically mentions that theological students may obtain indefinite deferment. Christopher Campbell, an assisted English migrant - I raised his name in the House some 12 months ago - was told in England that he would not be liable for conscription. In February 1967, when liable to register, he wrote to the Minister for Labour and National Service, stating his inability to comply with what he regarded as an immoral Act. He was convicted of failing to register. On 12th March 1968 he was fined, after his return to England. Laurie Carmichael informed the Minister in January 1967, when liable to register, that he had a conscientious objection to any form of military service at that time. On 25th November 1968 he was convicted of remaining unregistered and he was fined. Sean Foley, a medical student, informed the Minister in February 1968, when liable to register, of his inability so to do. On 23rd September 1968 he was convicted of remaining unregistered and was fined. On 8th November 1968 he failed to attend for a medical examination. He was committed to Long Bay Gaol, Sydney, on 3rd January 1969, to serve 29 days for non-payment of the fine. Jeremy Gilling, a student, was liable to register in January 1968. He made known to the Department his refusal to comply with the National Service Act. On 9th December 1968 he was convicted of remaining unregistered and was fined. Leonard Truscott, a jackeroo, informed the Minister in January 1968, when liable to register, that he was unable to comply with the National Service Act. On 23rd September 1968 he was convicted of remaining unregistered and was fined.
The provisions of the Act ensure that the Government will turn the youngsters into draft dodgers and make it extremley difficult for them to leave the shores of the country if they want to take such a dramatic step to avoid national service; not because they do not love Australia or because they would not defend Australia in time of war, but because they do not believe in the system of call-up, because they do not believe in the war to which the Government is committing them and because they believe in the general immorality of the whole of the legislation. This feeling is not confined to the young men themselves. Groups of people in the community, including members of the Opposition and the Opposition generally, are equally perturbed about the facts that are facing these young men. Today 1 received a letter from the Save Our Sons Movement. Each member of Parliament received a similar letter. The introductory paragraphs are significant. I propose to read them so that they may be placed on record. The opening paragraphs stated:
In the name of freedom of conscience and democracy, we ask you personally to use your best efforts to secure the repeal of the National Service Act.
So many obnoxious measures are contained in this Act that nothing short of its repeal will suffice, litis has been made clear by important sections of the community whose sense of justice has been outraged by the implementation of the various sections of the Act.
We earnestly ask you to act immediately to secure the release of gaoled objectors, and the withdrawal of various prosecutions launched under the National Service Act and the Crimes Act against young people who oppose conscription.
Those are the relevant paragraphs. 1 believe they show quite clearly the feeling that is current amongst large sections of the Australian community. One could almost say that the terms of the latest ‘News Release’ from the Department of Labour and National Service are framed in gloating sentences. Copies of the sheet have been distributed to all members of Parliament. I think we should dwell on the first 3 or 4 paragraphs of it. The ‘News Release’ stated:
The Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Leslie Bury, announced today the drawing in Melbourne of the ninth national service ballot.
That was on 14th March 1969. lt reminds one of the advertisements we see concerning the drawing of the Golden Casket or lotteries, but those lotteries are for people who want to get rich quickly by buying tickets in them. The drawing referred to in the ‘News Release’ is a lottery of death. If a person was unlucky enough to have his marble come up the end result could be the shortening of his life by some 50 years because he could be killed by a bullet, by disease or by some other means in Vietnam.
– Yesterday I listened to the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party gabbling away like mina birds. I think I should place on record that, as far as I can ascertain, the four sitting members were conscientious objectors during the last World War because none appears to have had any service in that war. But they are keen to send everybody to this war. The ‘News Release’ continued:
Mr E. M. C. Fox, M.P., presided and the draw was made by Air Vice-Marshal F. M. Bladin CB., C.B.E., formerly Member of the Air Board and currently National Honorary Treasurer of the Returned Services League. 52 marbles were drawn.
For a long time the Labor Party has requested that the birthday dates be made public and that the lotteries of death be made public, but the Government has veiled this wilh a curtain of secrecy. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) apparently is sleeping quite comfortably. He is not a bit worried about the young men who will be sent from Western Australia to Vietnam.
– What about telling the truth?
– The Minister was sitting back there relaxing and appeared to be asleep. This is a ballot for men in the age group that turns 20 years of age between 1st January and 30th June this year and who were required to register between 20th January and 3rd February 1969. About 49,000 men, British and non-British subjects, are involved. Australia is not the only country that is experiencing objections to the war in Vietnam; objections are becoming much more apparent day by day in America. The latest news release from that country indicates that there are about 1,000 desertions every year. Undoubtedly it h because of forced involvement in a war in which many Americans do not believe that the desertion rate is so high.
