27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuilin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator MURPHY presented from 24 electors of (he Divisions of Reid and Bennelong a petition showing that in the national interest it is essential that there be an effective and respected Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration system; that the decision given by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the professional engineers’ case on 3rd December 1969, which has followed to the letter in both magnitude and date of operation the salary increases for engineers employed in the Commonwealth Public Service which were announced before the arbitration hearing had concluded, has given rise to utter dismay and has indicated a lack of independent assessment; that recent statements made at the Australian Workers Union conference and by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have indicated disillusionment with the federal arbitration system and have particularly referred to the professional engineers’ case; and that an unacceptable arbitration system must inevitably lead to industrial unrest throughout Australia.
The petitioners pray that the Australian Government take positive action as soon as possible to re-establish confidence in the Commonwealth arbitration system.
Petition received and read.
Senator POYSER presented from 33 citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that the red kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy; none of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our national emblem; it is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the export of all kangaroo products be banned immediately; that the Commonwealth Government make a serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo; and that pressure be brought to bear on the Queensland Government to declare a closure of season each year to permit population recovery.
Petition received and read.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs agree with the statement of the President of the United States of America, Mr Nixon, that the just peace we seek is in sight? What are the signs of this and how do they manifest themselves? Finally, how long is it expected to take to reach this point of a just peace?
– As did practically everybody in the free world, I read the statement made by the President of the United States of America. I do not think it would be appropriate for me to make comments, judgments or interpretations of what he said. The Prime Minister of Australia will make a statement in the Commonwealth Parliament tonight.
– Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate in a position to be able to assure positively the Australian people that Government policy with respect to the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam and the continuation of the National Service Act will not be affected in any way by the undemocratic mass disruptions proposed by the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign?
– I can give the assurance to the Senate and to the honourable senator that the proposed Vietnam Moratorium Campaign will have no effect upon Government policy. The Government accepts responsibility for its policy. Indeed, its policy is in the best interests of the Australian people. To that extent, therefore, its policy has no relation to the Moratorium
Campaign which, I suggest, is not in the best interests of Australia because the Moratorium Campaign proposes to hold the Australian people to ransom for 3 days to express a point of view.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen reports that an Australian operator plans to convert 3 Electra passenger aircraft for use as freighters? Can the Minister say whether approval will be given for these aircraft to be used during curfew hours at major airports where such restrictions are in force? ls the Minister aware that, according to official noise readings, an Electra during the landing phase is capable of making more noise than a DC9 pure jet? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that the night curfew applied to safeguard the interests of residents living in the proximity of airports will not be circumvented by the use of noisy turbo-prop aircraft of the Electra type?
– As 1 heard and wrote down the honourable senators question, it contained 3 sections. The first part of the question dealt with a suggestion thai an airline operator proposes to convert 3 Electra passenger aircraft to freight carrying aircraft. 1 have no knowledge of that proposal, but 1 certainly will make inquiries about it. The second part of the question dealt with several matters regarding operations during curfew hours. I assure the honourable senator that there are no plans to change the present situation in regard to flying during the curfew hours imposed at major airports. The third part of the question, which was interesting, dealt with the noise reading of Electra aircraft in comparison with DC9s. ] will obtain some information about that and let the honourable senator have a full reply to his question in due course.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the numerous suggestions emanating from Government senators on how the trade unions should operate in accordance with the principles of elementary justice and the national interest, how does he reconcile those objectives with the type of natural justice that exists iu the commercial world, as exemplified by last Friday’s meeting of Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd at which the majority of Australian resident shareholders who sought to slop this industrial giant ravishing the Colong Caves region of New South Wales were crushed by a large group of overseas shareholders who regard Australia as only a mineral harlot?
– The honourable senator is talking about matters of which I am not aware. The fact is that rules dealing with the affairs of a joint slock company, under the laws of our land, are prescribed in its articles of association. An analogy between the conduct of the affairs of a joint stock company and the industrial machinery of the Commonwealth of Australia is something that I am unable to accept. First of all, the industrial laws of Australia receive the admiration of probably every other country in the world. Secondly, the problem of the Colong Caves is a matter strictly within the responsibility of the Slate of New South Wales in which they are located. For that reason 1 cannot make any contribution or offer any suggestion to the honourable senator other than that he should make his representations to his local Slate member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply, ls it a fact that representatives of the Boeing Vertol organisation - a division of the Boeing company that manufactures military helicopters - are visiting Australian aircraft factories, including the Government Aircraft Factories, to examine Australia’s ability lo produce parts for the Chinook heavy lift helicopter? If so, is this subcontracting work within the productive ability of the existing staffs, particularly the presently employed staff at the Government Aircraft Factories? Do the proposals for Australian manufacture depend largely upon Australian purchases of the aircraft?
– It will be recalled that when the Minister for Defence made his statement on the forward planning for defence purposes reference was made to a Service requirement for helicopters. He indicated in his statement what the requirement would probably be and also that in the handling of the order to fulfil the requirement of the Services we would have regard to the possibility of offset arrangements and Australian content. I am happy to say that representatives of the Boeing company were in my office last week during the sittings of the Senate. They discussed with us the possibilities of Australian content. At that point of time they had made an inspection of the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation factory, which is across the road at Fishermen’s Bend. They offered to me, quite gratuitously, the comment that they believed that our capability was such that in their bid they would be able to offer quite a significant amount of Australian content.
A couple of companies have been invited by my Department to bid. It has been made abundantly clear to them that in those bids we are looking for Australian content. At this point of time I cannot say any more, except that the period in which this is to be done is 6 months and a couple of months of that period have already expired. So, this is quite a significant matter which will have to be resolved within the foreseeable future.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Works. I ask: What progress has been made in the development of plans for a civic centre for Federal, State and local government offices in Launceston? Is this most desirable and worthy project being delayed in any way by any Jack of support on the part of the Federal Government?
– So far as I know no delay is being occasioned to the project by any instrumentality of the Federal Government. The implementation of the plan at its present stage would be the immediate responsibility of the Department of the Interior. The Department of Works would come into the matter only to advise on appropriate construction. When I was last involved with this matter, which was last year, I told the Town Clerk of the City of Launceston that he could expect the utmost co-operation in the implementation of what seems to me to be a most fruitful plan for the city.
– My question . is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. 1 ask the Minister whether he has obtained an answer to question No. 53 on the notice paper. The question reads:
Are crew members of RAAF Hercules aircraft flying from Australia to Vietnam with supplies and equipment entitled to full repatriation benefits, war service home loans and rehabilitation facilities and war service land settlement loans if injured or wounded on these flights.
– I dis.discussed this question only this morning with the Minister for Repatriation. I regret the delay that has occurred. The answer to the honourable senator’s question must be cleared with another Department before it can be presented in the Senate. However, I have pointed out the period during which this question has been on the notice paper and am endeavouring to get a reply and present it as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether it is a fact that the Phantom F42 aircraft has a combat range of only 900 miles? What armament is carried by the aircraft, excluding the standard equipment of 7 smoke bombs?
– The information the honourable senator wants would have to be detailed because he did not say what load the aircraft would be carrying to travel the 900 miles. I will obtain a detailed reply giving the various loads and ranges of the aircraft.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. If the forthcoming Moratorium Campaign demonstration can have no effect on Government policy on Vietnam and the National Service Act, will the Minister inform Senator Greenwood of the lack of necessity for his nightly ravings to which this chamber has become accustomed, and tell him that his fears of success of the Moratorium Campaign, against which he feels he must protect the nation, are groundless?
– Senator Greenwood has exercised his right, pursuant to the standing orders, to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.I would be the last person to wish to suggest that any honourable senator should not exercise such a right if he wants to place a specific matter before the Senate. J make that statement with particular reference to the honourable senators who sit on the opposite side of this chamber. As to the results achieved by any honourable senator in raising a matter during the adjournment debate, again I do not think this is a matter on which 1 should pass judgment. However. I may say that as 1 listened to what Senator Greenwood had to say in relation to the Moratorium Campaign, it seemed to me that the whole burden of his complaint was that the organisers of the Campaign were suggesting that people should disobey the law of the land. Regardless of what other responsibilities honourable senators have, they come here to make the laws and they all should do everything in their power to see that those laws are obeyed. Wherever an honourable senator sees what he believes to be an incitement to break the law he has a duty to disclose it. All power to him if he raises the issue in the Parliament which is the place to express his concern on behalf of the people.
– Is the Minister representing the Attorney-General aware of the many false statements being made by membersof the Australian Labor Party in support of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign such as. for example, that the United Stales and South Vietnam had signed and then broken the Geneva Accords of 1954? In view of the palpable falsity of that and many other statements, does the AttorneyGeneral consider that there is, or that there should be, some legal action open to the Government to ensure accuracy in the presentation of arguments upon which the Australian public may be asked to make a judgment?
– The answerto the question obviously would involve a reference for the personal consideration ofthe Attorney-General.I am surprisedto hear it said that anyone is making the statement that the United States Government signed the Geneva Convention of 1954. 1 would have thought that that statement was palpably false.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that additional telephone lines were to be installed on Thursday Island early in 1970 to improve telephone services between the Island and the mainland? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the installation was postponed because most of the equipment was needed to service Cooktown during the 40 minutes royal visit today? When will the installation of the new telephone equipment on Thursday Island now take place?
– I recall that Senator Keeffe raised this matter on one other occasion. I will take it up with the Postmaster-General and inform the honourable senator the stage which has now been reached.
– By way of preface to my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate 1 refer to an answer he gave a short time ago in which he indicated that there was some fear of violence in the conduct of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign. It was alleged by Opposition interjection that that was an untruth. Is he aware that a meeting held at Richmond Town Hall, Victoria, on 2nd February 1970 to discuss the Moratorium Campaign a motion was carried by 102 votes to 86 to remove from the Moratorium Campaign policy statement the wordsthat all actions taken be of a peaceful and nonviolent nature’?
– I can only say that that is my understanding of the facts. I cannot document them right now because I do not have the papers in front of me. However it is my understanding that the kind of resolution mentioned by the honourable senator was carried at that meeting.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as representative of the Prime
Minister whose Department is in charge of the Royal tour of Canberra. Will he ensure that returned servicemen, particularly war pensioners, and widows and relatives of ex-servicemen are given No. 1 priority at the Australian War Memorial for the Anzac Day service which is to be attended by Her Majesty and Prince Philip? This is principally a ceremony for ex-servicemen and both diplomats and politicians, who usually have front seats, will have many opportunities both to see and meet the royal couple at the many other functions in Canberra (o which they will be invited.
– 1 understand that a whole series of invitations have been already issued to people representing certain groups and organisations. I am quite certain that the ex-service organisations and pensioner organisations will be properly represented. Indeed, honourable senators and members of the other place have been invited to attend also. 1 believe that there will be ample opportunity for all, regardless of whether they are attending the ceremony as a result of receiving an invitation or are going along in the normal way as citizens, to participate in the ceremony. One does nol have to sit in the front row to participate in a ceremony, particularly when the ceremony involves ex-service personnel. We all become a part of the ceremony. The people who march and the people who make their dedication are just as much a part of the ceremony as anybody who sits in the front row. I would say to the honourable senator that, although the invitations have been issued and accepted, I feel quite confident that duc regard has been paid to the point which he made.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will the Minister have tabled in this chamber any documents purporting to represent a request from the South Vietnam Government in 1965 tor military assistance from the Australian Government?
– If the honourable senator puts his question on notice I will have it examined.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the present accord between Indonesia and Australia, has the Australian Government sought to align itself with Mr Malik’s efforts to convene a new Geneva conference on affairs in Indo-China?
– There has been quite an amount of comment in relation lo the proposed convening of a conference to discuss this matter. Honourable senators are no doubt aware that the Minister for External Affairs returned to Australia yesterday and is in the Parliament today. In the circumstances, 1 think it would bc far better if the honourable senator were to put his question on notice so that I can get a reply for him from the Minister for External Affairs.
– My question is directed to Ihe Minister representing the Minister for National Development. J ask: Is ihe Minister aware that one aspect which plays a substantial part in the decision of manufacturing and tertiary industries not to establish their operations in country areas is the cost of communication? ls the Minister aware that the cost to a decentralised industry of telephone calls in general reacts more against the profitability of that industry than is ihe case with a similar industry which is established in a city centre? Will the Minister request ihe Minister for National Development to give serious consideration to the suggestion for the payment of a Commonwealth subsidy lo a decentralised industry so as to equate the cost of Commonwealth services to that industry and lo a similar industry in a city?
– The New South Wales Department of Decentralisation and Development provides some assistance towards meeting the telephone and communication costs of manufacturing industries in particular - I do not know whether assistance is also provided to tertiary industries - which are established in country areas of that State. I know that some assistance is provided - for instance, in relation to teleprinter services. I am quite well aware that communication and telephone costs arc a substantial portion of the cost structure of industries in country areas.I will direct Senator Webster’s request to the Minister for National Development to see whether the proposal of a subsidy to relieve this situation can be entertained.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer to rail standardisation in South Australia and the statement of the Minister for Shipping and Transport that the report of the consultants is being studied by himself and his Department. I ask Will the Minister ensure that the 1966 economic studies which were undertaken by the South Australian Railways Commissioner and submitted to the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways for consideration by the Minister for Shipping and Transport and his Department are included in any report of the present consultants which is tabled in the Parliament?
– I said yesterday that the consultant’s report, I believed, was in the hands of the Minister for Shipping and Transport who was studying it. 1 can only direct the honourable senator’s question and proposal to the Minister and ask him whether he will, when he decides to make a statement, give consideration to the additional request that the 1966 economic study report also be made available.
(Question No. 46)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Yes. I refer the honourable senator to the answer given by the Minister for External Affairs to a question without notice in the House of Representatives on 7 April 1970 (Hansard pp. 734-5).
(Question No. 1.17)
asked the Minis ter representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 122)
asked the Attorney-
General, upon notice:
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
(Question No. 127)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General. upon notice:
As it has now become a socially accepted fact in Australia that many persons of dubious character, previously declared bankrupt,float companies almost at will, will the Government take urgent action to have all relevant legislation amended in such a way as to protect small investors.
– The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has under consideration the possible need for amendment of the uniform Companies Acts to prevent persons who have been associated with companies that have gone into liquidation in certain circumstances from being directors of companies. 1 shall arrange for this consideration to cover the matters raised by the honourable senator.
(Question No. 131)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Did the Commonwealth Police or the AttorneyGeneral institute charges against Jack Miliripam Marika for assault on Rita Galkama on19th February this year at Gove Peninsula.
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer:
No. The proceedings were instituted by an officer of the Northern Territory Police Force following a complaint by Miss Galkama.
(Question No. 220)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
-The Minister for Social Services has provided thefollowing answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 243)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Minister for the Army has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 17th March Senator Webster asked me the following question without notice:
Is it a fact that some employers of labour are required by law or agreement to make cash paymentto employees when the employees’ services cannot be used in their industry? 1 then promised to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to provide the information for the honourable senator. The Minister for Labour and National Service has now supplied the following information:
Generally speaking, employees whose employment in an industry is terminated through no fault of the employee are entitled, under provisions of industrial awards, determinations or agreements, to pro rata payment in lieu of annual leave not taken and, subject to having completed a prescribed minimum period of continuous service, to pro rata payments in lieu of long service leave. Employees are also normally entitled to notice of at least 1 week prior to termination or, in lieu of (he notice, at least 1 week’s pay. In two cases tribunals have awarded severance allowances based on length o£ service. A number of employers have also entered into agreements with unions to provide severance payments, generally based on the length of service of the employees concerned.
– I table for the information of the Senate a copy of the speech made by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) in another place last Thursday on the subject of Commonwealth educational research assistance.
[3.41] - On behalf of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) I move:
Mr President, the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications recommended in its report, presented to the Senate in May 1964, that there should be a continuing parliamentary review of Commonwealth printing and publishing. It pointed out that the existing Printing Committees of both Houses could not undertake the task as they were severely restricted in their powers, ft went on to recommend, therefore, that a joint committee should be appointed with power not only to review the printing and publication of both parliamentary and government publications but also to undertake the function of the existing Printing Committees.
On 26th November 1968, on behalf of the then Treasurer, in a statement on Government publishing policy Senator Anderson announced in the Senate that the Government had accepted this recommendation and that the Treasurer proposed to seek the views of the Presiding Officers in connection with its implementation. The Presiding Officers have since advised that the proposed committee could be established in any one of 3 ways: (1) By legislation, as in the case of the Public Works or Public Accounts Committees; (2) by resolution of both Houses at the commencement of each Parliament, as in the case of the Australian Capital Territory and Foreign Affairs Committees; or (3) by amendment of the Standing Orders of both Houses which at present provide for the appointment of the existing Printing Committees.
Both Mr Speaker and you, Mr President, have indicated that you believe the most appropriate way to give effect to the proposal is by amendment of the Standing Orders. You have suggested that the new Standing Order for each House might be framed in such a way as to enable each House, independently, through its Committee, to continue to exercise the existing Printing Committee function of considering which petitions and papers presented to that House should be printed whilst providing that when sitting together as a joint committee, the intended additional responsibilities and powers may be exercised. The Presiding Officers suggested to the Government that the matter should be referred to the Standing Orders Committee of each House for a recommendation of an appropriate amendment to the Standing Orders. Mr President, I commend the motion to honourable senators.
– The Opposition supports this motion in order that the recommendation of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications may be carried out. A number of senators, including Senator Marriott and, 1 think, Senator Toohey, were on that Committee which made a number of recommendations. 1 believe that the Committee’s report was never discussed in any detail in the Senate or, for that matter, in the House of Representatives. I understand from a published statement that most of the Committee’s recommendations were adopted by the Government. I think it was said that all recommendations, with the exception of a small one relating to the size of certain papers, were adopted. The recommendation as to the size of papers was agreed to by members of the Committee individually. That was a small matter, so it might be said that all recommendations of (he Committee were in fact accepted by the Executive Government. For my part I see that at least some of the difficulties which led to the establishment of that Committee by the unanimous vote of both Houses still persist. The Committee was set up in despair to deal with problems which apparently could not be solved by the efforts of the Commonwealth Public Service. I regret that many of those problems still exist. For example, it is not possible to obtain even the 1968 volume of the Commonwealth Acts of this Parliament, and we still have to wait lengthy periods to obtain bound volumes of Hansard. Here is an opportunity for certain decisions to be taken by a joint committee, if the recommendations were acceded to. The proposal that would be considered by the Standing Orders Committee, I think, is a wise one. and we support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) agreed to:
That the Senate, al ils rising, adjourn till tomorrow at 10 a.m.
Bill presented by Senator Murphy, and read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[3.48] - 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
By this Bill it is proposed to amend the Estate Duty Assessment Act to provide reliefs from duty on estates of deceased primary producers. It is also proposed - in relation to estates generally - to remove some limitations on the powers of the Commissioner of Taxation to allow extended time for the payment of duty. The amendments will give effect to proposals announced in the i 969-70 Budget Speech and explained more fully in a statement made in this chamber on 25th September 1969. Under the terms of the Bill, dutiable estates resulting from deaths on or after 25th September 1969 may be eligible for the proposed reliefs if the deceased person was domiciled in Australia at the time of his death.
The Bill proposes two basic tests to determine the eligibility of an estate for the reliefs. Staled broadly, an estate will qualify for the reliefs where the rural property in the estate has a gross value in excess of one-half of the gross value of the estate as a whole and more than onehalf of the deceased person’s gross income in a 5-year period preceding his death was derived from a primary production business carried on by him. In this connection, gross value means the value of property disregarding debts and encumbrances. Assets qualifying as rural property will include land used in a business of primary production, improvements on such land, live stock, farm produce, farm plant and interests in these kinds of property. One of the proposed reliefs is a 20% increase in the level of exemption from duty, commonly known as the statutory exemption, for estates which satisfy the 2 basic tests. The other relief will take the form of a rebate of part of the duty attributable to rural property in an estate which meets both the tests.
An outright exemption for eligible estates which pass wholly to the widow, children or grandchildren of the deceased person will apply where the value of the estate is $24,000 or less. For eligible estates which do not pass to such relatives, outright exemption will apply up to a value of $12,000. The present statutory exemptions are $20,000 and $10,000 respectively. For eligible estates of a value in excess of $24,000 passing wholly to the close relatives I have already mentioned, the statutory exemption is to be reduced by $2 for each $8 by which the value is greater than $24,000, and thus will cut out completely at a value of $120,000. For eligible estates which do not pass to close relatives, and which are of a value greater than $12,000, the statutory exemption will be reduced on the same basis and will shade out completely ai a value of $60,000. I mention that, under the present law, the statutory exemptions diminish at the same rates as proposed by this Bill and cut out at values of $100,000 and $50,000 respectively.
