27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it a fact that the Australian Medical Association, speaking on behalf of the medical profession, has determined that doctors will not co-operate with the present Government’s plans for an improved medical service? I ask whether it is also a fact that members of the medical profession cannot be compelled to co-operate in any scheme of medical service because of the words of the Constitution:
But not so as to authorise any form of civil conscription.
Is this restriction binding on governments only or is the Constitution binding on all Australians so as to prevent all forms of compulsory service? Is the Government being compelled by the members of the medical profession to modify its proposed medical service scheme to satisfy the demands of the profession? Is this a form of civil conscription of the Australian people by members of the medical profession designed to impose upon the people a medical service that is not approved by their elected representatives?
– The honourable senator has directed the question to me as Leader of the Government. Having regard to a statement made by the Minister for Health in another place yesterday I would have thought it would be more appropriate to address this question to the Minister in the Senate representing the Minister for Health. I commend to the honourable senator’s attention the statement made by the Minister for Health yesterday. I suggest Senator Cant is confusing his issues a deal. The honourable senator asked a tortuous series of questions about civil conscription which I did not completely follow in the context in which he gave them. It is true that the Australian Medical Association has, as I understand it, suggested certain procedures in relation to the Government’s proposals. It is equally true that the Association has now indicated some reservations about some of the proposals. As I understood the
Minister for Health to say in another place yesterday, he is prepared to have interviews with the AMA in regard to those issues. The Minister for Health made it abundantly clear that the care of the health of the people was the prime consideration of the Government in this matter, and I have no doubt that the scheme, consistent with the proposals outlined in the Government’s policy speech, will eventually emerge for the good health of the people of Australia and will be consistent with the responsibilities and freedoms of the medical profession, whatever those responsibilities be.
– I draw the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the gallery of a parliamentary delegation from the Republic of Korea led by the Speaker of the National Assembly, His Excellency Mr Hyo Sang Rhee. On behalf of honourable senators I welcome the members of the delegation. With the concurrence of honourable senators I shall invite His Excellency, Mr Rhee, to take a seat on the floor of the Senate.
Honourable Senators - Hear, hear! (Mr Hyo Sang Rhee thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.)
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. He may recall that last Wednesday, 4th March, I asked him a question about the increase in bank overdraft interest rates and about the effect that such increase might have on certain sections of the community. The Minister may recall my request to him that the increase in interest rates be not applied to borrowers in the rural sector of the community. I ask him whether he is aware of a reported statement by the Treasurer as to the application of the increased rates of interest. Is it a fact, as reported in one newspaper this day, that the increased rates announced will not apply to certain rural advances?
– I do recall the question asked by the honourable senator and I am aware that the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia made a statement, I think, late last Friday or on Saturday which indicated an increase in the interest rate by one-half of 1%. It is true that yesterday, in another place, in response to a question about the increase, the Trea- surer pointed out that the guiding principle for the increase in the rate was the present inflationary trends. Increasing the interest rate is a classical procedure to curb any inflationary tendencies that may be noticed in a prosperous economy.
AsI understand the reply given yesterday by the Treasurer, he will be having discussions with the Governor of the Reserve Bank about the implications of the increase. For a considerable time a preferential rate of interest has applied to rural industries - that is, a differential for rural industries. The Treasurer has made it clear that that preferential rate of interest will remain. As to the refinements of the question asked by the honourable senator, . I think we should wait until the Treasurer makes a statement, following the series of discussions he is to have with the Governor of the Reserve Bank on this matter. The prime thing to remember is that there is a differential for primary industries. That differential applies both to export primary industries and to the rural sector. That differential, as such, will be preserved still.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I ask: In view of the current industrial unrest in post offices, will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to remove the long-standing injustices which always will cause discontent; that is, will he immediately introduce the principles of a 5-day week in all post offices throughout the Commonwealth? At present the 5-day week operates in relation to a great number of Post Office activities. I further ask that the Postmaster-General be requested to arrange that proper overtime rates be paid to all employees when they work on Saturdays and Sundays, instead of the present 40% penalty rales paid in some instances, and thereby bring all PMG employees on the rate of overtime - a principle which currently applies to 85% of the Australian work force. I feel sure that this would bring harmony and good staff relationships within the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– Because this question needs a considered and detailed answer, rather than an answer in general, I ask that the question be put on the notice paper.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, who knows full well the importance to Tasmanian business interests and the tourist industry of the passengercargo service supposed to be provided by the ‘Empress of Australia’, inform the Senate as to what action is being taken or can be taken by Commonwealth authorities to end the industrial trouble which has caused the cessation of the SydneyTasmania passenger service by this very fine and popular vessel?
– I am glad that my colleague from Tasmania has brought this matter to our notice, because the dislocation of this service is causing acute concern to the island community of Tasmania. From information received from the Minister for Labour and National Service I can assure the honourable senator that repeated and continuing efforts are being made to remove bases of industrial dispute. Only this morning the judge held a conference between the industrial representatives of the Australian National Line and the secretary of the Federated Marine Stewards’ and Pantrymen’s Association of Australasia, but no solution was found. It is the unfortunate fact that this is the sixth dispute that has been imposed upon the vessel in the last 12 months, all concerning cooks and stewards. However, continuous endeavours will be made to remove the ground of dispute.
I should like to add that there seems to be some misapprehension that the ANL has made some announcement about the conversion of this vessel to a cargo vessel. I have checked with my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Transport and I am assured that although the ANL is unable to say when it will be able to resume passenger services, it is endeavouring to do so on the next trip from Sydney on Friday of this week. There is no suggestion whatever of an intention on the part of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission to convert the vessel to a cargo vessel.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Did the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia advise the Treasurer that the bank rate was to be raised by i% to 8i% before he made the announcement last weekend? In view of the fact that the Treasurer is empowered under the Commonwealth Bank Act to approve or not approve of any alteration to interest rates, why was the bank rate increase made public by the Governor of the Bank and not by the Treasurer himself? Was this procedure adopted in order to throw the responsibility on the Bank for such an unpopular decision instead of the Treasurer himself accepting the responsibility and the public odium attached to making the announcement himself?
– In the first place the honourable senator has his percentages wrong. The rate is to rise by i%, not i%. Secondly, it has always been the situation that the spokesman for the Reserve Bank is the Governor of the Bank. He makes announcements about bank rates because they are an essential part of the responsibility of the Reserve Bank. 1 think I should direct the remainder of the question to the Treasurer for comment.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate seen a statement by Colonel Khan, the officer commanding the 5th Battalion which recently returned from South Vietnam, that there are now more North Vietnamese regular troops in South Vietnam than there were in 1966? If Colonel Khan’s statement is correct and as one of the expressed purposes of Australia’s entry into the war in Vietnam was to cause the North Vietnamese to withdraw from South Vietnam, does this not indicate a total failure of our policy in Vietnam?
– lt is quite apparent from the way in which the honourable senator has framed his question that he has no conception of Australia’s essential purpose in Vietnam. Our purpose in Vietnam is, along with our allies, to see that the people of South Vietnam have the right - the sort of right that he and 1 have - and freedom to select a form of government of their own choosing, lt is deplorable for the honourable senator to draw such an inference from a statement made by a gallant soldier who represents a gallant battalion of men coming back to Australia.
– I ask the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities whether the recent report of the Academy of Science on the crown of thorns starfish problem on the Great Barrier Reef made any recommendations which would be to the advantage of the tourist industry, particularly as it appertains to the Great Barrier Reef.
– We are all very much indebted to the Australian Academy of Science for the report that it made available to the Parliament last week. The report illustrates the immense difficulties that those accomplished scientists are encountering in combating the starfish menace. The Committee was able to make two recommendations which had specific bearing on the tourist industry. One was that we should continue the ban that the Queensland Government has imposed within its jurisdiction on the taking of the triton shell and extend the ban to all waters over which the Commonwealth has jurisdiction. The other recommendation was that we should exercise control measures in the immediate vicinity of resort areas, by manual and other methods, to combat the crown of thorns menace. By the way, the Senate might be interested to know that the Committee’s report correctly described the menace as having attained plague proportions but without having yet damaged the Reef to the extent that has been publicised in some quarters.
– My question to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities is on the same subject. Is the Minister aware whether anyone has investigated fully the theories of the late Noel Monkman. who lived for many years on Green Island, who made films of the underwater life in the area, who had a laboratory there, who was one of the first to point out the menace of the starfish and who claimed that the cause of the great growth of the starfish was the netting by fishermen of sardines near resorts for bait, sardines being the natural predators of the eggs of the starfish? Is the Minister aware whether the report of the Academy of Science dealt in any way with the practical theories that this remarkable man arrived at. after long observation?
– 1 have perused the report only once, and although I have it in my hand I could not pretend to do full justice to it in relation to all the scientific theories that it has examined, but it is not within my memory that that specific theory has been put forward as a hypothesis to explain the plague. The report does refer to excessive fishing in some areas, but I could not identify them with the particular area to which the honourable senator has referred.
– By way of preface to my question to the Minister of Supply I state that last week I asked him whether he could verify a report that executives of the Boeing company had recently held talks with representatives of the Australian aircraft industry concerning a possible participation by Australian companies in the manufacturing programme for certain parts and accessories of the Boeing 747 jumbo jets. The Minister gave me certain background information. Is he able to say now whether his Department has taken steps, or is proposing to take steps, to promote a successful outcome of the negotiations which have already commenced?
– Yes, I recall the questions and I am happy to say, as background, that it should be remembered that I indicated that the delegation that came to Australia came as a result of a high level mission that we sent to America in relation to offset procurement, with particular emphasis on the defence aspect. I had the leader and two other members of the delegation in my office this morning and had discussions with them. Yesterday they had discussions with officers of my Department. Notably they have been in close cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry which is also very much involved in this exercise. I am happy to be able to say that the members of the delegation brought to Australia three specific bid packages to try to interest Australian industry in them.
– Yes, packages, a package being a specification. In the Boeing there will be certain equipment for which people will be invited to tender. There is a specification and in that sense it is a package. There are three package components in which Australia is being encouraged to take an interest. I am able to say that representatives of interested firms and of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Supply will attend a bidder’s conference with the Boeing representatives in Seattle, United States of America, within a fortnight to discuss bid packages and explore future opportunities for sub-contract work in Australia. This mission is in real earnest. With the cooperation of the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Supply it has visited sixteen different companies in Australia. The delegation that is to attend the conference in the United States will see whether our companies can quote successfully - we should be able to do so - for part of this big Boeing 747 aircraft project. I think I express the view of all honourable senators and everybody iu Australia when I wish the delegation every success in its venture.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence a question. Does not the Government owe to the people of Australia, particularly to relatives of servicemen in Vietnam, an explanation of the rise in casualties there in recent weeks, Does not the Government realise that the people of Australia will not accept lightly a steadily rising rate of Australian casualties at a time when United States troops are withdrawing from Vietnam and US casualties are declining markedly?
– I am not aware of the import of the question which suggests some knowledge of percentages of casualties in Vietnam. I question whether there is any accuracy in that implication of the question. I am sure that the honourable senator realises that in any conflict, ever since the Wars of the Roses, the casualty rate has not been completely within the control of one side or the other. I understand that there has been a significant increase in Australian casualties in relation to one aspect of the conflict in Vietnam - that is, the use of concealed mines. This matter was referred to several days ago in this place by Senator Georges. I would not say that there is any distinction between the casualties suffered by the US forces, any other forces and our own. It would depend upon the war field the troops were in. the operational area and the type of battle forced upon them in circumstances of war, which is a dirty deadly business. Nevertheless, if the honourable senator feels that there is some aspect of his question about which he would like further information I will get a reply from the Minister for Defence.
– Following on the question asked by Senator Marriott, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it not correct that one of the most serious aspects of the industrial unrest on the Searoad service, apart from its effect on the tourist industry, is the mounting lag in the freight service between Tasmania and the mainland? Is not the position fast approaching when this lag will have to be met by the introduction of another Searoad ship?
– Of course, the dislocation of the service is causing a mounting lag in the cargo service to Tasmania and, as it seems to me, the regrettable part of this situation is that this arterial traffic connection by ship can be interrupted by a small section on account of an industrial dispute arising over quite small matters but having the effect of stopping the ship from the point of view of carrying passengers. I refer only to the fact that in modern circumstances this dispute has a reaction not against the shipowner, which in this case is the Government representing the people, but against other sections of the community who are wishing to travel in their holidays in the same way as the cooks and stewards would wish to travel in their holidays. But in the present state of the industrial strength of the country, unless arbitration methods can induce a settlement it is not possible for the owners to supply the service.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation three questions: Firstly, when was the 2-airline policy adopted by the Government? Secondly, what was the total number of passengers carried for the 12 months by Ansett and
Trans-Australia Airlines at that time? Thirdly, what was the total number carried by the 2 companies in the last 12 months?
– That question, like Gaul, is divided into 3 equal parts. The first one relates to the 2-airline policy and when it began; the second part to the number of passengers carried by the components of the airline policy at that time; and the third one to the number of passengers carried at present. The 2-airline policy was adopted by the Government on18th November 1952 by virtue of the Civil Aviation Agreement Act 1952. This Act approved an agreement between the Commonwealth and Australian National Airways Pty Ltd. For the 12 months ended December 1952 Ansett Airways Pty Ltd carried 144,014 passengers and TransAustralia Airlines carried 652,152 passengers. As additional information I think that one should point out that at that time Ansett Airways was a third, minor airline operation outside the 2-airline policy and that for the 12 months ended December 1952 - the same period - Australian National Airways, the private element of the 2-airline policy, carried 608,693 passengers. For the 12 months ended December 1969 Ansett Transport Industries Ltd carried 2,935,317 passengers and TransAustralia carried 2,341,736 passengers. In both cases the figures exclude the internal Papua and New Guinea air traffic.
– In view of the long standing dispute between the Sydney Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board, the Bankstown Council and the Department of Civil Aviation regarding the assertion of the two former bodies that sewerage disposal from the Bankstown airport complex contributes to the pollution of the Georges River, will the Minister now say whether the matter has been remedied effectively?
– I hope this information which I have had prepared will aid the honourable senator. Effluent from the Department’s treatment works at Bankstown is regularly tested by the State Department of Health, found to be satisfactory and well within tolerable limits. This effluent proceeds to the Georges River via a drain which the Health Department had found to be polluted by other users. It is expected also, as the honourable senator knows, that the Sydney Metropolitan Water and Sewerage Board will provide further sewerage mains near the airport within about 12 months and then we will connect the airport to the main.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn by a warning by Professor Goram Lofroth of the Stockholm University made recently, supported by Dr Boyden, head of the Biology Group of the John Curtin School of Medicine and the authoritative British journal ‘New Scientist’ that pest strips similar to those on sale throughout Australia are a serious danger to humans as they give off a high level of the nerve gas DDVP? Will the Minister have the situation examined and take the necessary action to protect the health of the community?
– I have not seen the report mentioned by the honourable senator, but I note the point he makes and his concern about the possible effect these strips may have on humans. I will be pleased to take the matter up with my colleague, the Minister for Health, and get all the information I can concerning this question for the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation: Is it a fact that a licence has been granted by the Department of Civil Aviation to a New South Wales based company, which will permit the carriage interstate, namely between Victoria and South Australia, by air of fare paying passengers? Is this licence one of the first to be granted at the direction of the Government? Will this action introduce a measure of competition to the existing two airline policy?
– The honourable senator was good enough to mention to me that he wanted information about this matter. I have information which I propose to state to the Senate. If it is not all that he requires, we will add to it later by a written reply to him. This answer really is in three sections.
On 17th December 1969, I announced that Jet Air Australia Limited had been given permission to operate a MelbourneEchucaSwan Hill air service by virtue of an exemption given under Air Navigation Regulation 203. Under that Regulation, a charter operator is exempted from the necessity for obtaining an airline licence and is permitted to fly fare paying passengers between fixed destinations according to fixed and published time tables.
The second part of my answer is: There are two other instances where authority has been given for the carriage of interstate fare paying passengers under Regulation 203 exemption - Nationwide Air Services Pty Ltd and Masling Aviation Pty Ltd. Airline licences are operated by three independent airlines - East West Airlines, Papuan Air Transport and Connellan Airways - all of which operate outside the framework of the two airline policy, as well as several subsidiaries of Ansett Transport Industries which operate intrastate and Territorial air services. In addition to these operators, there are approximately 350 charter operators who are authorised to carry fare paying passengers interstate in accordance with the terms of the relevant charter licences.
The third part of my answer is, I think, equally of importance to Senator Webster. In announcing the approval for Jet Air Australia Limited to operate a commuter air service, I stated at the time that the company’s request for an airline licence was being referred to the Government for consideration. The action in authorising these air services is in no way inconsistent with the stated two-airline policy of the Government. The routes on which Jet Air Australia Limited is operating were not served by the major airlines and do not form part of the trunk route system. The two-airline policy as expressed in the relevant legislation continues through until November 1977 and the Government has not yet considered any variation of that policy.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to the fact that the late Senator Sam Cohen, Q.C., has been honoured by a posthumous award naming him Australian
Jew of the Year for 1969? Will the honourable gentleman join me in asking the President on behalf of all honourable Senators to convey to the late Senator Cohen’s wife and children the pleasure of the Senate at the recognition of our distinguished colleague?
– My attention was drawn to the award naming the late Senator Sam Cohen, Q.C., Australian Jew of the Year for 1969. lt is a very significant award. Speaking as Leader of the Government in the Senate I say quite categorically that we would be happy to join in a suggested letter of congratulation to be sent to Mrs Cohen.
– [ will be pleased to do that.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. I would like to preface it with a few words. 1 read with interest the following passage in the statement made by the Minister on 5th March on the agreement between Australia and Yugoslavia on the residence and employment of Yugoslav citizens in this country:
However, in accordance with section 35a of the National Service Act 1951-68. mcn who have rendered continuous full-time service in the permanent forces of Australia or in the naval, military or air force of a country other than Australia are granted recognition of such service . . .
I ask: Does that passage mean that a Yugoslav migrant to this country, aged 19 years and 9 months, who has served a year or 15 months in the Yugoslav Army has that amount of service credited to him when he becomes 20 years of age and is compelled under the law of this country to register for military service?
– I will take this matter up with my colleague the Minister for Immigration and will get a detailed answer for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Are the so-called cease fire negotiations between South Vietnam and the United States of America on the one hand and North Vietnam and the Vietcong on the other hand still continuing in Paris? Is it correct to say that the talks have made no progress? ls the prolongation of the talks, occurring in the face of the often expressed willingness of the United States to withdraw its troops from South Vietnam if North Vietnam will desist in its aggression, due to North Vietnam’s unwillingness to so desist? In those circumstances, is not the current tactic of North Vietnam, its apologists and supporters directed to weakening the resolution of the United States, Australia and other countries in South Vietnam supporting the South Vietnamese Government to maintain the security of that country? Is it the view of the Australian Government that to desert the South Vietnamese when they are not secure from aggression by North Vietnam and the Vietcong would be inconsistent with Australia’s obligations to secure a country menaced by aggression from that source?
– The honourable senator asked me first about the Paris peace conference. My understanding is that at least it is still in existence. I also tinderstand that from time to time it has deferments and adjournments. I would need to get information of the current position from the Department of External Affairs. As I indicated yesterday, very properly 1 would be most cautious at question time in responding to questions on fundamental policy. Therefore I think it proper that the question be placed on the notice paper for the Minister for External Affairs to provide a comprehensive answer to the comprehensive question asked by the honourable senator.
– My question, which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, refers to repatriation matters. On three occasions the Senate has carried resolutions affirming that a select committee should be appointed to investigate repatriation matters. The most recent occasion was in the latter part of last year. The Leader of the Government will remember that it was proposed that the select committee operate from 1st January this year. What is the intention of the Government in respect of that latest resolution?
– I am aware of the resolutions and, as I recall, the messages that were conveyed to another place pursuant to those resolutions. I am not aware of the current position in relation to those resolutions. As we all realise, this is a new Parliament; the old Parliament was dissolved. However, I invite the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation to take the matter up with his colleague and to obtain a reply to the honourable senator’s question.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the fact that floor space has been increased by the extensive alterations to the Adelaide Airport, and overcrowding has been eliminated, will the Minister use his best endeavours to see that visitors to that airport will not be charged a fee to watch from the observation deck the arrival and departure of aircraft, as is proposed for the Tullamarine Airport and the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport?
– I will use my best endeavours, but they might not be sufficient.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that, as a result of a so-called revolution or battle for supremacy being waged within the Australian television industry amongst commercial television station licensees, literally millions of dollars are being spent abroad on the purchase of overseas programmes, most of which are being bought under package deal arrangements, much to the detriment of the development of Australian television dramatic and variety programmes? Will the Minister agree that the reason why so many second class and third class vintage films of overseas origin are being shown on Australian television today - particularly by country stations - is that the metropolitan commercial stations are unloading a large number of overseas dumped packaged programmes onto the country stations, thereby further impeding the development of Australian programmes? Will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to look at this matter as one of urgency and, if necessary, to take steps either to ban overseas package deal purchases or to fix a quota for imported programmes being shown on Australian television in order to protect the already insecure economic situation of Australian artists, writers and technicians?
– The honourable senator’s question, as I understand it, concerns overseas films and what he understands to be the policy of metropolitan and country television stations. He feels that country stations are not receiving the best that they could receive. He asks whetherthe Postmaster-General will look at this matter and have the existing situation reviewed. I will be pleased to take this matter up with the Postmaster-General and to obtain a detailed answer to the various questions the honourable senator has placed before me.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Will the Government consider extending the Zone A allowance under the Income Tax Assessment Act to areas between Tarcoola and Golden Ridge and to other remote areas in South Australia not now included in Zone A? Will the Government recognise accumulating residence in zones over a period of more than 1 year in order to avoid the loss of deductions in the case of a taxpayer serving in a zone for less than the prescribed 6 months?