We have heard about the very high piano of the conduct of the war in South Vietnam, but the number of people who desert from the South Vietnamese Army every couple of weeks is something like the figure I have mentioned. There is no significant decrease in the number of desertions. One starts lo wonder why the Australian Government is so dedicated to keeping our troops in action in that country. In addition lo this there ari a number of other methods by which discipline is carried out against members of the Australian forces. On going through my files this evening I picked up the answer to a question by my colleague Senator McClelland in about the middle of 1966. The Senate will recall that the question was prompted by the bread and water diet and punishment of that type which received much national publicity al the time. On thai, occasion Senator McClelland asked:
I refer now to the number of people who have been placed on a diet of bread and water in this so-called enlightened day and age, in this so-called peak of civilisation that we are supposed to enjoy in Australia under this so-called democratic government that believes in the rights of all. In 1961 the Army put 106 servicemen on a diet of bread and water. What an inhuman thing to do. In 1962 the number dropped to 69, but in 1963 it rose again to 104. In 1964 the number of servicemen on a bread and water diet rose to 1 15, and in 1965 it dropped to 101. The reply showed that to 30th April 1966 53 servicemen had been placed on this diet. What are the figures today? It is obvious that the Government has not become more humane in its attitude, that it is even worse today, because today it thinks nothing of sending a kid of 20 years to gaol to spend 2 years of his life away from his trade, profession or school, and among hardened criminals. Yet Government supporters treat this as a great joke. They think it is funny. I heard someone on the Government side of the chamber interject only last night and say that the law has been set out lo punish these people and the Government intended to punish them. These were not the precise words used by the Government supporter, but that is the sense of what he said.
The other matter of importance is the number of national servicemen - Australian conscripts - who are killed or wounded in Vietnam. The number is way beyond the proportion that ought to apply, ls this because they are conscripts and get all the dirty or dangerous jobs or is it because they are inadequately trained before being sent there? ls this another way of ill treating our conscripts?
– It is probably because wc have stopped bombing the North.
– There is not much danger of Senator Little being hurt in any war because the only bomb likely to land on him is a flour bomb if he should happen to get in the way of a demonstration.
– Is the honourable senator prepared lo say that that is not a logica attitude.
– The honourable senator’s interjections are so piffling that they do not call for a reply. I do not intend to reply to them because they are symbolic of his general attitude and the small amount of grey matter he has. I propose to address my remarks to the President. I am taking this opportunity tonight on the first reading of this Bill to raise this matter in the hope that at the earliest possible date it will be seriously reviewed by the Government. I am asking that people like John Zarb and others who have been gaoled, not for any criminal act but because they are following their consciences, be released immediately.
The National Service Act will no doubt be discussed in this place again in the future and I trust that there will be discussion of it during the currency of this session, provided that the jamming by the Government does not continue. I am referring now to the time that we devote at the end of each session to political discussion so that, as happened last session, a number of Bills are left over. The National Service Act is of national importance. Perhaps one could be facetious and say that if Government supporters suddenly decided to do more than go to Vietnam -M Easter or Christmas - these seem to be popular times for them to visit Vietnam - they might be more aware of what is happening. They like to be able to come back and say they had Easter lunch or Christmas dinner with our servicemen in Vietnam, but they have no conception of Service life. This is not the way to see our servicemen in action.
I am not aware that any Minister has donned a tin hat and gone into the front line for a couple of weeks with the troops. I do not think this has ever happened. I suppose one should not bet in this chamber, hut I am prepared to say that it will not happen to any Government supporter who visits the troops in Vietnam. Never will Government supporters be seen in the front line trenches. Never will they be seen flying in a helicopter where they are likely to be shot down by those who are classified in this infamous war as the enemy. Never will they take an Armalite rifle, which is the weapon used nowadays, and go on a sniping expedition into the jungles of Vietnam. They will enjoy their Christmas dinner, their bottle of beer and turkey, with the troops in the base camp. I am not saying that the troops are not entitled to these amenities, but Government supporters and Ministers are not entitled to them. This is no way to see our troops in operation. Perhaps if honourable senators opposite saw them under fire and in the conditions in which one has to live in jungle warfare they might not be so enthusiastic about maintaining a force in Vietnam to fight in a war which we cannot win. They may not be so keen to force people to go to this area under an immoral National Service Act. lt is a matter of great significance today that approximately half the forces serving in Vietnam are there because they have been compelled to go there - not because they want to go there.
