27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate, in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the Commonwealth, respectfully sheweth:
That being concerned with the environment of Adelaide in the Stale of South Australia and the growing noise nuisance of the Adelaide Airport the petitioners pray that no action will be taken whereby the Department of Civil Aviation will be permitted to extend runways at the Adelaide Airport at its existing location or over other adjacent land.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does he agree that there is a strong feeling in Australia that the Australian resources, particularly the mineral resources, ought to be exploited in the interests of the people of Australia in order that our poverty problem may be overcome and that decent health, education and social services are provided for our people? Will the Minister tell us whether he approves of the fact that Esso Exploration, a company which has no Australian equity, has, after a profit of $10m in the last year, now announced a profit of Slim for the last 6 months, these profits coming from the development of Australia’s resources of natural gas and oil in the Bass Strait?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI do not think it would be questioned that every Australian would hope that all of our resources would be exploited - and 1 use the word in its classical sense - in the interests of Australia. I think that this would be axiomatic. From the first part of his question the Leader of the Opposition went on to draw some comparison with a company which presumably made a profit of $10m in the last year and has made in the last 6 months a profit of Slim as a result of its activities in Australia.
I have responded to this type of question before and pointed out that the simple arithmetical quotation of an amount of profit derived by a company is completely meaningless unless the nature of the capital investment involved is taken into account. A profit of $10m in fact might mean that a company is perilously close to disaster. This would be so when a profit of $10m did not represent very much in terms of the capital investment. Having said that - and I think 1 hardly needed to say it, because it is elementary - I would not comment on the situation of a particular company. 1 should not respond at question time to a question in relation to a particular company. But I promise the Leader of the Opposition, with all the courtesies that we extend to one another, that I certainly will refer the matter to the Treasurer for comment if he wishes to make a reply to it.
– Yesterday, in answer to Question No. 1456, the Minister for Civil Aviation stated that figures for the noise level generated by Electra aircraft on take-off are not available. On 5th October the Minister said that the Department of Civil Aviation had checked the whole noise level pattern when Electras were going to be used and had assured the Minister that there was no problem; hence permission was given. 1 now ask the Minister: As no figures with respect to Electra noise level are available, how is the Minister able to give an assurance that the noise level pattern has been checked and presents no problem?
– The information given in answer to that question was based on information supplied to me by the Department. I believe that the honourable senator will find that the work was done in the acoustics laboratories. However, this obviously generates the need for a further check, and that will be done by me.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister read the annual report of the
Australian Wine Board which states that Australia will lose more than 90 per cent of its century old United Kingdom wine trade when Britain joins the Common Market next year? As this represents an export loss in excess of 400,000 gallons of wine, in addition to the loss of the 10 per cent growth rate since excise duty payments were imposed last year, will the Minister recommend to the Minister for Customs and Excise that the excise duty be removed to avoid further serious economic problems for wine grape growers and wine makers?
– I did read the report. I have taken note of what the honourable senator has said. I most certainly will talk to the Minister for Customs and Excise. But I point out to the honourable senator that the Prime Minister established an interdepartmental committee comprising representatives from the Prime Minister’s Department and the Departments of the Treasury, Customs and Excise and Primary Industry to examine this situation in the wine industry with specific reference to the effect of the excise duty. This examination has been carried out already. The committee reported that comparative statistics were incomplete but that there appeared to be a sales drop in some sectors of the industry. The causes of this drop in the main seem to lie in marketing problems, and excise could not be said to be solely or even largely the reason for this drop as represented by the industry. Having said that. I will convey the sentiments of the honourable senator to the Minister.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. I refer to the proposed central sterilising complex to serve Canberra Hospital. Can the Minister say, first, whether this is the first central sterilising unit planned in Australia? Secondly, are such schemes working in other countries and, if so, are they satisfactory to all concerned, particularly the medical profession? Thirdly, is there any substance in the Press statement today suggesting that the Australian Capital Territory branch of the Australian Medical Association is opposed to this proposal?