– I undertake to refer the matter raised by the honourable senator to the Treasurer and to obtain a reply for him.
– Is the Minister for Air aware that a senior journalist with Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd, Mr Alan Underwood, stated in a feature article in the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ on 9 th March 1970 that quantities of a detergent other than Correxit had been used on the oil slick in the Torres Strait area? Can the Minister advise the Parliament why he informed this chamber last week that only Correxit had been used? Can he also tell the Parliament what type of detergent is currently being used in the unfortunate incident in Torres Strait?
– I am not aware of the article to which the honourable senator refers. I will trace the article, look at it and reply to the honourable senator by letter.
– Would the Minister representing the Treasurer consult with the Treasurer for the purpose of considering as a tax deductible item the high cost of transport for people living on Eyre Peninsula and in other remote areas because of the vast distances they have to travel for specialist medical treatment?
– I will refer the request to the Treasurer and seek a reply for the honourable senator.
– I ask the
Minister representing the Attorney-General: Will the Attorney-General examine reports in the possession of the Department of the Interior, copies of which were supplied to me and mentioned by me in the AddressinReply debate, to ascertain whether, under Commonwealth law, a prima facie case of abduction and/or rape could bc made out against certain males at Yuendumu Reserve? If the reports establish such a prima facie case will the Attorney-General take appropriate action to see that any law breakers are suitably punished?
– In answer to the honourable senator I wish to inform him that I shall refer his question to the Attorney-General for appropriate consideration.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Can the Minister inform the Parliament whether twenty-four American Phantom fighterbombers together with air tankers will cost approximately S3 00m if Australia opts out of the Fill contract? Will this mean, in fact, that the 24 new planes for the Royal Australian Air Force will cost the Australian taxpayers not $300m as for the Fill but, with the money Australia will lose on the FU”, contract, a total of $500m?
– 1 do not think that on any occasion in this place have I suggested that Australia would opt out of the Fill contract. The Minister for Defence, as he said in his statement to the Parliament, is going to America to discuss the matter of the Fill project with the Americans. At the present time we have had no firm proposals from the Americans. Until such time as we obtain firm proposals we cannot do anything about getting our Fill aircraft out of the grounded state they are in at present.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Did the Department of the Interior supervisor at Yuendumu Reserve give permission in 1967 for three Aboriginal girls to be taken, against their will, by six males one of whom was armed, 35 miles into scrub country and to be indecently assaulted by all or some of such males? Were rations for 14 days supplied to the party? Did the manager of the Reserve, fearing for the girls’ welfare, after 4 days send a truck to collect the party and return it to the camp?
– 1 will direct that question containing a number of assumptions and accusations to the responsible Minister in the other place.
– My ques:ion is again directed to the Minister for Air. In view of his reply to my previous question, is the Minister aware that aerodrome runways at Learmonth and Pearce Air Force bases, Western Australia, are being extended? Will the Minister inform the Parliament of the reasons for the extensions if they are not to carry tankers for the Phantoms?
– lt is true that extensions are being made to the runways at Learmonth. This is being done so that a quicker turnround of aircraft using the runways can be achieved. Any of the present Royal Australian Air Force aircraft can use the runways there. Learmonth is quite capable of taking the Fills, when they come. At this stage, I do not think I have anything else to add.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. Last evening exception was taken by Senator Murphy to remarks made by another honourable senator about not the Head of State of Yugoslavia but the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. I understand that the honourable senator concerned withdrew his remarks. As there is a feeling among a number of honourable senators that there could be a serious inhibition of freedom of speech, particularly on matters of foreign affairs, if we were taken to assume that in future it is not possible to criticise the Prime Minister of a friendly country, I ask whether you, Mr President, will deliver a ruling on this matter to the Senate.
– I have ruled on this matter already. The matter of referring to leaders of friendly countries is referred to in the ‘Australian Senate Practice’. Over the years it has been the established practice of the Senate that honourable senators do not reflect on the leader of a friendly country. I think it is fairly reasonable to say that the person to whom reference was made would not have very much chance to protect himself. It is not desirable that those attacks be made under privilege here.
– I desire to ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. My question follows the one asked of him by Senator Greenwood from Victoria. I ask the Minister whether he has had brought to his notice an article in the Canberra Times’ of 6th March 1970 which refers to a speech purported to be made by Averell Harriman, the former chief United States delegate to the Paris peace talks, in which he said that the President of South Vietnam, President Thieu, had pulled the rug out from negotiations several times. As peace in Vietnam is very important to Australia because our troops are there, I wonder whether the Government has taken the trouble to see if the facts are as stated by this eminent United States peace negotiator.
– I have not had the advantage of seeing the statement to which the honourable senator referred. I shall link his question with that asked by Senator Greenwood and, in the same context, obtain a reply from the Department of External Affairs.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs supply, for the information of the Senate, information as to when Australia was asked to become involved in Vietnam, from whom the request came, in what form the request was made and, if the request was in any written or printed form, whether a copy of it could be tabled in the Senate?
– The Leader of the Opposition is asking for information which I will attempt to obtain for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. As the Minister maintained that Australia will retain the F111 order, can he now inform the Parliament how many areas of the F111 are fabricated with D6ac steel? Will the aircraft fabricated with this type of steel stand up to the stresses caused by Australian flying conditions?
– I cannot inform the honourable senator as to how many areas of the F111 are fabricated with D6ac steel. The other part of his question related to the discussion that is going on at present between American scientists and United States Air Force officers and our own scientists and Air Force officers, so I cannot answer that part.
(Question No. 70)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
To make an inquiry into the circumstances of the foundering of the motor vessel ‘Sedco Helen’ in Joseph Bonaparte Gulf on 31st January 1970 and the consequential loss of life.’
– by leave - The Senate will recall that on 26th September 1969 the Hon. W. C. Wentworth, Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, announced the Government’s intention to set up an Aboriginal Aged Persons Homes Trust. The necessary formalities have now been completed, and I now lay a copy of the trust deed on the table.
Under the Aged Persons Homes Act, the Government contributes $2 for every $1 subscribed from non-governmental sources for the provision of non-profit homes for aged persons. Aboriginals are eligible for this on the same basis as anybody else, but they may not always have the same ability to provide or attract their one-third of the cost. This Trust is designed to fill the gap. The Trust is set up to receive gifts of money from the public, and to use these gifts for the payment of the one-third contribution on behalf of Aboriginals who take the Benefit of the Act. The Government will provide the other two-thirds. 1 am delighted to confirm that three very distinguished persons have consented to act as Trustees. They are: His Grace the Primate of Australia, Archbishop P. N. W. Strong, C.M.G.; His Eminence Cardinal Sir Norman Gilroy, Archbishop of Sydney; and Mr B. B. Callaghan, C.B.E., the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. These three Trustees will have a board of advice, consisting of six Aboriginal Members, namely, Mrs Eileen Lester of New South Wales, Mr James Berg of Victoria, Mrs Kath Walker of Queensland, Mr N. T. Bonner of Queensland, Mrs Maude Tongerie of South Australia, and Mr George Harwood of Western Australia. I would like to express my appreciation of the willingness of these prominent people to act. It is hoped that an Aboriginal from the Northern Territory will shortly join the Board.
The deed sets out the object of the Trust as follows:
The object of the charity is to solicit and receive gifts of money from members of the public and in accordance with the provisions of this deed, to distribute them for any or all of the following purposes:
to eligible organisations towards the cost of approved homes to be used wholly or mainly for persons of the Aboriginal race;
to provide donations for persons of the Aboriginal race; or
such other similar charitable purposes for the Aboriginal race as the Minister from time to time approves.
I should like to make it clear that the funds can be used either to provide any necessary donation for an Aboriginal who has been accepted for entrance into a normal aged persons home or alternatively for the setting up of aged persons homes devoted wholly or mainly to persons of Aboriginal origin. Naturally the decision will depend upon existing circumstances. What well may be the best practice for Sydney or Melbourne may be inappropriate for northern Queensland. The great objective is to make Aboriginals comfortable and secure in their old age, and in this their own preference and established ways of life must be considered. We would not want old people to be unsettled and unhappy in surroundings to which they are unaccustomed.
The trust deed provides:
The Trustees shall distribute the moneys received for the charity in accordance with this Deed. In deciding the manner and amounts in which the funds of the charity are to be distributed, the Trustees shall have regard to the recommendations of the Board.
This means, in effect, that the day to day decisions as to how the money is to be spent will be made on the recommendations of the Aboriginal Board. This expresses our principle of involving Aboriginals to the greatest possible extent in the decisions affecting Aboriginal life. The income of the Trust will be exempt from taxation, and there will be no stamp duty in the Australian Capital Territory. The Office of Aboriginal Affairs will provide the necessary office service to the Trust free of charge. In consequence, virtually all moneys received as donations will be devoted to providing housing for aged Aboriginals, and every $1 donated will be matched by 2 Government dollars, so that each Si will provide $3 worth of accommodation.
The scope of the Trust will be determined by public donations. There are many people who say they want to do something practical to help Aboriginals. Here is their chance. Donations are deductible for income tax purposes, and should be sent to -
Aboriginal Aged Persons Trust Account,
Commonwealth Savings Bank,
I would like to impress that address for donations on the Senate and the public. The Account is now open, and I trust that the Press will give the Trust wide publicity. Receipts for all donations - which, as I have said, are deductions for income tax purposes - will be sent out in the normal way. Aboriginals have a long and honourable tradition of respect for their elders and their needs. We want to provide homes for these people, under conditions as nearly as possible of their own choosing, where they will not be cut off from their families and friends. I have every confidence that this Trust will get full Aboriginal support, and that other Australians will also give it their blessing in the most practical way. Mr Deputy President, I ask for leave to move a motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator Keeffe) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That thebill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to enable the Commonwealth to meet its obligations under a Commonwealth guarantee of repayment of certain borrowings by the
Australian Wheat Board from the Reserve Bank of Australia, in respect of wheat from the 1968-69 crop. Arrangements were made for the Board to borrow up to $624m from the Rural Credits Department of the Bank for the 1968-69 pool. The date for final repayment is 31st March 1970, approximately 12 months after the drawings were made, in order to comply with section 57 of the Reserve Bank Act which requires that loans of the type made to the Board shall not be for more than 1 year.
Income from sales of wheat will be insufficient to enable the Board to repay the borrowings in full by the due date. This will mean that, for the first time since the wheat stabilisation scheme was introduced over 20 years ago, the Commonwealth will be called upon under the guarantee. The Board currently expects that its indebtedness to the Bank on the 1968-69 pool accounts as at 31st March 1970 will be in the vicinity of $250m. The Board also estimates that recoupment of this amount from subsequent sales of wheat to overseas markets will take about 15 months.
It is proposed that the Commonwealth lend to the Board sufficient funds to enable it to discharge its debt to the Bank. It is also proposed that the Board be required to use for repayment of the loan all net receipts, after the date of the loan, from export sales of wheat of the 1968-69 pool. The Bill provides that the loan to the Board may be made available on such terms and conditions as the Treasurer determines. It is intended that the rate of interest on the loan by the Commonwealth will be the same as the rate charged for Government guaranteed loans by the Rural Credits Department of the Reserve Bank on the date the loan is made.
The Bill authorises the Commonwealth to borrow up to $300m to make the loan to the Board. This exceeds the Board’s current estimate of the amount required under the guarantee, but this seems prudent in case the Board’s estimate proves to be too low. The Australian Loan Council has agreed to a special borrowing programme for this purpose for the Commonwealth in 1969-70. The terms of the borrowing will be subject to Loan Council approval. In short, the Bill makes provision for the Commonwealth to borrow the requisite amount and to make a loan to the Board on terms and conditions approved by the Treasurer. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10 March (vide page 186), on motion by Senator Rae:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyally to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator McManus had moved by way of amendment:
That the following words be added to the Address-in-Reply, viz. : but the Senate deplores the failure of the Government to include in its programme -
an adequate statement on Australian Foreign Policy;
a comprehensive programme to rehabilitate Primary Industry;
a plan mutually acceptable to the Commonwealth and the States for the equitable distribution of national revenue;
adequate measures to promote family life, particularly in the fields of child endowment, maternity allowances and education; and
provision for a contributory National Insurance plan’.
– In resuming my remarks on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply I want to deal with three other matters. I propose firstly to try to ascertain the rule governing the issue of a passport. I have always been under the impression that if a person were a national of any country he was entitled to hold a passport. I also believed that whenever a national of a country committed any act, such as treason or treachery, which was detrimental to his country, then that country had the right to cancel that person’s passport. In the past few weeks newspapers in Australia have been full of reports of the pros and cons of the case of one Mr Wilfred Burchett. I want to be quite candid about this. I have never met the man and I do not know if I ever will meet him. I believe that before the Government can say to a national of this country ‘You cannot have a passport’, it has a duty to say why a passport will not be issued and it should back up what it says, if necessary, by charging the individual in a court of law. I was rather intrigued by certain answers that were given in another place on this question. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) on 4th March asked the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes):
Is it thought that Mr Burchett has broken any law of the Commonwealth? Alternatively, now that he is in Australia, is any investigation being undertaken to ascertain whether he has broken any law of the Commonwealth
The Attorney-General replied:
I do not propose to give any opinion as to whether Mr Burchett has broken any law of the Commonwealth. What 1 will say, however, is that I, as the principal law officer of the Crown, do not propose, as at present advised, to bring any charges against him in respect of–
At this point an interjection was made.
The Attorney-General continued:
I do not propose to bring any charges. It is proper that I should say that in answer to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition.
When pressed further on this question during the debate on the motion for the adjournment on 5th March the AttorneyGeneral, as reported in Hansard, said:
First of all I would deal with the last point raised by the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). He asked me, in effect, about Burchett’s activities in Vietnam and whether anything could be done about them. The answer is that under the law as it presently stands - that is, the Crimes Act which now has an extraterritorial operation - a prosecution for the offence of treachery or the offence of treason cannot be mounted unless the war is a proclaimed war and there is a proclaimed enemy.
I rise not to discuss Mr Burchett’s political views or writings but only to say that what happens to Mr Burchett today may happen to a Mr Smith or a Mr Brown tomorrow. Why does not the Government proclaim a state of war if that is the only reason why it cannot prosecute the person in question. Why does the Government not say that we are at war? Everyone except the Government believes that we are in a state of war.
– We are losing a lot of lives.
– Was not the AttorneyGeneral the other night referring to the Korean war?
– I have read exactly - I have not missed a word here or there - what is reported in Hansard. I think it is wrong that we take this action because we do not like a person’s political views. The Government is making this country a laughing stock. 1 certainly do not agree with the political views of Mr Burchett if they are as some sections of the Press have stated. However, when Mr Burchett was asked the direct question: Are you a member of the Communist Party?’ he said ‘No’. I certainly would not be a party to aiding anyone who commits treason against this country. But if the Government cannot charge a man, if it is not prepared to take him into the courts of this country - whether he be Burchett. Kennelly or anyone else - it has a fundamental responsibility to give him a passport.
Surely there are sufficient numbers in both Houses of this Parliament to pass any special Act that may be needed to prove what 1 believe, according to the reported statements of members of this Government in the Press, is in the mind of the Government. These reports indicate that the Governent believes that this man acted contrary to the way in which an Australian ought to act in view of our troubles in Vietnam. This applies also to the interviews that he had with prisoners of war in Korea. Until the Government does that, I cannot see why it should be allowed to say to one of its own people - whether it wants to own him or not, the fact is that he was born in Australia - that, he should not be granted a passport.
This man was born here. If the Government cannot prove what in its opinion, according to what we read in the Press, this man has done, .1 see no reason why he should not have the same rights as anybody else has. I do not know of any political party in this country, other than the parties which form the Government of the day, which thinks other than what I have said. The Government has not substantiated its case. Rather than make Australia look foolish in the eyes of the outside world, I hope that this Government at least will reconsider the attitude that it has taken. If the Government wishes to alter the law so that it may charge this person, that is its right. I believe, without equivocation, that a Bill for this purpose would obtain a speedy passage in both Houses.
– Would the honourable senator have a man prosecuted for an offence under a retrospective Act?
– No. The Government says that, at the moment, the Act does not embody a provision covering the position. If the Government has sufficient proof that this person has done what it is commonly said by the Government he has done, I say that the Government has ample numbers in both Houses to pass a special Act so that, at least, the name of Australia can be cleared. I feel quite certain that if it could be proved by the Government to any member on either side of the Senate that this person was a treacherous person or that he had committed treason against this country, a speedy passage would be given to any special Bill to cover the position.
– The honourable senator should read the books by this man and form his own conclusion.
– All I say is this: There is only one way in which to find out whether or not a person Ls guilty or not guilty of an offence. This is to charge that person in the courts of our country. If the Government has not the power to do that now in the present case, it should alter the law to give it the power to do so. Therefore, 1 say that the Government should not cast these innuendoes, and go even further than that and deny to this man the right to which 1 believe every person in this country is entitled. 1 desire to say a few words now about primary industry in this country. I am brought to mention this subject following the remarks from the ex-M mister for Customs and Excise, Senator Scott, to which I listened. I do not mention Senator Scott’s former portfolio in any offensive way. Senator Scott spoke on this subject yesterday. He paid particular attention to the Australian wool industry. I was pleased to hear him. say that, on all occasions when a referendum had been held by wool growers on the subject of orderly marketing, etcetra, he had supported the case for orderly marketing. Not only do we face trouble with regard to wool but also we are in trouble with our wheat industry. We have always been in trouble with our dairy industry. I think that we are paying approximately $27m per year in subsidies to the industry. Dairy farmers claim that this is a subsidy for cheap butter. Consumers of course say that it is a straight out subsidy for dairy farmers.
The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) knows that a lot of trouble exists in his own State in regard to peas and beans. Let us be quite candid about this matter. A treaty called the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement exists between this country and New Zealand. This is a trade treaty. I should like to see trade treaties entered into between Australia and a number of other countries if this were possible. But where it is found that an Australian industry suffers because of a treaty that has been entered into - in this case, the treaty between Australia and New Zealand - steps ought to be taken to rectify the position. I do not think that anyone can argue this point if he has listened to questions asked here by Senator Lillico. No-one, I suppose, is more closely connected with the pea industry than is the honourable senator. I am not closely connected with the industry. One cannot be otherwise than impressed by those who grow peas in Senator Lillico’s State and also with those who grow peas in my own State, in Gippsland and possibly in the Goulburn Valley. Those people are suffering because of the importation of peas from New Zealand where manufacturers seem to have a special method of processing them.
What is the trouble with the whole of the farming industry today? We should remember that we will be in much more trouble, I should say, in the near future because it looks certain that if Britain can enter the European Common Market she will do so. When we were discussing this question some years ago, I said that if 1 was a member of the House of Commons I would go flat out in support of Britain joining the Common Market. With the potential markets throughout Europe for her secondary industries - and Britain has these potential markets - how can we blame her if she does enter the Common Market? Of course, such action would have an adverse effect on our farming community. We would be faced then with extra trouble concerning butter, dried fruits, lamb and wheat.
What is the cause of this trouble? Honourable senators on the other side were prone to say: ‘Get rid of controls. Lift the peg off the price of land. We do not wish to have any more controls. We wish to have an open go.’ The inflationary spiral that has followed has caused the price of land to jump to its present level. I was very friendly personally with the late Senator Laught who was a farmer. On many occasions, we travelled together from Canberra to Melbourne by aircraft. I asked him one day: ‘If I wanted to put my son on the land, how much would I need to have in order to give him a reasonable chance of success?’ After throwing thousands of pounds around here and there between ourselves - by tongue, that is: noone ever took it literally-
– The honourable senator has the money.
– If I have, I have earned it. Unlike the honourable senator, I have saved it. Senator Laught told me that it would cost £30,000. We were talking about wheat. He said also-
– That would have been a long time ago.
– I believe my friend is helping me. He knows more about this matter than 1 do. He is a practical farmer. I will ask him whether he can tell me how much would be needed now. What impressed me was that Senator Laught said that reasonably good seasons would be required for the first 3 years of the undertaking. We find that, as a rule, farmers buy in the dearest markets and sell in the cheapest markets. They sell in the main at world prices. That being the case, they could not be in other than grave trouble. I am not speaking as a man who was born in the country but as one who spent some time living in the country. I would like to see a joint select committee set up representing both sides of the Parliament. Let us get down to seeing whether we can find a solution. If a solution is not found, millions of dollars will have to be found in the near future. Let us see whether the collective wisdom of a select committee can at least show us where we are going. Let us see whether there is some hope, even with the economic structure that exists today. It is of no use anyone’s saying to me or to a farmer: ‘Millions of people are starving in India. What about the wheat?’ Of course farmers will not mind if their wheat goes to the starving millions of India, so long as they are paid for it.
– And they should get it.
– And who has any objection to it? We are likely to find ourselves in trouble with meat exports. The position of our exports of prime meat is governed in the main by the United States. The farmers of Wyoming or the meat producers of the United States may say: ‘Oh no, you had better put a stopper on imports of Australian meat’ We would then sell less and less meat there.
Yesterday Senator Fitzgerald referred to the position of Maltese migrants in this country. I was intrigued by what he said. He said that Maltese coming to this country are placed in the same position as aliens. When all is said and done, Maltese are British subjects. I do not wish to enter into a discussion with my friend Senator Sir Magnus Cormack on why they are not Australians. I do not think that matters very much. I have made a few inquiries and have been told that Maltese migrants to Australia must live here for 10 years before they are entitled to the age pension and for 5 years before they are entitled to the invalid or widow pension. I was intrigued to learn today from the Department of Social Services that Maltese migrants who are unemployed may receive unemployment relief, irrespective of the time they have been in this country. I assume that that would apply also to the sickness benefit.