Senator LAUGHT (South Australia) fi 0.8] - I desire to avail myself of the opportunity afforded on the first reading of this Bill to draw attention to a matter of great importance to South Australia. On Monday last the Ninth Australian Petroleum Exploration Association Conference was held in Adelaide. The conference was opened by the Premier of South Australia, who made a plea for the establishment of an institute of mineral and petroleum exploration and development. I was fortunate enough to be present al the opening of the conference and I can assure the Senate that the Premier’s remarks were received with great interest bv the 700 or 800 delegates there assembled. It is remarkable to realise that in this year a conference in Adelaide involving petroleum exploration attracted 700 or 800 delegates. That shows to me. at any rale, and I am sure it would show to the Senate, the stage of sophistication which petroleum exploration has reached in Australia. But to the energetic Premier of South Australia, this was not enough. The attendance of so many people and the excellence of the conference that was proposed for this week just were nol enough for him. He was thinking of the future. I invite the attention of the Senate this evening to some of the points (hal the Premier made, because they involve close Commonwealth collaboration, consideration, and. T hope, cooperation. The Premier noted that there was a lack of trained personnel in the industry and that this was having a serious repercussion not only in the industry but in the technical departments of government. He proposed that an institute should be set up which would afford short term courses for graduates from research institutes and industry and that these courses should be provided by international experts in various mineral fields. He also felt that the petroleum industry could do much to make such a proposition a reality.
In this institute he proposed that there should be short term highly specialised courses for post-graduates of tertiary instituations and for personnel from industry to enable them to study under world experts in such fields, lt will be seen from this that he was most anxious to get cracking in the provision of such an institute. He hoped to obtain a prestige site near the Australian Mineral Development Laboratory at Parkside, near Adelaide, and there to establish this institute.
I would invite the Senate to note that the Australian Mineral Development Laboratory is a Commonwealth instrumentality. It has been doing remarkable work in the mineral industry of Australia, and it is supported by the large mineral development and mining companies of this continent. 1 would therefore invite the attention of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) to the importance of this suggestion made by the Premier at the opening of this conference of the Petroleum Exploration Association in Adelaide this week.
As I. see the position, it would involve consideration by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Already we have in Adelaide the soils department of the CSIRO doing excellent work in connection with the soils of Australia. Already in Adelaide also we have the Adelaide University with its famous Department of Geology, of which Professor Rudd, an eminent professor, is in charge, and with it the very important section dealing with economic geology. I also invite the Minister’s attention to the fact that at the Flinders University advanced work is being done in earth sciences. So that already in South Australia, at the tertiary institutions and at CSIRO, good work is going on in cognate subjects. I invite the Minister for Housing to request her colleague, the
Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), who is responsible for Commonwealth assistance to tertiary education, to give some consideration to this matter when the Premier of South Australia brings it forward.
On the platform with the Premier was the Minister for National Development, Mr Fairbairn. As is well known. Mr Fairbairn administers the Bureau of Mineral Resources, and I suggest that the Bureau of Mineral Resources could well show a great interest in this proposed institute. Then we have our own Leader, Senator Anderson, who is in charge of the Department of Supply and, as is well known, also the Department of Supply is interested in scientific subjects. I believe that these departments of the Commonwealth Government could well get alongside the Premier of South Australia, who delivered this address in his capacity as Acting Minister for Mines of that State, with a view to seeing whether it could afford the necessary support to the Premier of South Australia in making possible this institute that he mentioned on Monday last.
It is a great shame that Australia has to import so much know-how in the matter of oil exploration and mineral development. I believe that if we had people being trained in this country by experts we would soon have our own body of men who could supply the technique that is so necessary these days in the vast step forward Australia is making in mineral and oil development. I commend the suggestion to the Minister with a view to bringing to fruition the establishment of an institute of mineral and petroleum exploration and development as outlined by the Premier of South Australia on Monday last.
Senator CANT (Western Australia) fi 0. 1 7] - Senator Laught has just finished dealing in eulogistic terms with the oil explorers of Australia. I hope to be not so kind to these people in the few words that I have to say with respect to this matter. I invite the attention of the Senate to a tragedy that occurred in Victoria last Saturday. The Press report of that tragedy which I have states:
Three men died and 20 others were injured when the oil survey ship ‘Western Spruce’ exploded last night at Port Welshpool, 120 miles south east of Melbourne.
The explosion occurred as the 400-ton ‘Western Spruce’ was taking on liquid oxygen from a tanker on the three-quarter-mile long jetty.
Fire swept the deck and jetty and started a chain reaction, lt exploded 1,000 gallons of liquid propane, 100 oxygen cylinders and the ship’s fuel supply.
Mr David McLeod (23) a member of the crew said: ‘Someone shouted: “The valve’s blown.” I will never forget the horrible feeling that came over me.
There was a scramble as we all tried to do something and then there was a great red flash. . . .