The other relief - by way of a rebate of duty - will be available where the value of an eligible estate is less than $250,000, after the allowance of all deductions except any statutory exemption. If this value is not greater than $140,000 the rebate will be equal to 50% of the part of the duty that, by a process of direct apportionment, is attributable to rural property included in the estate. Where the value of an estate is greater than $140,000 the basic 50% rate of rebate will be reduced by one-tenth of 1% for each $220 by which the value of the estate exceeds $140,000.
The Bill also contains provisions under which estates of deceased persons who had carried on their primary production activities through proprietary family companies may qualify for the relief. The allowance of the reliefs for these estates will be conditional upon the capital of the company being beneficially owned wholly, or to the extent of at least 95% by the estate of the deceased person and his relatives. Where a deceased person’s estate includes shares in such a company, and the value of the rural property of the company at the time of death was greater than the value of its other property, the part of the value of the shares attributable to the company’s rural property may, if the administrator so elects, be treated as rural property of the estate. A consequence of such an election will, however, be that the shares will be valued on an assets backing basis for all duty purposes, including the valuation of the property in the estate and the assessment of duty in accordance with this valuation. The assets backing value will, in broad terms, represent the amount that would be received in respect of the shares in the event of a voluntary liquidation of the company, without any allowance for costs of liquidation. In requiring that shares which are the subject of an election be valued by reference to their assets backing value, the objective of the Bill is to place estates of shareholders in family companies in a position that broadly corresponds with the situation which would have existed if the property represented by the shares had been owned by the deceased persons themselves instead of by their companies. This is also a feature of the probate duty rebate scheme of the State of Victoria. Its purpose is to provide an equitable basis for the rebate as between primary producers who have conducted their businesses personally and those who have conducted them through companies.
The provisions of the Bill relating to family companies will also enable estates in which shares in these companies are included to meet what I might refer to as the ‘income eligibility’ test; that is, the requirement that, for a deceased person’s estate to be eligible for the rebate, the major part of his income for the 5 years before his death must have been derived from a business of primary production carried on by him. I should mention at this point that the 5-year period for this test will be the 5 complete income tax years before the person’s death or, at the option of the administrator, the 4 complete tax years plus the part year up to the date of death. For the purposes of the income eligibility test the Bill provides that income in the form of dividends, salary. wages, bonuses or director’s fees received by a shareholder from a company may be treated as having been derived from the carrying on by him of a primary production business. For the income to be so treated, it will be necessary, firstly, for the company to have been a family company throughout the year in which the deceased person derived the income and, secondly, for the company’s own income for that year to have been derived principally from a business of primary production carried on by it. These provisions of the Bill are designed to avoid the situation in which an estate containing rural assets would be ineligible for the reliefs because income from a primary production business in which the deceased person had an interest was derived by him through a family company rather than directly through personal ownership.
With the same broad purpose in view, the Bill also provides that, where a primary production business has been conducted by the trustee of an estate in which the deceased person was a beneficiary, a share of the income received by that person will - to the extent that it was paid out of primary production income of the trust - be regarded as income from a business of primary production carried on by him. Under the Bill, the rights of administrators to contest decisions of the Commissioner of Taxation before a board of review, a valuation board or a court, where the decisions affect the liability of the estate for duty, will be available in relation to the proposed rebate of duty.
As to the provisions of the Bill dealing with extensions of time for payment of duty, the proposal is to change the existing law so that the Commissioner will no longer be required to obtain security before allowing extra time for payment in appropriate circumstances. The statutory obligation that estate duty must be paid within 2 years from the date of service of notices of assessment will also be removed. The amended provisions of the law will enable the Commissioner to grant extensions of time appropriate to the particular circumstances of individual cases. As I explained at the outset, the provisions relating to extensions of time for payment are to apply to estates in general - not only to the estates of primary producers. The estate duty payable on smaller rural estates will be significantly reduced as a result of the amendments proposed by the Bill. The Government believes that its proposals will do much to assist in maintaining economic farm units intact. A memorandum explaining the provisions of the Bill in some detail is being circulated for the information of honourable senators. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 21 April (vide page 973).
Upon which Senator Drury had moved by way of amendment to clause 4:
Omit ‘is hereby ratified and approved’, insert shall not be approved until an immediate computer evaluation of the construction of storages of various capacities at both Dartmouth and Chowilla has been completed’.
– Before this debate was interrupted last night I referred to the amendment moved by the Opposition. I pointed out that members of the Opposition had shifted ground on many occasions. First of all they were all for Chowilla and nothing else. Then they decided that they would prefer a 2-dam concept with both Chowilla and Dartmouth. Now, in the amendment that is now before the Committee they are proposing that further computer studies be made with regard to the 2 dams. If they were satisfied with Chowilla and its entitlement to South Australia of l j million acre-feet of water and if they supported Chowilla for some time after the River Murray Commission made its report, why did not they say then that South Australia needed 2 dams - both Chowilla and Dartmouth?
Have they just suddenly decided that South Australia needs more water? Originally they were satisfied with Chowilla and an entitlement to South Australia of I k million acre-feet. If they have decided that South Australia wants more water, that is exactly what the Premier of South Australia, Mr Hall, fought for and won under the Dartmouth agreement. He succeeded in getting a further 250,000 acre-feet, thus giving South Australia an entitlement of l i million acre-feet, which means in real terms that the State will receive a 37% increase in usable water. I just wonder what the Opposition really wants.
As to the suggestion in the amendment for further computer studies, the report of the River Murray Commission shows very clearly that whether the Chowilla Dam were built to a capacity of 3 million acre feet or 5 million acre feet, there would be very little difference in its yield, which in either case would be about 250,000 acre feet. This is what it would add to the whole river system, lt is interesting to note that when Dartmouth is built South Australia will be getting an extra 250,000 acre feet of water which would be the total yield of the Chowilla dam.
– In a drought year?
– We will get from Dartmouth a greater increase of water in a drought year than we would get from Chowilla. Senator Ridley knows this quite well because he knows that the basis of the Agreement is that South Australia shares equally with the other two partner States. Let me remind Senator Ridley of the studies which have shown that if Dartmouth had been in operation South Australia would have had 1 year of restriction, whereas if Chowilla dam had been in operation South
Australia would have suffered 3 years of restrictions. Even in that 1 restricted year with Dartmouth in operation South Australia would have received 1.4 million acre feet of water, which would still be more than that State would have received under the old arrangement involving the building of the Chowilla dam. So even in that 1 year of restriction South Australia would have been a good deal better off. South Australia will now have equal sharing and it will also have security, lt appears that honourable senators opposite are not prepared to take the word of responsible men who have ability and experience and who have looked at this position very closely. It seems to me that what they are saying is: ‘We very much doubt the ability and the integrity of these men’. After all, these experts have made definite statements and I for one accept the statements of experts.
I want to quote portion of the Minister’s second reading speech. He said:
Some studies were made of combinations of storages at Dartmouth and Chowilla, but these were obviously much less attractive than a single Storage at Dartmouth and were not pursued. Chowilla built after Dartmouth would add about 250,000 acre feet to the available water. A storage of 2 million acre feet at Dartmouth combined with a 3 million acre feet storage at Chowilla would provide an additional yield not more than 15% greater than provided by a 3 million acre feet storage at Dartmouth alone.
It is obvious that there will not be a great gain if we build Chowilla at the same time as we build Dartmouth. I say quite emphatically that I, as a South Australian, am very concerned about that State’s water entitlement and the security of that entitlement. But let me go further. The Opposition suggests in the amendment that we build both dams at the same time, and it has also adopted a delaying tactic by suggesting that we make evaluations and further computer studies. If this amendment is accepted it will mean simply a delay in the provision of extra water for South Australia.
– Your colleagues said the computer study had already been made.
– Yes, but the amendment asks for more computer studies. That is the point. If we build both dams at the same time we are going to have an interest burden of some 53,500.000. It would be a very brave man who would be prepared to say emphatically that we need both dams immediately. The experts have said we do not need them at the present time and I will accept the word of those experts. But let me return to this $3,500,000 interest burden which would have to be met if we decided to build both dams at the same time. I suggest that we start looking to priorities. In Eyre Peninsula in South Australia a pipeline is being provided under what we know as the Polda-Kimba scheme. The project is not as yet completed because of lack of finance. Through the summer period the people have been carting water to the township of Kimba. I an assure you, Sir, and Opposition senators that if priorities are to come into consideration on the question of where money should be spent at this stage to meet the needs and requirements of South Australia, then the people on the west coast would tell you very clearly where they consider this additional money should be spent.
I support that too because there are other priorities in our State which must be looked at in the immediate future, particularly when we consider the kind of things that I have mentioned - the lack of water and the absence of reticulation to townships like Kimba and the properties surrounding it. They are desperately in need of water. Two years ago the whole district was almost out of water. The people were carting water by train even for stock. This year they have been carting water to the townships. There are trunk lines in the Eyre Peninsula which also need attention. We have to look fairly and squarely at priorities when we start talking water and when we are considering amendments such as those proposed by the Opposition which, as 1 have said, I believe are designed, firstly, to delay the project, and secondly, to increase the cost factor before an additional dam is really needed. I support the Opposition as I would support anyone who believes that further investigations must be made for future storages on the Murray system. I too hope that the next dam to be built for storage will be the Chowilla Dam. However, we must look at this clearly in the light of what should be done and list our priorities accordingly.
Strangely enough, we are dealing with an amendment which refers to a 2-dam concept and further evaluations of the proposal. 1 do not know whether the Opposition, particularly representatives from
South Australia, are aware of a Press article which [ noticed in an Adelaide newspaper on Thursday last 16th April under the heading, ‘Change seen in Labor stand’. The article states:
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Dunstan) has now stated quite clearly that Labor agrees that Dartmouth should be built first. Earlier the impression had gained ground that Labor was firmly wedded to the proposal to build both dams at once.
At the present time we are debating in this chamber an amendment which takes in a 2-dam concept although the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia has said very clearly to the Press that he supports Dartmouth at this stage. He has also said that he wants to see Chowilla built. The Premier of South Australia has made very clear that he has supported Dartmouth because of the greater gain to be obtained from Dartmouth in the immediate future. He has made it equally clear that he will support and do all that he can to have further investigations carried out on the whole river system to look at future storages. In addition he has said that he hopes that Chowilla will be the next storage constructed.
I can do no other than oppose this amendment for the reason that I, as a South Australian and a representative of that State, believe that my responsibilities lie in getting the maximum supply of water for South Australia with the greatest security, coupled with an urgency to have the dam built so that water will be available as soon as possible. The proposed amendment will only further delay the project.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) 14.91 - I rise for the first time in this debate. I did nol want to enter it because of the capabilities of my colleagues from South Australia who can put the case adequately. However 1 am concerned about the statements which have been made by honourable senators on the Government side, particularly Senator Young. I am reminded that at question time today Senator Wright, who represents the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) was asked to inquire into whether action could be taken in relation to untruthful statements that were made in this chamber. A great deal of gaol punishment is awaiting some honourable senators if the Attorney-General finds that he has the power to take such action.
I agree with Senator Young that we must consider priorities in the expenditure of money. He has referred to the need for a water supply to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. The provision of a water supply to that area is more important to the people there than the question of whether we build the Chowilla Dam. I remind the honourable senators that there is an acute shortage of water at Eyre Peninsula, which relies solely on the Tod River and the Polda Basin for its supply. This supply is being exploited to the utmost at present and there is still insufficient water to supply many of the towns in the Eyre Peninsula. Water is necessary in this area. Kimba is without a water supply. Water from the River Murray has to be carted to it from Iron Knob. Unless this supply of water at Iron Knob is assured large sections of the Eyre Peninsula will be without water and areas which are productive at present will become unproductive. The future of the Eyre Peninsula’s water supply depends upon the ability to link the mains which extend almost into Kimba with the waters of the River Murray received at Iron Knob. Therefore, the Chowilla proposal is of interest to more than just the citrus fruit growers along the river.
Between 85% and 95% of South Australia’s water supply is dependent upon the River Murray. The river is the source of water for not only those people who live along its banks but also the industrial expansion which is taking place at present at Whyalla and Iron Knob. No-one can deny that if the Darmouth proposal is proceeded with South Australia will be guaranteed an additional supply of water, but it will be provided only during the period when we do not want the water. In some years there is no shortage of water in South Australia because 8.5 million acre feet of water runs into the sea. At present the River Murray Commission cannot supply the 1.25 million acre feet of water to which South Australia is entitled under the existing agreement. It is in respect of periods of drought, when the Commission is unable to supply the 1.25 million acre feet to which we are entitled, that we are complaining.
The guarantee of an extra 0.25 million acre feet of water is of no value to South Australia unless it can be provided on the occasions when it is needed or can be held for use in a period when it is needed. It is therefore thought that South Australia should have a dam within its borders so that it can hold water for use during drought periods. I think it was stated in the second reading speech of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton), who represents the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) in this chamber, that there were periods last year during which whole areas were made unproductive as overhead sprinklers could not be used on the citrus fruits because of the saline content of the water. Whilst an increased water supply is guaranteed to South Australia from the Dartmouth project it should be remembered that we must take our quota month by month. During the winter months when we do not want as much water as we require in the summer River Murray water runs into the sea. During the summer months when we do want water we will get our quota if it is available, but if it is not available we will get only onethird of what is available.
The main danger to South Australia is that the extra water which is available to New South Wales and Victoria will be used for irrigation purposes. Both States are agreeing to the proposed amendment to the Agreement because it will give them additional water to use for irrigation purposes. The saline content in the water is due to seepage from irrigation and re-use of the water. While additional water will be available during the period when we do not want it, in a period of short supply, as Senator Ridley has indicated, we will get only sufficient to assure the supply of 900 cusecs of water to Mildura in order that Victoria will be getting at all times a pure water supply. South Australia will be left with the saline water which is left over. We submit that it is inevitable that as more water is used the saline content will increase. But if we had a reservoir of the capacity of Chowilla as proposed for the purpose of storing water when it is available in times of heavy flow such as in the winter months when we are getting nearly pure water, this water would be sufficiently pure to mix with the salt slugs that we get during a period of low water supply.
My main purpose in entering this debate is to correct the impression that some would try to give that there was some sell out by Don Dunstan’* Labor Government on this issue of Chowilla. The construction of the dam was envisaged by the Playford Government. It was supported by the succeeding Labor Government but in 1967, when it was understood that the cost of Chowilla would rise tremendously, a request came from Victoria and New South Wales for a computer study. The Labor Government was still adamant on the question of Chowilla, but due to the increase in cost and with the hope of going to arbitration as it was entitled to do under the rules of the River Murray Commission it could not refuse the computer studies which the other States were insisting upon, believing that whatever the computer studies might show, because of the sacrifice that South Australia made in giving certain water rights away at the time of the building of the Snowy Mountains scheme, there was an obligation to honour the promise of a storage in South Australia. So Don Dunstan agreed at that time, together wilh the Liberal Party Opposition in South Australia, to defer the construction of Chowilla until such time as they had the computer studies which were demanded by the other States. When the computer study had been made the Dunstan Government in 1968 instructed its representative on the River Murray Commission to oppose any further deferments for the sole purpose of forcing the issue to arbitration.
Under the rules of the River Murray Commission if the parties cannot agree the matter has to be adjudicated upon by a judge of the Supreme Court of. Tasmania. lt was for the sole purpose of getting this adjudication that South Australia sought a disagreement. The Labor Government wanted to force a disagreement and so submit the matter to arbitration. An election was held in 1968 and although Labor received a majority of votes it did not form the Government and the Hall Government reversed the instructions given to South Australia’s representative on the River Murray Commission and agreed to the proposal for the building of the Dartmouth Dam. Therefore any chance that South Australia had under this agreement to go to arbitration on this question was taken away by the Hall Government.
– Would they have arbitrated purely on Chowilla’s11/4 million acre feet or purely on Dartmouth’s11/2 million acre feet?
– They would have arbitrated on undertakings that were given to South Australia when it had forgone some of its water rights at the time of the building of the Snowy Mountain scheme. The computer studies, I think, showed definitely that for storage of water to make more water available at a lower cost Dartmouth was the scheme. It would make more water available than Chowilla ever would. But there has been no study made as to the benefits which may be derived by South Australia in isolation on this question. Although there will be more water, if it is available for the benefit of New South Wales and Victoria to the exclusion of South Australia it is a question of what is the balance on profit and loss account. What loss of production in South Australia on a national basis would balance any benefit given to Victoria or New South Wales? Therefore, Senator Drury says that this study should be made now. All we have heard from honourable senators opposite is that there will be more water but, as I say, it is water that South Australia does not want. The essential for South Australia is an abundant supply of pure, good quality water. While we are assured that we shall get an increased water supply it will be during periods when we are not using the water but letting it run out to sea.
We are not assured that the increased use of water for irrigation as a result of the greater water supply from Dartmouth will lead to an improvement in the quality of water in drought years which makes citrus growing along the Murray almost impossible. Of course, unless we have a mixing basin where we can store water in some state of purity after we receive it with the slugs that we get when the water is low a lot of South Australia must in the future go out of production. Of course, the agreement does not say that we will go on with Chowilla but it is a question of having to get the other States to agree to something which is beneficial only to South Australia. Anyone who thinks that we will get the other States to agree to the expenditure of money to construct something from which they get no benefit is living in a fool’s paradise. This is why the Labor Party says that the ratification of this agreement spells the death of Chowilla forever.
Furthermore, there is the argument that some$7m is spent on a lake which would be flooded by the construction of Chowilla. The amendment does not say that we should scrap the agreement. This is an argument that is causing concern to all South Australians. The whole debate on this matter has been conducted by South Australians, whether on this side of the chamber or the other side. It is of concern to Liberals as well as Labor representatives. Out of loyalty to the South Australian Premier, who was difficult on this question - when he had the right to go to arbitration he sold out that right - I suppose it is understandable that they whistle to keep up their courage. They have been saying: ‘You will get more water’. They have not examined these other questions. The amendment seeks only a study of the evaluation of the construction of storages of various capacities at both Dartmouth and Chowilla. These may be provided, it is suggested, at a reduced cost. It is not necessary to have both dams at their previously envisaged capacity and it could well be that two smaller dams of somewhat comparable cost could assure South Australia of its future water supply. This question should be taken out of politics. If there is a possibility of a study that would give us more facts on the benefit to all States that study should be made. The amendment seeks to defer ratification of some action that we cannot retrieve if once we make it, for the purpose of keeping us fully informed on the possibilities of solving the problem to the satisfaction of the South Australian people.
– I rise during the Committee stage of this Bill to raise a matter that concerns New South Wales, a State that I and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) who is at the table have the honour to represent in this Parliament. In so doing I support the amendment that has been moved by Senator Drury. Clause 4 of the Bill as it now stands reads:
The sixth further amending Agreement, a copy of which is set out in Section 7 of this Act. is hereby ratified and approved.
To that clause Senator Drury has moved on behalf of the Opposition an amendment whereby the words ‘is hereby ratified and approved’ are to be left out and the following words inserted instead: ‘shall not be approved until an immediate computer evaluation of the construction of storages of various capacities at both Dartmouth and Chowilla has been completed’.
To date this debate in the Senate has been conducted as though the Bill relates only to South Australia, but it also involves Victoria and New South Wales. As a representative of New South Wales 1 wish to refer to a matter which apparently will affect many citizens of New South Wales. The Minister for Civil Aviation, who is now at the table, lived in Broken Hill for many years and will fully understand the situation when 1 say that many residents of Broken Hill and Menindee are concerned at the effect that the passage of this Bill might have on their future and the future of the Menindee Lakes storage scheme unless a feasibility study or a computer evaluation is made of the storage capacities at both Dartmouth and Chowilla, as envisaged in the amendment proposed by the Opposition.
At this, the Committee stage of the debate, I ask the Minister: Does the Bill give a permanent call on the Menindee Lakes water? If it does it could have a vital effect on the people of Broken Hill and on the future of the Menindee Lakes storage scheme. Broken Hill is commonly referred to as the Silver City. The Minister will know well that for many years in drought times it was a waterless city and water trains daily brought water into that city. But that situation no longer exists there, thanks to the untiring efforts of .a great Australian, a ion of Broken Hill, the late Ernest Wetherell, who was Minister for Conservation and subsequently Minister for Education in a New South Wales Labor Government. The late Ern Wetherell, having lived so many years of bis life in Broken Hill, knew what a scheme such as the Menindee Lakes storage scheme would mean to the future of Broken Hill, the development of the mining industry there and the promotion of reasonable living standards for the people of that city.
When Ern Wetherell became charged with the important responsibility of the portfolio of Minister for Conservation in New South Wales, he quickly saw to it that what for him and many others had been a dream in fact became a reality. As a result of negotiations entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in 1963 the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement was ratified by this Parliament. It approved of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States with respect to the Darling River waters stored at Menindee. The Agreement was of 7 years duration and recently expired, giving a call on the water in the Menindee Lakes over 390,000 acre feet. My understanding is that the original intention of the Agreement was to give South Australia fresh water until it could obtain its own from the dam at Chowilla. But that project has not eventuated and this Bill now gives a call on the Darling storage system whenever the waters there exceed 390,000 acre feet.