After a study of the figures I am appalled at the falling off in the flow of Maltese migrants to this country. A prominent member of the Maltese community in Australia has told me that the decline is due to two reasons. The first is the prosperity in Malta. I can understand that. The second is the provision of our National Service Act compelling registration for national service by any male person in this country, irrespective of who he is, in his twentieth year. If I had to fight it seems to me that I would prefer to be fighting alongside a fellow who was at least one of my own. I would like him to be a naturalised subject. Anyway, each young man must effect registration for national service in his twentieth year. The figures on Maltese migrants are illuminating. In 1965 there were 4,403; 1966 2,039; 1967 1,639; 1968 1,293; and in the first 11 months of 1969 780.
– What are those figures?
– They are the numbers of Maltese citizens who entered Australia as settlers in those years.
– They have settled here?
– Those are the numbers who have come here. We are bringing in Yugoslavs. I do not mind whom we bring in as migrants, so long as Australia is secure. That is the only thing that concerns me. 1 have received a letter which raises some interesting points. A migrant from the United Kingdom or New Zealand is entitled in Australia immediately on arrival to social service benefits. There is no qualifying period at all. Why should there be a qualifying period for Maltese migrants? lt may be claimed that if the older migrants are given immediately the old age or invalid pension, once they get it they will return home. But it is remarkable that since 1957 the number of Maltese migrants of both sexes aged over 55 years who have returned to Malta is 958.
I think the Government is obliged to look at this problem. The writer of this letter points out that while Maltese migrants must wait 1.0 years for entitlement to the age pension and 5 years for entitlement to the invalid or widow pension, after they have been here only 6 months they are compelled by law to register their names on the electoral roll. Therefore they establish the same rights in the government of this country as any honourable senator. I have no doubt that as British citizens they would be able to stand for election to the Senate.
– British subjects.
– They are British subjects, not Australian citizens.
– I hope that the honourable senator does not mean it that way. I am sure he does not want to insult all the Maltese people in this country.
– I am not insulting them. What have I said to insult them? Chinese from Hong Kong are British subjects.
– Through you, Mr Deputy President, I would like to ask Senator Sir Magnus Cormack a question. Let us say that a person who was born in London comes to Australia, lives here for 6 months and places his name on the electoral roll. The act of placing his name on the electoral roll entitles him to nominate for election to the Senate, subject to the nomination being signed by ten or more people. It is so long since I signed a nomination form that I have forgotten the number of people who must sign it. I think the Government should give a decision on this matter. In addressing a question yesterday to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch), I pointed out that this matter was raised as long ago as January 1968. All I say in conclusion is that I do not believe that cost should be a factor. From 1957 to the present time only 958 people over 55 years of age have returned to Malta from Australia. Therefore, the cost of this proposal would not be great. One person wrote to me saying.
Many of those experiencing hardship under the present system are ex-servicemen from the Second World War. which makes one wonder as to whether Malta fought on the right side and if in the affirmative as to whether it was worthwhile.
This doubt comes naturally to Maltese migrants in Australia, as not only do we rub shoulder to shoulder with our former enemies but worse still we are meted out exactly the same treatment.
– Every Maltese was decorated by the King; the whole island received the George Cross.
– We all know the wonderful sacrifices that were made by the people of Malta. The newspapers were full of reports of the air raids that were made. I suggest that this proposal is a good business deal for Australia. In 1968-69 we exported $3,175,000 worth of goods to Malta and imported $179,000 worth of goods from Malta. For the benefit of my friends in the Country Party, I point out that $3,005,000 of the total of $3,175,000 represented exports of rural products. I believe that this proposal should be implemented on humanitarian grounds as well as because at some time or other we or our parents were British subjects. We can also look at it from a trade point of view. Let us hope that the Government will make a decision on this matter so that the people of Malta can be at one with us.
– 1 support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech which was so ably moved by Senator Rae and seconded by Senator Maunsell. We express our loyalty to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and hope that she may long be spared to be our sovereign. I am sure that the visit to Australia by Her Majesty, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and Princess Anne will be a big success and that they will be warmly received everywhere they go.
The Speech of the Governor-General covers many phases of the Australian way of life and many matters of interest to Australians. Of major importance is the knowledge that the decade of the 1970s will mark the withdrawal of most of the European forces from the Pacific region. In view of the changed circumstances it is not surprising that the Speech emphasises defence and security. It mentions the continuation of our policy of defence outside Australia by maintaining forces in Singapore and Malaysia. We do not want to wait until we are attacked and then have to wage war in our own land, as the Opposition apparently proposes we should do. We do not want to wait until we have no friends left and then be at the mercy of the first powerful aggressor. The Government’s policy is to honour our treaty obligations, to support our friends and allies and to defend our country before the enemy reaches our shores. This has been done successfully in two world wars.
I wish to refer to the Communist threat. I was very interested yesterday to hear Senator Fitzgerald suggest that India is in grave danger of going Communist, as he put it. Let us make no mistake: Communism is not a dead issue, as the Opposition would have us believe and as the Communists want us to believe. The Opposition has fallen for that type of propaganda. The Communist countries are now more than ever seeking world domination and using their now all too familiar methods to achieve this. The Country Party has always opposed Communism. It was the first to point out the danger to Australia of Communist aggression.
Australia and New Zealand are two countries whose people are predominantly of European descent and which are situated in the South Pacific area, far from people of our own race. If we are not ever-vigilant in our defence we could be a rich prize for some powerful aggressor. Australia is an island continent. We are the only nation ever to own a whole continent. We have no land boundaries with other countries. This is a big factor in defence. Despite modern methods of war, we have seen our motherland successfully use a 20-mile strip of water to survive one of the greatest onslaughts in history. What is more, the British have resisted invasion for 900 years.
We have grown to nationhood under the protection of the British Navy in the period of its greatest power and strength. Now, 200 years after Captain Cook’s exploration of our east coast and 182 years after the first European settlement here, we have to make more provision for our own defence and we have to have friends and allies who will come to our aid if we are attacked. To have these friends and allies means that we must be prepared to support them if they are attacked. We have treaty obligations in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean areas.
With regard to defence, the Speech mentioned that a statement on defence would be issued shortly. As we all know, the statement was issued last night. It spelt out in great detail our defence policy for the next 5 years. Referring to the statement, the Governor-General’s Speech says: . . it will indicate the priorities to bc given to the development of self-sufficient and versatile forces to support those policies.
New proposals will be made for the Defence infrastructure, and for new equipment in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, the acquisition of the fighting equipment, which was announced in the last Budget, is proceeding. Investigation into the construction of a causeway to the naval facilities to be built in Western Australia has begun, and construction on the development of Learmonth airfield in Western Australia will shortly start. 1 refer now to the drought, position in Queensland, lt is probably not generally realised that in many parts of Queensland the drought is far from over. In fact, in quite a number of areas it is even worsening. The Federal Government has agreed to drought assistance being granted to Queensland on a Si for Si basis up to $4m. Further sums will be granted for approved projects. The estimated drought aid to Queensland this financial year is SI 5m. It is interesting to note that rainfall records show that the average rainfall, decade by decade, appear to be lessening in many parts of Queensland. I think this is also true of some of the other drier areas of Australia. There are exceptions to this situation. In the early 1950s some parts of inland Queensland received what is called their wet years - I think that was the time that Lake Eyre was full for the second time since white settlement - and then there was a break. Apart from that rainfall the average, decade by decade, is getting less and less. To enable many primary producers in Queensland to carry on and not to be forced off their farms more assistance will be needed than the amount 1 have mentioned. 1 think some form of rural reconstruction is being talked about in Queensland similar to the scheme operating in western New South Wales. I hope something will be done to aid some of these people fairly soon. lt is also interesting to note that the Federal Government has allocated another Si 00m for water conservation schemes in Australia. Of this amount, SI 2.8m has been allocated to the Bundaberg area. The Emerald scheme, to which $20m has been allocated by the Commonwealth., is already well under construction. A different set of circumstances applies in the Bundaberg area, where the Commonwealth Government is providing money for one big dam. The Queensland Government is providing another $8m towards the construction cost of some weirs across the Burnett River to hold the salt water back. Water from this dam will be fed into the Burnett River and into underground supplies to make possible much more irrigation of cane. For sugar cane farmers to operate successfully in the Bundaberg area irrigation is necessary. Dry land cane is not doing so well. Bundaberg is a city of 25,000 people. The district has five sugar mills, 1,400 to 1,600 farms, a sugar refinery and the large population that goes with this industry. This water scheme is different from others in the sense that it is providing water for established areas, established farms and, one might say, established factories which treat the sugar cane. Very little provision is necessary for channels, and no provision is necessary for pumping equipment, as the farmers have their own. The purpose of this scheme is merely to inject new life and a certain future into a big established area of Queensland. I think this is a very good scheme and 1 commend it to anybody who is interested.
We are told too that the Burdekin River, further north, is being investigated by the Snowy Mountains Authority. I hope that something can be done in that area because it is interesting to note that while a cyclone has occurred in parts of Queensland and some areas have received 100 inches of rain - for instance, at Proserpine - a little over 1 00 miles away at the Haughton sugar mill, just south of Townsville, there has been no rain of any consequence at all. There is some doubt about the mill’s starting operations as no water is available for it. The rainfall in Queensland is very patchy. The drought position is not good and more Commonwealth aid might bc required.
– And by a lot of hard work .
– As my friend says, by a lot of hard work. It now appears that this efficiency cannot be increased at the same rate as in the past and, consequently, costs difficulties face many producers. In many areas the problem has been aggravated by drought and, as I have just mentioned, that is applicable in the State of Queensland. Many primary producers are not now in a position to take advantage of the concessional income tax deductions allowed to primary producers - farmers and others - because they have little or no income. When one has little or no income a concessional deduction is not much help.
The primary producers must sell their surplus production overseas. They are not protected by high tariffs. Consequently, 1 believe that the Australian people who enjoy full employment and a high standard of living, mainly through tariff protection of secondary industries must be prepared to share some of this prosperity with those who make it possible; that is, not only those who produce the primary industry export income but also the residents of country towns. This principle has already been established by the provision of subsidies and home consumption price marketing schemes. As freight costs to the inland and northern areas of Australia constitute such a large proportion of the outgoings of these people I believe that a large scale sharing of the cost of freight by the Australian people generally is one way of equalising the burden and would go a long way towards making it possible for producers and industries in the northern and inland areas to have an economic future. In other words, the principle of subsidising petrol prices which has already been adopted should be extended to include freight on goods to and from the inland. This principle already extends to other things. For instance, we are told that it costs about 80c to send a letter to Birdsville on the Queensland-South Austraiian border, but the Postmaster-General’s Department charges only 5c, while in the private industry sector such things as tyres and tubes, cigarettes and tobacco and most patent medicines are sold at a standard price throughout Australia. Yet an essential commodity such as cement which costs about $24 a ton in Brisbane costs over $50 a ton in Longreach, which is in the centre of the State, and costs considerably more further out towards the Northern Territory border. In fact, freight on cement to the inland areas is more than the basic price of the commodity. lt is also interesting to note Labor Party policy on the position of inland towns as stated on 16th February by the Opposition Leader in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Houston, MLA. 1 quote from a Press report from Cunnamulla where Mr Houston was speaking, lt states:
He said the State Government should resell lc the residents of towns which could not be saved in larger centres. . . . The basic principle of the scheme was that when a town had been designated as unsavable, the State Government should resume the land of all residents who wanted to leave and pay compensation for their property investment.
Needless to say, this scheme was rejected by the Queensland Government. It is interesting to note Labor’s thinking in relation to this scheme. Apparently Labor wants to eliminate a lot of inland towns. I was glad to note that the Governor-General, in his Speech, mentioned the proposal to set up a Bureau of Transport Economics. No doubt this Bureau will be able to investigate some of the matters that I have raised concerning inland freight problems.
I refer now to oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef. This matter has been the subject of a lot of publicity and now a committee of inquiry is to be set up to inquire into the position. I believe that some people already have prejudged the result of this inquiry and in my opinion it is wrong to do so. If a committee of inquiry is appointed, we should be prepared to accept its findings, whatever they are, and go ahead from there. I refer also to the recent oil spillage from the tanker ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ near Thursday Island. We were lucky that the spillage was so small. I was glad to hear that the shipping companies have developed some form of insurance to cover future happenings of this kind. I asked a question about this form of insurance. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), in answer to my question, said that details of the scheme might take a couple of years to finalise. I hope the scheme can be speeded up. The incident in Torres Strait highlights the increased risk to the Australian coast. The next incident might be a collision between two ships; it might not be a ship running on to rocks. If the collision occurred near a seaside resort, large portions of our coastal areas could be destroyed. I would like to quote an article published in the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ and written by Mr Bill Lang on the subject of oil spillages in other parts of the world. The article reads:
Every day an average 6,000 tons of oil are dumped into the seas around Britain.
By comparison, it is estimated that 3,000 tons were spilt in Torres Strait. Referring to the oil dumping around Britain, the article continues:
Sometimes it is accidental. A man forgets to turn a pump off, a valve sticks during loading or unloading, a tanker is run aground.
Often it is deliberate. A captain will flash hundreds of tons of sludge out of his tanks after unloading.
Generally he does this at night, and is well clear of the tell-tale slick by morning.
Every day, potentially disastrous slicks are spotted off Britain’s coasts.
They are reported by ships, aircraft and coastguard vessels.
The article refers to the thousands of birds that have died off the English coast this year. It refers also to the ‘Torrey Canyon’ disaster and the spillage of oil which cost so much to clean up. The article continues:
The old safeguards were found to be inadequate.
Britain and 30 other nations had agreed to prohibit their fleets from discharging oil within 100 miles of coasts.
From 1967, ships over 20,000 tons were prohibited from discharging anywhere at sea.
The trouble was that many captains ignored the international agreement. Many still do.
Of the 750 million tons of oil tankered around the world, about 30 million tons are reckoned to escape.
This figure shows that a colossal amount of oil is spilt on the oceans. The article continues:
Prosecutions are rare. A ship far out to sea may be spotted dumping sludge.
– What is the honourable senator quoting?
– An article in the Brisbane ‘Courier-Mail’ of 10th March 1970. It was written by Mr Bill Lang. The article continues:
Even if it is identified, difficult from an aircraft, it can only be prosecuted by its home government, which is often powerless to press proof.
Only one case has been brought against a British captain. He was caught dumping oil near France and fined £600 - but it took Scotland Yard 3 months to prepare the case.
Under domestic law it is an offence to dump oil within the 3-mile territorial limit. Last year there were about 60 convictions and nearly £10,000 in fines for this offence.
But the main hope is that ship owners will police themselves.
The big owners have increased insurance against claims for pollution and guaranteed big compensatory payments to governments.
Already firms controlling £0% of the world’s tankers have fitted them with sludge tanks.
Ships are still washed out at sea, but the sludge is pumped to the special tanks and disposed of ashore.
The ship owners, notably Esso, BP, Gulf, Shell, Mobil and Texaco, are backing research into control.
They have given £33,000 to Newcastle University for a 5-year study into the treatment of oiled sea birds.
The Newcastle University referred to in the article is the Newcastle University in Great Britain. The article continues:
Seafront councils are organising armadas of volunteers to fight oil off-shore at quick notice and are urging the Government to introduce aerial slick-spotting patrols. Too costly’, says the Government. lt is pinning its hopes on a liquid called Dispersal OS developed by ICI.
This is claimed to be the answer to slicks, breaking the oil down into soft, creamy particles which can be gobbled up by micro-organisms.
Dispersal OS is said to be harmless to sealife and cheaper than detergent, costing between £50 and £100 for each ton of slick treated.
The article is very interesting. It shows what problems we might run into around our coast, where the carriage of oil in super tankers is only just building up. In future the oil could be carried from our own fields to local refineries along the coast. Bigger tankers might be used to carry imported oil. We might yet export oil. The risks of spillage are getting greater and greater. The Government must look at the risks involved. I believe that we were lucky to have this Torres Strait warning of what can happen. We were lucky that it was a comparatively small spillage in relation to some of the spiliages that have taken and could take place.
I now refer to the mention in the Governor-General’s Speech of the setting up of an Institute of Marine Science at Townsville in north Queensland. The setting up of this Institute will fill a longfelt want. I am informed that the Institute will be completely autonomous, although it will cooperate with the Captain James Cook University at Townsville and with other institutions throughout Australia which have been doing similar research. There is much that we do not know about marine life, ocean currents, ocean temperatures, the feeding habits of fish, the migratory habits of fish, different types of sedentary sealife and other matters. I am told that the Institute will be given quite a sizable boat to carry out its research. While this may take some time, no doubt it will come up with a lot of answers. Almost certainly one of the answers it will come up with is the effects on marine life of oil spillages and detergents. We do not know much about this. In this place in the last few days a lot of questions have been asked about these effects. We hope that the Institute will provide some answers.
We also hope that it will come up with answers to the very vexed question of the damage done to the Great Barrier Reef by the crown of thorns starfish. The triton shell is one thing that will control the crown of thorns. Action has now been taken to prevent the removal of this shell from the Reef. There is a difference of opinion about the crown of thorns. Some people say that in some areas it is very bad. Other people say that in other areas it is hard to find. Recently somebody from another country wanted samples of the crown of thorns, which lives on and eats the coral. An order was placed with Queensland authorities and with Queensland firms to supply some crown of thorns. After much searching none could be found. This was the situation, despite the stories we have heard of the large numbers being about Perhaps they did not search for them in the right place. Be that as it may, they could not find them. I hope that the institute of marine science will be set up at Townsville as soon as possible and that its research will provide much information we do not have now but which is vital to the development of the resources of the sea off our coast.
I mention now the sugar agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland governments which was renewed last year and the general position of the sugar industry. Today’s Press quotes the London price of sugar as £Stg36 5s per ton whereas at one stage the price was down to £Stg 15 or £Stg 16 per ton. The current price is a big improvement. However, as was stated at the Queensland canegrowers’ conference recently, the industry will soon have to begin repaying some of the loans which were given to maintain a price of $86 during the drought and the times of low prices that the industry has come through. It is interesting to note also that the sugar industry has increased the rebates to the fruit canning industry to $15 per ton. I hope that from now on the sugar industry will be in a much more favourable position economically. I support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply and oppose the amendment. I hope that the motion will receive the favourable attention of the Senate.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - As I call on Senator Brown to speak I point out to the Senate that the honourable senator is making his maiden speech in this place. I trust that the usual courtesies extended on these occasions will apply and that there will be no interjections.
– Members of this chamber will be aware of the tragic event that preceded my entry into the Senate. When the Parliament met on 25th November 1969 warm tributes were paid to the late Sam Cohen. I want to take this opportunity to pay my respects to a very wonderful person. I came to know Senator Cohen over a period of approximately 20 years. I have always believed that there is one of two ways in which one can really learn to know a person, that is, either to live with him or to work with him. I worked with the late Senator Sam Cohen for many years at various levels of our great Australian Labor Party and I came to respect him. I came to appreciate his dedication and political integrity. These features were recognised by this chamber on 25th November last year. I sincerely believe that our country, and indeed the world, would be a better place if more men were cast in the same mould as my late colleague Senator Cohen.
I understand that the Governor-General’s Speech is a document prepared by the Government and that to all intents and purposes it projects the legislative intention of the Government in the ensuing sittings of the Parliament. At the outset I want to state, as my colleague Senator Cavanagh did in the course of his remarks, that the Australian Labor Party does not oppose the adoption of the Address-in-Reply that is to be conveyed to the Governor-General but we do not support the amendment of the Australian Democratic Labor Party which we consider to have been moved for political propaganda purposes rather than for any other purpose. The amendment is simply a matter of hypocrisy. I join with my colleague in that statement because it is the height of temerity for this corner group to move that the Senate deplores the failure of the Government to include certain matters in its programme. In fact this self same corner group has been responsible, as it has boasted over the years, for the continuation of the Liberal and Country Party coalition government. I believe that the proposed amendment stands condemned because of the obvious political expediency involved.
I have as a matter of course studied the Governor-General’s Speech. I assume that in due course the Government will attempt to translate it into Bill form to implement the promises given either during the last Federal election campaign of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) or which appear in this document. That being so 1 propose to deal with only two or three of the matters that are referred to. In the sixth paragraph of his Speech the Governor-General said:
My Government will continue to support the principles of the United Nations and seek in that way the establishment of enduring peace amongst all nations.
I find it impossible to reconcile that statement with the performance of the Government over recent years in particular. In my view not only has the Government not supported the principles of the United Nations but also, I believe, it has violated those principles by committing Australian troops to the aggression in Vietnam.
When the Government decided upon this issue in the early part of 1965 the Party which I am privileged to represent announced its opposition to the commitment. The then leader of my Party stated in clear, unequivocal terms that we would work to reverse the Government’s decision. We have made decisions since that time, but always they have been consistent with the initial principle announced by our then Federal leader. I am pleased to say that time and events have proved the Australian Labor Party to have been correct in its initial assessment of the situation in South Vietnam and Vietnam generally. This assessment is being borne out and supported not only by a majority of people in the Commonwealth of Australia but also by responsible people throughout the world. I can assure the Senate that we do not intend to vacate our position of continued opposition to such an involvement.
In my view April 1965 - the time when the Commonwealth Government made its decision - is the point at which the LiberalCountry Party coalition Government forfeited our dignity and independent status as a nation to become a camp follower of a world power on the pretext of defending the free world against Communism in Indo-China, namely, in .South Vietnam. That was the pretext, but there is no doubt in my mind that there were two major reasons for this decision by the Commonwealth Government. Firstly, I bring to the notice of honourable senators that at or about that time there was an announcement by the White House of an intention to curtail the outflow of capital in terms of foreign investment. It just so happened that the then Treasurer of the Commonwealth, the late Mr Holt, was in the United States at that time. There is no doubt in my mind that on his return the announcement by the White House was one of the influences exerted on the Australian Government which caused it to make the decision to commit a battalion of Australian combat troops to Vietnam.