A few of us grabbed hoses to wash it away before the ship went up but we had hardly time to do anything before there was a whoosh and a red Hash.’
The ‘Western Spruce’ is owned by the Western Geophysical Company and was on lease to Esso-
The Far Eastern supervisor for Western Geophysical. Mr V. Smith said today that the ‘Western Spruce’ was valued at $800,000. He did not know if the wreck could be salvaged.
At that time he was not concerned about the safety of the twenty injured men or about the fate of the three men who had lost their lives or about the dependants of those three men. Nor was he concerned about the hundreds of others who may lose their lives if the practices that have been adopted in this industry continue to be adopted. 1 believe that Esso-BHP has attempted to do what a reasonable company would do. I believe it has incorporated in its contracts a provision that the laws of this land must be obeyed by its contractors, lt has also included a further provision that any subcontractors must also have a condition of this nature in their contracts. But I also believe that there has been an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States to allow State marine boards to exempt ships in this industry from the provisions of the Navigation Act and regulations made thereunder. I believe that the provisions of section 2 of the Navigation Act, which are as follows, apply in this industry.
This Act shall not apply in relation to any Australian-trade ship, limited coast-trade ship, or river and bay ship, or her master or crew, unless the ship:
These ships do trade on the high seas where ships that are engaged in interstate and overseas trade are sailed yet they are exempt from the provisions of the Navigation Act They are not required to be properly manned by qualified labour, and it is well known that most of the ships that are operating in this industry are not manned by qualified labour. They are either exempt under this agreement, or alleged agreement, between the States and the Commonwealth or they are under foreign registration, lt is known that ships have been built in this country with the aid of a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government and have been registered under a foreign flag in order to avoid the provisions of the Navigation Act. I do not think it is good enough treatment of Australian workmen employed in this industry to suspend, by some agreement, the very provisions of the Act this Parliament has brought down for their protection and safety.
I have asked questions about this agreement but up to date I have been unable to obtain a copy of it. I think I know how it has been brought about and I hope in a few minutes to be able to show what kind of legislation the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act is which allows things like this to be done by the Designated Authorities and the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) in collusion. I say advisedly that there has been collusion in this to avoid the implications of the Navigation Act and regulations. Let me refer to section 9 of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. Sub-section (1.) provides:
Subject to this Act the provisions of the l.iws in force in a State, whether written or unwritten, and as in force from time to time, and the provisions of any instrument made under any of those laws, apply in the adjacent area.
That seems to be quite clear - the laws of the States shall be picked up and transported into the adjacent area of any State.
Anyone reading this would think that it gave all the protection possible to workers employed in the industry. It goes on further to provide in sub-section (2.):
The provisions referred to in the last preceding sub-section apply to and in relation to all lets, mailers, circumstances and things touching, concerning, arising out of or connected with the exploration of the sea-bed or subsoil of the adjacent area for petroleum and the exploitation of the natural resources, being petroleum, of that sea-bed or subsoil, and not otherwise, and so a’pply as if that area were part of that State and of the Commonwealth.
Looking at it we would have thought that we had security but in sub-section (4.) of section 9 we find the nigger in the woodpile because sub-section (4.) provides:
The regulations may provide that any provisions referred lo in sub-section (1.) of this section that are specified in the regulations do not apply by reason of this section or apply with prescribed modifications only.
If may be said that no regulations have been made and therefore sub-sections (1.) and (2.) could not be suspended, but if we turn to section 101 we find:
The Designated Authority may, by instrument in writing served on a person, being a permittee, licensee, pipeline licensee or the holder of a special prospecting authority or access authority, give to that person a direction as to any matter with respect, to which regulations may be made under section 157 of this Act.
So by direction the Designated Authority can ignore completely the terms and conditions of section 9 which has been inserted in the Act to provide protection for the workers. I believe that the Designated Authorities and the Commonwealth Minister have got together and agreed to apply conditions to permits that have been issued to exempt these vessels from the provisions of the Navigation Act and its regulations. I think there is a case here for the Minister for National Development, and for the Designated Authorities in Victoria and Western Australia, to answer because 1 believe that the ‘Missouri’, the ship that was arrested in Darwin harbour, was also operating under one of these exemptions and was not carrying a qualified crew. The Navigation Act contains provision to protect the workers in the industry when they are handling explosive cargoes. Sub-section (2.) of section 253a of the Navigation Act provides:
A person shall not send by. or carry in. a ship any dangerous goods which do not, or the packing, slowing or carriage of which does not, comply with such requirements as are prescribed or are determined by the Minister in accordance wilh the regulations.