The Menindee Lakes storage scheme was designed for over 2 million acre feel, but under this Bill it seems that the River Murray Commission will have an option on water over 390,000 acre feet stored in the Menindee Lakes system, it appears that a permanent call is available on this water and this is causing great concern in Broken Hill and in the Menindee area. In the Barrier Miner’ of Monday 13th April a report appeared of a statement by Mr Brian Reading, President of the Menindee Progress Association. He predicts a grim future for Menindee if Menindee Lakes water is given to the River Murray Commission in perpetuity. Mr Reading is reported to have said, referring to the Menindee Progress Association:
The Association and the local fruit growers anticipated the district being declared a citrus irrigation area but this proposed agreement will wipe off that idea. I do not think the agreement will affect us at present because most of us are sure that there will be enough water lo meet local demands.
However, Mr Reading pointed out that there will not be enough water to develop Menindee as a large irrigation and fruit growing centre. He said that the size of orchards would most likely be restricted to 400 acres because of low water supplies and that this would be a great blow to Menindee, In recent weeks people from Griffith and Dareton have been inquiring about moving into Menindee orchards, but Mr Reading fears that the new Agreement may stop them from coming. A meeting has been called by a progress association rather ironically called the Sunset Strip Progress Association. The meeting is to be held at Menindee on 26th April to discuss the effects of this legislation on Menindee and the Menindee Lakes storage scheme. The Mayor of Broken Hill, Alderman Dial, has said that the people of Broken Hill do not want to lose the Menindee Lakes water, that it is of vital importance to Broken Hill. 1 have raised this matter at the Committee stage of the debate to ascertain the real situation of the Menindee Lakes storage scheme and how this Bill is likely to affect the development of that area.
The Barrier Industrial Council and the Barrier District Assembly of the Australian Labor Party are very concerned about the matter. They are very influential organisations in Broken Hill and they are concerned at the possible effects on the environs of Broken Hill. The Minister for Civil Aviation, who is at the table, well knows the area about which I am speaking. J trust he will give this matter a great deal of consideration because the people in the western area of New South Wales are very concerned about their future following the passage of this legislation. Their privileges and rights should not be ignored merely because they live in an isolated region of Australia. As a representative of New South Wales I realise the importance of this matter to the people of Broken Hill and the Menindee district. A complete computer evaluation and feasibility study should be implemented before the Agreement is ratified and approved. I urge the Minister to act, not only because he is a Minister but also because he knows the district well and represents the State of New South Wales. I ask him to give the matter earnest consideration and to assure the people of Broken Hill and Menindee that their rights to water will not be affected by the passage of this legislation.
– I rise at this stage to answer the challenge which was issued last night by Senator Young. I was unable to answer him last night because unfortunately the debate was interrupted by the adjournment of the Senate. Senator Young made the statement yesterday that he had spoken up on this issue and that South Australia had had the opportunity through the man who was Premier of the State at that time in October 1967 to oppose the investigation of any alternative storages on the River Murray. Senator Young was attempting to make the point that the villain of the piece was Mr Don Dunstan, the former Premier of South Australia, and that by his agreeing to the re-investigation of the River Murray system he had condemned Chowilla. Senator Young later challenged any member of the Opposition to explain why no objection to a reinvestigation was taken at that time.
I am sorry that Senator Young is not in the chamber because he proves the old adage that there is none so blind as he who will not see. The position has been explained on numerous occasions and in fact was explained by Senator Cavanagh in words little different from those which I shall use later. But the point is that Victoria raised an objection to Chowilla for the alleged reason that the cost of Chowilla had increased. Victoria asked the River Murray Commission to carry out further investigations to ascertain whether there was a better system which could fulfil the purpose for which Chowilla had been intended. I ask Senator Greenwood, who will follow me in the debate, whether he will deal with the point that the question at issue at that time was whether the development of Chowilla should be interrupted or deferred pending further investigations. It is obvious to a layman, and most certainly it would be obvious to a lawyer, that if the issue had been taken to arbitration it would have been on that point only, that is, whether or not the scheme should have been interrupted to allow further investigations to be carried out to ascertain whether there was a better scheme which would fulfil the purpose for which Chowilla was intended.
Later Senator Young made the statement that Mr Beaney, the Engineer-in-Chief in South Australia at that time, is the person who is now advising the present Government of South Australia. The point is that at that time the Premier of South Australia had the choice of opposing the delay to allow further investigations and of using the arbitration provisions of the River Murray Commission Agreement to take the matter to arbitration on that point. But would anybody in his right mind go to an arbitrator and ask whether it was advisable to have further investigations into whether further investigations should be carried out to see whether there could be a better method of achieving the purpose foi which Chowilla was intended? 1 ask Senator Young: Does he accept that Mr Beaney, whom the honourable senator says was under the control of the former Premier of South Australia, is now under instructions from the present Premier of South Australia?
– The same circumstances apply in both cases.
– Mr Beaney is in the same situation under both Premiers. His advice on the earlier occasion was that there was not a chance in a million that a re-investigation could possibly bring forward an alternative to Chowilla for the purpose for which Chowilla was originally intended. This was the reason why South Australia did not oppose a re-investigation. So Ihe first point is that at that stage objection could be taken only to a re-investigation. In taking that action the South Australian Government was acting on the advice of Mr Beaney who is so much admired by Senator Young. Incidentally, Mr Beaney’s remarks were quoted by me and by Senator Laucke, who is now in the Chair. I accept Mr Beaney as an authority. The only time that I would suggest that he was speaking for someone else was when he was on a platform alongside the Premier taking part in a debate. Obviously in that situation he would give the answers that he was required to give. But his remarks which have been quoted during this debate were not made under pressure from either the previous Premier of South Australia or the present one. It is plain that Mr Don Dunstan, the former Premier of South Australia, did not object to a re-investigation because it would have involved going to arbitration purely and simply on the question of whether there should be a re-investigation. The advice from the expert whom the honourable senator has extolled was that there was not a chance in a million that any other dam on the River Murray system would achieve for South Australia the purpose for which Chowilla was intended.
– At that time Mr Dunstan agreed with his adviser to the assumptions that were used to consider other alternatives.
– I repeat that there is none so blind as he who will not see. At that time South Australia could have gone to arbitration only on the question whether there should be a re-investigation. That was the point at issue at that time. The time to take the matter to arbitration is after advice has been received from the expert who says that there is no chance whatever of there being another dam on the Murray which would fulfil the purpose for which Chowilla was intended. At what stage does the honourable senator suggest that the matter should have been taken to arbitration? On the first question in respect of which South Australia could not win or on the second issue in which South Australia believed? I think that answers the point raised by Senator Young. The honourable senator should be able to understand now because of what I have said. He has certainly had plenty of opportunities to understand because this is about the tenth time that the matter has been clearly explained by someone more capable than I am.
Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) [4.421 - I rise to express shortly opposition to the amendment. I think the amendment throws up one of the problems experienced in our federation when, by executive act, agreements are made by commissioners appointed under Acts of the various Parliaments. Of its character the agreement must be made outside the Parliament and, when an agreement has been made, such ratification as the Parliament must give to the agreement precludes any effective amendment of what has been agreed upon. I think the Opposition concedes that because, indeed, it must be conceded. But it does raise one of the problems which we have in our federation and what has been said in this debate highlights it. As I see the position there are 3 States and the Commonwealth which, in effect, have an obligation to ratify the Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States respecting the River Murray and other waters. Victoria has ratified the Agreement and New South Wales has ratified the Agreement.
It does not matter what is said in this Parliament: the basic issue is whether the Parliament of the Commonwealth is prepared to ratify this Agreement. No amount of talk and no amount of wandering about the subject can avoid that final question being resolved. As I understand it the Senate has agreed to the second reading of this Bill. The amendment which is before us at present has several curious features about it. Firstly, it seeks to have taken out of the existing Bill the words ‘is hereby ratified and approved’ and other words of somewhat doubtful meaning inserted. As I see the position, all that Senator Bishop’s amendment seeks to achieve is a delay in the ratification. It does not seek to prevent the Agreement being approved. It simply says that the Agreement shall not be approved until an event has happened. That event is this immediate computer evaluation. I think some support for that interpretation of what is being proposed by the Opposition is found in the subsequent clause 6 of the Bill which incorporates in the Act the sixth further amending agreement which is the agreement about which this debate has been taking place. Once that is incorporated in the Bill, it is certainly arguable, in my view, that that amounts to a ratification. 1 believe that it would amount to a ratification when there is a clause which simply seeks to delay approval.
Accordingly we come to this question: ls there a case for delaying the approval of this Bill? I fail to see how anything which has been said by the Opposition in support of the amendment justifies a simple delay in the approval of the Bill. The considerations which have been urged are considerations which one would hope the River Murray Commission will take into account, and there is no reason to suppose that it will not do so. But the basic fact is that when Victoria has approved of this measure and when New South Wales has approved of this measure, is the Commonwealth Parliament to deny the benefit of an agreement to the people of South Australia? I should think that the Opposition does not want to do that, and it is seeking to escape from the political tightrope upon which it has been inelegantly walking, by having the measure delayed. There may be politics in this, but as 1 see it, the benefit available is not a benefit only to South Australia; it is a benefit to the other States as well, and I should have thought that the Commonwealth, once the benefits were accepted and acknowledged by the other States, should not do anything which would delay the coming into effect of the Agreement.
– 1 want to put to Senator Greenwood that the good reason for delaying the implementation of the Bill is because of the present position in South Australia. What has happened is that the South Australian Parliament, by two resolutions which defined its policy, declared that it will not give up Chowilla; it insisted upon the continuation of the agreement relating to Chowilla, which we are now about to amend.
– lt was a unanimous decision.
– The resolutions were carried unanimously. Since that time the Premier of South Australia, following negotiations between the governments and his representative on the River Murray Commission, has taken a new position which is now to be debated by the South Australian Parliament. From public information, it appears more than likely that the South Australian Parliament will reject the Agreement. These matters have been raised during this debate; we have raised them and honourable senators opposite have raised them. It is obvious that this question will be debated in the South Austraiian Parliament next week and, from what we know, it is very likely that an election will follow closely upon the parliamentary debate. Unless something strange and new happens next week, the South Australian Parliament will reject the Agreement which this Government is seeking now to confirm.
The general procedure is that all negotiating governments have to confirm their positions before an agreement such as this comes before the Commonwealth Parliament. This happened with the original Agreement which the Government is seeking to amend. We have argued about the background to this question for a long time, and I do not suppose that there is anything about it which has not been stated. We have said that for the reasons which we have submitted, in our opinion, and in the opinion once held by people who now speak against it, the Chowilla project should continue. This has been the opinion of State Premiers, Liberal Ministers, Labor Ministers, the present Head of the Engineering and Water Supply Department in South Australia, Mr Beaney, and Mr Dridan, who has now left the Department. All of these people affirmed that the Chowilla project was the best one for South Australia. But as a result of increased coS ls there was a need ro reconsider the situation. As a result of this reconsideration, a new formula was devised and Mr Beaney told the South Australian Government - and this was confirmed in public - that computer studies were no better than the old manual studies. The only advantage was that computer studies could be made more quickly than manual studies. But as Senators Ridley, Cavanagh and Drury have pointed out, the larger States made a new demand and said that something more ought to be got out of the system for those larger States.
That is the present position. So we say there is a very good reason why the Commonwealth Parliament should not act now to implement the Bill: it is because of the present situation in South Australia. The sensible thing for the Minister to do would be to defer this legislation until the position in South Australia has been clarified, unless in the meantime he accepts the proposal which was put up by Mr Dunstan as long ago as 1968 for the Commonwealth Government to consider a proposition which might lead to the construction of the 2 dams at the one time. Mr Dunstan has said that he is nol opposed to Dartmouth. I suggest that Senator Young has misrepresented what Mr Dunstan said, and to substantiate this view I shall read only I paragraph from a statement on Labor Party policy which Mr Dunstan made last week. He said:
The Labor Parly is nol opposed lo the construction of the Dartmouth Dam. But it is opposed to attaching conditions to ihe construction of Dartmouth which would mean Chowilla is lost to South Australia permanently.
That is in essence the policy of the Labor Party. We believe that the Agreement, which the Liberal-Country League Government in South Australia wants this Parliament to ratify, is a sell-out of the State’s legal rights and the protection which Chowilla offers South Australia in water, both as regards quantity and quality.
Finally, I make the point that we have made previously: There is really no firm proposal. There is an Agreement, but some studies are still being carried out in relation to the details of the construction of Dartmouth. This was the point made in another place by the former Minister for National Development. A Victorian Minister made the same point. Although an allocation of $10m has been made for works at Lake Victoria, it has been argued that studies are still being carried out and the whole matter is under review. The question of Chowilla storage is under review. In my opinion, it is sheer nonsense to say that Dartmouth will be completed in 1975. This statement is being made only to catch voles. Honourable senators opposite say we are playing politics. We are not playing politics. The position is that we have an Agreement which today is almost on the verge of being cut up. In my opinion, this would mean the end of Chowilla. The passing of the Bill should be stayed. The Minister ought to defer the Bill until the South Australian Parliament determines its position. After that is done there might be some sense in the Commonwealth Government proceeding with the Bill.
; I did not want to intrude again into this debate because the Australian Labor Party does not want to debate ihe question to the point of exhaustion. Bui I am concerned about statements that were made by Senator Young today and by Senator Cotton last night, which would lead people to believe that Mr Dunstan, the former Labor Premier of South Australia, had taken action which in some way or other prejudiced the completion or future of the Chowilla Dam. If honourable senators opposite believe that Dartmouth is ihe best proposition, I have no objection to their putting their views as strongly as they wish. They are entitled to do that, but I do not think that they are entitled to tell half truths and to distort matters that have occurred in South Australia, and lo cast unjust and untrue reflections upon ihe former Labor Premier of South Australia, Mr Dunstan, and the Party which he led in Government.
For the purpose of having it incorporated in Hansard. 1 want to read a statement by Mr Dunstan which I think adequately answers the distorted statements made by Senators Young and Cotton, when they referred to Mr Dunstan’s attitude regarding the Chowilla Dam. Mr Dunstan made this public statement, which cannot be refuted:
Labor has been falsely accused by Government members-
And he was referring, of course, to Federal and State members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party -
That is the State Government of South Australia -
– There is a difference in the time factor here, is there not?
– There is no difference in the intent or in the meaning of the statement that he made. What he said was a true assessment and a true statement of the position. In view of the statements made last night by Senator Cotton and in view of the statements made today by Senator Young, 1 thought it necessary lo have recorded in Hansard what Mr Dunstan said in order that the exact position as far as Chowilla is concerned might be portrayed. 1 was rather intrigued by Senator Young’s remarkable statement that the Labor Party in South Australia had said that it was essential that both dams be constructed. We have never said that it was essential that both dams be constructed. The Labor Party said that it was essential to the interests of South Australia that Chowilla be constructed. Dartmouth was forced upon us. We did not select it. We said that if the people of Victoria and New South Wales were of the opinion that their interests could be served only by the construction of Dartmouth we had no objection to that proceeding if some consideration were given to the construction of bo h dams at the same time.
Senator Young said that we shifted our ground on the issue. We did not shift our ground. We said that we were prepared to recognise the rights and requirements of other States but that they should recognise South Australia’s rights. We have never changed our stand. It is utter nonsense to suggest that, because we said we had no objection to the construction of Dartmouth at the same time as Chowilla, we are insisting that the 2 are necessary for the good of South Australia. We have never said that. Senator Young knows that we have never said that. Senator Young said that ihe Labor Party and other organisations had undermined in some way the integrity of the experts who gave advice. 1 recall very well the late Sir William Spooner, when introducing a Bill to adopt the original Chowilla Agreement, saying in unmistakable terms that the experts had said that Chowilla was completely feasible. We listened to the experts then. We accepted the advice of the experts then.
– We still agree that Chowilla is feasible.
– Honourable senators opposite are Ihe ones who undermined the opinion of experts because they refuted what was said in 1963.
– No, we did not.
– They inferred it by the very attitude that they took.
– We still say that it is feasible but that there are greater gains in Dartmouth. Therefore, Dartmouth should be constructed at this stage.
– Does the honourable senator admit that Chowilla is completely feasible?
– Yes - and I hope that some day it will be built.
– This is new ground. In the last 6 months the people of South Australia have been told by some of Senator Young’s Party compatriots thai it is not feasible.
– When have I said that Chowilla was not feasible?
– I am not saying what the honourable senator said. I am saying what members of his Party said. They said that Chowilla was dead. They called it Playford’s folly’. Senator Young talked about undermining the integrity of experts and people with considerable experience in this field. His action and actions of members of his Parly undermined the credibility of one of the greatest leaders South Australia ever had - Sir Thomas Playford. Honourable Senators opposite undermined the credibility of the people who said that
Chowilla was feasible. Honourable senators opposite said that Chowilla is not feasible now. Then they said that we shifted our ground and that we undermined the credibility of experts. We did nothing of the sort. By this amendment we ask that further studies in connection with the 2 dams be undertaken. We suggest that the studies should be in respect of the feasibility and the. practicability of financial and other measures.
– Senator Buttfield claimed that these studies had been made already.
– As Senator Ridley reminds me, Senator Buttfield claimed that these studies had been made already. If they have been made, why have not the results been made public? If the results were made public it could well be that the Labor Party in South Australia might accept them. The studies having been made and the results not having been presented leaves in our minds the question: Why have not the results been presented? The only points I wanted to make were those 3 points which I considered were vital to the debate. If the debate is to proceed - and I do not want to delay a vote on it - it should proceed on the basis of facts and not on the basis of fantasies. Our views on the matter are strong. K we think that the interests of our State can be served best by abandoning Chowilla or by constructing it, we should be honest and say what our views are. We should not make statements which are half truths and which are not consistent with the real issue. Having made those points, I hope that it will not be necessary for me to speak again on the issue.
– I have been stimulated into saying a few words - and they will be few - because I have listened to honourable senators splitting hairs. It seems to me that, if the amendment were carried and if the construction of the Dartmouth dam were delayed for more computer studies to be carried out, all that would happen would be that South Australia would be inconvenienced and would have to wait longer for water. The possibility would be that we might, not get any dam. If the proposal to construct a dam at Dartmouth is defeated, we have been told that the Commonwealth and the other States concerned, New South
Wales and Victoria, will not pay for the construction of Chowilla, lt would be useless for us to delay the construction of Dartmouth in order to prove that Chowilla ought to be built now. It is quite obvious that if we carry on like this we will be told that we can build Chowilla at our own expense. South Australia simply could not afford to undertake the construction of Chowilla on its own. We have to get on with the construction of Dartmouth. We need water. The sooner we get on with it, the better. This splitting of hairs seems to me to be getting us nowhere, lt is confusing the public. The public now is convinced by the experts’ more recent studies. After all, that is the point.
Senator Toohey said that we undermined the credibility of Sir Thomas Playford by challenging whether Chowilla is the most feasible dam that could be constructed. That is nonsense. More studies have been done since the time when Sir Thomas Playford advocated the construction of Chowilla. Computer studies have been carried out. In answer to Senator Toohey, I refer to what the Minister said in his second reading speech. Reference was made to the studies that have been carried out. Although some of the results have not been published, they have been gathered together in the second reading speech to make it clear that the studies have been done and that all the experts are convinced that Dartmouth should be constructed.
– We have only your word about the studies being done. We have no report on them.
– Not all the results have been made public yet. The second reading speech referred to the results. I am sure that, if the honourable senator asked to see them, he would be able to see them. There has not been time to tabulate the results. The studies have been completed only recently. I am quite sure that the results would be available to the honourable senator. I certainly do not support the amendment which would mean a further delay in the construction of Dartmouth. We should proceed with the construction of Dartmouth. As Senator Young said, when Dartmouth is constructed there is the possibility that Chowilla will be constructed. We hope it will be the next dam constructed. We must take the advice of experts as to how we can best conserve water from the River Murray for the benefit of all the users. We should not oppose the measure and insist on the construction of Chowilla, whether it is the best dam for the rest of the States or not. Therefore, I oppose the amendment.
Senator RIDLEY (South Australia) L5.3] - 1 have only a few brief words to say in answer to Senator Buttfield. Last night, when speaking to the amendments, she said:
The first seeks lo delay ratification of this Bill so thai there can be a computer evaluation of the storages. As I have said, this has been done already . . .