The second belief held by the Government to justify its decision was the hope that at some time in the future in the event of Australia being attacked by some unknown enemy we could rely on the support of that great world power to protect us. In my view neither of those two reasons is bona fide. The first, which relates to the inhibiting of the steady flow of American capital into Australia, does not stand up to analysis for the simple reason that Australia is recognised as one of the most lucrative fields of investment of any nation in the world, and capital will always find its way to the most profitable areas. The second reason relates to a dependence or reliance on an assumed protection in the future against any nation. We must recognise first and foremost that no nation will commit itself to war unless its own national interests are involved. Therefore I say that there is no justification for any of the three reasons which are, firstly, the pretext of staving off Communism and defending the free world, secondly, the guarantee of a continued flow of American capital and, thirdly, the guarantee of protection in the future in the event of attack by an unknown enemy. So what has been said is true - the Australian Government was prepared to do a deal on the basis of diggers for dollars.
High US officials want a South Bast Asian Alliance of non-Communist countries formed to safeguard the area’s security.
The alliance would receive military equipment and advice from the US and other foreign nations - but no troops.
High officials say that New Zealand lacks the resources but Australia could do it except for domestic political considerations.
The US, once Vietnam is settled, would like to revise or get rid of the Seato alliance, preferably the latter.
Of the eight members, France and Pakistan have lost all interest, Britain takes no active role and the Philippines wavers.
Administration officials know that the American public and Congress would oppose the US getting bogged down in another frustrating war like Vietnam elsewhere in Asia.
If you couple that with the recent statement of the President of the United States of America with respect to a projection of America’s intentions internationally, it is obvious that we as a nation - a European nation in an Asian sea - will have to find ways and means of fending for ourselves. Contrary to what has been said in today’s newspapers consequent upon the statement by the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) last night to the effect that we were rejecting the concept of isolationism, 1 believe that the conduct of Australia in recent years is bringing about the very reverse effect whereby we will be isolated from our near northern neighbours. Seldom do I use a newspaper to support a point of view, but following the decision of the Commonwealth Government in April 1965 to become involved in the combat sense in Vietnam the ‘Australian’, a newspaper which is widely distributed, carried an editorial. I remember that one part of it in particular was to the effect that Australia was lining up its future generations against the hatred and contempt of resurgent Asian nations without adding one iota of strength to the tragically embroiled American nation. How prophetic that editorial was.
Senator Lawrie who preceded me referred lo Communism when addressing himself to the Governor-General’s Speech. It seems to me that over the years the Government has been preoccupied with two things in particular, firstly, the alleged threat of Communism to Australia, and secondly, the just demands of the working people of our community. Our view in relation to South East Asia has been that a social and economic revolution is taking place there. We believe that we have been able to assess, interpret and understand precisely what is taking place in that area, it seems to me also that in recent times the Governor-General himself, Sir Paul Hasluck, has agreed with our assessment. An article which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ of Tuesday, 2nd September 1969 has never been denied or challenged, so I presume it was accurate, because I am sure that the GovernorGeneral would have been prepared to take the newspaper to task if the report had been inaccurate. The article, which carried the heading ‘Asia not Red, says Sir Paul’, is in these terms:
The revolution in Asia was not Communist, but a resurgence of nationalism, the Governor General, Sir Paul Hasluck, said last night.
Washington and Moscow were just beginning to realise that the revolution was taking place, he said.
Incidentally Sir Paul, the former Minister for External Affairs, was speaking at the Australian-Asian Association dinner at the Hotel Australia. The report stated:
We are living beside one of the great and significant movements of history, one of the most significant things that has happened in the history of the human race.’
Sir Paul said Australia should ‘have some humility about the great revolutionary movement that is taking place right next door’.
The report continued:
Broadly speaking people in the rest of the world have not yet awoken to what is happening in this part of the world’.
The report goes on:
He said there was a greater need for understanding. Generalities about Asia must be avoided.
Sir Paul said Asia’s traditions, culture and institutions ‘go back much further than the traditions we inherited from the British Isles’.
At this stage I can rely on a person who I believe is beyond reproach and who fortifies the opinions expressed over a number of years by the Australian Labor Party. The pretext of committing Australia to military adventures in South East Asia in the so-called defence of the free world against Communism can no longer stand.
I want to refer briefly to the following passage of the Governor-General’s Speech:
Discussions are taking place between the National Employers’ Organisations and the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Government in an endeavour to develop more effective means of avoiding and settling industrial disputes within the framework of the Conciliation and Arbitration system.
When the statement of alleged support for the principles of the United Nations is related to other references in the Speech it is difficult to place any great credence on the suggestions made by the Government
I attended the Australian Council of Trade Unions congress held in Sydney last year from 8th to 12th September. We ought to review the events that led up to the point where the Commonwealth Government was obliged to find some way of modifying the arbitration system to avoid what obviously was developing into a very nasty condition of industrial unrest. This of course culminated in the gaoling of a trade union secretary and a welling up of support throughout the Commonwealth by working men and women who objected to the use of the penal clauses of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Before the report was received by about 700 delegates at that congress a letter was presented by the then president of the ACTU, Mr Monk. That letter had been received from the then Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr Bury, and although it is undated it must have been written just prior to the congress meeting. The letter related to certain agreements which had been reached, at least in terms of preparedness to enter into discussions. I will not weary the Senate or the listening public by reading the two foolscap pages of the letter, but the important reference is contained in the last paragraph. Whilst the Government was prepared to concede on the one hand that there ought to be ways and means other than by the use of the penal clauses to settle industrial disputes the Minister said finally:
It can bc seen that our emphasis throughout is on solving disputes before they can lead to action of the type that now results in the application of sanctions. It is our intention that sanctions in the form proposed would be used only after all the processes wc have in mind had been exhausted.
In other words at that early stage the Commonwealth Government was saying without equivocation that irrespective of what may be proposed by the parties in discussion at that time, there must be provisions for sanctions in the industrial laws of this nation.
The trade union movement has traditionally taken a stand in opposition to such penal clauses, and rightly so. Unlike yesteryear when the general criticisms of the trade union movement and the working people generally were always levelled at the blue collar worker there have been rather phenomenal developments in recent times.
One such development has been consequent upon the decision of the Deputy Public Service Arbitrator, Mr O’Reilly, handed down in respect to claims by research scientists. Whilst I do not discount for a moment all other types of legislation which are important either directly or indirectly or which to a lesser or greater extent affect every person in the community, no Act of Parliament has a greater effect upon a greater number of people than has the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is recognised that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is to a large extent the measuring stick of all other industrial courts, whether they be State or Federal. The decisions of the Commission affect not only persons performing the menial tasks of the lowest labouring class but also the whole tertiary level of employment such as scientists, airline pilots and in recent times bank officers. A report in the Melbourne ‘Age’ of Thursday, 5th February 1970, under the heading ‘Scientists bit at meagre wage rises’ states:
Australia’s 1,000 Government research scientists ure angry because their pay rise claims have been virtually rejected.
We are appalled by the decision’, a spokesman for the CSIRO Officers’ Association (Dr C. K. Coogan) said last night.
The Arbitration system seems dedicated to becoming an ann of government.’
That is a strong criticism indeed. It is an assertion and an allegation that has been levelled at the court for many many years. From my own personal experience and involvement in industrial court actions I have concluded that that allegation made by Dr Coogan has some substance.
I shall refer only briefly to the decision of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission of 12th December 1953 which had the effect of abolishing the automatic quarterly adjustment of wages that had been adopted by the Commission in 1921. 1 recall when reading the transcript the Commonwealth Government appeared - as it may under section 36 of the Act - on that occasion to be impartial. However, outside the court the then Treasurer, Mr Fadden, who later became Sir Arthur Fadden, registered concern about what he referred to as the spiralling inflationary costs which were affecting the economy, and he placed all the blame for this on the quarterly adjustments to the basic wage. I remind the Senate and the listening community that the adjustments to the basic wage were based on a formula known as the C series index, the information being drawn from the Commonwealth Statistician. Three months had to pass by before an assessment could be made as to whether there had been an increase or a decrease in the prices of the range of commodities within that C series index. In other words, an adjustment could not be made until 3 months after some movement had taken place in the cost structure in terms of the price range of the goods within the regimen. In simple terms, it meant that the worker at that time was 3 months behind the increase that had already taken place in price levels. Therefore, it is a fallacy to suggest that wages were responsible for forcing up the price of goods and services. It was the other way around.
Strangely enough, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission decided to abolish quarterly adjustments at that stage and to adopt an annual review. From that time on the Commonwealth Government, to my knowledge, on almost every occasion has opposed the reintroduction of quarterly adjustments to the basic wage, irrespective of what formula may be used. There is no doubt that the formula which was used prior to 1953 needed updating to meet modern day requirements. I think it can be said that the criticisms of the ACTU and the criticisms of white collar organisations are justified and that unless the Commonwealth Government is prepared to take heed of the extensive opposition to the continuance of the use of sanctions in industrial laws in this Commonwealth this practice will lead to an inevitable clash. I think we must also recognise that no matter how perfect the system we might provide for the regulation of wages and physical conditions of employment, we cannot avoid some industrial disputes because we have a clash of direct opposites. The employer on the one hand and the employee on the other have different interests. This has been proved by a survey of international status which shows conclusively that where there have been stringent industrial laws, including sanction provisions, the level of industrial disputes is inclined to be higher than the level to be found in countries where there are no such provisions.
I have almost exhausted my time. I want to say in passing that a senator on the Government side the other day made a facetious remark about the strength, unity, dedication and purpose of the Australian Labor Party. I assure the Government and the people of Australia that we recognise the confidence that has been placed in us as a result of the election of 25th October 1969. We do not intend to betray that confidence. We will be acting in the best interests of the majority of primary voters of Australia. We acknowledge, and 1 am sure they acknowledge now that the Government is a second preference government, and the Governor-General’s Speech discloses very clearly a second rate projection of legislation which we anticipate will come before this chamber in due course.
[5.39] - I rise to support the motion that the Address-in-Reply which was moved by my colleague Senator Rae and seconded by Senator Maunsell and which declares our loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen be agreed to. I would like to congratulate the mover and the seconder of this motion on the speeches they made. I also congratulate the two new members of the Senate who made their maiden speeches. We have just listened to a maiden speech made by the senator who has replaced the late Senator Cohen and we congratulate him on his speech. We may not always agree with what the honourable senator says but we recognise that he will speak in this chamber on matters about which he has great concern.
We are pleased to join with the GovernorGeneral in looking forward to the visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales and Princess Anne. I know that every Australian will welcome the occasion when, for the first time in our history, the Queen and her husband and family will be with us for a visit, which we hope they will enjoy. Australia is a young country and this year we celebrate the bi-centenary of the landing of Captain Cook. Australia is a country that has been built up by people who have come from various parts of the world and who, by their faith, their courage and their hard work have made it the nation that it is today. When we look at the Speech of the Governor-General, which sets out to the people of Australia the programme of the Government, we see a continuing policy of development and growth in a growing and developing nation.
If I have time I shall refer to a number of points in the Speech. First of all, 1 would like to refer to matters which were raised yesterday afternoon by Senator Fitzgerald because they are matters which concern my Department. Senator Fitzgerald spoke about housing. He said that he believes that more than 60,000 Australian families are living in sub-standard accommodation. I believe that he obtained this idea from Press reports of a publication issued by the Housing Industry Association. I want to speak for a moment or two on this subject. First of all, I should like to contratulate the Housing Industry Association on the report that it recently published entitled Finance for Housing in Australia’. Constructive and valuable points have been made in this publication. However, I believe that a few of the assertions seem to be largely unsupported by factual evidence. I refer particularly to the point which was put forward by Senator Fitzgerald that there is a stock of perhaps 100,000 unsatisfied home seekers of whom 60% live in unsatisfactory homes. I believe that this statement has been twisted, not I might say - and I emphasise the word ‘not’ - by the Housing Industry Association but by some of those who have commented upon it, into an assertion that there are 60,000 unfit houses in Australia. The report did not say this and it could not have reasonably done so because there is no evidence that the committee which produced the report undertook a survey of the housing conditions under which people are living in this country.
The last thing that I want to claim is that Australia is a Utopia totally free of housing problems. One of my main concerns, as Minister for Housing, is to identify these problems and to take steps to solve them. But people forget the enormous strides that have been taken in recent years towards improving the Australian housing situation and the real improvements that have occurred as a consequence. In respect of the key statistics of the total number of houses built and the extent of home ownership, Australia stands right at the top of the nations. Our annual home construction is 11 per 1,000 persons as compared with 9 per 1,000 in Canada, 8 per 1,000 in the United States of America and 7 per 1,000 in the United Kingdom. Our home ownership rate is not surpassed by any other country. I believe that these are matters which we as Australians should be pleased to be able to report. The current rate of construction is about 140,000 dwellings per annum. The real improvement in the housing of our people is shown by the fact that between the 1947 and 1966 census dates the stock of occupied dwellings rose from 247 per 1,000 to 273 per 1,000; shared houses fell from 106,000 to 26,000; and the number of occupied sheds, huts and tents fell from 49,000 to 31,000. 1 draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that this latter figure includes a number of occupied holiday caravans.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– Mr Deputy President, you will recall that, when the sitting was suspended, I was speaking of the great strides that had been taken in recent years to improve the Australian housing situation. I had spoken of the key statistics relating to the total number of houses built in Australia and the extent of home ownership here. I had compared our figures with those of Canada, the United States of America and the United Kingdom and shown how we were at the top of all nations. I had said also that the ratio of home ownership in Australia was not surpassed by any other country. I wish to continue on from that point because I think that it is important that we remember these things.
All that I have outlined amounts to a marked improvement in the standard of housing in Australia. But I would never say, of course, that this means that everything is perfect. However, it is important, I believe, to keep a sense of proportion. The present fortunate housing situation in this country, due to our high prosperity, causes a large number of people to have expanded expectations. In Australia no significant general housing shortage exists. It is true that some of our houses are old and unsatisfactory by today’s standards. But many of them are either being renovated or being replaced. There is also some shortage of housing for certain disadvantaged groups.
So, as I see the tasks of the Government, they are to set the general social and economic conditions which will make possible the building of sufficient good quality homes to satisfy the needs of most families and, as the report of the Housing Industry Association Committee very rightly said, I believe, to provide housing for the lower income earners and the underprivileged. So, tonight I would invite the attention of honourable senators to the extent to which the Government is carrying out these tasks.
The volume of housing finance available is running at a record level. The average housing loan is now a higher proportion of the value of the home than it was before we established the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation, a Corporation brought into being by this Government because of the assistance that it would give in this area. Our advances under the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement at a concessional rate of interest are close now to SI 40m per year. We are finding $55m this year for the war service homes scheme. I hope that time will permit me to refer later on in more detail to this scheme. The Government is providing two-thirds of the cost of building homes for aged persons in a tremendously successful partnership, which is recognised by everybody in the Senate, with church and charitable organisations.
Realising that there was still a great need to assist our needy aged and particularly single aged pensioners, we added last year another S25m by way of grants over 5 years to State housing authorities to build homes for these really needy single aged pensioners. Also, S5m is being provided this year through the Commonwealth and State Governments for Aboriginal housing, another area in which we saw a need. Altogether, the Commonwealth is providing about S265m a year for housing, a large part of it directly going to the disadvantaged and the economically or physically weak in our community. I believe it is right that these areas should be receiving this attention.
I wish to refer again to the report that was recently made by the Housing Industry Association Committee. The Committee speaks of a shortage of housing finance in Australia. I would say that I am convinced, as I have said earlier, that there is no general shortage. Both the number and value of loans are at record levels. Shortages of finance exist in regard to certain economically weaker groups. I refer to those families on relatively low wages who find it difficult to save a deposit, some newly arrived migrants, couples who have married very young, and widows and deserted wives with dependent children. These are areas to which we have also directed our attention.
I hardly need to remind the Senate of the homes savings grant scheme which was introduced by this Government to assist young people to save for their own homes. We have been spending $13m a year on homes savings grants for young people. We may not have solved the problem of home ownership for people who are marginally able to purchase a home. Nor do I think that there is a sufficient supply of good, cheap rental housing for those who, for various reasons, are unable to buy a home. Whilst we still wish to encourage home ownership by those who can afford it, there also must be a continuing concern for those meriting special thought - the new migrant, the old, the sick, the Aboriginal and the less well off.
In a few months time, we shall be conferring with the States on the form of our assistance to them after the present CommonwealthState Housing Agreement concludes in June next year. I can assure the Senate that these matters of which I have spoken are the matters on which I shall be putting my emphasis.
Another point which was raised by the report of the Housing Industry Association Committee was the rising cost of land and the severe problem that this is; not, if I may say so, that the Committee was Colombus in this respect. We have all been worrying about the matter for a good while. The rising cost of residential land is a worldwide phenomenon due principally to the growing world population and the growing size of cities. In Australia, it is accentuated by the desire of so many to live in settled areas. The rise has not been so significant in the outlying areas of cities or in country towns. Some State governments have been doing quite a bit by making land available at reasonable prices, but I believe that there is still more consideration to be given to this problem.
I would say that those who are making general assertions that a tremendous housing problem exists in Australia and that vast quantities of additional resources must be deployed in the housing field are doing the nation a disservice. Although manpower available for home building is now close to being occupied fully, the number of dwellings being commenced continues to rise although probably at a slower rate than in the past year or two. Building costs have risen slightly more than many other costs. We wish to see this recent upward movement replaced by a period of cost and price stability. I think, as I said earlier, that we recognise areas where we still have problems. These are matters that will continue to receive our attention.
Before mentioning one or two other matters in the Governor-General’s Speech, 1 wish to reply to another point that was made last night by Senator Fitzgerald. The honourable senator used the expression, as I recall it, that the war service homes scheme is petering out. I wish to contradict very strongly that statement because it is quite false and it is quite unfair to those people with war service homes or those people who are eligible for a loan from the War Service Homes Division for anyone to give the idea that this scheme which has done so much is not continuing. I wish to explain the position and to give some figures which I think show the applications which are still coming in.
As honourable senators know, the war service homes scheme has been in operation for over 50 years. The 50th anniversary of this wonderful piece of legislation was celebrated last year. Honourable senators will appreciate that for a period after a major war the number of applications increases. Then the demand for war service homes decreases and levels out. The present number of applications is of course well below the level that obtained in the decade after World War II, but that is only to be expected, bearing in mind the large number of applications that has been satisfied. Even so, considerable numbers of applications are being received. Some honourable senators seem to seek to give the impression that the war service homes scheme is being wound up. For their benefit particularly I point out that 10,824 applications were received last financial year, compared with 9,754 applications in 1967-68. Present indications are that the number of applications received in this financial year will exceed 11,500. Surely those figures answer the point raised by Senator Fitzgerald. . 1 would also like to point out that while many of the applications at present being received are from ex-servicemen of World War 11, increasing numbers are being received under the eligibility provisions which began to operate in 1963 for persons who served in Vietnam. More than 35,000 persons are eligible for war service homes assistance under the special conditions introduced in 1963. In order to meet the increased demand the Government has provided this year for war service homes $55m as against last year’s provision of $50m. I think that answers very strongly comments made by honourable senators opposite and in another place and at various places by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Those statements are flatly contradicted by the facts.
The outstanding feature of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is that it gives, as it were, a programme of legislation which shows a very real appreciation of the needs of the country and of its people. As the GovernorGeneral said in his Speech, the Government will follow policies aimed at broadening the economy and further developing the Australian nation. The Speech shows that Australia will be strongly defended; will bs given every opportunity for development; and that its people will receive a wider range of benefits than they have had before. Continuing assistance is to be given to our young people in the field of education and to the aged and ill in the community.
I grew up near the Bundaberg region. I want to say how pleased I am that the Government has allocated $12. 8m towards the cost of an irrigation project in that region out of the sum of Si 00m set aside for national water development resources programmes. I have travelled through the Bundaberg and nearby district in time of drought and have seen the devastation brought about in the area. I know how successful development can be there, and seeing the devastation wrought by drought brought home to me the need for this assistance.
– - You will need to give a lot more money than you are providing.
– I am sure that Senator Georges is pleased that the people in that region are to receive assistance. I do not understand why he, as a Queenslander, should interject and pretend that he is not pleased. When the Government takes action that is for the benefit of the people it is rather sad to hear honourable senators opposite attempt to belittle that aid. It is of no use Senator Georges attempting to start an argument because I do not intend to argue with him. We would only be wasting our time. I am sure I am right in what I am saying.
I spoke in this debate before the suspension of the sitting and have continued my remarks tonight. The Address-in-Reply debate gives us a great opportunity to speak on matters of particular interest to us all. It also gives us an opportunity to appreciate the future legislative programme and the matters which are to come before the Senate to be considered by us not only as senators from a particular State but also as Australians who believe in the growth and development of our nation. Australia is only 200 years old. It will continue to play its part amongst the nations of the world and amongst free people. All of us should help to carry out the course mapped out by our founders. At present we are celebrating the founding of this nation. I hope that by our deeds we will make Australia such a great country that in another 100 or 200 years when celebrations are being held the people who are celebrating can look back to today and say: ‘This is a great and a free country because of the legislation and of those people who were the legislators and worked for the future of Australia’. I support the motion and reject the amendment.
– After listening to the closing comments of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) one could be led to believe that we have reached the Utopia that so many of us wish to reach. I believe that she is the most plausible of honourable senators opposite who have spoken in this debate, but it is a pity that the picture she has painted of the situation in Australia today does not accord with reality. The purpose of the Address-in-Reply debate is to afford honourable senators an opportunity to express their loyalty to the Crown. The expressions of loyalty by honourable senators opposite are a little puzzling in view of the events of 25th November 1969 when we were subjected to the greatest farce ever imposed upon the Parliament. On that day the Government, supporters of which now express loyalty to the Crown, was responsible for using the office of the Governor-General for a period of only 5 minutes to hold the shortest opening of Parliament on record.