But the regulations do not apply. I have the dangerous cargo regulations with me and they do not apply in this industry. If we turn to section 255 of the Navigation Act we find that it states:
Before any dangerous goods are shipped in any ship, the shipper thereof shall give notice of intention to ship the goods in the manner and to the person prescribed. 1 think it is up to the Minister to tell us whether this provision of the Navigation Act was complied with, and that the notice required to be given that this ship was about to load a dangerous cargo of liquid oxygen and propane gas was given. I have contacted the Assistant Secretary of the Seamens Union in Victoria and an officer of the Seamens Union in New South Wales and they both have advised me that the agreement is in existence and that these ships are operating with unqualified crews. It goes even so far that the master of the ship is unable to fix the position of the ship and if he happens to have an AB on board he has to call on him to do so. Another ship is operating with a radar unit on board which has a 50 mile radius but there is not a qualified man on board who can read the radar instrument, yet these ships are expected to go 50 or 60 miles out to sea with the men taking their lives in their hands.
Apart from that, the vessels are operating in the sca lanes where overseas and interstate shipping operates. If there was a collision between two ships, one of which was operating under exemption, would the people on board be entitled to compensation? I doubt whether the insurance companies would pay. It is time that the Government had a look at this matter and determined its attitude to the safety of Australian workmen employed in this industry. I believe that the Minister for National Development has a lot to answer for in respect of this question. I believe that an answer should be provided at the earliest possible date. The suspension provisions that apply to these permits or under the alleged agreement should be cancelled immediately. The ships should be made to comply with the Navigation Act and the regulations thereunder and should be compelled to employ qualified officers in order to protect crew members. The members of the crew also should be qualified persons.
What do the people who operate in this industry do? If they do not have enough ships, they engage a fisherman with no seafaring experience other than operating his own small boat to act as a supply vessel. No navigation regulations apply to this situation. Other men are on board handling the supplies, and the lives of workmen are put in jeopardy because of this action. It is time the Government had a close look at what is happening and took notice of the provisions it has put in this Act. When the Government brings down legislation of this nature it should give the people concerned the opportunity to examine it before forcing it through the Parliament. It is true that the Government agreed to set up a Senate select committee to inquire into this legislation. That is how guilty the Government felt about its own legislation. The select committee is doing a good job. The report that will come down will amaze some honourable senators who are sitting here. We are finding many things wrong with this legislation.
If any agreement is in existence or any sections of the law that are applicable in the area or in the industry are suspended, immediate action should be taken to have the matter rectified. The lives of workmen should not be put in jeopardy because of inefficiency and for the convenience of the people who operate in this industry. Not only the Federal Minister but also the Designated Authority in each of the States who is responsible for much of the administration of this Act has a responsibility to Australian workmen. The Federal Minister of course is responsible for the administration of the Commonwealth Act. He is unable to shed his responsibility. No matter how he may try to shed his responsibility, f do nol believe that he can do so. He has a responsibility to see that the working conditions in these areas are made fit and proper for workmen. Section 97 of the Act provides that the work shall be carried out in a workmanlike manner, with good drilling practice, and that the employer shall provide for the safety, health and welfare of the workers concerned. Who is policing this legislation? This is the responsibility of the Designated Authority and the Minister for National Development. T say that they are not carrying out their duties unless they rectify this position at the earliest possible time.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, 1 wish to refer to the subject that Senator Laught has discussed this evening. 1 say at the outset that I fully support his comments and suggestions. Like Senator Laught, I was at the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association Conference in Adelaide at the beginning of this week. I heard with great pleasure the suggestion of the Premier of South Australia that an institute be set up in South Australia for the establishment and study of mineral and petrol exploration and development. I have had discussions with one who perhaps could be regarded as one of the lop authorities in Australia in the exploration field. 1 refer to Professor A. Rudd who for a long time has advocated that there should be one central institute not only to educate but also to revise knowledge and to bring geologists and other experts up to date with the latest exploration methods. As he lives in Adelaide, naturally he is expounding the idea that this institute should be centralised in an area such as Adelaide which is now very central to the exploration areas covering the whole of the Australian continent.
Good reasons exist for the suggestion, that something in this way be done. We have at the present time an extreme shortage of specialists in the oil and mineral exploration fields in Australia. Today we require approximately 50% of personnel in these fields from overseas. At the same time we find also great co-operation by overseas companies who are assisting Australia in exploration and the development of the great finds of mineral and oil wealth that have taken place. These overseas companies are very keen to see more Australian personnel. They have stated very openly in discussion al meetings and in other places that they will do all that they can to encourage this progress and will employ Australians when we have (hem qualified in sufficient numbers to fulfil the requirements of the various companies.