How can an amendment which asks that a certain thing be carried out cause a delay when the honourable senator has said that what the amendment asks has been done already? She said that we could obtain the results of the studies. There has been sufficient time since the launching of this debate in another place and since the presentation of the Bill in this chamber for the results to be presented. No computer studies have been done as to the benefits accruing to South Australia from the construction of both Dartmouth and Chowilla dams. That was intended by the first agreement which related to Chowilla.
– I do not wish to reply now if other honourable senators want to add something. I am under the impression that they do not want to do so. I shall do my best to give what information thai 1 can to help the Committee in its deliberations.
– You are delaying the vote on it.
– No. Actually I am hoping that a vote will take place soon. 1 am reminding myself as I. go through these points that we are concerned with the activities of the River Murray Commission, which is a combination of 3 States and the Commonwealth. As I have been reminded very properly by Senator McClelland - I will refer to some of his comments later - the State of New South Wales to which I belong, the State of Victoria to which some of my colleagues belong and the State of South Australia joined with the Commonwealth in what has been a very useful and constructive exercise in joint responsibility by the Australian people.
Here I am called upon to carry this Bill for a Minister who is in another place. So, to any extern to which I am nol fully informed, honourable senators have my apology and I hope that 1 will have their full understanding. We agreed to take the 2 Bills together at the second reading stage. That is what we did. We are now involved in the Committee stage, where we have 2 amendments - one to the River Murray Waters Bill and the other to the Dartmouth Reservoir Agreement Bill. I imagine that in due course we will put the amendment io the first Bill and dispose of it. I trust that we will not need to argue the amendment to the second Bill, having conducted the argument on the 2 Bills together at all stages.
This point has been referred to before, bin I think it is fair to refer to some of the earlier comments again because the matter has been canvassed very fully and much of the ground has been traversed many times. I do not find that objectionable in a debate on a matter ‘ of great interest to the people of a particular Stale. Studies have already been carried out to see whether a combination of storages at Dartmouth and Chowilla could be more attractive than a single storage at Dartmouth. This point was referred to in my second reading speech, when I said that because of the unfavourable results these studies were not pursued. In that speech I said:
Some studies were made of combinations of storages at Dartmouth and Chowilla, hut these were obviously much less attractive than :i single storage at Dartmouth and were not pursued.
One has to assume in fairness that the River Murray Commission, with the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority consulting for it. would be capable of making :m objective assessment. The 3 State governments concerned, joined by the Commonwealth Government, thought they were pursuing a useless course. They decided that they had gone far enough and thai :he studies were not worth proceeding with further. I would accept the reliability of ihat body of expert knowledge and public servants of this country. I would not be disposed to cast doubts upon the validity of their decision. I do not think that really aids the case.
I do not believe that there is atn basis for the amendments. Senator Greenwood, I think very properly, drew our attention, in effect, to the invalidity of the amendments in the present situation. I am also indebted to Senators Young, Davidson, Buttfield and Laucke - my Government colleagues - for their part in this debate, which has been very illuminating and most constructive. The amendments to the Agreement have been agreed to and ratified already by the Parliaments of Victoria and New South Wales, as we have said. So, any change would have to be renegotiated with the other parties. The Commonwealth now stands ready to ratify the amendments. The House of Representatives having passed the Bill - it originated in that chamber - we are now called upon to deliberate on it for the purpose of the Commonwealth agreeing to ratification.
Senator Drury made various comments last night. Perhaps I should refer to 1 or 2 matters that he mentioned. He said that the provision in clause 13 (a) of the amending Agreement would spell the end of Chowilla as any of the 4 contracting governments could veto the proposal. I mentioned this before, but [ mention it again because obviously Senator Drury is worried and 1 believe that I am acting properly in trying to do what 1 can to set his mind at rest. Clause 13 (a) is necessary as otherwise work would have to proceed on Chowilla in terms of clause 24 of the Agreement. This is a deferment and not an abandonment. The River Murray Commission will keep under review the demands on the resources of the Murray in relation to available supplies. There is no doubt that in this review the Chowilla project will be compared with any other proposals being considered for augmenting supplies as the need arises.
I have been given some notes by the advisers to the Department of National Development. As 1 said last night, of course, I cannot say whether Chowilla will prove to be the best proposal when the time comes for the next development, but 1 have no doubt that in due course we will reach the stage when Chowilla will be clearly the best. At that time it will be in the interests of all 4 governments to proceed with it.
Senator Drury also made some comments about the proposed change in the works at Lake Victoria and the possible cost of S7m for additional works. Lake Victoria, of course, is functioning now and has been functioning for many years. The need for works to increase the rate at which water can flow into and out of Lake Victoria is being studied at present. The figure of $7m is a very preliminary one given before serious investigations were carried out. It is true that Chowilla will submerge Lake Victoria, but at this stage it is premature to say that expenditure on Lake Victoria will be sufficient to make construction of Chowilla uneconomical at a later stage. In any case, as has been pointed out previously, as the need arises for further development of the Murray all possibilities will be compared on the basis of required expenditure and anticipated benefits.
Last night Senator Bishop quoted statements made by Mr Beaney in March 1968 which, as he said, was before the detailed studies were carried out. At that stage Mr Beaney was entitled to express doubts as to what the studies would show. In the light of the results of the comprehensive studies that have since been carried out, I am advised, he is now convinced that Dartmouth is the right storage for the next development on the Murray. I have several other notes which have been put together as the debate has been proceeding. I may take a little time to read them because I have not been able to look through them.
Senator Cavanagh emphasised South Australia’s dependence on water. I would say that we all would agree with that. We are concerned to see that this is recognised and positive steps are taken to overcome the problem. I believe that this is what the River Murray Commission is doing and is the course that we as the Commonwealth Parliament are now called upon to ratify. Senator Cavanagh expressed concern that Dartmouth would not provide an assured supply for drought periods. The greater security as well, as the increased quantity associated with Dartmouth has been emphasised on many occasions both by honourable senators on the Government side and by me.
With regard to quality, the storages at Lake Victoria and Menindee are well placed to provide dilution flows when required. In addition, salt disposal works in the Kerang and Sunraysia areas in Victoria have greatly mitigated the conditions that caused difficulty in 1967-68. With regard to the future of Chowilla, this storage in due course will be of value to ali States - not only to South Australia. As has been stated already, if built after Dartmouth it would add 250,000 acre-feet per annum to the available supply, assuming that South Australia’s entitlement stays at 1.5 million acre-feet per annum.
Senator McClelland took my memory back to my early years in the west Darling district and in Broken Hill. As he properly said, we ought not to forget that this legislation affects very vitally the people of New South Wales and the people of Victoria. In the argument of total benefit this has to be brought into mind. He expressed concern on behalf of the people of Broken Hill and the west Darling district in relation to the Menindee Lakes scheme. He dealt with the general possibilities for the people of that area. I realise that all honourable senators will know this, but I am reminding myself as much as anybody else. The Menindee Lakes scheme draws off the Darling and not off the Murray. It is an exclusively New South Wales scheme, except that we should remind ourselves that although no-one from Queensland has participated in this debate that State has some interest too because the Maclntyre is a substantial feeder of water into the Darling and we all enjoy the benefits of the How of the Darling into the Murray and ultimately into South Australia.
This does have an interesting effect on Broken Hill and what will happen not only to the Menindee Lakes scheme but also to the Darling itself, lt is only partially true to say that Broken Hill was a waterless city, lt was not really that. It did have a huge reservoir at Umberumberka and a large one in Stephens Creek. On occasions the city was on water rationing and without water. On those occasions - they were few in number; I think there were 2 such occasions in my time and 1 lived there for about 30 years - we had water trains for very brief periods. It is equally fair to remind honourable senators that this problem was overcome by another great pioneer of Broken Hill, namely, W. S. Robinson, who was responsible for the pipeline from the Darling River to Broken Hill. Once that became a factor Broken Hill’s days of water rationing were practically over. Senator McClelland quite properly reminded me of the achievements of the late Ernie Wetherell who was a great friend of my family and of Senator McClelland’s family. He was a significant man in that district and, without doubt, he played a large part in the Menindee Lakes storage scheme. All honour to his memory for that. I have looked at the whole position as it affects the Broken Hill area and the Menindee Lakes storage scheme. I have some detailed comments here, but 1 assure the Senator that I shall certainly draw to the attention of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) and also of my colleague the New South Wales Minister for Conservation the remarks that have been made in this debate. I am quite certain the New South Wales minister will be protecting the interests of New South Wales, but 1 shall certainly refer to him the point which Senator McClelland made. The honourable senator has been concerned about this. I have a note here which may interest him. lt states that the extension of the Menindee Lakes Agreement, which has now been approved by the New South Wales Parliament, includes an increase in the quantity of water which New South Wales can use, as first claim on the storage, for its own purposes, quite apart from its share under the River Murray Waters Agreement. The Menindee Lakes Agreement is now being extended indefinitely; that is, no date is set for its termination. Thus, like any other part of the main Agreement it could, by agreement with the 4 Governments concerned, be further amended at some later stage. In effect. New South Wales allocates the water in its own system.
I have been in Broken Hill and I have heard people say: ‘We ought to stop the Darling flow into South Australia and Victoria. We ought to hold the water in the Menindee Lakes scheme and we ought, in effect, to look after ourselves’ but this has not been done and there has been no proposal to do it. The New South Wales Government has not taken such action. This is fair evidence that in the River Murray Waters Agreement, in which the States join together, the approach has not been individually selfish, and I hope this approach continues. Senator Bishop said that the Senate ought not ratify this River Murray Waters Bill until the South Australian Government has gone through its own debating process. I asked specifically about this and I was told that ratification by the 4 constituent partners of the Commission does not take any order of priority. They do it as the matter reaches them. I do not accept that argument as a recommendation for deferment of the Bill.
– But we must give some consideration to the legislative process in the South Australian Parliament.
– I do not regard myself as an authority on legislation throughout Australia. I accept the advice given by my advisers. I think it would be correct. I must say to Senator Toohey I believe from information given to me that at the time of the Premiership of Mr Dunstan the deferment of Chowilla was agreed upon. If this information was not correct and if I drew any unwarranted assumptions from this I express regret. Senator Toohey has had recorded in Hansard his version of the events. I imagine that should satisfy his case. As a further point Senator Toohey referred to the feasibility study of Chowilla. The point is that Dartmouth is a much better solution to the real problem, which is not one of building a dam but of providing additional water.
This matter has been fairly heavily canvassed in this chamber. I understand that some time ago two Ministerial statements were made and, by leave, Senator Cavanagh moved a motion to take note of these statements, but no debate proceeded. On 22nd August 1967 an urgency motion was moved by the Opposition and the ensuing debate lasted for 3 hours. On 3 separate sitting days, 25th February, 26th February and 4th March 1969 a notice of motion was moved under general business by Opposition senators and debated. The River Murray Waters Bill is now in its third day in the Senate chamber. I imagine that by now the Senate has dealt with the matter as exhaustively as possible. Having regard to the work which will lie before the Senate I imagine that with the approval of my colleagues, the matter could now be disposed of.
That the words proposed to be left out be left out.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. L. Bull)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Cotton) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15 April (vide page 772), on motion by Senator Cotton:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– On behalf of the Opposition I move the following amendment:
Leave out all words after That’, insert ‘the Senate is of opinion that the Agreement should not be approved until an immediate computer evaluation of the construction of storages of various capacities at both Dartmouth and Chowilla has been completed’.
I believe that enough was said in relation to this matter during the debate when the 2 Bills were taken together. I hope that we can take the word of Senator Cotton, who represents the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), that Chowilla will be considered as a future storage. I hope that in the near future South Australia will receive the benefits which will accrue to it from the construction of the Chowilla Dam. However, I am afraid that unless the 3 governments concerned and the
Commonwealth Government come to agreement the Chowilla Dam will be lost for all time.
– Order! Is the amendment seconded?
-I second the amendment.
– I thank Senator Drury for facilitating the debate on this matter. As he has said quite rightly, it has been canvassed very thoroughly. We agreed that we would consider the 2 Bills together and we have debated them thoroughly. He and other honourable senators must feel that there is a real interest in the problems of South Australia and in the activities of the River Murray Commission which has been constituted to ensure the most beneficial utilisation of the waters of the Murray in the interests of the people in the States concerned. I say no more other than to thank my colleagues on both sides of the Senate for a very useful and constructive debate.
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Drury’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.36 to 8 p.m.
– I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wright) read a first time.
– I. move:
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
The purpose of this Bill is to define by statute the position of the Parliamentary Draftsman and to establish an organisation, with appropriate status and sufficient resources, to meet the increasing demand for Commonwealth legislative drafting. The Bill relates directly to the legislative functions of thin chamber and I am therefore sure that it will be of particular interest to honourable senators.
Since assuming office the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) has given, and is still giving, close consideration to the question of whether the organisation of his Department is as well adapted as it should be to the efficient discharge of its many functions in an era when the work of a law officer brings him more and more into daily touch with every aspect of government. The Attorney-General is disposed to think that changes in the present departmental structure may be advantageous; but time has not permitted him to formulate detailed conclusions as to all the changes that may be warranted. The Government has decided, however, that it should proceed with the changes proposed in this Bill as a matter of some urgency.
This is a Bill which, as I have said, directly or indirectly affects the work of each member of the Senate. I hope that it will be supported on both sides of this House as a measure that is designed to make a substantial contribution to the efficiency of the Parliament as a legislative body. The enactment of laws is the principal purpose of parliamentary government; and effective legislation is basic to the working of this form of government, in which, irrespective of party affiliation, we properly take a great pride.
In recent years, the expansion of Commonwealth interests and activities in various fields of national consequence has required an ever increasing output of legislation. The complexity of the subject matters of Commonwealth legislation has inevitably produced a tendency for Acts of Parliament to become increasingly elaborate. It goes without saying that legislative drafting must be of a high standard of competence. Unless it is, two unfortunate consequences will follow. The first is that there will be a risk that the policy objectives of the Government of the day may not be attained. Secondly, and very importantly, members of the public whose activities are affected by legislation are entitled to expect that they will not have to become involved in expensive litigation to clear up doubtful points of statutory interpretation.
There is no doubt that the drafting of Commonwealth legislation is of the required standard of competence. But for some time past the price of maintaining this standard has been an accelerating accumulation of arrears of work. The number of Acts passed each year by the Parliament has substantially increased over the last 20 years. The average number of Acts passed during the 5 year period from 1950 to 1954 was 90; during 1955-59 it was 95; during 1960-64 it was 110; and during 1965-69 it was 126. This increase in numbers does not tell the whole story because, as I have indicated, Commonwealth legislation is becoming increasingly complicated. By way of example, legislation in the tax field to close loopholes or to provide concessions - for example, under the recent drought bonds scheme - and legislation for superannuation, defence forces retirement benefits and regulating trade practices is most intricate and has demanded a great deal of time and attention from the few experienced draftsmen available.
I have referred to the arrears of legislative drafting work. The Attorney-General is satisfied that the main reason for the existence of these arrears is the great difficulty that has in the past been experienced in recruiting sufficient competent and experienced draftsmen or people who are capable, with training, of becoming competent draftsmen. It has been found impossible to fill many positions. There is now a serious shortage of younger officers. In 10 years or so nearly all the present senior draftsmen will have retired. If things remain as they are there will be no chance of fully replacing them.
The difficulty of obtaining suitable draftsmen is aggravated by the fact that their work is not generally regarded in the legal profession as an attractive field in which to practise, ft is particularly onerous and exacting work; it entails a large measure of responsibility; it has none of the glamour of practise at the Bar; it is ‘back-room’ work. Few lawyers have a natural preference for parliamentary drafting and it will not ordinarily attract a sufficient number of suitable practitioners from other fields of legal work unless a career in drafting is given such a status as will counterbalance what is thought to be its lack of appeal. This lack of appeal is apparent rather than real. The work of a parliamentary draftsman offers a real challenge: He is involved in the essential processes of government; he has to perform the exacting task of translating what are at times the broadly and even loosely expressed ideas of practising politicians into legislation that will stand the scrutiny of the courts. In a nation with a federal constitution this is seldom an easy task.
For some years past the shortage of parliamentary draftsmen - indeed the shortage of people to do the whole range of the legal work of government - has been aggravated by the prosperous condition of private legal practice. But this condition is not by any means the only reason why it has been difficult to recruit sufficient numbers of draftsmen to do the work of parliamentary government. The work requires special abilities that cannot in all cases be acquired by training or experience. Even those who are highly skilled and successful in other fields of legal work may fail as draftsmen. Professor Reed Dickerson, Professor of Law at Indiana University in the United States of America, who is the author of several books on legislative drafting and numerous articles on the subject, has written:
Legal drafting … is a highly technical discipline, the most rigorous form of writing outside mathematics. Few lawyers have the special combination of skills, aptitudes and temperament necessary for a competent draftsman.
Experience in Australia and overseas has shown that drafting abilities are not likely to be developed unless the person concerned has a first-class knowledge of the law; in the Commonwealth field, constitutional law is especially important. Experience has also shown that it is highly desirable that a person undertaking legislative drafting work should first have had some experience in general legal work.
It is the view of persons experienced in this field that, to teach people the art of drafting, many years of practical training are necessary and that there is no complete substitute for the ‘apprentice’ system. The real problem, and I wish to emphasise this, consists in finding and obtaining those suitable to be taught and in retaining them. The problem is not likely to be solved unless persons of ability who contemplate the possibility of a career in legislative drafting can see ahead of them adequate remuneration throughout that career, whether or not they reach the top of the pyramid.
The present conditions of employment of Commonwealth draftsmen are not calculated to solve this problem. In the United Kingdom, by way of contrast, recruits of the right calibre have been and are still being attracted, but the conditions of employment there are superior to those hitherto offered by the Commonwealth. For example, the salaries in the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office in the United Kingdom are, by design, above those of corresponding levels in the general legal service of the United Kingdom Government and are among the highest in the British Civil Service: the First Parliamentary Counsel is treated as the head of a government department.
On the other hand, in Australia, the salary of the Parliamentary Draftsman, although at the top level of the Second Division of the Public Service, is below that of all Permanent Heads and below that of the holders of many statutory offices, including, for example, the Commissioner of Trade Practices and the Public Service Arbitrator. The lower relative position of the Parliamentary Draftsman is reflected in the salaries of his staff. When the position of Parliamentary Draftsman was created in 1947 as a separate office, its salary was greater than that of many Permanent Heads. But in 19S7 salaries were rearranged so that no Second Division officer was paid as much as any Permanent Head.
The problem of obtaining and retaining suitable recruits to this field of work is not solely a financial one. The matter of status also has a place. In the United Kingdom the draftsmen are styled Parliamentary Counsel and appear to enjoy a rather higher standing in the legal profession than do their opposite numbers in Commonwealth and State services. There is a certain cachet in the description of a draftsman as Counsel; and when it is borne in mind that his work is much more important and intricate than that done by most of the practising Bar, the description is well justified. The Government has, therefore, decided that we should follow suit here. To do so, I should add, will also bring us into line with Canada, New Zealand and some States of the United States of America.
Some mention should be made of the history of the senior positions in the Attorney-General’s Department. For many years the Secretary to the Department was also the Parliamentary Draftsman and, incidentally, Solicitor-General. The offices of Solicitor-General and Parliamentary Draftsman are now filled separately but, as honourable senators know, the SolicitorGeneral holds a statutory office remunerated at upper Permanent Head level, that is, the same level as that of the Permanent Head of the Attorney-General’s Department, while the Parliamentary Draftsman holds a Second Division Public Service office in the Attorney-General’s Department subordinate to the Permanent Head. But the Parliamentary Draftsman, although still under the Secretary of the Department in a formal sense, has come to occupy a position of some independence and, in practice, is now only nominally responsible to the Head of the Department in relation to professional work. Thus, the Parliamentary Draftsman usually deals directly with the Attorney-General, other Ministers and the heads of other departments and also has other responsibilities in his own right, such as those to the Legislation Committee of Cabinet. The Government no longer considers it appropriate that he should r>e an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department.
The Government has accordingly decided that the role of the Parliamentary Draftsman should be defined by statute; that there should be established an organisation under the direct control of an officer designated as First Parliamentary Counsel, who will be subject to the general direction of the Attorney-General. The title Parliamentary Counsel is thought by the Government to be a more appropriate recognition of the important functions and status of the persons concerned.
In view of the amount of individual responsibility necessarily involved in legislative drafting and in matters associated with its introduction into and passage through Parliament, the Bill provides for the First Parliamentary Counsel to have two Deputies, each of whom is to be designated a Second Parliamentary Counsel. These three officers will hold statutory appointments for terms of years. In addition, the Office will have a staff appointed or employed under the Public Service Act, and the Bill provides for the First Parliamentary Counsel to have, in relation to the officers in that staff, the powers of a Permanent Head of a Department under the Public Service Act. The creation of appropriate offices for the staff will be a matter for the Public Service Board in the light of this Act and in consultation with the First Parliamentary Counsel.