– The GovernorGeneral was visibly embarrassed.
– That is so. I recall that at the end of his 4-minute speech there was a burst of laughter in the Senate chamber. The situation was so ridiculous that even the Governor-General joined in the mirth. Honourable senators opposite who now express such loyalty to the Crown ought to remember that on 25th November last they used the Crown for a political manoeuvre, to extend the recess to become one of the longest recesses on record.
– That is not right. Senator Georges does not know enough about the history of the Parliament.
– It was one of the longest recesses on record. When Senator Wright sought to justify the action of the Government in having such a long recess, he stated that there had been seventeen such instances; but he had to go right back to 1903 to find evidence to justify the action of the Government which I believe to have been one of extreme expediency. If it was necessary to bring all of us here on 25th November, then at least the Government should have had the decency, as there was so much to be discussed and so much to be debated, to provide a programme of at least 2 weeks. But that was not done.
What puzzles me further is that these people who profess loyalty to the Crown did not even give the Senate an opportunity to present an Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General. What happened to that Address-in-Reply? What did we do? Did we go to the Governor-General’s residence, as is the custom? Did we gather around and say to him; ‘Here is the AddressinReply’? Did we have the customary drink? We did not. When it is expedient to ignore the Crown the Government does so. But on this occasion it foisted upon the Governor-General a very lengthy inventory of propositions that it will endeavour to carry out in the forthcoming session. As 1 read the Governor-General’s Speech I cannot get past the third and fourth paragraphs, which state:
This year we commemorate the discovery of Eastern Australia by Captain Cook, two hundred years in the past.
Now we turn our eyes to a future which, more Ulan ever before, is rich with the promise of achievement if we have the will to achieve.
On the very day 1 read that 1 picked up a copy of the periodical called ‘Nation’. lt contains an article headed ‘Banks’ Paradise Lost’. It comments in similar terms, lt reads:
Two hundred years ago. Captain James Cook discovered the east coast of Australia. When he and his botanist. Sir Joseph Banks, saw the Kurnell Peninsula and Botany Bay. it must have looked like some sort of Garden of Eden. They walked among trees ten feet in circumference. There were groves of waving palms and wooded grasslands. The place was alive with cockatoos, parrots and a rich range of marsupials. And to show their respect for what they had seen they named it Botany Bay.
One hundred years after Banks had named his Paradise, the peninsula was selected by the authorities as a future industrial site for obnoxious trades’ - a decision which was never reversed. Today ‘Botany’ Bay is a cesspool of industrial filth and the peninsula an eroded wasteland. The Cape they named after Banks is bathed on one side by raw sewerage mid on the other by industrial effluent.
The people who settled this continent, admittedly no-one would have expected them to have been the most cultured and intellectual of people, showed their contempt for it by committing genocide against the Tasmanian Aboriginal, probably only the vastness of the continent preventing them from doing likewise with his mainland counterpart and slaughtering the flora and fauna.
So, let us not boast of achievement. In the last 200 years we have neglected those things which are most basic to the future of Australia. We are now faced with the situation that, if we neglect the problems of pollution, in another 30 years we shall have no land. Not in 200 years or in 100 years, but in 30 years, if we neglect the problems of air pollution, water pollution and industrial pollution of all types, we shall have no continent at all. Yet we have these glowing terms in the Speech presented on behalf of the Government by the GovernorGeneral.
When we held that short meeting on 25th November there was one item in particular that needed to be debated, and that was the report of the Select Committee on Air Pollution, which for 15 months previously had surveyed the whole of Australia and had brought down a report. This matter of the pollution of our environment is one that is exercising the minds of many people not only in Australia but overseas. Yet on 25th November, according to the Government, there was not sufficient business to justify our staying here beyond the 1 day.
We should be aware that the path that has been followed in the area about which I read from the article in ‘Nation’ has been followed in many parts of Australia. In Queensland in particular the environment is threatened in another way. The beauty of our environment is something with which we should be concerned. For many months in Queensland we have been fighting a campaign against the destruction of the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. We have succeeded in our campaign to prevent drilling on the coastal areas adjacent to the Reef. The Federal Government, when it saw the opportunity and realised that it was under pressure, decided to ask the Queensland Government to pause in its programme of drilling on the Reef until such time as a committee was appointed to inquire into the dangers. I am pleased to see that the Government has seen fit to appoint a royal commission into this problem. I expect that the royal commission, once it is under way, will be given sufficient time, sufficient finance and sufficient authority to bring experts not only from all parts of Australia but also from overseas so that this problem of the future of the Barrier Reef can be decided, and decided correctly.
It is to the discredit of the Queensland Government that it resisted this inquiry to the very end. It has resisted and is still resisting the proposition for a pause in drilling. Even at this moment the Premier of Queensland is insisting that drilling should take place in Repulse Bay. At this very moment the oil rig ‘Navigator’ is at a berth in the Brisbane River. For many weeks we sought to find out where the ‘Navigator’ was situated, where it was sailing and what it was to do. Only yesterday it quietly slipped into the Brisbane River, and how it is sitting alongside one of the wharves. I am of the opinion that the Queensland Government, led by the Premier, Mr BjelkePetersen, still intends to drill in waters close to the Barrier Reef. I have said before - 1 have been criticised for making some sort of imputation against the Premier of a State - that, as long as the Premier of
Queensland holds 500,000 shares in one of the companies that are interested in drilling off-shore, he is not in a position to deal impartially with the problem.
One of the problems which this Government will have to face and which it has mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech is the proposition that the Commonwealth Government should control all off-shore areas. Some resistance has been displayed by the States. Even at this point a special meeting is to be held by the Attorneys-General stating that the States are opposed to this proposition. But while the State governments engage in frontier politics, whether they be in Queensland or Victoria, they can expect the Commonwealth Government, which is here, to defend the national interest. They can expect the Commonwealth Government to take steps to protect the national interest, especially when national assets are involved. In regard to the Barrier Reef, a very vital national asset is involved. I trust that the Government will carry out its intention by way of a royal commission and that it will determine just who has the legal responsibility for these vital areas off our coast.
I would like to move on to a matter which has been brought up so many times in debates. We on the Opposition side of the chamber have discussed and fought many times the frustrating approach and the indifference of Government members in respect of our involvement in Vietnam. I suggest to the Government that it approach the Parliamentary Librarian and ask him to set aside a separate section for books on Vietnam which he will make readily available to members and supporters of the Government so that they may correct their abysmal ignorance of the history of our involvement in Vietnam. A range of books have been written on Vietnam going right back to before the year 1954, to the time when the Vietnamese people were fighting in resistance to the Japanese as were the Laotian people, the Cambodian people and all these people who had resistance forces fighting against the Japanese, thus diverting Japanese strength away from Australia. One could go right back to that time and consider the fact that these people fought on our side for so many years. One could go on to 1954 and read the agreements which we drew up, such as the Geneva Accords of 1954, which we breached because we were not prepared to hold elections in Vietnam because, as President Eisenhower said clearly: If you hold an election in Vietnam at this time the country will choose a Communist Government’. Because of this belief the Australian Government has denied to the people of Vietnam the right to choose their own government. The Americans went beyond this point at that stage and we assisted them later. We went beyond that point, because we interfered in the internal problems of Vietnam. We were the ones who were guilty of the destruction that has been wrought in every village in Vietnam, whether it be in South Vietnam or North Vietnam.
Senator Rae in his speech on the AddressinReply debate referred to civic action carried out by Australia to restore the damage done in Vietnam. But who brought about the damage that has been done in Vietnam? It is damage which we did in Vietnam. No matter how much the civic programmes are needed and no matter how immediate the need may be, they are made necessary by our own stupidity and our own futile involvement in Vietnam. The statement was made that one cannot trust the North Vietnamese because they have broken an agreement in Laos and they are invading the Plain of Jars in Laos. We were the first to break agreements. The North Vietnamese are breaking the 1962 agreement in Laos. It is Australia’s responsibility as an enlightened nation, a highly educated nation, to make its voice heard in the United Nations as a leader of all the small nations throughout the world. Instead of taking a lead on behalf of small nations we are interfering in the internal policies and the internal actions of small nations to our north. According to the Government’s defence programme which was placed before this House last night Australia is resisting and will continue to resist any move on behalf of local people to determine their own future. Let me point out that the Government’s emphasis and fears are in the wrong direction. Let us have a look at Japan and at a recent statement by a Japanese professor who, in a television interview in the United Kingdom, stated that it might be necessary for Japan to undertake the same gunboat policy that America undertook in South America so that Japanese investment in South East Asia would be protected. Let the Government take care that it looks in the right direction because there is only one power in South East Asia which can affect the security of this nation, and that is Japan. One should realise that Japan has greater motive than any other power in this area, because the source of her raw materials is Australia. At the present time Japan does not need to take any action. She does not even need to protect her line of supplies.
– She is getting them for nothing.
– Exactly, she is getting them for nothing with the assistance of the governments of this country, every one of which is a Liberal Government. When the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) suggested that a corporation be set up to protect our equity in our riches there was a revolt within the Liberal Party. This idea was unheard of. It was an invasion of private enterprise and private initiative. Certain Liberal Party members were saying: ‘Let the Japanese do what they wish’. Immediately anyone, whether it be the Government or the Opposition, suggests that we should take some action there is an outcry that we should not do so. Unless the Commonwealth takes some action in this field, and unless the Queensland Government, which . is prepared to give away for nothing the mineral resources of that State, takes some action, we will have nothing at all.
At the present time all we are receiving from the exploitation of our mineral resources in Australia is the tax which is paid upon the workers’ wages, plus the tax which is paid by any company which operates in Australia. But the commodity which is taken from the soil goes to Japan and other nations and develops their knowhow, their production lines and their skills. The only skill Australia is left with is how to dig the mineral out of the ground and how to carry it cheaply across its own railways to the ports and ship it away in foreign bottoms to the Japanese people and Japanese industry.
Although the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply proposes many things, it neglects many also. Although a ministerial statement was made concerning aged Aboriginals I would have hoped there would have been some more positive action by the Federal Government, in regard to the problem of Aboriginals. Sooner or later the Government will have to face up to its responsibilities federally and take away from the States, because of their neglect, their rights to legislate or to act on behalf of the Aboriginals or Torres Strait Islanders. I have received a letter from Thursday Island which I would like to read to the Senate. It asks, in effect, that the Federal Government should provide on Thursday Island a small Commonwealth employment bureau. There are numerous arguments in favour of this proposal: It is closer to Weipa than to Cairns, and it can also be used as a recruiting office for the town. The local magistrate, who is a very busy man, is at present responsible for employment bureau activities on the island and he could not possibly be expected to do the job that is necessary. Thirdly - this is the point I am trying to make because this is what these people want wherever you go in Queensland and whatever settlement you visit, whether it be Thursday Island, or Bamaga, or Palm Island - these people are asking us to take the responsibility of looking after the island community’s employment problems out of the hands of the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs. This is what these people want. They have been neglected for so long by the State departments, especially in Queensland, that they are looking for federal help. The Government has provided funds and has set up trust funds. But the action is so slow and the results so ineffective that I appeal to the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth) to take some action, in this session of Parliament, to accept more responsibility to improve the conditions of these people. Responsibility was passed to the Government by the result of the referendum.
I wish to deal now with the proposal to permit savings with credit unions to be recognised for homes savings grant purposes. I have asked questions about this matter. Several times I have argued the problem with the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). The Minister said that the credit unions were not eligible.
– Why did the Labor Party not vote for our amendment when the original Bill came before the House?
– I do not recall this, but I shall continue.
– The Labor Party did not vote for the amendment.
– If I recall correctly, it was a deadlock. It was before my time. When the Government threatened to hold up all other legislation, the Opposition was forced to capitulate under threat. In effect, it was straight-out blackmail.
– The honourable senator fell for it.
– I remember an incident here when the then Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Present Prime Minister, during a division, marched across the floor and stated to the representatives of the credit union league who were in the gallery: ‘Not one penny will you get from me while I have the authority’. That is exactly what he said. Now, after pressure has been brought to bear and after the results of the last election, the Government has decided, firstly, to allow deductions from the salaries of Commonwealth public servants - which is a great service to credit unions - and, secondly, to allow the savings of credit unions to be recognised under conditions which are rather startling. I have a letter from the Queensland Credit Union League which states that not one Queensland credit union will be eligible for assistance. I spoke to a representative from the New South Wales credit unions. I ask the Government to reconsider the provisions of the proposed legislation. Under the provisions of the proposed Bill, not one New South Wales credit union will be eligible. Credit unions do carry out lending for housing. They carry out lending in a very effective way. Credit unions lend money for land, for second mortgages, for deposit gaps and for the initial purchases which make a house into a home. Yet the Minister has decided that credit unions do not carry out lending for housing. They do. They do, in a very vital way. I refer to an article in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ of 6th March 1970. That article refers to statements made by the Minister. The article states:
Ver.y few, if any, credit unions in Australia would be in a position to meet the conditions laid down by the Government.
In other words, the legislation is a confidence trick and a very cruel hoax upon the credit unions and their members. The conditions of eligibility for credit unions are set out in the article. They are:
A credit union must be approved by the Secretary of Housing.
It must be making housing loans to its members. Housing loans will be loans made in connection with the acquisition of a home.
The loans must be made at an effective rate of interest of nol more than 7J% a year on a reducing balance basis.
At least 20% of a credit union’s total lending in its most recent financial year must have been by way of housing loans.
I could go on.
– The next point is the vital one. The honourable senator should read that.
– I will do that, I have 10 minutes to spare. I had other important matters on which to speak, but I will go on because this is vital to all people. The article continues:
At least 15% of its total lending, in that year, or about three-quarters of the 20%, must be in housing loans of not less than $7,000 and be repayable over a period of not less than 12 years.
The total lending by a credit union by way of housing loans during a financial year must not be less than $50,000.
So, the Government wipes out all credit unions. The Government is not considering the true spirit of the credit union movement. Credit unions assist the Government to provide homes for young people in that they provide the extra finance necessary to turn a house into a home, to make up the deposit gap and to provide for legal expenses. Before the Government introduces the Bill, I ask it to decide that this type of lending is part of lending for housing. I ask the Government to decide that the initial purchase of every article in the home, whether it be a refrigerator or a stove, is lending for housing purposes. If the Government makes this interpretation and gets away from this vicious proposition then many credit unions will be able to assist the Government to house many young people.
– The Australian Democratic Labor Party joins with the other parties in congratulating the representative of Her Majesty, the Governor-General, who delivered the Speech that we are debating now. We consider that there are political deficiencies in the Speech and we have drawn attention to them in a very practical manner. My sympathy is extended to Senator Georges. 1 appreciate his concern that the Parliament did not meet from 25th November last until 3rd March. Like many others, I was filled with expectancy that, when we arrived here oi« 3rd March after the long period of recess, all members would apply themselves to their parliamentary duties, having arrived here full of vigour and vim. I thought that they would express themselves in parliamentary circles and that the Government would have a progressive plan to put forward.
I admit that the plan outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech is an extensive one, even if we disagree with it in part. We have expressed our disagreement in practical terms by moving an amendment to the Address-in-Reply. What did the Australian Labor Party do from 25th November to 3rd March? Its members arrived here with no plan of action, as an opposition, to protest at the Speech delivered by the Governor-General on behalf of the Government. The Labor Party had no amendment listed to show its disagreement. In spite of the attacks that Senator Georges made tonight - and this is where he earns my sympathy - he will probably vote in favour of the original motion tomorrow, unless he chooses to vote for our amendment. It has been left to the Democratic Labor Party to put to good purpose the exceptionally long period during which Parliament was in recess.
When Parliament did meet, we arrived here forewarned, forearmed and prepared to move an amendment as a means of practical opposition to the Government. We will move amendments to and make suggestions for the improvements of the legislation foreshadowed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. It is this failure by the Labor Party that earns for Senator Georges my sympathy for having to make the speech that he has been forced to make on this occasion.
There are suggestions in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that have far reaching effects. One matter which has already drawn the fire of State Premiers is the suggestion, which was referred to by Senator Georges, that the Commonwealth will decide by introducing legislation who is responsible for the off-shore areas along Australia’s coastline. We agree that if there is doubt on this issue it should be resolved, but we are mindful that notwithstanding that doubt in the past the States have accepted responsibility for those areas. It has now been suggested in the Governor-General’s Speech that in order to clarify the situation the Commonwealth will introduce legislation and leave it to the States to challenge the legislation. The Commonwealth proposes by legislation to take from the States those responsibilities which previously the States thought belonged to them and to continue to accept those responsibilities until the courts decide that the Commonwealth has not the power to implement such legislation.
The Democratic Labor Party feels that this situation should be resolved. But mindful of the fact that we have had federation for nearly 70 years and that the situation has not been resolved up to this point, that until now the States have largely accepted the idea that the off-shore areas were within their responsibility, we believe that there is a better way than a deliberate challenge through legislative action by the Commonwealth. We believe also that the Commonwealth should, before taking these steps, consider having a full conference with the States to ascertain precisely where agreement can be reached between the States and the Commonwealth to resolve this situation. Although the urgency of this question has perhaps been spotlighted by the discovery of off-shore oil and the prospect of the discovery of minerals, there are other responsibilities which must be accepted by whoever ultimately accepts responsibility for our off-shore areas. It would be a sad thing if the Commonwealth, having assumed responsibility, found that it was impracticable for it to prevent the pollution of our off-shore waters by the States which, relieved of responsibility, may ultimately develop a cavalier attitude towards a province which has become the sole responsibility of the Commonwealth. 1 see that Senator Georges is looking at me for further information. Having in mind the off-shore search for oil, perhaps 1 may ask him whether he, as a Queenslander, is prepared to allow the Great Barrier Reef to fall under the control of the Commonwealth. I remind him that in that event the interests of Tasmania and Western Australia, which are far removed from the Reef, could be deciding factors in decisions taken on the control and future management of the Great Barrier Reef. As a Queenslander he should give deep thought to that question before making a hasty decision on what is the best course to follow on this occasion. I do not suggest that we should have a closed mind on this issue. We all are Australians and control of our off-shore waters is in the interests of Australia. It is a non-political issue. We do not feel that the best method of resolving the situation is for the Commonwealth to take unto itself the responsibility of passing legislation and throwing the onus onto the States to challenge such legislation to ascertain where responsibility for the off-shore areas lies. I should like to refer to comments by the Premiers of various States as reported in the Press. We must remember that this Senate had its origin in the desire of the States to have representation as States in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The good old State rightist.
– Yes, I am a good old State rightist because I believe that the Commonwealth has tremendous responsibilities. There can be no doubt that the States have ceded to the Commonwealth any responsibilities for defence. An examination of the history of Australia reveals that there would never have been federation had it not been agreed to by the States. This spirit of co-operation in the interests of the requirements of the whole of Australia should prevail at all times if we are to continue to have good government. By the application of good common Australian sense we have been brought to the stage of development that we have now achieved and can see prospects for this young nation in the future, if we do not lose our heads. Let us proceed with an attitude of moderation to each other instead of challenging and fighting each other over questions such as that being discussed at the moment.
I propose to say a word about credit unions because 1 feel that Senator Georges left the real issue somewhat in the air. The Government is now endeavouring to bring within the ambit of the legislation relating to homes savings grants young people who save through credit unions as well as those who save through the various banking institutions in this country. The Government has seen fit to suggest in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that legislation will be introduced to enable credit unions to take part in this very worthwhile and admirable project. However, I suggest that the Government does not wish to have levelled at it charges of hypocrisy and double dealing. Nor does it want it suggested that it is introducing legislation which will allow credit unions to become part and parcel of the scheme but, at the same time, is adopting proposals which will virtually exclude the greater proportion of credit unions. A point that Senator Georges has missed is that the very enactment of the previous legislation which debarred credit unions from participating in the homes savings grants scheme has prevented them from developing in the field of lending for home ownership to an extent which the Government now suggests shall be the criterion by which they shall be adjudged as being eligible to take part in the scheme. That is a vital point which should be taken into consideration. The limits that the Government proposes to inflict upon the credit unions will make it impossible for those organisations because they have not been able to develop this form of credit as they were excluded under the previous legislation. I have sufficient confidence in the Government - I hope it is not misplaced
– It is a pious hope.
– Let the facts speak for themselves. That is preferable to a situation in which Senator Georges, who is not a Government supporter, purports to speak for the Government. Why prejudice the situation before we arrive at it? Let us give the Government a chance to prove its sincerity before Senator Georges answers my question, which was directed not at him but at the Government. I do not appeal to the Government at this stage because I do not think that is necessary. I believe that when the Government realises that the provisions of the proposed legislation will exclude the people whom the Government says it wishes now to include it will take whatever steps are necessary to see that a more moderate approach is taken to the question of eligibility. I suggest that it will take whatever steps are necessary before the legislation reaches the stage where the Parliament is called upon to accept or reject it.
I believe that the Government will be swayed when it hears the very fair arguments put on behalf of the credit unions and that it will fulfil its responsibilities as a government and try to do what it says it wants to do, that is, to bring the credit unions within the ambit of the legislation. We have only today had the opportunity to examine the legislation and we are not sure of the full implications of its clauses, but we are already sure that one clause which I incited Senator Georges to read will exclude the great majority of credit unions, so we direct the attention of the Government to that clause.
I wish to mention also the very controversial subject of Vietnam and the Government’s statement in relation to it. It was a reasonable and sound statement at this time. I have listened to the debate and have noted what Senator Georges had to say. He seems to have read a particularly onesided version of Australia’s involvement in Vietnam. Probably it was sponsored by my old friend Senator Kennelly, a senior member of his Party, who spoke last night. Senator Greenwood is interjecting. 1 do not need his assistance.
– I thought it was assistance.