As Senator Laught said in speaking with regard to this institute and in support of the proposal of the Premier of South Australia the State already has at its Flinders
University a soil science section. This University also takes a very keen interest in and has a section dealing with marine biology. I am not being parochial, although I am a South Austraiian, when 1 say, factually and frankly, that the South Australian School of Mines in many ways has given a great lead in the development of certain mining areas and the production and refining of the minerals that are discovered. No doubt other States also can claim many achievements in this area. But, at the same time, the South Australian Department of Mines and the School of Mines have played a very important and prominent part in this area within Australia.
I refer again to this institute that has been proposed by the Premier of South Australia. It could cover geology, geophysics, geological engineering and many other aspects that are associated with exploration for minerals and oil. This institute could act as a refresher school to which people could return to study. But it goes much further than this. Australia today is playing a very important part in the area of the world in which it is placed. I refer to the South East Asian area, where great developments are taking place in many fields. The establishment of this institute would give our neighbouring countries the great opportunity to send many of their personnel to Australia to keep up with the latest methods or be educated in these specialised fields.
So, I do support very firmly and wholeheartedly the proposal put forward by the Premier of South Australia and supported in the Senate tonight by Senator Laught. I feel that, as a Commonwealth, we have much to gain from such an institute irrespective of whether it be in one State or another. The gain is such that, in the process of the great development that is taking place, and in the process of the great increase in technology that is required to keep up with the progress of technological advances that are being made in the world, we cannot afford to place ourselves in a secondary position. This view would be supported, as has been stated, by the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association and the companies that form that association in Australia. They are willing to give their support to this scheme and assist in the establishment of an institute.
What is happening today perhaps is working very adversely for Australia. We arc seeing splinter areas growing up at the present time. All States are playing a part in this development. The bodies studying these matters are scattered throughout the Commonwealth. This is one matter that should be centralised completely and should be specialised in one area. Because of its geographical position and the industries that are already established in South Australia I believe that South Australia does lend itself to this project. The South Australian Government is willing to play its part. The petroleum exploration companies, too, are willing to play their part. With Senator Laught, I ask the Minister to give very sympathetic consideration to this requirement to establish an institute in this country for the great benefit of the development that has taken place and that will take place. I ask that in addition to inquiring into the matter sympathetically the Minister give serious consideration to supporting the proposals put forward by the Premier of South Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Excise Tariff 192.1-1968 by raising the maximum strength at which brandy may be distilled from 40% overproof to 45% overproof. There are no revenue implications in this Bill as the rate of duty on brandy is not affected. The amendment relates to the production side of brandy only and not to the strength of the product when excise duty is assessed prior to delivery from Customs control to go on the wholesale or retail market. The present maximum strength of 40% was set, in consultation with the industry, in 1918 when the Australian brandy industry was in its early stages of development. In the light of present day operations, the industry now considers that the existing distillation strength should be raised to the limit proposed.
In regard to whisky and rum, the legislation has for many years permitted a maximum distillation strength of 45% overproof. The proposed amendment will allow brandy distillers the same latitude in the distillation of their product. Consequential upon this amendment, changes will be necessary to the Spirits Act 1906-1968. I will later be introducing a Bill to effect these changes.I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I want to raise a couple of points in relation to the beef cattle industry, particularly as it affects my own State. As honourable senators know, Queensland, particularly in the north-western and northern areas, is largely devoted to the production of beef. The Senate will recall that least year the industry was virtually thrown into chaos when restrictions had to be placed on exports of beef to the American market. It will be recalled that the American market largely took over our beef exports from markets to which we had previously exported and as far as the producer was concerned it was apparently a lucrative field. 1 am concerned on behalf of all of those who produce beef, particularly north of the Tropic of Capricorn, and especially those who are employed in the processing of beef and those who work on the stations. Probably the greatest problem that confronted us at that stage was the fact that we had too many eggs in the one basket, and I propose to show that this was so by giving some figures in a moment or two. But before I do that, honourable senators may recall that last year prior to the end of the Budget session 1 asked the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) who represents the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) what the situation would be in 1969. I was advised then that the position looked much rosier for this year. I have some statements made by a Mr Shute which I may also cite in a moment or two. They indicate that the market may not be as bad as it appeared early in the year, but the real reasons for this, of course, are that the figures for export will not reach the level expected earlier in 1969.