The functions of the Office are set out in detail in clause 3. These functions cover all forms of legislative drafting and include, in addition to Bills for this Parliament, Ordinances for the Territories, other than Papua and New Guinea, and regulations and other forms of subordinate legislation. It is proposed that one of the functions of the Office will be to undertake in appropriate cases the drafting of instruments that are to have or be given the force of law or are otherwise related to legislation. Another function will be to make arrangements for the printing and reprinting of the laws of the Commonwealth and its Territories. As long ago as 1936 assurances were given to both Houses of Parliament - assurances which still stand - to the effect that regulations under statutes would be drafted or revised by the Parliamentary Draftsman. This House has established a committee whose special function it is to scrutinise such regulations. Members of the Senate will be aware, from the reports of this committee, that the drafting of regulations has fallen seriously into arrear. They will, I think, be particularly glad to notice that this Bill reinforces the assurances given to Parliament by making the drafting of regulations a statutory function of the proposed Office of Parliamentary Counsel. Further, if the objects of this Bill are achieved, sufficient staff will be recruited to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel to tackle the arrears of drafting of sub-ordinate legislation and to bring this important matter, as it should be, much more nearly up to date.
Clause 4 provides for appointments to the three statutory positions to be made by the Governor-General and for an appointee to be a legal practitioner of not less than 5 years standing. Under clause 5, these officers will be appointed for periods not exceeding 7 years but will be eligible for reappointment. This clause also prevents an appointment extending beyond the time when the appointee attains the age of 65 years. Clause 6 provides for the salary and annual allowances (if any) of the three statutory officers to be at such rates as are prescribed. Other allowances payable to these officers are to be as determined by the Attorney-General. Other provisions usual for statutory offices are included in clauses 7 to 15.
It is apparent from this Bill that the Government recognises the importance to our parliamentary system of adequate arrangements for legislative drafting. The Government also recognises the need for a long term approach to the matter rather than a resort to short term expedients. The Government is confident that the establishment of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel as provided for in this Bill will prove to be a most worthwhile and justified step. There is no pretence that this Bill, when enacted, will provide an immediate solution of the problems connected with legislative drafting. But the Government is satisfied that, without this measure, we shall not be able to begin the important task of solving these great problems. And they are problems which must be solved if we are to improve our performance as a Parliament. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Devitt) adjourned.
– by leave - Honourable senators will understand that in making this statement on behalf of the Prime Minister, when I use the first person singular pronoun it refers to the Prime Minister.
Since 196S, Australian ground formations have been engaged with our allies in resisting armed attack on the Government of South Vietnam. Since that time, the question of whether Australian forces should have helped resist that attack has been debated in Australia. This Government, as previous governments, has approached this question in the spirit which was crystallised in one sentence by Mr Calwell when he was Leader of the Opposition. That sentence is:
The overriding issue which this Parliament has to deal with at all times . . . must be judged by this one crucial test: What best promotes our national security, what best guarantees our national survival.
The Government believes that judged on this standard, our engagement in Vietnam is right and that it does best promote our national security, and we believe that for these reasons. It is surely incontrovertible that in Vietnam aggression is taking place and is being resisted. It is surely incontrovertible that the war there is only being sustained because large numbers of troops from North Vietnam are constantly dispatched to invade and subjugate the South, and that if that troop flow stopped the war would stop. Resistance to such aggression does best promote our national security, because we must strive to ensure that history is not repeated and that invasion and aggression is not allowed to be successful. For if it is successful, then the short span of history through which many of us in this chamber have lived shows that once successful, it is repeated and repeated until it becomes insufferable and has to be stopped - but stopped at a cost in blood and treasure infinitely greater than would have been the case had it been stopped at its initiation.
Surely something of what happened in the last generation can be taken as experience by the present one. We saw Fascist and Nazi aggression raging unchecked and subjecting one small country after another to conquest until it had to be stopped - at the cost of a world war - which need not have happened had the aggression been stopped at its beginning. I thought that these lessons, which, let us never forget are of more import to small nations than to large, had been learned. For some years after the close of that war, resolute action was taken to resist and defeat subversion in Malava. This took some 12 long years - years when civiliains were murdered by terrorists - when bands of guerillas with grenades and Sten guns sought to overthrow by force a government the people in Malaya wanted. Australians were there, with British and local forces, resisting that aggression. We were told - and the words are strikingly familiar today: ‘Australians should not be in Malaya. The war will go on forever. It cannot be won.’ But it was won. That aggression was not successful and Australia’s national security was best promoted because of that lack of success.
Then we saw aggression in Korea. We saw the people of the North sweep across the frontiers of the South in armed formations. Because the prevention of aggression, then, was the basic concept of the United Nations, we saw United Nations forcer moving to defeat that aggression. Australians were there. And the aggression was defeated. And Australian national security was best promoted because it was defeated. We saw, and the principle is the same, Malaysia threatened during the confrontation and armed incursions into Malaysian territory. Australia helped to repel this aggression. And our national interest was best served by this. And then we saw the pattern repeated in Vietnam. It is Communist aggression as was that in Korea and Malaya, but the source of the aggression - significant thought it may be - is not as significant as the fact that it was aggression. For the Government believes that if small nations are to survive and prosper, then the aggression from whatever source - whether it is inspired by Communism, Fascism or nationalism - must not be allowed to succeed.
The one consistent thread of principle - that small nations are best rendered secure if other small nations are not allowed to be overrun - has distinguished our policy through the post war years. That is why we are in Vietnam - and that we should be there is a proposition supported by three of the significant political parties in Australia and opposed by one - the Labor Party. I put it to the House that Australian security is bound up with seeing that aggression does not succeed. I put it to the House that it is immoral to launch aggression but not immoral to resist it. A proposition which has been twisted and turned inside out by those who cry that this is an immoral war. So it is - but the immorality is in those who began it, who continue to invade, who will not negotiate for peace, who are bent on conquest and nothing but conquest.
We have said that successful invasion of South Vietnam by the North would lead to further attempts at conquest in Laos, in Cambodia, and on the frontiers of Thailand. This was scouted and denied by those in the ranks of the Opposition who support the case of the invaders. ‘But the history of recent days shows how dangerously wrong they were. Sir, I have thought it necessary to speak of this in discussing the latest decisions on our participation in Vietnam. It was and is right for us to help to stem aggression. It was and is in our national interest - and that of all small nations - for aggression to be defeated. It is in our interest to help to secure by negotiation peace with self-determination for the people of South Vietnam. And in the meanwhile, while the invader will not negotiate, it is right to help resist him. Against this background, I speak to the House of the Government’s decision.
Following a review of the progress in the situation in Vietnam which led to the earlier United States decisions to reduce the level of its forces by 115,000 by the middle of this month, President Nixon yesterday announced his decision to introduce a new and long range programme of United States troop reductions involving the withdrawal of 150,000 men over the next 12 months. On 16th December last I announced the Government’s decision that when the military situation in Vietnam permitted a further substantial withdrawal of allied troops, then some Australian units would be included in the numbers scheduled for withdrawal. Since then we have, with South Vietnam and the other allies, continued to keep developments and prospects in Vietnam under close study. The Communist side maintains its intransigence and continues to set its face against a negotiated settlement. There is no progress to report as regards peace talks.
As the President, has stated, there has been some overall decline in emeny force levels in South Vietnam in the last few months, though their actions in Laos and Cambodia give cause for concern. The development that gives encouragement is the progress in what has been called Vietnamisation’ - the movement towards South Vietnamese self-reliance. We see one result of this in the progressive reduction of allied forces. But it must be understood that ‘Vietnamisation’ means much more than the assumption by South Vietnamese forces of a greater share of the combat burden. Behind it lies a massive programme of expanding and modernising those forces. And behind that again is the progressive assumption by South Vietnam of the responsibility for all aspects of the war - a war fought across the widest front, embracing a complexity of military, political, psychological, social and economic factors. In all these areas much still remains to be done by South Vietnam, assisted by its allies across a wide civil and military spectrum. Yet progress has been such that important qualitative changes are being made, and will continue to be made, in regard to the assistance required by and given to the Government of South Vietnam in pursuit of the objective shared over the years by that Government and its allies.
I reiterate that that objective is to establish the circumstances in which South Vietnam can determine its own future without fear. There can be no thought, of abandoning that objective by a precipitate withdrawal of allied forces. But in continuing to give assistance to South Vietnam, our intention will be to take account of their own growing strength and to strike the most appropriate balance between an Australian military contribution and other forms of Australian assistance to Vietnam: We are mindful particularly that the process of Vietnamisation obtains no less in Phuoc Tuy than in other parts of Vietnam and that it is both desirable and feasible for Australia to undertake, as the circumstances permit, qualitative changes in the shape of our overall contribution towards the goal we have in Vietnam.
Accordingly, I now announce that after consultation in recent weeks with the Governments of Vietnam and the United States, who understand and accept our approach, the Government has decided that one Australian infantry battalion and some supporting personnel will be withdrawn from South Vietnam. This reduction to our force in Vietnam will be effected by withdrawing, without replacement, the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, which at present is scheduled to complete its tour of duty in November next. This will require a modification of the role at present played by our force - a modification made feasible by the forces of Vietnamisation and national acceptance of responsibility by the Vietnamese themselves in Phuoc Tuy.
But let no-one say that because there is a modification of the role we play therefore we should play no role at all. Reducing our forces because the Vietnamese are able to assume more responsibility is one thing. Removing our forces before the Vietnamese are able to accept full responsibility for replacing them is quite another.
The timing of the battalion’s departure from Vietnam remains to be determined. It will be governed by general circumstances within the area in which Australian forces are operating and by the progress of Australian projects to assist the growth of greater capability in the South Vietnamese forces. Whether or not the battalion’s departure may be brought forward from the November date will depend on developments in these fields. After the initial withdrawal, should the progress of pacification and Vietnamisation succeed as the President expects, then at some stage before the expiry of the 12-month period, we will consider phasing additional troops into the planned withdrawal. But the future situation is so uncertain that it is impossible to be more definite than this. In co-operation with the Government of South Vietnam, in pursuit of our basic objectives, we are actively examining further ways in which we can contribute to the growth in South Vietnamese self-reliance.
Following consultations with the Vietnamese Government, we have decided to provide a number of small mobile Army teams, totalling some 130 men, to work with the regional and popular forces in Phuoc Tuy. The teams will have a liaison and training function and will operate on a pattern similar to that developed by some members of our existing Army Advisory Training Group, which will continue its work. We are also developing a further proposal that Australia will provide instructors and other assistance to a South Vietnamese training centre for junior leaders of the popular forces and regional forces planned for establishment on the site which will be vacated by the Australian battalion to be withdrawn from Vietnam. It is envisaged that courses at this centre, which would accommodate 400-500 students at a time, would give particular attention to instruction in methods of jungle warfare which have been developed by Australian forces.
In addition, Cabinet will give urgent attention to the results of comprehensive studies now being made of other forms of assistance which might be offered to Vietnam. Sir, I am glad to be able to tell the House and the people of Australia that the situation has been reached when withdrawal of some Australian forces can be made. I will be yet happier when all Australian forces can be withdrawn provided that our object is not endangered. And I believe that history will show Australia was right not to stand idly by and refuse to lift a finger to help a small country attacked from without.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - proposed:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by SenatorWillesee) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 21 April (vide page 958), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The measure now before the Senate has some peculiar features. I want to touch briefly on those features for a moment or two. But first I point out that this Bill was brought into the House at 9.16 p.m. last night and we of the Opposition are expected to debate it within 24 hours of its introduction into this chamber.
– Why did the
Leader of the Opposition not take the debate on the Vietnam statement? That is what he wanted to do last night.
– If the honourable senator could keep his trap shut and let someone else have the floor we could perhaps get some sensibility into this chamber. Naturally we can expect the honourable senator who interjected to speak on the adjournment again tonight because he has an audience. However, I do not propose to deal with him now. 1 think he is beneath contempt.
– Order! I remind the honourable senator that he is discussing a Bill.
– I return to the Bill which is before the House. I point out that this measure was mentioned first in the Governor-General’s Speech on 3rd March. In addition, some of the provisions which were to be embodied in the Bill were mentioned by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) on 3rd March, and the Bill was introduced in another place on 5th March. However, it laid on the stocks in the other place for some 6 weeks before it was brought into the Senate. Now the Government expects us to debate it after it has been on the stocks in this place for 24 hours only.
– It has been down in the slaughterhouse.
– Whether it has been in the slaughterhouse or anywhere else I would not know but the honourable senator would be a better judge of slaughterhouses than I am. Probably he would be a better judge than I of both ends of a bullock. In view of the circumstances I propose that the debate be adjourned. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
– If that is the wish of the Opposition I have no objection, but I hope that honourable senators opposite realise that they are delaying the implementation of the legislation.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poke) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 7 April (vide page 560), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– I find myself in a very unusual situation tonight, because whilst we are dealing with the statement that was delivered in this chamber on 7th April last, I think it is of great importance to evaluate it against the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) as reported in this morning’s ‘Australian’. When one considers all the speeches that we have heard from various Ministers, including the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), the Minister for External Affairs and other people who speak at various international gatherings on Australia’s responsibility, it is remarkable to note the retreat from some of the earlier principles to which this Government was inclined to adhere.
As a matter of fact, without canvassing the earlier statement this evening on commitments to land-locked Asia, I note that today’s ‘Australian’ has thrown up to our Minister for External Affairs the 64-dollar question about Cambodia. The Minister said: ‘We can’t influence events in Cambodia’. We of the Opposition have made similar remarks in numerous situations, going back to the Korean episode. One of the outstanding United States Generals, General Matthew Ridgway, in his subsequent writings, was most emphatic that he did not want to see the United States involved in any lengthy military entanglements on mainland Asia. To my way of thinking, the more temperate statement made by the Minister for External Affairs indicates belated recognition by the Commonwealth Government that this ‘up guards and at ‘em’ attitude seems to be declining. I interpreted the statement further as being virtually a vindication of the various utterances that the Australian Labor Party has made.
I relate that statement to the statement in the Minister’s speech on 7th April, when he talked about speaking frankly and exposing the Government’s policies to the fullest public debate. There is one criticism that
We have always made on every occasion When the Minister for External Affairs or the Prime Minister has engaged in summit talks. I go back to the famous occasion of the Honolulu talks when the then Australian Prime Minister, together with President Johnson and some Asian leaders, met to have a look at .the position in South East Asia. We were told about some of the blue prints which, amongst other things, were drawn up for the creation of a virile economy, a sort of virile way of life in many of these Asian countries in which there has been an ideological struggle as to who was going to maintain the balance of power. To my way of thinking, this very calm statement by the Minister for External Affairs about what we can do in these countries, about not being able to influence events, and some of the expressions of political viewpoint on world affairs, apparently indicate that the Government is beginning to accept some of the things that we have been saying.
By the same token, I think one can go a little bit further. When we are talking about world affairs and the question of security, I might do no better than quote from a lengthy article by Mr John P. Roche entitled ‘Moraliam and Foreign Policy’, which is contained in the United States publication ‘The New Leader’ of 16th February 1970. When talking about this doctrine of isolationism - and mark you, I am not advancing isolationism in its undiluted form - he said:
Technological progress in electronic surveillance made the base in Pakistan no longer necessary . . .
He continued that today ‘spy-in-the-sky’ satellites are able to meet the situation. The point I make there is that if we are going to take this to its logical conclusion, it would not matter whether we withdrew any of our armed detachments in any part of South East Asia. In the final analysis it will be air power, sea power and probably ballistic missiles which will determine the various engagements that may occur; it will not be this garrison complex upon which the Government places so much reliance. After all, even with the minor commitments that we have at the present time, the Government is putting greater emphasis on Singapore than it is putting on Malaysia. If there are going to be any subversive elements, they are going to come in through Malaysia; they are not going to come through Singapore.
So the point to which I revert is that it amazes me that in his statement the Minister for External Affairs talks about frank discussions. Nobody has ever been able to say - and honourable senators can go back to the early 1960s - that at any conference at which we have been represented by the Prime Minister or by the Minister for External Affairs, anybody has ever been big enough to say to people in Vietnam or, for that matter, in Thailand or Malaysia: All right, with any Australian commitments which we have of an economic or military nature, every year we want to see a positive indication of what is happening to the society as a whole.’ I am referring to South Vietnam where there has been a necessity for massive land reform. I know that honourable senators opposite may say that there has been some land reform, but my argument has been that it has never been accelerated fast enough.
Of course, I can take it a little further. If one analyses the conditions under which the people on the rubber plantations in Malaysia live, one could argue that in this age of 1970, it is not sufficient that these people have to undertake a sort of subservient role. As a matter of fact, I could go a little further on this question of what role we should play. Recently we were told - and I did not object to it - that the Australian Government has made a heavy commitment economically to Indonesia. When I listened to that statement I thought: Here is one classic case where one form of totalitarianism was successfully resisted by a country without the need to have western powers stationed there.’ Honourable senators might say that it was a case of brinkmanship, but I do not think so. I think that there was enough innate nationalism in Indonesia. The people resisted the machinations of the PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party. But this does not alter the fact that we have heavily subsidised Indonesia, and I do not think that it is infra dig at any time for Australia to give friendly advice in order to ensure that the money is channelled into various projects, whether they be hospital schemes or various other social service schemes or even, if we are talking about production, the greater use of co-operatives. We should try to ensure that our money is not simply feeding any of the lucrative merchant classes that seem to act like barnacles in most of these Asian countries. When I use that term I am not unmindful of the fact that some times some of their counterparts operate on the Australian stock exchanges. I am not taking a narrow attitude at all, but I think that we should try to maintain certain standards. To go a little bit further, I note that in the statement reference is made to the very progressive and realistic Indonesian Foreign Minister who seems to adopt a reasonable approach to all the various powers. But I should like to have seen more in this statment about the Minister for External Affairs placing his cards on the table and indicating to Mr Malik rhat he did not define every person who wants militant nationalism as a stooge of the Soviet Union.
The other point I note is the Minister’s reference to British withdrawal. He uses words like ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’. I, quite frankly as a rather pragmatic person, should like to substitute the words ‘bread’ and ‘peace’. 1 always think when I look at close-up photographs of the victims of most of these Asian conflicts, that one of the reasons there is not enough of this Vietnamisation about which the Government is talking is because such a big segment of the community is more interested in bread and peace than in what government happens to be in power. After all, we must admit, if we are honest with ourselves, that there is a tremendous amount of political apathy. If people become engrossed in purchasing a home and in things in their own suburb, they do not worry a lot until the economic squeeze comes. That is the situation, no matter which political party is in government. This applies, to a greater degree, in these countries where the prime job is to live and to get 3 meals - or at least 1 meal - a day.
I say that the words ‘bread’ and ‘peace’ mean so much when I relate them to the question of British withdrawal. I noticed that the Minister said, in effect: ‘How dare the British get out of that country’. There is nothing new about this. When the British Minister for Defence, Mr Healey, was here, he told us that there was, first of all, the question of the economic drain on Britain. But I think what was more important was that he did not want to see the slogan
Englishmen go home’, in the same way as people were saying: ‘Yank go home’. I believe that in the post-war world, both America and Britain have made sizeable economic donations to the various countries in which there were difficulties. The criticism I make is that on many occasions, in its quest for political stability, Great Britain was inclined to back leaders who were not always worth while. The Healey concept, as he stated it, was that Britain did not want to be a policeman in a country in which it had to uphold corrupt rulers. I think that statement has been borne out by recent events. It may be argued that we do not know who will be the future leaders of Vietnam - whether they will be clean skins or whether they will be not linked with those who favour the North. At the moment the military junta masquerades as the leaders of South Vietnam. Time may provide clean skins.
The situation in Vietnam is analogous with the situation in Formosa. It is quite obvious that a conflict is rising among the lower echelons as to whether people from mainland China can continue to be the rulers or whether people born in Formosa should be given their opportunity to rule. When dealing with the indirect criticism of the British withdrawal from south east Asia, we should not forget that Mr Wilson and Mr Healey kept their word about troop exercises. Britain has shown that it has the capacity to bring aerial reinforcements to various parts of the globe - in this case, South East Asia. I do not think that statement can be questioned. In any case, the middle class people in any of these countries are more educated now than were the middle class people of previous years. As an example of that one has to look only at the various Asian students in our universities. I think it is only right that we should assist people who are less fortunate than we are. We cannot give these people control of everything except finance and defence. Immediately we limit them we make them second class citizens.
I return to the analogy I was drawing with Indonesia. I do not blame directly Government members, but I do blame some of the people who preceded them. If one studies the period from 1946 to 1950 one sees that some people almost suggested that we should send forces to Indonesia to support the Dutch. I do not blame Holland as a whole. I blame the people who had a vested colonial interest in Indonesia and who wanted to maintain the old order. Honourable senators no doubt have read some of the very excellent books written by Russell Braddon about his experiences in the area. I know that Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, who is a fairly keen historian, has read these books. Russel Braddon wrote that people of the planter element - not all of them, but some of them - had as their objectives in World War II the return to the Pukka Sahib concept that existed between the 2 wars. I do not think most Australians wanted to go back to that concept. In applying that concept to the present situation one would say that the British troops should always remain in Malaysia and Singapore. I think that both countries should remain on their own feet.