– I did not hear the honourable senator’s interjection sufficiently to judge that aspect but I assure him that I can do without his assistance. Senator Kennelly made the same primary blunder as is made by those who attempt to adjudge the Vietnam situation from the wrong point of view when he suggested that the Americans or the Australians are there to subdue the Vietnamese. Of course nothing is further from the truth, and he and his Party know it. We are not there to subdue anyone. Wc are there to protect people who asked us for protection at a time when they were being terrorised, slaughtered and attacked in an attempt to subdue them to a political ideology that they do not want. This is not the first occasion on which we have done this kind of thing. Those who persist in trying to view the Vietnam incident as entirely separate from anything else that has happened in South East Asia in the past 20 years make this fundamental blunder. We were in Korea for the very same reasons and the Party to which Senator Georges belongs was in favour of our being in Korea. The trade union movement of this country - the Australian Council of Trade Unions - carried resolutions supporting Australia’s commitment behind the United Nations in Korea.
– This is entirely different.
– They tell us that this is an entirely different proposition from what happened in Korea. Will they tell us how it is different?
– The United Nations made-
– The United Nations made a decision but the terrorism and the slaughter of the civilian population in South Korea were precisely the same, from the same people and from the same source as what has happened in South Vietnam, as what has happened in Laos, as what has happened in Czechoslovakia, as what has happened in East Berlin and as what has happened everywhere else in the world. Yet they want to take this one incident of Vietnam, extract it from the history of the world and say: ‘Look at it separately, lt is different.’ They know in their own hearts that it is not different so they have to manufacture the idea that America and Australia went to Vietnam to subdue the population. I suggest to them as a practical proposition that the military power which subdued the military power of Japan could have subdued the military power of North Vietnam in a very short time if it had been out to subdue it.
– lt has not.
– Of course it has not, because it never set out to do that. It set out to protect the civil rights of the people of South Vietnam. It has never crossed the border to Hanoi. If it did the members of the Labor Party would suggest, as they do even in relation to what might be regarded as the minor mosquito bite of whether Burchett gets a passport, that we should declare war. The pacifists tell us that the solution of the problem is to declare war on North Vietnam which has insurgents in South Vietnam. To suit their own convenience of argument the doves suddenly become the eagles of war and want to declare war to decide whether Burchett should get a passport. Imagine it - declare war to decide whether a man who, if you read his own books and writings, is a self-confessed traitor to the armed forces fighting in foreign lands for this country, whether they consider it to be right or wrong, should receive a passport. They want us to declare war but they tell us at the same time that such a declaration of war would involve this country in a major conflict with Russia and China. Why do they say that?
– Both of them?
– Yes, both of them, because they both support the North Vietnamese who fight not only in South Vietnam but who have 60,000 troops in Laos and 40,000 troops in Cambodia armed with weapons from both Communist China and Russia.
– You think we should support-
– If Senator Turnbull wants to join with the Labor Party on this matter and say that we should declare war, then he, too, must accept the responsibility with those people who say that this is the solution to the problem of whether Burchett gets a passport. I say to them that on the question of Vietnam we support the attitude of the Government of this country.
– You always do.
– I hope that you will support our amendment tonight. We will accept support from wherever we can get it. However the salient point is that what Australia is doing in Vietnam today-
– Is disgraceful.
– Is, in the opinion of Senator Cavanagh, disgraceful. He in this country, free as it is, is entitled to that opinion and I am entitled to my opinion, and I do not think that it is disgraceful. If I thought it was disgraceful I would not stand in this chamber, as he did as a propaganda measure, and read the names of men who, mostly voluntarily, gave their services to this country and died in Vietnam. If I thought it was shameful I would have adopted a different method of propaganda from that to which he was prepared to descend.
We cannot spend on Vietnam the whole of the time allotted to us. I have not yet adverted to an important issue contained in the amendment proposed by the Australian Democratic Labor Party.
– You agree with the Government, why not support it?
– We will see how you vote and how I vote before we decide who agrees with the Government. We will leave it at that at this stage. You may yet get sufficient time, despite the long adjournment that we have had and the numbers on your side, to come up with an amendment. If you do, let us hear it on the floor of the Senate. On the question of Commonwealth and State relations, to which I now propose to address myself, let me say this: Never before in the history of this country has there been such a division amongst its people as there is on this matter at this time. I am amazed by some of the economic experts of the Government and at the proposals that have been put forward to solve the very real problems which face us. I am convinced that the national Parliament should control the economy of the nation. The States, sovereign though they may be, are sensible enough to realise that there cannot be different economies for each State with different levels of taxation or different taxation systems if we are to maintain a stable economy. But that is no justification for what is taking place today.
The Federal Government controls the economy of this country. It has accepted this responsibility but the only solution it can find for the recurring periods when the Government says that the economy is hot - that is the word used by the Treasurer (Mr Bury) - is to lift interest rates to deter spending. When interest rates are raised from 5% to 6% and there are still recurring situations which are dangerously inflationary, one might think that that increase in interest rates was not very successful. But when those rates are raised from 6% to 64% and then again from 6i% to 7i%, with inflation still recurring, is it not time to think that perhaps the cure is not doing what it was suggested it would do and that the economy is not assisted by persistent and consistent increases in interest rates? The Government has come forward once more and said: ‘We must improve the situation, because it is getting inflationary. We will increase interest rates again by i% to deter spending as an inflation control measure’. But the Government increases interest rates on government bodies and everybody else. This illustrates the fallacy of the economics put forward by Senator Webster recently when he produced the raw figures showing total Commonwealth income from taxation. From memory, he said that Commonwealth grants to the States in 1960 amounted to 23.4% of revenue and in 1969 to 23.9%. In the meantime the Government has allowed interest rates to rise with the result that State indebtedness to the Commonwealth is much greater than previously. That is only one factor. I suggest to Senator Webster that he should go away with his little percentage table and have a look at it in terms of actual money. If one were speaking of 50% going each way, perhaps the quoting of percentages would be a very valid argument. But if we revert to simple terms so that everybody, including myself, can understand and say that out of $100 Senator Webster received $23.9 and I received $76.1, I would much rather have my share because if the total went up to $300 Senator Webster would get 3 times $23.9 and I would get 3 times $76.1. In an era of rising prices I would be in a far better position than would Senator Webster. That is a matter of simple economics. If it is too simple for Senator Greenwood, who is trying to interject, then he may live in his world of make believe high finance. But that is what it gets down to and that is what the States are complaining about.
– I think it is a bit too simple for you too, senator.
– It is as simple as that. It is a very complicated matter for those who try to persuade one from an academic standpoint. If the honourable senator looks at the figures he will find that they are not as complicated as they seem. If they seem complicated to him, then I suggest that he should discuss the matter with the Premier of the State that he represents and ask him why his State has been reduced to implementing a tax which the former Treasurer, Mr McMahon, approved - the turnover tax, which Senator Webster and I know is the most inflationary form of taxation that could possibly be conceived. That has been confirmed by no less a person that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) who only 3 weeks ago said on television that the Government had to stop this tax on wages because it was inflationary. Wages are paid out at each stage of production. But what does the turnover tax do in terms of modern manufacturing methods? Does the Prime Minister, living in Canberra, think that goods are handled only once in the manufacturing stages? Does he not realise that in the manufacture of a motor car, the turnover tax is imposed every time someone handles each component such as the rubber and the paint?
– Why do not you vote for it?
– Vote for the amendment and you will express your disagreement with the Government The fallacy of the turnover tax is highlighted when one refers to experts and not to simple people like myself who give a simple definition not only to the people here but also to the great number of Australians who happen to be listening and can well understand. We should go back to the words of Mr McMahon, the former Treasurer. He is not as guilty as the present Treasurer. Mr McMahon said this:
This form of tax is acceptable to the Commonwealth if levied by the States, providing it remains small.
The present Federal Treasurer said quite recently that it should be increased 10 times. That is his suggestion to the States.
– Was that Bury?
– Yes. He said that at every stage of production this iniquitous tax should be increased. Such an increase would be expressed in the price of the goods and would result in inflation. In the main it would be paid by the family man. 1 warn the Government that in the past there have been people who have thought that shady measures such as the turnover tax - a tax that perhaps would be applicable to the gambling industry - will not work if they apply pressure to ordinary forms of production. 1 conclude with these remarks: This sort of tax hurts the great majority of people in Australia - the families. The Government should have more regard for the family man. This will be the important issue in the 1970s. Where do we stand? Do we support the idea that the family is the basis of a nation or do we support a permissive society that disregards the family and allows those things which have destroyed great civilisations? I hope that the obvious objections of the Opposition and of my Party to the Government’s proposals contained in the Speech of the Governor-General will be supported and that the Senate will, by a majority vote, support the amendment moved by Senator McManus.
– I support the motion that the Senate agree to the Address-in-Reply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. The motion was ably moved by Senator Rae and seconded by Senator Maunsell. Senator Rae, in particular, made a very forthright speech and was right on the ball. I extend my good wishes to those senators who made their maiden speeches today with the qualification that I do not agree with much of what they said. I leave Senator Little to his financial theories. 1 would not attempt to deal with what he said in any way, because it was right over my head. Senator Little may be right; 1 do not know. We heard a rambling speech from Senator Georges. One of his grievances was that the previous Speech of the Governor-General was too short and that the Speech we are now discussing is too long. Certainly the present Speech contains a lot of meat and covers many matters. lt focuses attention on matters that arc of great importance to the people of the Commonwealth. 1 was intrigued by what Senator Georges said. Like every other Opposition senator who has spoken, he had something to say about Vietnam. He said that someone or other had broken an agreement on Laos. It is a fact that North Vietnam was a signatory to the Geneva agreement. North Vietnam signed the agreement Included in the agreement was an undertaking to attempt to preserve the neutrality of Laos. Furthermore, North Vietnam agreed that it would withdraw all of its troops from Laos. Far from withdrawing all of its troops from Laos, North Vietnam has reinforced its troops and at present is engaged in committing a breach of that agreement because of its aggression against Laos.
– Have we broken the agreement?
– We did not sign the agreement. The United States of America did not sign the agreement; it reserved its rights.
– Has South Vietnam broken the agreement? It is in our own External Affairs documents.
– We did not sign the agreement. I say that without any equivocation whatsoever. But as I have said, the United States did not sign the treaty; it reserved freedom of action. When we see a flagrant breach of a treaty, does it not cast doubt upon any good coming out of the talks that are taking place in Paris at present? We know that if the people with whom we are discussing this matter sign an agreement they will use it merely as a subterfuge to gain some advantage.
– Have you not read Averell Harriman’s statement?
– 1 am not going to be led aside by interjections.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Sir Magnus Cormack) - Order! Senator Georges was heard in reasonable silence when he made his speech and I ask him to allow the Senate to listen to other speakers in reasonable silence.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise to speak in the main about primary production. If there is a domestic problem in this country at present it is the plight of the primary producers. It is not long ago that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said that the income of a farmer in this country was lagging behind by 15 years. We could cite endless statistics in support of that. This country has been warned for a long time about the very grave decline in the income of the primary producer. We have been told that eventually there would come a time when the profit margin of the farmer would disappear and then there would be real trouble.
– We would then oust the Country Party.
– I hear an interjection from a member of a party which, according to Don von Bibra - who has both feet on the ground if ever a man had - supported a measure which was a triumph of ignorance. He was referring to a ban on the exportation of merino rams.
– Are you in favour of exporting merinos?
– I am, without any doubt. After 20 years in Parliament I would say that if ever an ignorant vote was cast in this chamber it was the vote cast by members of the Opposition in an attempt to prohibit the export of merino rams. It was the result of a lack of knowledge of the subject. If I were a millionaire I would place some honourable senators opposite - if they were agreeable - on a piece of mother earth and sit back and watch the fun as they attempted to scratch their living from the land. And there would be fun. If 1 had been responsible for that vote cast in this chamber by members of the Opposition 1 would for ever after hold my peace on matters concerned with primary industry. But it is a fact that the less wit a man has the less he knows he needs it.
At a time when considerable sections of the community have been demanding and receiving adequate remuneration for their services - some sections have received this under the threat of direct action - we have the spectacle of postal employees threatening what amounts to sabotage of the mail services of this country. [Quorum formed.] It is apparent that when Opposition senators do not like what is said, they take this action. But the tactic is a two edged sword and can be used in both directions. Before the bells were rung I had said that postal employees were taking action that amounted to sabotage of the postal services of Australia in order that their remuneration be increased.
– Is that not fair?
– No, it is not fair. The ‘Sunday Telegraph’ of 1st March 1970 stated: . . the postal workers have ignored a course of action which is freely available - an appeal to the Arbitration Commission - and have taken direct action which hurts the whole community.
In addition, action taken by a section of the workforce is crucifying my own State of Tasmania by continuous and frivolous holdups of the Searoad services. It is only a week or two ago that the departure of the Empress of Australia’ was held up and she could not leave port because three men walked off the ship when it was due to sail. They made it impossible for the ship to leave the port. Such things are boosting up the freight position. They are leading to irregularities in services. They are crippling these services to Tasmania. Such things are costing the primary producer out of his traditional markets on the mainland. That is the plain fact. There is no argument about it.
There are people who advocate the abolition of the penal clauses in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If 1 had my way, that kind of frivolity and that kind of Communist inspired sabotage of the industrial life of this country would be met by more teeth being put into the Act.
– What kind of teeth does the honourable senator think should go in?
– I do not know what kind of teeth should go in-
– Would the honourable senator like to gaol them or to lash them?
– Hang them.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull)- Order!
– The very people who do these things-
– Hang them because they are fighting for their bread and butter.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Honourable senators will cease interjecting.
– I do not mind, Mr Deputy President. It does show that I am getting under their skins and that they do not like what I am saying. I do not mind what they say to me-
– No-one likes what the honourable senator says.
– No, of course noone does because it is the truth. These people do not like it. It is the truth that always hurts. What I have just spoken of is one of the things that is crucifying primary producers in my State. I have had a long experience of it. It is one of the factors that has costed primary producers in Tasmania out of their traditional markets on the mainland.
Now, a tendency exists on the part of a number of people, politics being what they are, to blame the Government for the position of the primary producer. The Governor-General’s Speech that we are discussing now contains about one and a half pages of references to additional help or additional props to primary industry. If honourable senators read the Speech that was delivered in another place by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr
Anthony) they will see the whole Government programme which has taken shape over many years set out. The aid that has been given to primary industry in this country is detailed.
The position that exists is simply this: The wheat industry is in the position in which it is because there is too much wheat in the world. The butter industry is in the position in which it finds itself because a world wide surplus of dairy products exists today. The complexion of wool marketing over the past few years has so changed that only the very finest wool is in demand on the world market. These are things over which the Government of this country has little control and for which no ready made solution is available. 1 take note of what Senator McManus said about French farmers giving away their products as a demonstration against the position in which they find themselves. But that goes hand in hand in that country, in the European Economic Community, with the position where the powers- that- be in that Community are subsidising farmers not to produce. In addition to that, some classes of products are being dumped onto the world market at a price against which this country cannot compete. Furthermore, some classes of products have been destroyed in that way to get away with a surplus of production.
Now, when we consider that that position has been brought about by a whole gambit of subsidies unheard of in this country - subsidisation to the tune of many, many millions of dollars in many categories - does it not throw a different light on any proposal to subsidise primary industry in Australia? 1 do not discount it. 1 do not say that it should not be. But it does incline one towards the belief that excessive subsidisation, regardless of economic factors, can bring about a set of circumstances under which subsidisation will defeat itself. Then we must consider the dissatisfaction that exists in the United Kingdom. Might T say in passing that this hocus pocus - this is the only description for the position that pertains in the European Economic Community today - is the organisation which the British Government proposes to join and about which farmers in the United Kingdom have expressed the very gravest misgivings - and no wonder!
It is of interest to note that, while the Labour Government of the United Kingdom is hell bent on joining the European Economic Community, so too is the Conservative Party. I believe that the splinter Liberal Party is in favour of the proposition to join the European Economic Community. Yet, it is a fact, I understand, that substantial majorities at gallup polls have expressed direct opposition to United Kingdom participation in the European Economic Community. I note that one man expressed the opinion that, because of those factors, democracy in that country had defeated itself.
In our own country, in addition to the fall in the prices of primary products the world over, the cost of production is ever and always increasing. I cannot help but come down with the idea that the continuous and repeated increases granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission have in the long run just about costed the primary producer out of production. I have no grievance against the wage earner receiving the highest possible remuneration for his services. But, when in the doing of this one important section of the community is left behind and cannot participate, something is very wrong with the system indeed. Surely the time is coming when the position that pertains so far as the cost factor in this country is concerned will need to be looked at very, very seriously indeed.
What has been the spectacle that we have seen since the last war? I think that Senator Brown referred to it. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission meets. It takes stock of the cost of living. It says that the basic wage, or whatever wage it is adjudicating upon, is not adequate and that it must be increased. So, the Commission increases that wage. The Commission meets some time after that decision and takes another look at the cost of living according to whatever index it employs. The members of the Commission say: ‘Since we last met the cost of living has gone up again.’ And it has gone up again because of the action they had taken previously. So they increase wages again. That has gone on ever since World War II ended. The experience of almost 20 years has shown conclusively that continuous wage increases which are used only to offset increased prices resulting from increases in wages previously granted by the Arbitration Commission are not a remedy for the trouble at all.
– What then is the remedy?
– I go along with Dougherty when he said that there are more wigs in the Arbitration Commission than there are in the High Court of Australia. I have thought for a long time that wage fixing should not be the prerogative of legal men. I believe that men with industrial and commercial experience should be included in the Arbitration Commission because they would examine the effect of their decisions on the economy of the country as a whole and would not have regard only to the simple act of adjusting wages in according with the cost of living, particularly having regard to the fact that one important section of the community is left right out of calculations and cannot share in the cutting up of the cake. That is one factor that has brought primary industry in Australia to its present parlous state.
– The Government has done that.
– Some people go along with the idea that the Liberal Government has no control over the Arbitration Commission. Some people go along with the idea that because of artificially created conditions the small producer should be eliminated, if possible; that he is in such a small way he is uneconomical.
– That is the Country Party.
– I heard an interjection about the Country Party. I do not know whether it was a reference to the dairy farm amalgamation scheme of the Country Party. As to that scheme, the Commonwealth Government made a most generous offer to the States. No coercion was attached to it. A farmer who sells his property to his neighbour over the fence is a free agent. He can please himself whether he sells. There is no coercion. However, [ believe that the small producers of this country are the salt of the earth. If I could do so, I would so arrange subsidies on the products of small primary producers as to keep them in business. They are not the type of men who would down tools because a decision handed down by one commission or another did not suit them. Such men are of a different vein altogether. J believe that it is the duty of the Government to try to keep those men in production and to place them in a stable position.
– They are being murdered by the Government.
– No, the Government is not murdering them. They are being murdered by a set of conditions over which this Government and the producers themselves have no control. I say that there is no ready made remedy for the problems of primary industry. I doubt that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) can propound a scheme by which farmers can be placed in a better position, considering the worldwide trend today and the effect of blanket subsidies for primary industries. One of the grievances about subsidies for the dairy industry is that in the main they help the bigger producer. If it were practical I would arrange that small producers, far from having their properties amalgamated or being put out of business, would be kept solvent and producing.
The capacity of human beings to delude themselves is enormous. Every honourable senator opposite who has spoken in this debate has referred to Vietnam. I wish that their ideas were correctly based and that there were no danger to this country. I recall that only a year or two ago, under the auspices of a Communist power, the Arab states ringed little Israel with the avowed intention of wiping it off the face of the earth. They ringed Israel with military might, but when they got the worst of the struggle they accused Israel of being the aggressor. As to the spectacle in Vietnam today, the fiat went forth from North Vietnam to act against South Vietnam largely because of the great progress that had taken place in South Vietnam.
Let us get away once and for all from the idea that Communism is born in poverty. The Communist powers devour with equal avidity viable, progressive, advanced and cultured countries like Czechoslovakia. In fact, I believe that they prefer to take such countries because they do not like the trouble of laying the essential groundwork to bring a country to a state of considerable advancement and productivity. The North Vietnamese attempted to subjugate South Vietnam by force. When the United States of America, in honouring guarantees to South Vietnam, attempted to interfere to stop that action, it was at once accused of aggression. That is the style of Communist thinking.
– You are a victim of your own propaganda.
– I would sooner be that than the victim of Communist propaganda, by a long way. We have heard a lot of talk about Vietnam in his chamber. I really believe the honourable senators opposite must at the bottom of their hearts have misgivings about the position they adopt. Reference has been made to the domino theory. The dominoes themselves are afraid. The Communist system has in the Soviet Union, the Communist Republic of China and North Vietnam slaughtered more of its own people than were killed in two world wars. It is hard to believe that there are people in Australia, the United States and the free world who say that Communism should not be resisted. Some of those people are sitting on the other side of this chamber.
– An amendment has been moved to the formal motion moved on behalf of the Government for the adoption of an Address-ih-Reply thanking the Governor-General for his Speech. The amendment was moved by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. All honourable senators have heard it discussed. I now move the following amendment to that amendment:
Leave out all words after ‘but’, insert: ‘the Senate is of opinion that the Government has shown lack of leadership in foreign policy and defence as well as in internal affairs, and the Senate deplores the failure of. the Government to provide a programme for -
adequate defence equipment and industries;
peace in Vietnam;
an acceptable health scheme;
a national superannuation scheme;
equitable financial arrangements for carrying out the activities of the States and local government and semi-governmental authorities;
the substantial uplift of the members of the Aboriginal race;
speedy settlement of industrial grievances and for four weeks annual leave and equal pay for its public servants;
rehabilitation of primary industry and reimposition of the embargo on the export of merinos; and
the great social issues of pollution, interest rates, housing and land costs, poverty, education and the burdens on families’.