To emphasise the tact that we have put all our eggs in the one basket 1 want to give some figures for the information of the Senate. In the 1 1 months ending May 1968 the United States, including Honolulu, took from this country 178,314 tons of export beef, or 77.2% of our total exports. The United Kingdom took from Australia 24,706 tons or 10%. It was the second biggest importer of Australian beef. Japan took 11,406 tons or 4.9% of our total exports, Canada 3,726 tons or 1.6%, Okinawa 2,704 tons or 1.2%, Malaysia, including Singapore and Borneo 2,194 tons or 1%, Malta 1,446 tons or 0.6%, New Guinea 1.151 tons or 0.5%, and all other countries combined 5.345 tons or 2.3% of our total exports. Voluntary restriction of exports is not the answer.
What this Government ought to have the courage to do is to enter into a firm agreement if we are going to retain the American market. If we are not, then the onus should not be thrown upon the producer or processor as it has been at the time of the introduction of the voluntary restrictions. This becomes to a large degree the responsibility of the government of the day. It is significant that while we have had this lucrative American market the Government has not made any serious attempt to find alternative markets or to develop other markets even though the general trend is to increase production. I am suggesting that there ought to be a degree of encouragement given by the Government to develop additional markets so we shall not again be caught, to use an old Australian slang phrase, with our pants down. I have here some tables which are of very great interest and which ought to be included in my remarks, but as they are rather lengthy J will seek leave to have them incorporated in Hansard. Before I do so I will give an explanation of the background to them. The first table shows exports of beef and veal from Australia for the period 1953-54 to 1967-68, which are the latest figures available. It also shows figures for the calendar years 1967 and 1968. Those are. of course, recent figures. Many of the figures have been taken from the ‘Meat Producer and Exporter’ and from relevant journals which handle statistics of this nature. With the concurrence of honourable senators 1 incorporate the table in Hansard.
The second table contains figures on exports from Australia, New Zealand. Ireland, Mexico. Canada and ‘other countries’ in 1965. 1966 and 1967. lt shows that there were some significant changes. It shows that the proportions exported from Australia, New Zealand and Mexico have remained relatively stable, that Ireland’s proportion has shown a marked increase, that. Canada’s proportion has declined sharply and that the ‘other countries’ proportion has increased a little. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate that table in Hansard.
I believe that honourable senators will find those tables very interesting. The statement made by Mr Shute yesterday and published this morning in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph’ and other metropolitan dailies is very relevant to the situation. I propose to read only relevant extracts from the report in the “Daily Telegraph’. The report states:
The Chairman of the Australian Meat Board (Mr Shu ie) yesterday called for international talks on the world beef situation.
He said import tariffs, quotas, levies and artificial price arrangements in importing countries were making it hard for producing countries to gain economic returns.
Mr Shute was speaking at the First International Angus Forum, which the State Governor (Sir Roden Cutler) opened in Sydney yesterday. . . .
On one hand it is claimed the world is facing serious food shortages,’ he said.
Still, countries capable of assisting to alleviate the situation are not able to secure economic returns for vital food products.
We are tired of hearing political and social leaders saying the world will be short of beef in the foreseeable future.
If this is so, surely no time must bc lost in facing up to the anomalies militating against economic production and freer marketing’.
He said the first real step should be the resumption of international discussions designed to deal more effectively with exportable surpluses.
Mr Shute said tremendous buildups in surpluses of primary produce had occurred in some countries, mainly because high guaranteed prices to local producers had resulted in consumer resistance.
Let me refer very briefly to those last few words. This is one of the things that are happening in Australia. When the voluntary restrictions were first introduced, the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry and I clashed very briefly on this matter. It was stated widely in the Press and other mass media of the country that there would be tremendous drops in the prices of beef and beef products. As we know, those drops did not take place. In one or two centres there were minor drops, but they were not consistent and the position did not stay that way.
So the per capita consumption of beef in Australia has declined continually over a long period. I do not think we have to go any further than stating the fact that the high price of beef to the consumer has largely brought about this decline. In many centres today poultry is probably cheaper than reasonable cuts of beef. There are a number of matters related to the price structure which must be discussed in this Parliament before the end of this sessional period. I want to make only these particular points this evening. I hope on some future occasion to outline some of the problems facing the consumers. What I am primarily concerned with at the moment is stability of the beef industry in general and the production side in particular, and continuity of employment at adequate wage rates and with decent working standards for all those employed in the industry. The problems facing the consumers are very grave. They require a much more lengthy discussion than we would be able to participate in on (he motion for the adjournment. 1 am suggesting to the Government in all seriousness that this aspect of marketing has to be investigated now, not next year or the year after. In view of the adverse balance of payments that we have wilh the
Americans, surely to goodness we can say to them: ‘If we are to continue to market meat in your country, since we have placed all our eggs or all our beef in the one basket, we want a firm marketing agreement’. Surely we can sit down and sign an agreement that will give us a guaranteed market over a period of years so that the man who produces the meat will have a secure market and the employee who processes the meat will have secure employment. The end result, as 1 mentioned earlier, is that we ought to be getting cheaper beef on the Australian market. But we are not. I suggest in all seriousness that this is a matter for very deep and serious consideration and 1 hope that the Government will take a long and early look at the matter.