Another part of the Minister’s statement about which I had some reservations was the 2 or 3 pages directed to Japan. The Minister seemed to suggest that Japan will be a massive ally. The Minister did not look back to what happened during World War II. The statement contains no criticism at all of Japan. I think honourable senators will recall that last year the then Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) mentioned that the Japanese play a pretty hard role in the commercial field and that they do not worry much about customs regulations. The Australian businessman is just as unscrupulous if he is trying to compete on overseas markets. The point 1 make is that I do not think this is one time when we should be going all the way with that country, as we did with LBJ. The Government seems to be putting all its eggs in the one basket, building up Japan and making alliances with that country. We have to keep our options open. We should not be swept away by this emotional upsurge which, to my way of thinking, seems to be the central theme of the Minister’s statement.
I think the Nixon doctrine requires attention. I think that the Minister’s statement implies that, if the United States lapses into pre-World War II isolationism, it is to be regretted. I know the Nixon attitude. Nobody denies that the United States had to reduce a lot of its costly overseas expenditure because of some of its internal problems in its own society. I hope that the Americans will not opt completely out of some of the legitimate operations dealing with economic aid. Senator Frank Church, one of the Idaho Democrats, has made statements showing his concern about this matter. It appears to me that one does not get very much material from the United States Secretary of State. Most of the material comes from the President himself on his soft sell approach to foreign policy. History never completely repeats itself. It may be argued that earlier statements about the extent to which a country should go to combat various forms of extremism are not relevant today. Possibly the United States realises that it did back some losers. Certainly some of these countries which we aid will have left wing governments. They may emulate some of the more independent eastern European countries which do not go all the way with the United States. We have to live with these countries, as does the United States.
I think we should realise that subversion will continue to be a fact of life. We will have a lot of these minor bush fire wars. I think some people argue that the term Fortress Australia’ is a dirty term. The plain fact of the matter is that prior to the last elections the Prime Minister was adamant that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons had a lot of dangers inherent in it. He had some doubts about whether Australia should become a signatory to the Treaty. We should look at it in its barest essentials. Nobody knows how our relations with the USSR and China will develop. I think that realism in the Department of External Affairs probably prevailed over other sections of the Government. At least we have some agreement with the present atomic powers which gives us a basis for negotiation.
– Australia signed the Treaty after Japan signed it.
– Nobody knows what will happen in the future. I am sorry but tonight I have a slight deafness in one ear. That is the reason why I do not answer him. I am not bucking the honourable senator’s interjection. In the final analysis, to a large degree, the Minister’s statement isa more or less hawkish statement that might have been made in the last 2 or 3 years. I believe that risks have to be taken. All along the line members of the Labor Party have argued that there must be a much more obvious solution. If Australia has the temerity at any time - whether it be at the United Nations or at a regional conference - to take a view that might be slightly different to that taken by the United States, that will not jeopardise our security. A very illustrious visitor in the person of the Canadian Prime Minister will be here shortly. It may be argued that Canada, as a next door neighbour of the United States, can manoeuvre a little better than we can. Whether we like it or not, in the past Australia and Canada had to be the little Sir Echo of the other major powers. We can be too slavish. We should not follow that attitude. 1 know there was a time when thestock in trade of the Government, as stated by Sir Robert Menzies, was the talk about preventing the downward thrust of China between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. When I relate that phrase to the rather bland statement by the present Minister for External Affairs that we cannot influence events in Cambodia, it seems to me that there is a greater degree of maturity in our foreign policy than there has been in the last 5 years. The only tragedy seems to be that, when our Leader, Mr Whitlam, and Senator Murphy in this chamber advance our views or even suggest them by questions, there is a considerable amount of jeering questioning as to where we stand on these matters. The Government cannot escape from the soft key statements that have been made. I think it is quite obvious that our suggestions deserve some recognition. If a Republican President has taken this rather temporate attitude, it is time we followed suit. 1 refer to the forceable takeover of the United States gunboat off North Korea. The B51s did not bomb North Korea. Both sides negotiated. I am not unmindful of the fact that sometimes powers, whether they be large or small, provoke other nations, but it has always been a source of wonderment to me that previous arguments advanced by the Government to attack the Opposition are discounted by present Ministers. It is surprising that such a man as the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) speaks very strongly in his own electorate about Communism. I have campaigned in the Richmond electorate. From what he said there, anybody who reads the Tribune’ would be classified as doubtful.
The ‘London Illustrated News’, dealing with the Minister’s visit to Moscow, said that he had a very good time there. Good luck to him on his trip there. He was a different man. I object very strongly to these double standards. I do not want to belabour the point. We members of the Opposition have argued that all sorts of discussions have to be held. If the world learnt nothing else from the way President Kennedy and Mr Khrushchev had to bargain in long distance telephone calls and cables in order to avoid a massive upheaval over Cuba, it learnt that this sort of diplomacy is an established fact of life.
I am sorry that the 4 members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party are not present. I give the Government some marks for the fact that Mr McMahon is learning slowly, but 1 am waiting with avid interest to hear what Senator Gair has to say about his experiences, because the only speech which he made and about which I heard was like the speeches made in the early days after the turn of the century when Britain used to send out gunboats which would fire a few salvoes over some sheik’s territory and then everything was all right. I think we all realise that those days have gone. Summing up, when we analyse this statement deeply it is quite obvious to us that there has been a tremendous withdrawal from the former hard line attitude. There is an admission that countries of various ideologies have to live together. Whatever is in the statement, I am even more pleased with Mr McMahon’s statement as reported in this morning’s ‘Australian’ which means that he has almost become a disciple of Mr Whitlam.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) [9.2] - Senator Mulvihill, who has just resumed his seat, knows very well that I, in common with other senators who sit on this side of the chamber, have a great personal affection for him. But, after after listening to the remarks he has made over the last half-hour I must say in this instance that it is not unqualified. One of the reasons why we have an affection for him is his interest in natural history and natural life. From time to time we hear from him about the necessity to preserve some of the characteristics of our Australian wildlife.
As I listened to him tonight there flowed into my mind a clear understanding of one aspect of our Australian wildlife which Senator Mulvihill, in his examination of foreign policy, foreign affairs and defence matters generally, personified. I mean by that that he became a policy bower bird. He erected a little grass temple and then proceeded to go round the scrub and the grass, picking up bright gems which he placed inside the bower and little pieces of glass in which he could admire his reflection, and then he began to dance outside it. I believe that the question of national security involves a deeper understanding than the bower bird syndrome as expressed in the speech to which we have just listened. As a matter of fact, I think it will be rather contagious. If 1 can anticipate other honourable senators sitting on the other side of the chamber, I imagine that there will be a continuation of the bower bird system. This tempts me to try to take this debate from that area of life into higher realms of analysis, which I hope will not weary the Senate.
I want to give a definition of a phrase which has tended to be used in the last 20 years under the stimulus of Communist aggression in various parts of the world and the half-sisters of Communism, namely, the various Socialist organisations and nations that have grown up in the world, such as the National Socialist Party of Germany, the Socialist Party of Italy and the curious amalgam that President Tito is beginning to operate in Yugoslavia. This phrase is grand strategy’. Grand strategy, as I define it, represents the national interest, not according to the accepted historical concept that strategy is the function of the armed forces but according to the enlarged concept which under the pressure of Communist powers in the world has had to be developed. That concept, in terms of grand strategy, is that it is the function and responsibility of governments to define what are the national objects and to sustain the national objects by the means at the disposal of the government that assumes the definition and objects of grand strategy.
I do not want to belabour the point, but it must be repeated. I have repeated it many times before in this chamber. I do not know whether I have repeated it convincingly. The strategy of Communist powers - I do not identify them - is to extend the national interest by all means at their disposal. The Communist powers extend the national interest by all means at their disposal by internal subversion, limited wars, nuclear blackmail, armed intervention and the creation of subversive elements inside the countries they wish to reduce. That is grand strategy as seen by the Communist world. Even the most convinced Socialist who has been through his Marxist school and has been taught the theory, the thesis, the synthesis and the antithesis will agree that this inevitably creates an antithesis. It creates among the peoples of the Western world in the Parliament at least a determination to resist the onset of these 4 forms of subjection by all the means at their disposal.
Australia finds itself in this position at this time because, whether we like it or not - the initiative does not lie in our hands - we find ourselves involved in a change in Australian foreign policy attitudes. This does not alarm me in any way whatsoever. It may cause me some distress, but it does not alarm me. I remember with great clarity the debate that took place here in 1965 on the occasion of the events in the Gulf oi Tonkin. When President Johnson’s declaration was debated here in the Senate I made the observation - I have continued to repeat this observation - that, as the United States is our ally and we are involved in responsive obligations to the United States and as it can ask for the return obligations from Australia, it was perfectly safe - indeed, it was proper and strategically in terms of grand strategy it was of paramount importance - that we should advance in a forward disposition into the South East Asian area because at that time we were protected in our advance positions by an alliance with the United Kingdom and the United States. I have stated constantly over the years that our forward posture is conditional upon the capacity of our 2 strategic partners who can provide the strategic resources with which Australia can maintain a forward posture.
The first thing that happened - this became clear enough some years ago - was that, for reasons which Senator Mulvihill advanced, Mr Healey, speaking on behalf of the United Kingdom Government, stated that the United Kingdom was no longer able to maintain the financial drain on its resources involved in keeping a presence east of Suez. Therefore a decision was made that the United Kingdom would withdraw from east of Suez. In practical terms this meant that the United Kingdom would run its forces down in the Malaysian peninsula and Singapore and begin to move them back into north western Europe. I have stated that I do not quarrel with this decision. I understand it. What I have quarrelled with and will continue to quarrel with is that this operation has always been clouded, lt has been a stop-go operation. The United Kingdom obviously is not withdrawing totally from east of Suez. For reasons the United Kingdom government of the day considers proper, it is leaving a garrison of about 10,000 troops in Hong Kong. What that has to do with the problems we have in Australia I do not know. But the United Kingdom forces will leave the Singapore and Malaysia area finally by 1971. I will say that some warning has been given about it. But the United Kingdom Government has provided a part substitute in the form of an exercise which is being engaged in at the present time. This is ostensibly designed to fly troops and logistical support into the area. I regard this as a public relation exercise by Mr Healey. It has taken him 2 years to plan and mount the exercise. He has now set out to fly 2,500 troops out to the area, together with some logistic support. I do not believe that in any circumstances in which danger might threaten in the South East Asian area the United Kingdom would be able to mount such an operation as that on which it is engaged at the present time. I will give 2 reasons for this. It is quite clear that in the global grand strategic picture in which we are involved it would merely require the Soviet Union to make threatening noises in north western Europe for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners to refuse the United Kingdom the right to withdraw troops from the NATO area in order to fly them to South East Asia. That is the first point. The second is this: There may be circumstances such as those which existed in 1941 in which the United Kingdom would not be able to assume tine obligation which Australia might ask it to accept. I refer to the kind of obligation which it has accepted in the past, that in the event of war in the Pacific the United Kingdom would make naval forces available to provide a covering force in Singapore. On the strength of that obligation Australia committed 1 division and corps troops to the Singapore area. I do not blame the United: Kingdom for the exigencies which developed.. For God’s sake, do not think that. The United Kingdom was unable to fulfil itscommitment. In any case the result wasthat despite the disposition that was made in Singapore there was a collapse in the; South East Asian area.
That is one point that indicates one side of the watershed in which the Government and people of Australia find themselves, involved at the present time. The second’ one is that the United States of America, has decided that it will withdraw from the Asian mainland. When the United States, originally decided to embark on an intrusion into the Asian mainland - we all’ remember the events following the Gulf of Tonkin incident when President Johnson decided on a partial disposition of American) forces on the Asian mainland, both he and President Kennedy having been urged by intellectual eggheads from the various universities in America who provided the advisers which both of those Presidents sought - it seemed to me to represent an abandon,ment by the United States of its historical1 strategic role, in defiance, I believe, of the armed forces advisers.
There is a curious characteristic about the people of the United States. Those whom Senator Mulvihill and his colleagues; would describe as good social democrats; - the members of the Democratic Party - are always outside American interventionists, while the ironclad conservatives, whom they would despise, who provide the management qualities around which the wealth of the United States evolves - the Republicans - are inside Americans who do> not like committing themselves abroad. So there has been on and off - I exclude from this categorisation General Eisenhower, am ironclad conservative and Republican - very little in the nature of adventures outside the United States. It is when the eggheads start to be noticed that we find the United States involving itself in outside adventures, or what a lot of people consider are outside adventures.
I do not think I am drawing the long bow when I say that there was great opposition inside the United States, by the armed1 forces in particular, to the intrusion upon the Asian mainland. It has been fundamental in the United States strategic concept of the Pacific area that the United States should never intrude upon the Asian mainland but should maintain its strategic capacity, to hold the ring as it were, in the Pacific Ocean basin - that is the north and south Pacific. So what is now known, or is coming to be known, as the Guam <doctrine of President Nixon is no more than a repetition of the general political attitude of the United States to the global responsibility that it assumes. I have read President Nixon’s article in a 1967 issue of the American journal called ‘Foreign Affairs’. I have read the communique that was issued in Guam. I have read the reports in the New York ‘Times’ of what it was stated President Nixon did say at his Press conference in Guam. It seems to me to be clear what the policy of the United States is. It is a reversion to a sort of partial - but only partial - isolation.
It is clear from the article by President Nixon - or Mr Nixon as he then was - in Foreign Affairs’ in 1967, and from his Guam Press release, that he believes the United States should withdraw to its historical area, which is in mid-ocean, and that it should retain its strategic flexibility and options by doing so. Therefore the concept of defence of South East Asia should be based upon a regional capacity. What is meant by a regional capacity for defence in South East Asia? Obviously the United States has come to the conclusion that the various countries in South East Asia should do something to help themselves militarily. This means, I assume, that inside the special relationship between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America the Philippines should do something. It means that South Vietnam should do something - and, in fact, something is being done there under what is known as the Vietnamisation of the armed forces of the Republic.
– Do you think the Philippines will do very much?
– I will deal with that in a moment, but if the honourable senator asks me for my personal opinion at this stage, I believe the Philippines are incapable of doing anything. I say that for a lot of reasons which it would be improper for me to debate at present. Then we come to the problem of
Thailand which is now beginning to find itself menaced by the collapse of the buffer States around it, Laos and Cambodia. Why are these buffer states collapsing? It is simply because these 2 countries seem attractive to the Communist powers because if they can effect a takeover of those countries they can put Thailand under pressure. In other words, what has been condemned often enough in this Senate for the last 5 years as the domino theory, in fact is a theory which is exercising some fascination for the Thai Government which is beginning to consider itself the next domino about to be pushed.
– It is something that is real.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACKYes, it is something that is real. Sir Robert Thompson was asked when he was out here recently whether he believed in the domino theory. He said: ‘It is not a question whether I believe in the domino theory. What matters is that the dominoes believe in the theory’.
Malaysia has a greater capacity for stability. Here I refer to what the Prime Minister described at the 5 power conference which was held in Canberra in 1969 as western Malaysia. He wanted to draw a sharp distinction between the capacity of Malaysia in the western portion of that country, the peninsula, and some dubious capacity that it has in north Borneo. The other area of the region which I assume was in President Nixon’s mind is the great republic - great in the sense of numbers and dimensions - of Indonesia, which is in a state of economic bankruptcy and incapacity. We find that such a pragmatist as the Prime Minister of Singapore at least acknowledges the fact that he must do something, and he has built up a substantial defence force. Then we look at Burma which seems to be sunk in some Buddhist stupor.
Look at India which, it seems to me, is in a state of internal coma. There are rebellions, riots, famines and troops operating in Assam. India is hysterical about what Pakistan may do in the context of Kashmir. It has some kind of reason for this, of course, because Pakistan has allied itself with Communist China. So India has allied itself with the Soviet Union. I assume that this is the region about which the President of the United States was talking.
I am filled with some alarm that Australia is being invited to underwrite partially this kind of structure. This is the great watershed in which we find ourselves in the context of our defence and our foreign policy in 1970. This is the problem which will be with us during the whole of the 1970s and, I suggest, the 1980s. I have no apologies to make for speaking as an individual here in my place in the Senate as to the change that must take place in Australia’s foreign policy and Australia’s defence because the concepts on which defence and foreign policy were directed in the 1950s and 1960s has disappeared with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from east of Suez and the United States retreat - not retreat but retirement - to the area where it can exercise its greatest strategical flexibility.
Since I was warned when I came into the Senate after the suspension of the sitting for dinner tonight that I was to follow Senator Mulvihill in the debate on the defence and foreign policy statement, I have had to jot down some notes. I make no excuse for advancing what I have put down as a series of axioms to which I should like to direct the attention of the Senate. The first axiom that I put down is this: Australia has no defence or foreign policy initiatives in a thermo-nuclear war situation. In the event of nuclear war no initiatives and no defence capacity are left to Australia. Therefore, if this first axiom is accepted, as I believe it should be accepted, that there are no initiatives in terms of grant strategy or defence strategy or political overtures and initiatives in a thermo-nuclear war, then we must ask ourselves: What is the situation in less than thermo-nuclear condition?
I want to take a minute off to rebut the concept that the Australian Government was hawkish in refusing to sign the treaty relating to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. We signed the treaty for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons within 1 week of the Japanese Government signing it. On the last occasion on which I spoke in the Senate on matters of foreign affairs in this particular context I explained that I thought we probably were able to help the United States persuade the Government of Japan to sign the treaty, and as soon as Japan signed it we signed it.
The second axiom is that, following from a situation less than a thermo-nuclear situation - this must be accepted and understood - Australia lives upon the periphery of an unstable regional area which I have just mentioned. In fact I have itemised some of the instabilities in it. This means in the clearest terms that in this unstable area we are not part of Asia. We are involved in Asia and must be involved in Asia, but we are not part of Asia.
The third axiom is that whether we like it or not - I consider this to be highly important - Australia has no real grand strategical capacity except in an alliance with a friendly power which can provide Australia with a strategical capacity to allow Australia to manoeuvre. In other words, in the terms that are often used, Australia must have a shield, and the shield is the United States of America. It can never be anything else. If we accept the shield of the United States of America, as I believe we must, then it is proper for the shield bearer to ask something of us. What the United States asks of us is that we play some part in attempting to create an area of stability in the South East Asian area. However difficult this may be, the fact is that we are compelled, as a price - it is a price that I am willing to pay - to accept the responsibility that is involved. That is the third axiom. It is important that this should be so because in global terms in the area in which we live the United States, the great strategical power with a global capacity, is the only nation which basically has the same interests as we have in terms of how society conducts itself and lives. No other nation in the area has it. Therefore, that is an additional reason why we should cleave to the treaty obligations that we owe to the United States and that the United States must convey to us.
Then I move to the fourth axiom. This is the one that I find easy, and difficult, to explain or to enunciate. Oddly enough, it fits in with the dimly grasped theory of the Australian Labor Party. It is this: If there is within the area a strategical capacity for Australia, it is a strategical capacity which must be based upon an island power. Although we are a continent we are also an island. Being an island gives Australia, in terms of pure defence and strategical capacity, a great deal of geographical benefit. For example, the people of an island are able to move internally whereas any possible enemy short of a thermo nuclear war, would have to move around the outside. It is also true that Australia as an island power must be able to move around its island shores. Therefore, finally, if you like to put it in this way, Australia is a fortress. It is certainly an island. This island must be maintained by a great maritime capacity. 1 do not think that even ths bitterest invective which could be extracted from honourable senators opposite would deny that over the past few years the Government has pursued at least the attempt to build up a shipbuilding industry and create a maritime commercial fleet in Australia which is necessary for a navy operating on one wing of the maritime power. The Navy is fairly well equipped with an anti-submarine capacity. The Navy would claim that it is short of a capacity to use aircraft from Navy decks. The Air Force would argue that the sinking of money into a capital ship for the maintenance of naval power was unwarranted in the concept that the pure air arm could provide it. So I have fashioned for myself a new phrase, ‘maritime power’, and I have defined ‘maritime power’ as ‘pure naval power and air power operating in conjunction’.