Every one of those points ought to have been dealt with in the legislative programme; but they were not. We have heard the Democratic Labor Party, through Senator Little, suggest, apart from many other things that he said, that members of that Party are a practical Opposition. They stand here and complain about the failure to rehabilitate primary industry, about there being no adequate statement on Australian foreign policy, and about a few other things. These complaints are reasonably all right. One could not have much quarrel with t hem.
But these are the people who supported the Government at the last election. These are the people who again and again support the Government when it comes to the pinch. Yet they come here and say to the Senate and to the people of Australia: ‘Let us have adequate measures to promote family life’.
– You did not have an amendment until a few minutes ago.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! Senator McManus will cease interjecting.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. If only the interjections were coherent, perhaps they could be answered. But their incoherence is a measure of the failure of members of the DLP to put forward any explanation of their support of the Government. Last night Senator Cavanagh spoke about the hypocrisy of the DLP. One reads in their amendment that members of the DLP are in favour of measures to promote family life. Sometimes 1 have been shown papers that emanate from the National Civic Council and the DLP. They talk about how they support the family man. I do not think anyone in this chamber will ever forget the desertion by members of the DLP of the family man when the measures to increase sales tax on the family man went through this chamber. Not once, but twice - at the second reading stage and at the third reading stage - members of the DLP crossed the floor to vote with the Government and to put the sales tax on the family man.
Everyone here tonight heard Senator Little speak about percentages and inflationary tendencies. What more pernicious lax could there be than that sales tax on the family man? How. many times have members of the DLP out in the forums of the nation spoken of these dreadful imposts? They know that that is what they are. Let there be no doubt that when they speak about these matters they are speaking the truth. They say that we should not have this kind of tax on the family man. But what happens when they come inside this chamber and an attempt is made by the Government to increase’ these taxes? On the occasion in question they went and voted with the Government, when all they had to do was stay with us and we would have defeated that extra impost on the family man. That is their pattern. They now remain silent. I think that is the most gracious thing they could do.
In regard to their attitude to foreign policy, Senator Cavanagh said that they were hypocritical. I would like to disagree with my colleague, I do not think he will mind. I do not believe that we should be concerned that they are hypocritical in regard to foreign policy. I only wish that they were hypocritical. The terrible concern that people in Australia have is not that members of the DLP are hypocritical but that they mean what they say when they say that we should be refusing to ratify the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and when they say that we should be acquiring nuclear arms of our own, so setting off a race and a chain reaction among all the smaller nations around the world to acquire nuclear arms oftheir own. What would be the end result of that? It would be the destruction of the human race.
Members of the Democratic Labor Party want a proliferation of nuclear arms. The tragedy is that they are sincere, not that they are hypocritical. They mean it when they say that we should have nuclear arms. That is part of their defence policy. They are advocating refusal toratify the Treaty. The tragedy of it is that they turn round and blackmail this Government; they stand over it; they threaten it; they say: ‘We will not give you preferences unless you toe the line’. They have this Government in the position that it had to hang back until the election was over before it dared to put even ils signature on the Treaty. The Government has not ratified the Treaty. It was afraid to sign because of the pressure that was put on it by this centre group.
One of the great tragedies in Australia is that we have in this chamber these people who are sincere, not hypocritical. The sooner the people of Australia start to understand that they cannot just cast members of the DLP aside and say: ‘They do not mean it when they talk about nuclear arms; they do not mean it when they say that they are prepared to put pressure on the Government’, and start to understand that they do mean what they say, that they have put pressure on the Government and that they have been able to succeed to a substantial degree, the better it will be.
When the conference on human rights was being held in Teheran, one of the nations represented was Haiti. It came up with a magnificent resolution on human rights. But no-one in the world was prepared to support a resolution on human rights that came from a country which had trampled on human rights. In the same way, members of the DLP come here and say: ‘It does not matter that we have supported the Government, that we have abandoned the family man, that we have not cared at all about these other matters and that we have an extremist foreign policy. Let us write out a few simple and vague generalities and the people will have to support them because that is what we are putting forward’. We will not do that. We will put forward the matters in our amendment that 1 have read out. They are matters which I believe the country as a whole would support. In any event, we believe they are matters that ought to have been the subject of the legislative programme, and we invite the Senate to support our amendment.
We have been consistent in our approach. Senator Little is interjecting to say that we have pinched some of these things. It is true that anything worthwhile which has been put forward by the Democratic Labor Party appears here, maybe not in the same words, but 1 suppose in substance. Of course it is so. There will be no room left for any argument by the Democratic Labor Party that the Senate is being asked to reject worthwhile things, because anything that is worthwhile in its propositions is to be found in this. He is complaining about what?
– I am complaining about the lateness of it.
– He complains about the lateness of it. This is a deliberative chamber and the best he has to complain about the amendment is that it is late. The Australian Labor Party says that there should be adequate defence equipment and industries. Who would deny this? There is not adequate defence. If we think of one item, the Fill aircraft, we remember that this Senate itself has declared several times that the Government has mishandled the purchase of this aircraft. Who would deny that? We have seen it year after year. We have seen the Government’s initial bungling compounded by all sorts of evasions, putting things off from election to election, and the plain fact is that there has been a lack of that defence equipment. The Government does not know where it is going. It is trying to save itself by a compromise in all sorts of directions instead of standing up to the position and getting out of the mess it is in and providing adequate defence equipment. The sooner it turns to providing defence industries in Australia the less Australia will be dependent on this kind of foolish contract that the Government has entered into, and the better for our defence.
I turn now to peace in Vietnam. Ought not our Government be trying to achieve peace in Vietnam instead of still trying to justify a position which, in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of the majority of the Australian people, is completely unjustifiable? We of the Labor Party have been saying ever since Australia went into Vietnam, and more so as our commitment has increased, that what we are doing is immoral, unjust, and illegal. More and more all over the world that view has been taken. The people of America, having elected their President with, I think, the greatest majority in the history of the country, turned round and drove him out of office so that he could not stand for a second term. More and more in Australia the people are realising the shame of our country in being involved in the kind of war that we are involved in. Looking back, it is like the Opium War. The aggression that has been committed in Vietnam will be a blot on the history of Australia. The association with the massacres in that country, the dreadful things that we have done, the dropping of bombs on these people, the killing not only of soldiers but of tens and hundreds of thousands of civilians has been a murderous adventure.
– You are surely not saying it is the Australians who are doing this?
– 1 said it was our participation in the conflict and our association with these things. No, I have not said the Australians are doing this. That is, perhaps, about the one bright feature of it; that at least our soldiers have not been involved in those things. We have not had the rest of the world turning to us and saying that the Australians also are guilty of these dreadful atrocities. That is one bright feature of a dreadful adventure which is going to go down as one of the worst pages in modern history.
Here we are in 1970, in civilisation, with others in combination with the greatest military power on earth, which is dropping bombs on people, causing the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people, fighting one of the most primitive little nations on earth.
– What about Coventry?
– You spell it out. I heard the last speaker talk about North Vietnam and South Vietnam. There is one country. If he goes back and reads the Geneva Accords he will find that Vietnam is one country and there is a war between the northern and southern parts of it, just as there was a war between the North and the South in the United States of America. No more is being clone in Vietnam by the North than was done by Abraham Lincoln, and no more is done by the North than was approved by that Englishman who said: If 1 were an American as 1 am an Englishmen and foreign troops were on my soil I would never lay down my arms, never, never, never.’ That is what those people are doing, and they are just as entitled to do it.
– That is what South Vietnam is doing.
- Senator Byrne made a very good point. He said: That is what South Vietnam is doing’. Is this the criterion? As far as 1 know, the position in North Vietnam and South Vietnam remains that no foreign troops are assisting the North Vietnamese. No-one has suggested that foreign troops have been brought in by the North Vietnamese. On the other hand, at least half a million troops are assisting the South Vietnamese. We have one of the most extraordinary conflicts in history. Despite the fact that there has been unlimited provision of equipment, the most modern equipment on earth, to support military aid and civil aid, the regime in Saigon, which is supposed to be supported by its own people, is unable to survive. It cannot survive without the assistance of hundreds of thousands of foreign troops. That is an extraordinary thing, is it not? Of course, the lessons are clear. Everyone knows what will happen there. The war is over. A face-saving conflict is going on because we are going to withdraw from there. The Americans will withdraw, and I suppose it is one of the most disgraceful episodes in history that in order that the faces of nations shall be saved, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, more lives will be lost. Let us be clear so that there is no doubt about that. The DLP completely supports what has been done. It supports the Government. Indeed, it goes further than the Government, ft has been apparent that, even as the Government sees which way the wind is blowing and wants to pull in its horns, it is under pressure from the DLP not to do so.
I will turn to other matters. In the proposed amendment we are’ suggesting certain matters which I think are clear to everyone. I will not deal with them. There ought to be in domestic affairs an acceptable health scheme, but there is not. There ought to be a national superannuation scheme, but there is not. These things are commonplace in other countries. The United States has a superannuation scheme and a health scheme. It has its Medicare scheme. In Europe they have these schemes. Migrants who come out here are familiar with them. Why cannot this nation, which is one of the richest in natural resources - perhaps the richest per head of population - afford to provide for its own people a reasonable health scheme and a decent national superannuation scheme? There ought to be equitable financial arrangements for carrying out the activities of the State, local government, and semi-governmental authorities. The Government knew what was being said. It is clear that it made no arrangements to introduce any of these benefits. Year after year the Government put off introducing these benefits.
In the last few weeks, after the High Court ruled unconstitutional a tax imposed by the States, the Government said - and I read it in the papers - that it would legislate to validate the tax. The Government, not the Parliament, would legislate to validate the tax! The Government did not say to Parliament: ‘Do you think we ought to do it?’ The Government said that it would do it. This is symptomatic of the attitude of the Government towards Parliament. The Government thinks that it is no longer necessary even to say: ‘We will ask the Parliament to do it. We will see whether Parliament will agree’. Without reference to the Parliament, the Government said that it would legislate and validate a tax which, in breach of the Constitution, had been imposed on the citizens. I suppose that one of the worst taxes that could be imposed was this tax imposed by the States. It was one of the worst kinds of taxes from an administrative point of view, from an inflationary point of view or from any other point of view. That tax was ruled unconstitutional and the Government said, notwithstanding that it is in breach of the Constitution: ‘We will validate it and make it a retrospective tax to be imposed on the people of Australia’.
I do not know what the attitude of the Parliament will be. The Labor Party has not been consulted on the matter; the Party has not thought about it. But I will tell the Senate what my reaction on the matter is. It is not a very favourable reaction at all. I think that the Government’s statement offends against most of the principles that ought to be abided by in raising revenue from the people. We will see what happens. It is interesting to note the approach that the Government has taken. The Government believes that it is no longer necessary to consult the Parliament. The Government says that it will legislate.
Measures for the substantial uplift of members of the Aboriginal race ought to be introduced. If one reads the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, one sees that it sets out what the Government proposes should be done. The Governor-General said:
My Government will continue its policy of fostering Aboriginal initiative, will use the special capital fund which has been set up to assist in this task, and hopes that during the lifetime of the Parliament any remnants of discriminatory legislation against Aboriginals will be eliminated.
What kind of a joke is that? The Northern Territory has been under this Government’s administration for many years. The Government has been responsible for the Aboriginals in the Territory. As I have said again and again in this Parliament, one could count on the fingers of one hand the number of Aboriginal children at high school at any given time. Since federation no Aboriginal child in the Northern Territory has completed high school. In education, in nutrition and in almost every aspect of life the Aboriginal people are not being given a fair go. The State legislation dealing with Aboriginals - what is being done to the Aboriginal people - would stink the nostrils of the people. The Government speaks about remnants of discriminatory legislation against Aboriginals. It is time that the Commonwealth assumed the powers which were given to it by the people of Australia to override the discriminations in the State laws. The Government should provide for a real programme of uplift for the Aboriginal people. This uplift will be brought about by the making of laws by this Parliament, as was desired by an overwhelming majority of the Australian people.
Mention was made about the rehabilitation of primary industries. We heard what Senator Lillico said tonight. His speech was an extraordinary one.
– He blamed everything on the trade unionists.
– Apart from blaming the trade unionists, the honourable senator mentioned the dreadful mess in which primary industries are. He said that the Government is putting up some props. He said in effect: ‘I do not know where it is going to end. We are going downhill.’ That is the position. It is through the actions of his own Government that we are going downhill. The Government has failed to do anything internally to help primary industries and has brought about a complete collapse of their conduct of external trade. The trade has been so wonderful that for the last 3 years we have had an adverse current balance of about Si billion a year. This is the fault of the Government. In a world in which hundreds of millions of people are starving, this Government is unable to collaborate with friendly governments of other food producing countries to ensure that the food is disposed of on some reasonable terms so that the producers will get a reasonable return and so that the hungry people will get relief from the starvation which they are enduring. The Government just throws up its hands. All it can talk about is cutting back on production. All the Government can put forward is an attack upon the trade unions which have to go to the arbitration courts to get what, under the laws of the land, is deemed to be a fair remuneration.
– They are the highest taxed workers in the world.
– The Treasurer (Mr Bury) has admitted that the low and middle income earners in this country are about the highest taxed people in the world. Senator Lillico said that costs are ruining primary industries. He is right. The producers knew what was causing the increased costs. The restrictive trade practices which were operating throughout this country and which were forcing up the prices of all commodities to local government, to ordinary consumers and especially to primary industries were causing the increased costs. What has the Government done? It has stalled about introducing an effective Trade Practices Act, emasculated the existing Act and then run dead on the implementation of it. What results have we seen? The Government tried to trick the people by saying that it was necessary to have effective laws to protect the community against restrictive practices which were forcing up costs throughout the community.
– Are there not restrictive trade practices in the trade unions?
– A Country Party senator is trying to interrupt. No doubt he will have an answer to the situation. Of course the trade unions have restrictive trade practices. There is no question about that. But the trade unions are the one group which is severely controlled in the community. Trade unions cannot get increases for their members unless the increases are granted under the conciliation and arbitration laws of the community. All the other groups are allowed to run riot.
– The sky is the limit.
– The honourable senator has made a very good point there. If the same system of obtaining increases were applied to the other groups, we might get some equity among the groups and some relief for the primary producers. Although Senator Prowse sees the wisdom of what I say, apparently he is unable to convince those who control his own Party that there ought to be such laws and that those laws should be administered effectively. In the Government’s legislative programme and in the amendment to the Address-in-Reply moved by Senator McManus there is no reference to some of the great social issues of the day. There are very great social issues. One of them is pollution. This problem is not only a national one but also an international one. It is no longer a matter for the States.
– Did the Labor Party have anything about pollution in its policy speech? We did. We were the only Parly that did.
– That is very nice. I think we ought to give the honourable senator a few marks for that interjection. He has not earned very many marks recently. We will give him a little credit. It is very nice to know that the DLP is concerned about the problem of pollution because one. of the hallmarks of its policy is to produce weapons which will so pollute the atmosphere of Earth that life on it no longer will be possible for mankind. While members of the DLP worry 1 am pleased. All 1 hope is that they will think more about this. The more they talk and think, the more they advocate research on pollution and the more they ponder upon the dreadful implications of what they are suggesting, the better it will be for everyone. 1 congratulate Senator Byrne on his thoughtfulness on this subject and commend to him further thought upon it.
This problem of pollution calls for urgent action all over the world. .We in this place have to start to take the lead at the Commonwealth level for all sorts of reasons. The States are unable to do it. Our Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution has made certain recommendations, but I think we should go further. We must attend to this problem. Yet the Government says that in the legislative programme for the next 3 years that is one thing we do not have to worry about. It is a problem which is concerning people more and more everywhere. It is something that will have to be attended to. In any legislative programme attention should be given to this matter.
We should be taking an initiative, not towards war but towards the elimination of some of the great social problems, one of which is pollution. We should be endeavouring to bring together nations of the world to see whether we can do something to prevent a continuance of ravages which have occurred and to redress some of the damage that has been done already.
On the matter of interest rates, we find that the Government is failing to grapple with problems of the economy. 1 heard the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) today talking about interest rates. He said that one of the classical things to do when the economy is becoming over-heated is to push up interest rates. If we go back and look at the classical books like the reports in Great Britain of some 10 years ago we find that that is what to do, but we must do a lot of other things also. However, the Government is not prepared to do those things. It has avoided dealing with the fringe banking institutions. It is not prepared to take the steps that it should take on restrictive practices; instead it is pushing up interest rates, the effect of which will bear down on all the ordinary people of this community. Those who have purchased houses have certain commitments and suddenly they will find over a period of 6 months that the interest has gone up and up and up, that they are committed for far more than they ever envisaged they would have to pay. If this is not a great social issue, I do not know what is. The Government with this stupid policy is pushing interest rates up to this extravagant level against the whole of the community. This will do a tremendous amount of social damage.
The same applies to housing and land costs. Everyone knows the problems which are being created all over Australia. We bring in migrants, there is development, there is shortage of land, there is pressure on the building industry which forces up costs. Associated with this we have the problem that about one million people in this community are living in sub-standard conditions, that is, sub-standard as to their housing, as to their food or as to other conditions under which they have to exist. It is existence - not living. We ought to bc facing up to these problems. These are real problems in this nation. It is not enough that the Government should come in with
Meals on Wheels and a few other little devices which gloss over the tremendous problems which have to be faced by families and those who are living below a reasonable level of comfort and dignity. There are families which face enormous problems in education. There are families which face enormous problems in coping with other payments. Yet we live in one of the richest countries on earth. What else is it but mismanagement when we can see this squalor alongside splendour? If we turn to the financial pages of the Press we see where men are making millions of dollars and others - the ones whom Senator Lillico speaks about - have to go to the Arbitration Commission and fight to get a few cents or dollars. I refer to the postal workers and others throughout the community. ls this fairness? Is this equity? Is this what those who support the Government stand for? I do not think the people of Australia will tolerate this for very much longer.
We used to pride ourselves that there was a fair distribution of wealth in Australia, that the Australian people, and especially their children, would have a fair go. That is no longer true. During the 20 years of office of this Government we have been building up a caste system in education and through the tax laws which have been developed. If there was not a class society in Australia before, it has been built up by this Government through its inequity and in its discrimination. The Opposition asks the Senate to support the amendment which has been proposed to the other amendment. We intend to press our amendment. It is one that should commend itself to the Senate. If the amendment is defeated we will vote against that which has been put forward by the Democratic Labor Party because we consider it to be inadequate and inconsistent with the stand which the DLP has taken in supporting this Government. We will not tolerate the position when the DLP goes to the nation and supports the Government, asks people to vote the Government back into office, and then comes in here and tries to excuse itself by putting forward proposals which, if members of the DLP really believed in them, would have caused them to ask the nation to vote against the Government. 1 commend the amendment (o the Senate.
– In the 17 years that I have been privileged to be in the Senate I have never on any night during a debate on a motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply witnessed such an extraordinary performance by a leader of the Opposition let alone on a night on which the proceedings of this honourable House were being broadcast to the nation. I believe that it was an exercise of most inept leadership which will be long remembered. On the 11th day of March, 8 days after His Excellency the Governor-General read the Speech on which is based this debate on the motion for the Address-in-Reply, and some few days after the Australian Democratic Labor Party had placed before the Senate an amendment and the reasons why it was moving the amendment, in came the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), the leader of the alternative government, with a further amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I do not propose to read the amendment. I believe that it is one of the most extraordinarily stupidly worded amendments that have been proposed by any Party. It lacks sincerity; it lacks reasons; it lacks facts; and it is not based on truth or good government. Yet this comes from the leader of the alternative government, or that section of it which is in this Parliament.
How I remember the days of Senator McKenna, that good Tasmanian and honoured statesman. He would have been at this Government from the bounce of the ball with a clear cut, precise and hard to answer speech. He would have been answered because we always have had facts on our side. But Senator McKenna with his brilliance, his leadership and his team behind him was the leader of a formidable opposition. I do not want to crawl to anyone but I believe, as I am mentioning names, that it is fair to say that we had a similar experience when Senator Willesee was Leader of the Opposition in the Senate for all too short a term. But what have we seen today? Immediately after announcing the proposed amendment criticising the Government the Leader of the Opposition turned his back on you, Mr Acting Deputy President, a habit to which we in this chamber have grown accustomed since his rise to the ranks of command of the Australian Labor Party. He turned his back on you, Sir, and he turned his back on us. We are quite accustomed to having him run away from us.
What did he do on this occasion? Looking at the members of his Party - whether to see if the knives were coming in from the back, I do not know - scorning the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party - the only people he knows who can help him defeat this Government for noone else will help him, his only hope for salvation, his only opportunity to get something of the Labor Party’s ideas into the statute book or to win a vote on a resolution or a motion - he immediately attacked the members of the DLP personally, not on policy but personally and on behaviour. Then he criticised them for not voting with the Australian Labor Party in times past when the ALP has moved either to defeat or to amend Bills presented by the Government. Does not the Leader of the Opposition know enough about the parliamentary and political history of this country to know that those who now are members of the DLP left the Labor Party because they could not agree with its policies, its behaviour or the friends with whom its heirarchy met and mixed? And Senator Murphy growls at them for not supporting him in his time of need. The future will tell how inept has been this show tonight of what should have been leadership.
Then, Mr President, it appeared, from the back view that we and the Acting Deputy President had, that the Leader of the Opposition intended to develop an argument against some alleged misdeed of the Government, but that seemed to fade out and it appeared that he remembered that he had proposed an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply and was about to tell us what he, the spokesman in this place for the alternative government, would do in relation to certain matters mentioned in the proposed amendment. But then he faded away from that too. So I find that I, on behalf of the Government, have nothing to answer in any of the accusations or the points of policy to which the Leader of the Opposition addressed himself. Therefore I propose to go on in my own appointed way. When I knew that by the luck or misfortune of the draw I was to follow the Leader of the Opposition, I felt that my prepared speech notes would be wasted and that i would have a formidible speech to answer in an effort, from the back bench, to reply to the Leader of the Opposition. I believe that readers of Hansard in the future and anyone who is still listening, as well as members of this chamber, will realise that I speak the truth when I say that there is not an amendment worthy of the name to be answered; nor was there any factual statement in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in which I put any truth and which I believe requires a reply on behalf of the Government.