1.10.561 - ‘.n reply - If my memory serves me rightly I think it was in October or November last, when we. were faced with the curtailment of beef exports to the United Stales of America, that I warned beef producers in Australia against panic selling. If my memory serves mc correctly, shortly after this Senator Keeffe took me to task for issuing this warning because he said this was tending to keep up the price of beef to the consumers. I am pleased tonight to hear him say that he is concerned about beef production in Australia. He mentioned the people who work in the beef industry. This is fair enough. Senator Keeffe also said that he thought it should be possible to have a meat agreement with the United States. We would like to do this. But we should remember that the American cattlemen also are concerned. As I think I mentioned yesterday in reply to a question about the standard required of abattoirs in Australia before they are licensed to export to the United States, the American cattlemen are very concerned about the possible effect that Australian meat would have on their own meat supplies in the United States. We accept this as being only reasonable from their point of view. lt would be very nice indeed if we could have the agreement that Senator Keeffe mentioned. But it is not easy for agreement to be achieved against this background. I agree that it would be a very good thing if Australia could have stability in the production of beef. Our beef production has increased immensely. 1 hesitate to mention figures but I think we have about 9 million cattle in Australia today. This figure is only a guess, but in any case the number is high. It is not easy to reach agreement with the United States when interests over there are in conflict with the meat that we produce here and export to the United States. I am not quite sure whether the figures mentioned by Senator Keeffe are the same as the figures that 1 have with me. The quota level for our beef in the United States for 1969 is 988 million lb. The trigger point for quotas which we talked about last year is 1086.8 million lb. The United States estimate of imports is 1035 million lb. As the estimate is below trigger point, quotas will not be imposed at present. The estimate of imports is below trigger point as supplying countries have agreed to restrain shipments so that total arrivals do not exceed 1035 million lb. We have agreed to restrict arrivals to 505 million lb. Australia has been given 48.8% of total imports on the American market. This is the same as the percentage allowed in 1968. The present Australian quota is 22 million lb above that of 1968. This is quite a considerable amount and would be the highest figure since 1963. Australia, together with New Zealand, Ireland and Mexico has assurances from the United States that we will share in any shortfalls. We have also been given an assurance that if quotas are triggered during the year, the shares of individual countries will be based on a past representative period excluding those occasions during which voluntary restraints have operated. We were disappointed that our share was not higher, but it was the best that could be obtained after strenuous negotiations with United States authorities. 1 think we have given proof that we have tried to reach an arrangement which is more favourable than our agreement with the United States.
Under the Australian Meal Board’s diversification scheme, from November 1968 to October 1969 all exporters licensed to export beef, veal and mutton to the United States of America will have to earn entitlements to ship to that market. These entitlements will be based on shipments to other than United States destinations. Exporters are required to ship initially at least 36 tons of beef and veal to other than
United Stales markets to earn an entitlement to ship 64 tons to the United States. For mutton the corresponding figures are 75 tons and 25 tons. These will be reviewed during the year in the light of production and availability for export. The scheme has been unanimously agreed to by federally constituted meat organisations and the Board.
The aim of the scheme is to ensure that shipments to the United States can be regulated so that our voluntary restraint level is attained but not exceeded. It provides a real incentive for exporters to develop new and alternative markets for beef, veal and mutton. I think all honourable senators will agree that that is most important. Senator Keeffe referred to the aspect of having all our eggs in one basket. As we see it, one benefit of the scheme is that it will help to diversify markets and thus reduce our heavy dependence on the United States. It will link exports to other markets to exports to the United States and there will be an automatic equalisation of exporters’ returns. All exporters will have an opportunity more or less equal to earn a share of the United States market.
For the first 3 months of the scheme from November 1968 to January 1969 shipments to other markets of beef and veal were 29%, 36% specified, and mutton 77%, 75% specified. Beef and veal exports for the period were under the target, but it is not known what orders are in hand for other markets which, when shipped, will lift the percentage. Mutton exports were above target. Exporters are to report to the Board after February on any problems which have arisen. The Board will be reviewing the position each month. In the light of what I have said, I think there is sufficient evidence that we in Australia are doing all we can. in the ways I have indicated, to overcome any difficulties that may arise through the limitation of exports of our meat to the United States of America. I quite agree with Senator Keeffe that not only are our meat exporters and producers concerned in this matter, but also the people who work in the meat exporting industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 March 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690326_senate_26_s40/>.