I come to the last axiom that I have noted. 1 can envisage circumstances in which Australia would be on its own. Although the United States is a global power there are circumstances under terms of nuclear blackmail, for example, in which the United States could conceivably say to Australia: “There are circumstances in which we must ask you to release us, temporarily at any rate, from an undertaking that we have given to you’. Therefore, Australia’s foreign policy and its defence capacity in these circumstances must be directed at and focused on meeting this sort of situation. In other words, 1 am driven to the conclusion that, for the first time in my lifetime, Australia has to evolve and invoke foreign and defence policies which rely on its own capacity. This does not mean, as the Opposition sometimes claims, that we should retire into what has been described as - and I have used the term - a fortress, because the man who is inside a fortress denies himself the capacity to move outside of it. For Australia to put itself inside a fortress would mean that it would be denying itself its capacity to move outside of the fortress, as i have just mentioned.
I have said previously in the Senate that there are certain areas which are of prime interest to Australia. One is Australia’s ability to maintain its trade routes. We must be able to move across the Pacific Ocean. In the context of our commercial relations with the United States of America and north west Europe we must be able to maintain our trade routes to the north as well as across the Indian Ocean. What should be our priorities in attempting to pick-up, as it were, the requirements outlined by President Nixon in his Guam Doctrine? I shall not put the priorities down in series, but it is obvious that some foreign policy initiatives are open to Australia which Australia must accept. One is that we must devote the maximum capacity we can in economic terms to the rehabilitation of the Republic of Indonesia, although I have a feeling that doing so is somewhat comparable to pouring water onto an ash heap in that the more water one pours onto it the more water the ash seems to absorb. I once asked an eminent professor of economics in Australia, who is devoted to the interests of Indonesia and who claims that we must do the most that we can to help Indonesia, how much money it would cost to do so. He threw his hands up into the air and said that no-one knew.
It is also quite clear that, in relation to our foreign policy initiatives, we have to do something about Papua and New Guinea, although we are providing aid amounting to about $160m a year. The stability of Papua and New Guinea as an area is important to Australia. If the people of Papua and New Guinea wish Australia to maintain some sort of supervision over their well being I do not think that any service is done to Australia by inflaming the people of Papua and New Guinea to ask for independence before they either are ready to receive it or have the ability to administer their own affairs when they are granted independence.
– Or to understand what it means.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACKYes. I am sure that Senator Gair will agree with me when I say that most honourable senators who met the members of the House of Assembly when they visited Canberra recently are under the impression that their main preoccupation was trying to persuade members of the Commonwealth Parliament that they should not press independence upon Papua and New Guinea. A great disservice is being done to the people of that Territory by pressing them to accept independence before they are ready for it.
Another problem which disturbs me is the future of Melanesia and Micronesia. It is all very well for the United Kingdom to say to the people of Fiji: ‘We are giving you your independence’, as the United Kingdom is in the process of doing, but when the United Kingdom walks out of Fiji someone has to pick up some of the tabs.
– It is very important.
– I agree that it is very important to do so.
– When the props are taken away from underneath them away they will go.
Senator Sir MAGNUS CORMACKOne must also take into consideration the interests of the British Solomon Islands and what will happen to them. What does one do about Micronesia? Then I come to the question of the South East Asian peninsula and the problems concerning the Indian Ocean. I have advanced certain axioms which I conceive to be self-evident truths. It is not my function to stand up in the Senate and evolve a foreign policy for Australia. All I can do is point out that there are certain significant signs which can be seen by those people who wish to look for them and which indicate that Australia will be involved in the next 10 years in a total reassessment of its foreign and defence policies. The Government has shown in its rather guarded statements on its defence and foreign policies that it is aware of this fact and is moving towards this end. But no government can move towards a true and strict concept of what its foreign and defence policies should be unless it has the support of the Parliament. It is the function of the Parliament to make this fact clear to the electorate. If I have done nothing else tonight in the 30 minutes I have spoken but explain some of the concepts and problems which are involved in this regard, I am grateful for having had the opportunity to do so. If I have dulled the Senate with the statements I have made, I am sorry, but I refuse to pick up bright pebbles and pieces of mirror and put them in a grass bower.
– lt was my intention to contribute to this debate on external affairs in fairly general terms, as did Senator Sir Magnus Cormack, but in view of the events which have occurred in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate on the last 3 nights, I feel it is necessary for me to clarify some of the points which were raised by honourable senators, particular Senator Greenwood. It was correctly stated by Senator Murphy last night that the seriousness of the charges which Senator Greenwood has made on the question of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign warrants a full debate. I am not quite sure exactly what Senator Greenwood has in mind in raising this matter in the manner he has, but I think it is necessary to look at the comments which he has made in order to determine their accuracy or otherwise. One of the points Senator Greenwood made early in his comments was that we should not desert our allies in South Vietnam who have called for our assistance. I presume that Senator Greenwood was referring to the statement which was made by Prime Minister Menzies in April 1965. There have been repeated requests and demands for evidence that the Government of South Vietnam did in fact seek assistance from Australia, but the evidence has never been produced and it will never be produced because it does not exist.
– Does the honourable senator agree that there was a request?
– May I point out to the honourable senator at the outset that in- the time I have been a member of this chamber I have never once interrupted him and I suggest that he should show me the same courtesy. In actual fact this evidence has never been produced because it does not exist. Precisely the same situation exists in the United States of America. Despite repeated requests that the United States Government produce evidence that the Government of South Vietnam invited the American forces into South Vietnam, that evidence has never been produced because it does not exist.
Our troops went to Vietnam in the first instance for 2 principal reasons. The first reason was that we were pressured by the government of the day in the United States to take part in the war in Vietnam because the United States Government badly needed as much support as it could get - moral support - for a cause which it had adopted in Vietnam but which it was experiencing extreme difficulty in selling around the world. We were pressured to commit ourselves to Vietnam in much the same way as South Korea and the Philippines were pressured to commit themselves. In fact, if one were to read through the conditions which the United States Government imposed on South Korea in regard to the dispatch of a second contingent of South Korean troops one would almost disbelieve that any government would impose such conditions upon another government of which it calls itself an ally.
The second reason why our troops were sent to Vietnam was to create a particular climate in Australia at that time. Menzies was one of the best political operators in Australia and he knew full well that by the commitment of Australian troops to Vietnam he would create a climate of fear in Australia. Anybody who has had anything to do with political campaigning, as I have had, knows full well that it is extremely difficult to combat an argument which is based on fear with an argument which is based on reason. This is the problem which the Australian Labor Party faced in 1966. It tried to reason and rationalise with the people of Australia that what was being done in Vietnam was wrong.
I do not know why Senator Greenwood continually refers to the setbacks and reverses of the Australian Labor Party in 1966, because the situation has changed dramatically in the past 4 years. I can well recall the electoral campaign for the seat of Denison in Hobart, in which I was the campaign director for the Australian Labor Party candidate, Neil Batt, and during the course of the 14 months prior to that election I knocked on no fewer than 3,500 doors. Unfortunately, Mr Bapp did not win the seat. He has since won a seat in the Tasmanian Parliament and his contribution in this Federal Parliament, I am sure, would have been as effective as the one he is making now in the State Parliament. But it was quite obvious to me that the majority of Australians - I assume that the people of Denison were fairly representative of Australians generally even though they are Tasmanians, but some people may not agree with that - were basically unaware of the points on Vietnam and why we had been committed.
It was not difficult to convince people that there was something basically wrong with our commitment to Vietnam and in the intervening years between 1966 and 1970 there has been a vast movement in public opinion. Now, instead of the majority of people accepting the Government’s position in Vietnam they are in fact basically opposed to it. Senator Greenwood said that he believes in government by the elected representatives of the people. I think he was referring to alleged takeovers by the trade unions or someone of that nature during the course of this Moratorium but in fact the points which he made were in defence of a government which itself in 1955 in South Vietnam ran away from free elections. Under the terms of the Geneva agreement free elections were to be held in 1956 and the South Vietnamese Government, of course, refused to take part in them. The honourable senator also mentioned today - I think a question about it was directed to the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) - that the South Vietnamese Government was not committed to the Geneva agreement. Of course, the South Vietnamese Government did not sign the Geneva agreement, nor did the United States, Australia, Britain, Russia or China because the agreement was not drawn up for them.
The agreement was specifically drawn up for 2 parties, namely, the Vietminh and the French. For example, we find Article 1 of that agreement states:
A provisional military demarcation line shall be fixed, on either side of which the forces of the two parties shall be regrouped.
Constantly throughout the agreement we find this reference to the two parties and not to anybody else - that was unnecessary. What was of significance was the addendum to this agreement. That is an eight-nation declaration and to this the South Vietnamese Government undoubtedly was committed. I would like to quote from Keesing’s Archives, which I think compiles quite accurately records of events of this sort throughout the world and which I would hope Senator Greenwood would agree is authoritative. We find recorded on page 13,689 for the period 24th to 31st July 1954 that the 8-nation declaration was signed by the representatives of France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, the 3 Associated States - of which South Vietnam was one - and the Vietminh Government. This shows beyond any doubt that South Vietnam in fact was committed to the 8-nation declaration and as such was committed to the holding of free elections.
Thesouth Vietnamese Premier of the time, Ngo Dinh Diem, certainly had reservations about the agreement but there is no doubt about where the commitments lay. From the same source on page 13,695 comes the following comment:
Whilst the ceasefire agreements were welcomed by the Royal Governments of Cambodia and Laos, as well as by the Vietminh Government, the partitioning of Vietnam was strongly opposed by the Vietnamese Government. Although a declaration setting forth his Government’s objections to the ceasefire agreement was issued by the Vietnamese Foreign Minister (Dr Tran Van-Do) during the final stages of the Geneva Conference, the Government of Vietnam nevertheless indicated that it would not oppose the implementation of the agreement.
This shows beyond any measure of doubt that the South Vietnamese were in fact committed to the agreement and the 8-nation declaration, and the same applies to the United States. We know, of course, that the United States did not sign the agreement. The United States did not even sign the 8-nation declaration but it did in fact issue a statement to the effect that it would not interfere with the agreement that had been reached. I quote again from the statement which was made by Mr Bedell Smith, the United States representative, in which he said:
It will refrain . . .
That is, the United States-
That in itself should have been sufficient to indicate that the United States did have obligations towards the agreement which had been reached but should Senator Greenwood or any of those who support him wish further evidence it is available. Mendes-France, the French Premier who was the instigator of the Geneva agreement on his return to Paris in 1954 made a statement to the National Assembly in which he said:
The test became decisive . . .
That is, the test as to whether the agreement would be reached - . . when the US Government hesitated to send to Geneva a representative of ministerial rank to participate in the final negotiations. I felt that the presence of such a representative was indispensable, and that without it the agreements would have remained precarious … I think we can affirm that the US Government does not regret having allowed itself to be convinced in this matter.
If that is not sufficient, perhaps the words of Mr Bedell Smith himself when he returned to the United States are surely evidence of the fact that the United States did in fact feel itself committed to this agreement. He said:
While the agreements reached at Geneva contain features which the USA does not like, I am nevertheless convinced that the results are the best that we could possibly have obtained in the circumstances … I am also convinced that the decision regarding our representation during the closing, critical hours at Geneva was wise and effective, both as to timing and tactics.
There was no reference to the fact that the United States of America was not committed. If in fact these 2 countries were not committed obviously some statement would have been made to that effect: ‘It is not our business. We are not involved. Why should we explain our position?’ But in fact they did not do this so it was quite obvious that both of them did feel themselves committed.
I have just one more brief remark to make about the elections which were provided for in paragraph 7 of the 8-nation declaration. I am going into these points in some detail but I think it is necessary in order to refute the comments which were made by Senator Greenwood the other night. We find that the last sentence of paragraph 7 states:
Consultations will be held on this subject . . .
This is, the subject of free elections -
Now, in July of 1955 the North Vietnamese wrote a letter to the South Vietnamese Government drawing attention to the fact that under the terms of the agreement it was time to enter into these consultations. The texts of these letters are in a booklet of the
Department of External Affairs which is available in the Library should anyone care to read them. Three weeks later the South Vietnamese Government replied. It just did not say that it would not enter into general elections in Vietnam. It said: ‘We will not even enter into consultations for free elections in Vietnam’. This has been the critical point. This was the turning point of the whole business. It claimed, and quite rightly, that in North Vietnam under a Communist regime there would be no free elections. Of course, there would not. In the South there would have been no free elections either, but did not the people who drew up the Geneva agreement envisage this? Of course, they did. That is why they wrote the machinery provisions into the agreement, in order to get supervision of free elections throughout North and South Vietnam. But the South Vietnamese Government would not even initiate consultations with the North, not for the reasons it stated but because it knew that had those elections been held the South Vietnamese Government would have been electorally defeated, and defeated overwhelmingly. That is precisely the reason why the elections were never held.
Senator Greenwood repeatedly referred to violence which he apparently alleges is to take place during the course of the Moratorium. The Moratorium’s objectives state quite specifically that the campaign is to be peaceful and non-violent. I want to put quite clearly to honourable senators where I stand on the motion passed in Melbourne, referred to today by Senator Greenwood. I personally dissociate myself entirely from what happened in Melbourne because I would not be a party to the use of violence in any shape or form, although I am very much opposed to the war m Vietnam and to the violence there. I would not be a party to any agreement whereby we used violent methods in our objections to Vietnam. I was distressed to find that the motion had been carried. I know that the overwhelming majority of people involved in the Moratorium Campaign have no desire whatsoever for violence.
Senator Greenwood issued a specific challenge during the course of his remarks. He challenged any honourable senator on the Opposition side to point to any occasion on which the Vietnam Campaign organisers have said that they are proposing to avoid violence. I accept Senator Greenwood’s challenge. About 18 months ago a march and meeting were organised in Hobart. A march took place from the University to the centre of Hobart, where I addressed the meeting. When I was asked to contact the police to ensure that there would be no violence or provocation, I did so. There was no violence or provocation by the police or by the people who marched. The meeting went off without incident. The same thing could happen on 8th March providing that nobody tries to build up an atmosphere of fear on this issue. The tragedy of the attitude adopted by Senator Greenwood is that such an atmosphere is gradually being built up. An impression is being given that violence is inevitable on 8th May, and that is not true. The honourable senator and others have said that the people who oppose the war in Vietnam are always talking about violence by the American or South Vietnamese troops, but they never refer to the violence of the Vietcong. I am quite sure that anybody who is concerned about Vietnam finds violence by anybody abhorrent, no matter where it comes from. We should all be opposed to violence. Nevertheless, we are ourselves involved on a particular side in the Vietnam conflict. This is the problem. We are not taking part in violence by the Vietcong but we are involved in the violence that is being committed by United States troops and perhaps by some of the forces serving with them.
Let us consider the Moratorium on 8th May to be a legitimate method of protest. Do not let us associate it with violence in the streets. As I said earlier, the overwhelming majority of people associated with the Moratorium Campaign do not want violence. I hope that if Senator Greenwood has any more to say on this subject he will adopt a more responsible attitude.
– I have listened to the previous speakers in this debate. I listened to Senator Wriedt detail the agreements that were supposed to have been entered into at the time of the Geneva Accords. Ho Chi Minh, the great national liberator in Vietnam - he was acclaimed as such - succeeded for some time in establishing himself before the people realised that he was using the national resurgence to institute a Communist form of government in North Vietnam.
But other aspects of the Geneva Accords should be considered, one of them being that the integrity of Laos was to be guaranteed, together with its neutrality. An agreement to that effect was signed by North Vietnam. One of the conditions of the agreement was that North Vietnamese troops were to be withdrawn from Laos. North Vietnam, far from withdrawing its troops, increased their numbers in Laos, a process which culminated in an act of aggression against Laos.
North Vietnam is acting in a similar way in Cambodia. It certainly is tinkering in Thailand. What amazes me more than anything else is how anyone in this country can view with equanimity what is happening in South East Asia, without at least some fears for the future integrity of this country. Senator Sir Magnus Cormack was perfectly right when he said that the domino theory, which has been jeered at by many people since the conflict in Vietnam started, is unfolding before our eyes. It can be seen in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and South Vietnam. Does anybody believe that once South East Asia has gone the Communists will stop without encroaching upon this country? I have respect for honourable senators opposite who have some fears about the position in South Vietnam but I cannot believe that they are so blind to the future of this country as not to see what could happen, what must be the eventual culmination of the process taking place in South East Asia.
Senator Mulvihill made a moderate speech. He said, amongst other things, that it would be a matter for extreme regret if the United States of America sank back into the condition of isolation which pertained prior to World War II. The United States of America, that much maligned country, has poured billions of dollars into Western Europe, Japan and South East Asia since World War II in order to rehabilitate and stabilise those countries. I shudder to think what condition the world would be in today but for what the United States has done. Certainly the onward march of Communism would have been made much easier.
Britain used to act as the policeman of the world, but all she got out of it was abuse from many people who do not seem to be able to see past the ends of their noses. The United States has certainly been a great bastion of democracy, the last one of consequence left in the world. All she has received from the people in many countries is a tirade of abuse. If the United States sinks back into isolation, that position will have been very largely contributed to by the people in this Parliament - who, incidentally, pleaded with the Americans 20 years ago to come and save this country. Those people did not then look a gift horse in the mouth.
The speech delivered by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr McMahon) was cautious and realistic. I believe that it provided a good run down on the position that exists particularly to the north of us. We have to bear in mind that the shield under which Australia was given birth as a nation and the shield under which we grew for more than 20 years is no longer there. It has gone. I am one of those people who have not a lot of faith in Great Britain coming back into South East Asia. But that is easily understood when it is realised that Great Britain dissolved her own empire. She voluntarily dissolved it and has been reduced to the status of a European power without very great natural resources. It may well be that the burden of maintaining a presence east of Singapore was more than the taxpayers of Britain could withstand, but there are other factors. Great Britain has had a Labor Government for some years.
Not long ago Mr Denis Healey, the Secretary of State for Defence in the United Kingdom, published a White Paper on the defence position of the United Kingdom. It is a most amazing document because in it he warns, among other things, that Russia’s military spending increased by 6% last year and that he considered that Great Britain’s expenditure on defence would be reduced to less than 2%. He went on to say that the money saved had enabled the Government to promise more social benefits. A few years ago when I was in the United Kingdom some Labor members of the British Government were advocating a reduction in the defence commitment so that, as they put it, they would be able to extend their social services programme. I suppose that is their business, but it is certain that a country cannot spend its substance to provide free this, that and the other and still provide adequate defence and act as a policeman in some parts of the world. Mr Healey went on to say that Britain’s fighting troops were already cut to fewer than 100,000. He said:
The reserves are so run down that the Government is having to boost them with a legislative fiddle which will compulsorily double the period of reserve service for 170,000 former conscripts . . .
Then he went on to enumerate the very great depletion that has taken place in Britain’s defence forces. When one looks at that position and considers what has happened in other aspects one cannot have any great faith in the proposition that Britain will transport troops by plane to other areas of the world such as South East Asia should the need arise. That means that there is only one other bastion upon which this country can depend. That is the United States of America. If the United States of America pulls out of South East Asia - and goodness knows the Americans have had their fingers burnt sufficiently - they have been the object of demonstrations and abuse all round the world because of their attitude and because of their attempt to carry out a guarantee that was given by Eisenhower, which was given by Kennedy, which was inherited by Johnson, which was inherited again by Nixon-
– What an unholy mess they made of it.
– That is what one man says. If the time came eventually when Australia were threatened, I do not know what the honourable senator would advocate. Would he be like his predecessors and call upon the United States of America to come to our assistance? Would not the United States of America be justified in saying: ‘We came once before when it was far from your doors and we tried to stop it, but you would have hone of it. Now you will just have to look after yourself? That is a very real danger and that is what prompted the Australian Government, in my opinion rightly, to enter the Vietnam struggle in the first place.
Undoubtedly, as the statement says, continuous aggression is being perpetrated in Vietnam. It has been going on for years. The most twisted and the wierdest thinking that 1 have ever listened to has been advanced in an attempt to justify the stand of the Australian Labor Party in regard to this matter. Last week we heard from Senator Cavanagh who said that because.
American, Australian, New Zealand and Korean troops were the only foreign troops, in Vietnam, therefore they must be the ones who are committing aggression. The honourable senator might just as well have said that because American, British, Australian and New Zealand troops were the only foreign troops in France during 2 world wars, those countries were the ones committing aggression.
– Your parallel is screwy.
– What is the difference? It just goes to show how honourable senators opposite scrape the very bottom of the barrel in an attempt to use arguments to vilify an action which was taken, not lightly, by this Government. No doubt the action was taken with just as much misgiving as has emanated from the ranks of the Opposition. The Opposition’s criticism first of all was that the conflict in Vietnam was a civil war. But just how long they can go on saying that in the face of aggression that has been taking place for 3 or 4 years or longer I do not know. However,4 that was the first contention - that it was no concern of ours because it was a civil war. Then the domino theory was their claim. I reiterate that if Opposition senators have any perspective at all they must look with a lot of misgiving at what is taking place today in South East Asia. They must look with much foreboding for the future integrity of this country because what is taking place is sponsored by a power which is dedicated to world revolution and of taking over as many countries as possible by force of arms.