Like all honourable senators who have participated in this debate, 1 should like at this stage to reaffirm my loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen and to join with the many expressions of pleasure that parts of Australia will be honoured and thrilled with a royal visit in this our bi-centenary year. Coming from the State of Tasmania I can assure you, Mr President, that everyone in my State is very thrilled that the royal guests will be visiting us for 3 days next month. It was a pleasure for me, retaining the Tasmanian touch, to hear my colleague Senator Rae moving the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. This is not an easy speech for anyone to make but for one of Senator Rae’s calibre and experience it appeared to be easy. His speech was forthright and very effective as it got the Opposition howling.
My mind goes back in politics a long way. For a long time I was on the outside looking in at Parliament. My memory goes back to 1922 when I was a youth and when my late father was elected to the State Parliament in Tasmania. On his retirement a brother of mine won the seat and I joined the staff of the new and vigorous, and remaining vigorous, Liberal Party. Then as secretary to the Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament I continued to see politics from the Opposition side, so in some respects my friends on the other side of this chamber have had my sympathy all through the years since 1953 - 17 years ago last week - when the State Parliament of Tasmania honoured me by appointing me to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate. Thanks to the organisation of the Party to which I belong and to the people of Tasmania, I have retained my seat. In those 17 years I have seen government in action. I have seen this Government under attack from all sides and at all times - it is right and fair for a government to be attacked and I have no quarrel with that - and I have seen this Government come through the attack, face the electors and be returned to power.
– On the donkey vote.
– I hear Senator Cavanagh talking about himself, rudely interrupting me. It is rather remarkable and something which should be noted by all Australians that in this country of now 12 million people we have provided in a matter of only a few years three Prime Ministers, all statesmen in the eyes of the world. Those three Prime Ministers came from one political party. As I speak 1 realise - I think it is fair to state it - that those three Prime Ministers have come from the Slate of Victoria. It is a proud record for a country and a party to produce in such a short period at short notice three men who became statesmen in the eyes of the world and who were able to state Australia’s case in the parliaments of the world. When you think of what happens in the United States and the problems there of who will run for President and who will have the confidence of the people to carry on the affairs of that country, and when you think of Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Heath-
– And Wilson.
– Yes, one thinks of Wilson, the last Labour Prime Minister in Great Britain. He is still suffering. He changed his Cabinet many times in order to remain in office. He is still in office and he is known throughout the world. Australia can be proud of this matter which I have placed on record tonight. Sir Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister of Australia for a period and then went into the political wilderness. There are not many politicians who, having been in the political wilderness, have come back to the Prime Ministership. He decided that he wanted to come back and the people, after a few years of Labor misrule in post-war reconstruction, decided that they wanted him back. And back he came for a record term as Prime Minister of this country. There is no doubt that in that period the links with the United Kingdom were stronger and strong links were forged with the United States of America. The development of Australia really got under way in that period and no-one can deny the great awakening thought that was displayed and the tremendous success that was achieved by Sir Robert Menzies in relation to tertiary education.
There are many aspects of policy that will always be remembered as entering the Australian picture during what was truly the Menzies era. Then came the retirement of Sir Robert Menzies. I repeat that there are friends of mine on the opposite side of this chamber who would wish that some elder statesmen might retire from their own Party rather than hang on. Sir Robert Menzies is still a great figure in the world today. He remains an honoured guest anywhere he cares to travel.
Upon his retirement he was followed by the man who had been his apprentice - Mr Harold Holt. Harold Holt had been trained for leadership. He was trained in every facet of government and political tactics; he was a man of great charm; he was a man of real sincerity; he was a fearless man. I recall to mind the television scenes of the late Prime Minister coming out through the crowds after election meetings when Labor supporters, Communists and others tried to frighten him and howl him down. That man, with his charming smile and resolute character, went forward and led the Liberal Party to a landslide victory. While Harold Holt was Prime Minister a certain change came in the typical Holt style. He had his eye and his mind on Asia. He awakened Australia to the fact that in the near north we needed to be helpers and advisers when required and when invited, that we needed to place defence forces in that area when asked, and that we needed the nations in the near north as friends and trading partners. Harold Holt did much to establish Australia as a popular friendly nation in the eyes of many millions of Asiatics.
Then tragedy occurred. From this Senate, from the very same political party to which Harold Holt belonged, came our present Prime Minister. John Gorton. Almost overnight Australia - had the first 20th century born Second World War veteran as Prime Minister of a Commonwealth Country.
– You returned him with a majority of three votes.
– He is the Prime Minister of this country. This man was reared in the Australian countryside. He was widely and well educated and he obviously took every opportunity to improve his education and knowledge. He is a man who early in the Second World War volunteered and saw service as a fighter pilot. He is the man who was chosen in the early days after that war to join the Senate. Senators on both sides of this House soon realised that this man would go a long way. In tragic circumstances the opportunity came and the Liberal Party elected him as Prime Minister. At the following election the people re-elected him. The Party re-elected him as Prime Minister and as Australia enters the swinging 1970s we have at the helm a Second World War veteran.
I believe that all students of the political scene over the past 20 years will see a certain change in approach, will see certain personal characteristics and certain desires in respect to matters of national and international importance become clear, as the Prime Minister’s term of office develops. The Speech delivered by the Governor-General on . 3rd March, and which was prepared by the Prime Minister, was the most dynamic, in my time at any rate, that has been delivered by a GovernorGeneral. That Speech proposed about 15 or 20 pieces of legislation. Within a few days, indeed in much less time than it took Senator Murphy to think up a very stupid amendment, important statements came from the Ministry through the Parliament to the people of Australia. That, of course, is the correct procedure for informing us of important Government policies and programmes.
As a result of this Speech, which clearly can and should be described as one which shows a government in action and an active, hard-working, forceful Prime Minister in command, both Houses of the Parliament will have all the work that they can handle in the weeks that lie ahead. Important decisions emanating from this legislation will have to be made by us and there will be times when each man and each woman will have to be in his or her place to be counted. It is my belief - 1 say this with all the sincerity that can muster - that contained in the legislation will be matters for the good of Australia in the near and the distant future and it will behove us in many cases to put aside Party bickering and to try to approach those matters in the spirit in which I believe the legislation will be prepared and presented to the Parliament. I am conscious that legislation does not and will never solve all of the problems that face a central government or a national government in the times in which we live. I shall not delve deeply, in the few minutes left to me tonight, into many of the problems which I see facing this country. Certain of the problems already have been traversed by senators who know more about these individual matters than 1 would claim to know. But they stand out as problems to which we must ali apply ourselves and on which the Government must give a lead.
First and foremost - rich as we are in minerals, oil, natural gas and other natural resources - we arc still basically reliant on the success, stability and viability of our primary industries. As has been said and is very well known, many sectors of primary industry are in grave trouble. Not all of their problems can be solved either by a lot of talk in the Senate or by merely passing legislation. Matters of international trade and of peace in other parts of the world come into a consideration of these problems. But a heavy responsibility devolves on all of us to pay attention to the problems that face many sectors of our important primary industries.
Many social problems still beset this affluent nation. Australia is in a state of comparatively full employment and, in some sectors, over full employment. However, there are too many pockets of poverty. The Prime Minister has referred to them. The Government will introduce legislation in the fields of social services and health and will propose amendments to schemes which we hope will go a long way towards getting rid of these pockets of poverty, Australia is too grand and rich a country for us to put up with allowing pockets of poverty, other than those that are selfinflicted wounds, to continue to exist. The combined efforts of all members of the national Parliament will be needed to overcome some of these problems. Shortages must exist in a nation with a small population, when great development over wide areas of the continent is taking place.
Every year we bring new migrants to this country. We are continuing and perhaps improving on the immigration policy started by a Labor government under the guidance of the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) in 1947. We are bringing to Australia in migrants alone the equivalent of a brand new city of 125,000 people. In other words, another Canberra, as it is today,, is coming every year into this country by way of migration alone. Thank goodness, many good Australians are being born and are growing up in this country. Many, young Australians marry and want homes. They need schools and hospitals. I know that there are shortages in the supply of these necessary buildings. The Government, has not been unmindful of this. But the problem that besets this country at the moment has an effect on the shortage of . hospitals, schools and other such required buildings. The problem I refer to is that of Commonwealth and State relations. This concerns not only financial relations.
Quite frankly, I am. amazed at the unsatisfactory Commonwealth and State financial relations and the haggling that has gone on at Premiers Conferences every year that I have been in . Parliament. The situation has not really improved. T am not blaming any of the Premiers, either present or past, for this state of affairs. All I am saying is that an unsatisfactory state of affairs exists in this modem. Australia in the one very important matter of the financial relationships between the central Government and the sovereign States. It is difficult to understand that in this space age, this age of great inventions, of great triumphs and of great advances, - the financial, economic and political brains of this country cannot get together and have not got together to formulate satisfactory, healthy and economically sound Commonwalth and State financial arrangements. I believe that when that day comes we will get the hospitals, the schools and far more contentment among the people than we have at present.
There is too much strife in the school teaching profession. One often cannot understand why this is so. But great strife is developing in many sectors of school teaching today. Nothing but harm and bad can flow into the community from a profession such as school teaching whose members are unsettled and dissentient. The example school teachers give to school children makes one wonder how great will be the dissenters of the next generation. Someone, either in government or in the education administration, is to blame for this position. This is a matter that needs the attention of those who may be able to bring a solution to the problem.
The Governor-General spoke about the past 200 years and said that we must look forward. One small facet of common sense that I heard from Senator Murphy was his emphasis on the fact that the Prime Minister had openly stated that he realised that the middle group wage earner was too severely taxed and that he and his Government were looking at this situation to try to amend the scales of taxation to give some relief to this class of taxpayer. I hope the Prime Minister realises that that pronouncement of policy and promise to take some action will be remembered, and the decision as to how it will be implemented will be eagerly waited for by the people of Australia.
The Senate in recent years has extended its role in regard to the establishment of committees. This has been a very wise and valuable increase in the activities of senators. I very much regretted to read the statement of a well known political commentator, who writes for a recently formed Sunday newspaper in Melbourne, that he regretted that most reports of Senate committees, however good, were pigeonholed. That is not true. I know that much good has resulted to the printing industry from the report of the Printing and Publications Committee of which Senator Murphy and 1, along with other senators, were members. This good work is still being carried out. We have the great example of the Laught report on the metric system of weights and measures. The late Senator Keith Laught will ever be remembered for his work on that Committee the recommendations of which will be of great benefit to the people of Australia.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Mr President, I rise at this hour to ventilate a grievance on behalf of a migrant who resides in Queanbeyan. I do so at the behest of the Civil Liberties Council of the Australian Capital Territory. The migrant in question is of Spanish origin. He is Mr Claude Villegas. He lives at 46 Munro Road, Queanbeyan. It is significant that, in mentioning this case, I am fortified by two communications from the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch) that are germane to this case. In view of the lateness of the hour, I shall not read them but with the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate them in Hansard. They are:
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
I promised to write to you again concerning the question of establishing an appeals tribunal to review applications for naturalisation which have been rejected. I very much regret that a reply was not provided much earlier.
The grant of citizenship is a privilege, not a right.
In 1948 when introducing the Nationality and Citizenship Bill, the then Minister, the Hon. A. A. Calwell, placed before Parliament an Explanatory Memorandum. In dealing with the matter of the discretion of the Minister the Explanatory Memorandum reads as follows:
Since 1844, it has been a uniform feature of naturalisation legislation to give a wide discretion to the executive to grant or refuse naturalisation. Clause 40 continues this principle.’
The Parliament accepted this principle and Section 40 of the Act, which came into force on 26 January 1949 provided as follows:
The Minister may grant or refuse an application made to him without assigning any reason.’
Suggestions that provision should be made for a right of appeal have been made from time to time and considered by the Government but have not been adopted.
In your letter you have mentioned specifically the matter of the employment of Mrs Varushka Vallo. This is not within my responsibility and I am not in a position to provide information.
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
In your letter of 18 February 1970 you drew attention to the question you raised in the Senate on 25 November 1969 when you asked -
When initial discussions were held with the Spanish Government on the flow of Spanish migrants to Australia was the subject of migrants’ monetary remissions to their dependants in Spain discussed?
Is the Minister aware that some Spanish migrants find that Spanish banks have arbitrarily utilised some of such savings for Spanish Government loans to the detriment of their needy dependants?
Is the Minister aware that such victims of the Spanish Government policy in such matters are reluctant to complain lest the Spanish Government exert pressures on their dependants in Spain?
Does the Government contemplate discussions with the Spanish Government to eliminate this authoritarian practice?’
In answer to your quest ion it is advised that in 1965 preliminary discussions were opened with the Spanish authorities on a migration agreement and an outline of such agreement was delivered to them. The question of the transfer by migrants of reasonable funds for the maintenance of their dependants was included in this document. However these discussions did not lead to a formal migration agreement and since then the question of the transfer of funds has not been the subject of talks withthe Spanish authorities.
It has not come to notice previously that some Spanish migrants find Spanish banks have arbitrarily utilised remittances for Government loans or that there is a reluctance for these people to complain lest the Spanish Government exerts pressure on their dependants in Spain. However the Australian Government has no right of intervention in matters which concern the internal fiscal policies of another country and representations by it in these matters would, therefore be inappropriate.
I raise this matter because this Spanish migrant, who has sought twice to be naturalised, has been refused naturalisation. 1 take as a text for my speech tonight the remarks made in the recent address by Senator Marriott in which he implied that our intake of migrants has multiplied. Obviously, problems have changed, and situations are different from what they were 20 years ago. 1 say that deliberately. In a communication to me dated 24th February 1970, the Minister for Immigration states that the Minister may grant or refuse an application for naturalisation. He adds that suggestions have been made for the provision of a tribunal from time to time but that the Government has never adopted them. This is the very point I am making now.
In one of the letters to me, the Minister quotes the first Minister for Immigration - an illustrious Minister - the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). In support of my claim that a need exists for the establishment of such a tribunal to consider the matter of applications for naturalisation,I believe that we all know that in early post-war years after 1945, in the aftermath of World War II, it was very hard at times to identify people. I am speaking now from the point of view of security. But 20 years have gone by since
World War II concluded and it is much easier now to clarify some situations. In the second communication from the Minister for Immigration, dated 2nd March 1970, which was in reply to a series of questions whichI asked him about Spanish migrants and the protection of their rights, he pointed out:
But no agreement has been ratified. I do not quibble at the fact that any country must vet the people whom it accepts as migrants, but I ask: ‘On what basis do we finally decide whether the granting of citizenship to a migrant is justified?’ I suppose I could say that if screening was effective in the first instance obviously ultimate naturalisation would just be a formality. Let me take it a little further. We could say that a person entering Australia would be judged on his or her conduct in the country of his or her proposed adoption.
This is the point that I pose to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) who represents here the Minister for Immigration. My information concerning Mr Villegas, whose case I am ventilating now, is that he has not been active in any politics in Australia. I do not say that this is a vice or a virtue, but we do get this kind of no-man’s land in relation to the rejection of applications for naturalisation. I know also that the number of migrants whose applications for naturalisation are rejected runs into three figures each year, but it has diminished to a degree. My point is that an element of doubt will always exist. I know that people are screened before they migrate to this country because when we saw the changing of the guard in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation with Brigadier Sir Charles Spry being replaced by Mr Barber, reference was made to the fact that officers of the ASIO have been allocated the job of screening migrants overseas. This has been part of their security work.
I ask, in the case of Spanish migrants: Are we to do our own screening in the country of origin or must we get advice from the Franco police on intending migrants?’ People could argue about a government being to the leftor to the right of our concepts. However I believe that it is an Australian tribunal that should finally determine each case. The difficulty with Spanish migrants is this: The term ‘anti-Franco’ could cover a. host of people. I do not know whether we should read George Orwell’s book on the Spanish Revolution or whether we should read other books to the left or to the right of the views in that book, but we should have a 1 970 concept of democracy. I do not see why we could not emulate Malaysia and other countries which have communal rights by creating an adequate tribunal that could vet cases. Such a tribunal would not destroy the secrecy of ASIO.
Let me point out what this does mean. As the Senate knows, last year a mild demonstration took place at the El Alamein Fountain at Kings Cross in Sydney. But a number of groups have protested on various domestic matters which the Minister for Immigration says, in the second document that I have incorporated in Hansard, are not matters for the Australian Government. Let me illustrate my point. A Spanish migrant may remit money to Spain. Whether or not a super tax is imposed on it or some compulsory loan is involved, I do not know. I have had complaints from various chaplains on this matter. If a migrant squeals too much, there is a feeling of reprisal. I wish to establish perfectly clearly whether the matter of Mr Villegas is a case in point in this respect. Until we get some clarification, do we take any advice from the Franco authorities oh whether or not a man is a good citizen? If we do, and if we let him into Australia - obviously we do screen him - either he is a potential Australian citizen or he is not.
It is not sufficient for the Minister to quote what was said in 1948 when the first Nationality and Citizenship Bill was introduced. The granting of more modern right for a person to. appeal against a refusal of naturalisation is long overdue. It is significant that when I asked an earlier question as to whether Spaniards in Sydney who took part in this demonstration would have a black mark registered against their applications for citizenship in future, I was told that each case would be taken on its merits. If that is so, the onus is on the Government to prove to me just what Mr Villegas has done in Australia that has led the Department to refuse him naturalisation. Children of the marriage have been born here. I do not think that it is right - indeed, I think that it is quite wrong - that this man should be left with this form of suspended sentence.
Before 1 conclude, it would be remiss of me if I did not refer to one other aspect. Some members will recall that an edition of the television programme ‘4 Corners’ dealt with the need for such a tribunal. A number of people spoke on that programme. In fairness to the Minister for Immigration, I should say that, when interviewed on that programme, he answered: I have only been Minister for a little while. I would prefer to reserve my comment on that matter’. It was on that basis that I wrote to the Minister early in the New Year and that he replied to me on 24th February. I also took the trouble of writing to the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ before that letter. I referred to the case of Mrs Varushka Vallo. She was a Czechoslovakian migrant. I suppose that we would call her a victim of extreme Stalinism. She came to this country. I have been quite happy to see a number of Czechoslovakian people coming to Australia. Obviously, the woman had undergone some form of security screening. She found herself working as a domestic at Pine Gap. The panic was on. The authorities could not remove the lady quickly enough from Pine Gap. My point about this case is that the Minister for Immigration states in his letter:
In your letter you have mentioned specifically the matter of the employment of Mrs Varushka Vallo. This is not within my responsibility and I am not in a position to provide information.
When I looked at a general screed on the functions of the Department of Immigration, I found that the Minister for Immigration was responsible for alien registration. So, I think that that answer from the Minister is not good enough.
Let me tell the Senate what I am afraid of. We live with an open arms policy in regard to bringing migrants to Australia. This woman was accepted here but then was hounded out of Pine Gap because of an error on our part. I have never met her, but I feel that she must now have the idea that she is a second class citizen. I concede the right for the authorities to have some security regulations at Pine Gap.
However, instead of them taking it out on the lady concerned the officer who sent her there should have been disciplined. No doubt exists about that. I am talking now about the Department of Defence. I am not criticising the Department of Immigration.
The cases that I have illustrated tonight are products of the inferior evaluations that our security organisation often makes. There is not one honourable senator here who has not had success on occasions when he has raised cases in respect of which naturalisation has been refused. All honourable senators have had experience of obtaining the reversal of such decisions. But for everyone who comes to an honourable senator with a case which finally succeeds, there are a lot of people who are a little bit frightened and timid, and they say: ‘We will not buck authority’.
To sum up, I would like the Minister to have a really close look at the case of this Spanish migrant. Again adopting the remarks of Senator Marriott, these problems could well be compounded. The sooner we get something constructive done, the better it will be. Some people may think thatI am being unduly sensitive.I would like to point out that I have had some traumatic experiences in the last 24 hours. This morningI read in Hansard of Senator Sir Magnus Cormack’s fears thatI am becoming too sympathetic to Eastern European governments. That was bad enough, but 1 then went into the Parliamentary Library and read in a Maxwell Newton publication that I am regarded as a right wing candidate for election to the Senate. I prefer to be regarded as a progressive centralist. Honourable senators will appreciate that one an easily become labelled.I am not affected personally, but migrants seeking naturalisation can be affected.
I am sure that Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin has grasped the point I am making and will convey it to the Minister for
Immigration. Perhaps a breakthrough will follow. We have heard a lot of talk about new legislation in the 1970s. The Government has borrowed many ideas from the Labor Party.I hope that it will borrow our civil liberties policy and will introduce a tribunal of review for rejected applicants for naturalisation.
[ 1 1 . 1 1 ] - Senator Mulvihill has tonight raised in the Senate an individual case. It is right and proper that he should do so, but I think it is also right thatI should take that case to the Minister for Immigration (Mr Lynch). As I understand the honourable senator’s final point as to the general thinking, he was speaking in support of an independent tribunal to which persons who are refused naturalisation could appeal. We have discussed this point previously, either in a debate on the adjournment of the Senate or during debates on immigration matters. Probably the honourable senator has also been told in correspondence from the Minister that the Government has considered this question previously but has decided not to change the present arrangements.
As we know, the grant of citizenship has been regarded as a privilege and not as a right and it has been properly a matter within the discretionary power of the Executive, answerable to Parliament. It has always been felt that it would not be appropriate that policies and decisions in matters of this kind should be made by an independent body not answerable to Parliament. As I said earlier, I will ensure that the points raised by the honourable senator are placed before the Minister for Immigration. I will certainly convey to the honourable senator any reply that I receive.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 March 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700311_senate_27_s43/>.