– Or internal subversion.
– Yes. We have in this country people whom I believe would be the progenators of subversion in Australia should it ever be attacked. We have them here with us. This force which has already secured a very large part of the world is, without doubt or question, dedicated to world conquest of one country after another. 1 am one of those people who do not believe that it delivers the goods.
Only in today’s newspapers I noted that the Ford company had been offered a big sum to build a motor lorry factory in the Soviet Union. I think it was to be the biggest lorry factory in the world. That is not a new thing. Only 3 or 4 years ago the Fiat motor company in Italy won a contract to build a motor car factory in the Soviet Union. lt won the contract from the Renault company in France and from the British Motor Corporation in London. The contract is to build this factory in the Soviet Union, because the Soviet Government simply was not supplying its own people with motor cars. What amused me at the time was the fact that the Fiat motor company in Italy is the prime target of the Italian Communists. The Fiat motor company is the big bad wolf of capitalism and is a fit and proper target for Italian Communists. But that did not matter. The Fiat company won the contract to build this factory in the Soviet Union and to operate it, because the Soviet had shown itself to be incapable of providing motor cars for its own people. I cannot quote the number of motor cars which the Soviet built, but I know it was infinitesimal.
That happened under a system which has been operating for 50-odd years in a country which is fairly richly endowed with raw materials but which has not been able to provide for its own people motor cars which we regard as every-day necessities. The Soviet had to turn to the capitalist world to build this factory for it. In that and in other respects the Soviet Union certainly has not delivered the goods to its own people. Yet, as so often has happened in history, people who are not well endowed with the necessities of life and whose governments have kept them in a state of near poverty can be a menace to the rest of tSe world. I remember reading after the French revolution–
– Which one was that?
– I do not suppose you would know anything about it. I remember reading after the French Revolution that in spite of the awful poverty that prevailed in France, the world was astonished that everywhere the lean, gaunt, hungry legions of the French, often poorly equipped and trained, flung back the enemy that was trying to invade their country. There is a parallel situation in the world today. Although these Communist countries are poorly endowed, so far as what we regard as the common necessities of life are concerned, when they have had the guns and equipment they have proved they are a menace to the rest of the world.
– lt comes out of the mouth of the gun.
– That is right - and you talk about Stalingrad. Anyone who reads Goebbel’s diaries must reach the conviction that the British and American bombing of Germany made it impossible for that country to function as a unit. Everything was disorganised and destroyed. However, that does not alter the position that confronts this country today. The Minister for External Affairs refers to countries to the north of us, in proximity to us, and says that they have been granted sovereign rights, their freedom and their own selfgovernment. Of course they have. Only in the last few days I read that a Communist newspaper had said that Malaysia was only an imperialist creation. So if we grant these countries their sovereignty, it is wrong; if we do not grant them their sovereignty, then it is just rabid imperialism. But is that very different from what, the Communists themselves do, once countries become prisoners, as the States of eastern Europe have found out - as Czechoslovakia found out. Once they become prisoners of the Soviet, there is no resurrection.
The people who malign the United Stales of America for trying to stop something that is coming right towards us, which is a direct threat to us - we are right in the line, and the people of the United States are not in the line - leave me appalled as to their mentality. We have sat in this chamber and we have heard so often, particularly at question time, questions asked about, for instance, the bombing of North Vietnam. I am positive that an independent observer who came here and was not completely au fait with the whole position would ask: ‘Do these people want the Communists to win?5 That would be the natural assumption. To any observer, they seem always to have been on the side of the Communists.
– Who won the war?
– Thanks to the United States and to our own forces, we did. Let me tell you this: Had it not been for honourable senators opposite and their counterparts in the United States of America, the war in- Vietnam would have been over by now. But if they have any misgivings, they dare not express them because they are bound and fettered hand and foot. They are the prisoners of Communist influence, and if they were to say what they really thought, they would suffer a fate similar to that suffered by Sam Benson, George Cole and others who dared to get up and say what they thought regarding the position. They are never going lo tell me that every member of the Parliamentary Labor Party, in both Houses of the Parliament, in his own heart goes along with the policy that honourable senators opposite have adopted and enunciated. I do not believe it. In a few years lime, when the situation in Vietnam falls into its proper perspective, it will be clear and plain that the attitude taken by the Labor Party, the Communists, the misguided Ministers of religion and others in this country, and their counterparts in the United States, started the tragedy that eventually ensued. I hope I am wrong. Noone more than I ‘ hopes that I am wrong. But we have to look at the facts as they unfold and we have to see them as plain as they are. They are plain and clear for all to be seen. Only the blind, the truly biased and the people who are prisoners of these Communist-front organisations who dare not, for the sake of their political lives, step out of line cannot see this. I thank God that I am a member of a Party which allows me to step out of line and get away with it.
– When have you stepped out of line?
– The referendum that sought to enlarge Parliament was one occasion. But honourable senators opposite cannot. If they dare to do so they are sent to the nether regions and into the outer darkness forever more. I repeat that I do not think so badly of honourable senators opposite as to believe that they are all behind this awful suicidal anti-Australian proposition that they have enunciated in this chamber from time to time and which is announced by those people who wear this thing on their coats. Lord save me from them. I finish.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) proposed:
Thai the Senate do now adjourn.
– During the last 3 weeks attention has been focussed upon war service homes finance. This was done at the behest of the Australian Labor Party both in this place and in the other place. It was done by asking questions and by a 3-hour debate on a matter of urgency introduced by the Opposition because of the Government’s re-introduction of a waiting period for war service homes finance. Yesterday I asked a question of the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) to which I propose to refer. I asked it in these terms:
I direct a question to the Minister for Housing. On Tuesday, 7th April, in reply to several questions asked from this side of the chamber she indicated that there were no restrictions or delays on the availability of finance for war service homes being constructed by approved applicants. Does that position still prevail, or are any approved applicants who are building homes or who have completed the construction of homes now being advised that no finance is available before July 1970?
In answer to the question, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin replied:
It is quite true that on certain dates in the past I replied to a number of questions concerning war service homes finance which were directed to me by honourable senators. I informed them then that there was one area in which there was a period of waiting time. I do not know whether the honourable senator is referring to an individual case in which there may be some particular difficulty. If he is, and if he will let me know of the individual case, I will certainly find out what the situation is. But my answer on the overall position is the same as the one I gave in reply to the questions recently.
I respect the Minister’s offer about supplying her with information on individual cases. My dificulty is in endeavouring to reconcile the answers given to the numerous questions asked on 7th April and the references made to war service homes finance during the course of the debate on the matter of urgency on 8th April. The Minister made a distinction between finance available for existing dwellings, on the one hand, and finance available for. the construction of a home, on the other. I think it is important that I refer briefly, without wearying the Senate, to the many questions asked on 7th April. The answers to those questions disclose that a definite distinction was made. Not only was a distinction made between the two types of finance - the finance for an existing dwelling and the finance for the construction of a new home - but the Minister said in answer to Senator McClelland:
May 1 just continue answering the honourable senator’s question? I remind him that wo increased the allocation by $5m in the last Budget.I also inform him and the Senate that even with the increase the allocation has not been sufficient to meet the applications, which have been greater than estimated.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was asked a similar question by the former Minister for the Army, the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). During the debate on the matter of urgency the Minister for Housing repeated 5 times the distinction between the two types of finance. I can understand the Minister for Housing repeating the reply of the Prime Minister. Sir John Cramer asked the Prime Minister: Is the Prime Minister aware that the allocation of funds for loans to ex-servicemen for the purchase of homes for the current year has been exhausted?
The Prime M inister replied:
In reply to the first part of the question, yes, 1 am aware that the funds available for war service homes during this financial year have now been spent.
I quoted the first part of the honourable member’s question. That statement coincides with the statement made by the Minister for Housing in reply to the question asked by Senator McClelland. The Prime Minister went on to say: 1 would like to add to that that those who are applicants for loans for building their own houses, as distinct from buying existing buildings, will not in any way be affected by the matter which the honourable member has raised.
I find a difficulty in reconciling the clear statement made by the Prime Minister that the funds allocated for the 1969-70 year to the War Service Homes Division had been spent with the latter part of his reply thatI have just quoted. The Prime Minister used the term ‘exhausted’ in another part of his reply. Likewise the Minister for Housing has confirmed that statement. They create a distinction between finance for an existing dwelling and finance for the building of a new home. Since the debate on 8th April on the matter of urgency raised by the Opposition. I have had a telephone call from a constituent who related to me what he described - andI believe described rightly - as the problem he was having with the War Service Homes Division in Victoria. Accordingly I suggested to him to be good enough to write to me and set out the experience he had had and at the same time to forward to me any documents such as letters that he may have received from the Department of Housing. The letter that Mr Ansell of Lot 1, Clements Avenue, Belgrave South, Victoria, wrote to me reads as follows:
I wish to draw your attention to my case regarding war service loan.
I made application in August1969 which was approved by the commission in November 1969.
I engaged a private contractor to build and he had it to the lockup stage late in December. I made inquiries at the commission as,to the possibility of obtaining progressive payments, or alternatively an early settlement on completion. I made out an application relating to above, and at the same time was told by Mr Cannard-
He is an officer of the Victorian branch of the Division -
I am in receipt of a Service pension plus 80% war pension. I am at present living in a substandard house, and if I have to stay here into the winter I will spend a lot of time in RGH as I have 9 accepted war disabilities which include a respiratory complaint; so living in a cold damp house will aggravate my condition to a degree.
I am already indebtedto the builder for $300 and by July it will be another $300. My house is ready to live in but he won’t give me occupancy until payment has been made by the commission. Enclosed are some papers relative to my statement.
In checking to ascertain the veracity of the claim made by the constituent, I rang the Victorian branch of the War Service Homes Division and spoke to Mr Cannard on Monday morning of this week. Mr Cannard referred me to another person who was handling this file at this stage. That person was able to advise me that Mr Ansell had established his eligibility, that the loan had been approved as far back as 30th October 1969, that an inspection had been carried out by the Division on 28th January 1970 and that there appeared to be no reason why the application should not now be met - except that I was informed that no finance was available until July 1970.
Now I wish to read to the Senate a letter that confirms the information given to me by the Division over the telephone in answer to my questions. It is a very interesting letter. It is dated 30th October 1969 and is from the Department of Housing, E.S. & A. Bank Building, 460 Bourke Street. Melbourne. It is addressed to Mr Ansell, who was then at 84 Elgin Street, Hawthorn, Victoria. It reads:
In connection with your application to erect a dwelling-house with temporary finance to be discharged by a loan under the War Service Homes Act upon completion of the home, it is advised that your eligibility has been established and your request to proceed with construction of the home with temporary finance is approved. . . .
When advice is received from you that construction of the home has been completed, the property will be inspected in order to determine whether it represents a suitable security for the purpose of a loan under the War Service Homes Act. While any unsatisfactory features noted at the time of the inspection will be brought to your notice, no responsibility is accepted by the Director of War Service Homes for any defects not detected during the inspection.
I am not reading every paragraph of the letter. I do not want to weary the Senate. The letter goes on to say:
There is no waiting period at present for finance under the War Service Homes Act, and it ls expected that it will be possible to make a loan available to you as soon as you have met all requirements. However, this cannot be regarded as a commitment as conditions may change in the meantime. When arranging temporary finance you should ensure that this ls available for an ample period until your loan under the War Service Homes Act is available.
I find the last part of that last paragraph very difficult to understand. The letter indicates clearly in the opening paragraph that Mr Ansell has established his eligibility for war service homes finance and advises him to proceed with the construction of the home with temporary finance. Another paragraph says:
When advice is received from you that construction of the home has been completed, the property will be inspected in order to determine whether it represents a suitable security for the purpose of a loan under the War Service Homes Act.
I have established by questions to the Division that all requirements have been met. Only one question was raised. -I was asked to advise Mr Ansell that he owed the Division $7 because a further inspection had been carried out. Some correction was to be made to some plumbing. But I repeat that I was informed that all requirements had been met. I also repeat that this letter informed the approved applicant on 30th October 1969 as follows:
There is no waiting period at present for finance under the War Service Homes Act, and it is expected that it will be possible to make a loan available to you as soon as you have met all requirements.
Mr Ansel] indicated in his letter that the house was up to the lock-up stage in December 1969. He said that he asked Mr Cannard of the Division whether it was possible to obtain progressive payments or an early settlement on completion, and he was advised by Mr Cannard that this would be possible within 3 weeks after the final inspection and valuation. There is no doubt in my mind after checking this matter out as I have. I have the receipt from the Department of Housing for $11 for the valuation and inspection. It is dated 28th January 1970. I also have the original letters from the solicitors for the builder, K. J. Waters Pty Ltd.
I believe that it is important that I relate these matters to the Senate because they point up that, even with the use of what may be described as average overdraft rates of interest - namely 8% - a person is being committed to the use of bridging finance for the purchase of his home because he cannot obtain a loan from the War Service Homes Division and that involves the payment of up to §600 if he obtains the loan by 1st July 1970. That is §600 for which he receives precisely nothing. A letter dated 11th December 1969 from K. J. Waters Pty Ltd, builders and contractors of 3 Wimmera Street, Box Hill North, to Mr and Mrs Ansell reads as follows:
Dear Mr and Mrs Ansell, re: Building Contract Lot 5, Cambridge Street.
We regret that owing to the delay in receiving progress payment on above building contract, it is our intention to apply an interest charge of 8% on $4,000 dating from 1st day of November 1969.
A letter dated 10th March 1970 from Madden, Butler, Elder and Graham - a firm of solicitors acting on behalf of the builder - to Mr and Mrs Ansell reads as follows:
We act for K. J. Waters Pty. Ltd.
We are instructed that you entered into a contract with our client on 24th July 1969, for the construction of a house on your land at Cambridge Road, South Belgrave. We are further instructed that the Department of Housing has approved a loan to you of $8,000 which will be available upon completion of the house.
Our client, as at 1st February, had expended $6,000 on the construction of the house and is not prepared to continue to finance the construction, unless you agree to pay interest on the moneys so expended.
Our client requests that as a condition of it continuing with the construction of the house, you agree to pay, at settlement, the following interest charges:
On the sum of $4,000- Interest at 8% from 1st November 1969, to date of payment.
On the sum of $2,000- Interest at 8% from 1st February 1970, to date of payment.
This applicant established his eligibility as far back as October 1969 and his application was approved. This is the predicament he finds himself in. I repeat that the house was completed to the lock-up stage when Mr Ansell approached the Commission about obtaining one of two things. Firstly he approached the Commission about progressive payments. That was rejected. Secondly he wanted a clear indication of an early settlement of the loan on the completion of the dwelling. Mr Ansell was assured of this by the Department. The valuation and inspection were carried out on 28th January 1970.I was told by the Department by telephone on Monday that the only reason why payment had not been made was because there was no finance available until 1st July 1970. I rang back to check about another matter and I was informed by the same person that there had been a further inspection of the home and Mr Ansell owed the Department $7 for the further inspection to correct some deficient in plumbing. Other than that there was no difference in the overall reply from the Department.
From 30th October 1969, the date of the application, to the end of April is precisely 6 months and if this gentleman has to wait a further 2 months to 1st July, then it is 8 months. Even having regard to the extended period of 4 months mentioned by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) as the normal processing period, this period appears to me to be far in excess of what may be described as reasonable. It is more unreasonable if one has regard to the answers which have been given by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in another place and the Minister for Housing that there is a distinction between the finance for existing dwellings and finance for the construction of a home. Quite frankly 1 can understand the confusion in the mind of an applicant receiving a letter similar to the one which I read to the Senate earlier and which is dated 30th October. The stage has been reached where the Government should be prepared to acknowledge, as the Prime Minister has already stated in answer to a question by Sir John Cramer, that finance which was provided for the 1969-70 year of$55m - which admittedly was $5m more than the previous year’s allocation - has been exhausted in terms not only of finance available for existing dwellings, but also for home construction.
I am sure that this applicant is not an orphan. On 8th April during the debate on the urgency motion the Australian Labor Party literally implored the Government, through the Minister, to reconsider the need for a special grant to provide the difference between what had been made available and what is now. required by those who are seeking these loans. Two things in particular disturb me about this whole matter. Questions have been asked and answered, and statements have been made during the debate on the urgency motion, but the answers do not align themselves with the realities of what has taken place in the Department. I do not know who is responsible for this. What disturbs me is that the accuracy is being questioned of the answers which are being given by responsible Ministers to questions asked by honourable senators. This is a case of an ex-serviceman who asked me not to relate his war service. I can assure honourable senators, however, that he had extensive war service in many theatres of war during the 1939-45 hostilities. He is suffering from 8 or 9 accepted war disabilities. He is being refused the amount of money which would relieve him of this additional burden of $600 in excess of what he has to pay for the construction of his home. This is not good enough. I ask the Minister in all sincerity whether she knows just what is happening in the Department. If there is a shortfall between the finance available and the amount required to satisfy the applications being made for the construction of dwellings - the Australian Labor Party does not agree with the distinction between the construction of a new home and the purchase of a pre-existing dwelling - then it should be raised in the Cabinet with the object of an emergency grant being made to relieve ex-service personnel, who are approved applicants, from the excessive burden of interest charges which they should not be called upon to bear.
[10.48] - It is quite true that yesterday Senator Brown asked me a question. As he read the question to the Senate 1 will not repeat it. If he asked me exactly the same question 1 would give him exactly the same answer because it is the correct answer.I suggested to him that if he had an individual case he would like me to look at, I would look at it. But he did not bring a case to me. He preferred to raise it in the chamber this evening for discussion. I would like to set out for him some details regarding applications and the areas they fall into which 1 think will clear up the point he has raised. Applications for war service homes loans fall into the following broad categories:
Applications for assistance to build a home with an advance under the Act.
Applications to purchase a home.
Applications to discharge a mortgage.
Applications for an additional loan to enlarge a home or to install certain utility services such as a hot water service, sewerage, etc.
Applications for assistance to build are cases in which the applicant requires an advance to be made available by way of progress payments as construction of the home proceeds. The progress payments are based on the value of the work completed at the date of our inspection. As I stressed, these are applications for assistance to build. An application for assistance to purchase a home may relate to a home which has been built for some years, or it may be a new home or it may be a home still under construction. However, the war service homes advance is not made available until the home is completed and all such cases are treated as the financing of an existing property. This comes back to the point 1 made. Applications for assistance to discharge a mortgage relate to homes which have been built or purchased by the applicant with private finance secured by a private mortgage. Our advance is made available to discharge the private mortgage. There are 2 types of applications to discharge private mortgages - cases in which the application is lodged before the mortgage is arranged and cases in which the mortgage is not pre-arranged but assistance to discharge a mortgage is granted because of the existence of special circumstances such as in the case of a widow. Applications for assistance to discharge an existing mortgage are also treated as the financing of an existing property because the war service homes advance is made available only in respect of an existing or completed home.
In my replies to the questions which honourable senators have asked 1 have indicated that only applications in respect of existing properties which would ordinarily be settled in May or June are being deferred for settlement in July. 1 have already told that to the honourable senator in answers to the questions to which he has referred. The applications which have been deferred for settlement in July are those which would ordinarily be settled in May or June where assistance is required to purchase a home or to discharge a mortgage on an existing home. As in all of these cases our finance is not made available to build but to finance an existing property, the statement that I made to the Senate in my reply to the honourable senator’s question yesterday is correct. SoI have explained the position in relation to existing properties. If the honourable senator had read the annual report of the Director of War Service Homes for 1967-68 - this is not the latest report but the situation in relation to existing properties financed applies - he would have seen listed details relating to new homes financed which covers homes erected with temporary finance under pre-arranged discharge of mortgage method and homes purchased, and details relating to old homes financed, which covers mortgages discharged and homes purchased. The section of the report to which I have referred relates to existing dwellings.
– What is the interpretation ofa house under construction’?
-I have already given that information. I have made the situation clear in my replies to questions asked by Senator Brown and other honourable senators. Let me now state the position where an applicant has built a home with temporary finance ana is seeking an advance to discharge the temporary finance.
– The Minister has not yet-
– I think the honourable senator would be better off if he listened to me.I will try to continue. I should like Senator Brown to hear this because it is right that he should. In the case where an applicant has built a home with temporary finance and is seeking an advance to discharge the temporary finance, the application must be lodged before building of the home is commenced. Construction is carried out with temporary finance. Upon completion of construction the property is inspected and, if satisfactory, an advance is made available to discharge the temporary finance. As I have indicated, the homes having been built, these applications are dealt with as applications for assistance in respect of existing properties. I remind honourable senators of my reference to the annual report of the Director of War Service Homes. As I have stated by way of answers to questions, some of these applications have been deferred for settlement in July. The information I have given to the Senate indicates the delay - regrettably there is a delay and I am sorry about it - in this one area of existing dwellings.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 April 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700422_senate_27_s43/>.