I have had the advantage only of seeing the article which appeared in the Press. But I have had the matter processed, and somewhere among my multitude of documents here which cover some 7 Departments is some information in relation to the question posed by the honourable senator. I would hope to be able to give him, before question time has ended, further information in response to his question. I have not been informed officially of the views mentioned by the honourable senator, but my attention has been drawn already to what was said in the Press communication.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that reports of the tidal wave and cyclone which struck the Bengali coast last weekend state thai 10,000 families are believed to have perished, that an estimated 4 million people are now homeless and that the entire crop of the Orissa rice bowl and 5,000 cattle also were destroyed in this disaster? Is the Minister further aware that preliminary Indian Government estimates indicate that a sum of S23m is urgently needed to give food and shelter to the survivors? Will the Minister indicate what amount the Australian Government proposes to give to assist India to cope with this catastrophe and whether such aid will be both prompt and commensurate with the recent response by the Government to aid the refugees from Pakistan?
– The Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs will be present in the Senate later this afternoon. T am not informed of what decisions, if any, have been taken by the Government but I certainly will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Prime Minister’s Department this afternoon.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it purely coincidence that the American Defence Secretary, Mr Laird, yesterday pledged a continued American military presence in Indo-China at the same time as the Australian Government agreed to leave Australian troops in Vietnam to train Cambodian soldiers? Will the Government give an unqualified guarantee that these advisers are not the advance guard of another major commitment to an Indo-Chinese war, with the announcement perhaps ready to be made if the Government manages, by some remote chance, to hold office after the next election? Will the Government remove the well justified suspicions of a great many Australians by withdrawing all our troops from Vietnam and also ending conscription?
– Does this question infringe standing order 99?
– I am responsible for administering the Standing Orders, including standing order 99, and I hope all honourable senators will observe them.
– 1 am sure that the honourable senator and the Senate will agree that I should not be asked to make a judgment on whether a decision taken by a Foreign Minister does certain things by coincidence. 1 am only human and 1 would not know. As to the other matters posed in the question, I made a statement yesterday - it was made also in the other place by the Acting Prime Minister - relating to this matter of military advisers. The statements made in both Houses were in categorical terms and I have nothing to add to what I said yesterday.
– My question, addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation, relates to Hobart Airport. Does the Government have any early plans to extend the present runway at Hobart Airport and to add another runway in order better to cater for cross wind conditions? At what time will the passenger facilities at Hobart Airport be improved?
– I have seen no proposals for extending the runways or for parallel runways or cross runways at Hobart Airport. There have been some improvements of a minor character made to the terminal building there. What will happen in this case is this: If the traffic density and the demand situation begin to establish a need for extensions or improvements the matter will be dealt with by the technical people in the Department of Civil Aviation. In due course the suggested improvements will come before me and will go from me to the Government and from the Government, if it approves, to the Public Works Committee for scrutiny. I cannot say any more but I will take the matter up and see whether anybody has been looking around down there recently.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Will the Minister seek from his colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, an early indication to be given to the Senate and to the people of Tasmania of the Government’s reaction to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade in relation to the Australian National Line’s freight rates to and from Tasmania? In particular, will the Minister indicate his intentions in relation to the recommendations in the report for the reference of certain matters for further investigation by the Bureau of Transport Economics, including the suggestion in my reservation to the report that the question of the reintroduction of a shipping subsidy to Tasmania be investigated by that Bureau?
- Senator Rae from Tasmania asks me a series of questions which are really for the Minister for Shipping and Transport concerning the report on Tasmanian shipping freights. The honourable senator asks whether the report will be considered and what is being done about it. He will understand - as I think all honourable senators will understand - that I will need to refer this matter to the responsible Minister. I shall ask the Minister whether we can have some information for Senator Rae and the Senate.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior seen a copy of the list of instructions which was made available to members of a squad who today commenced allegedly to investigate the drinking habits of Canberra residents? Will the Minister table a copy of the document or alternatively make a copy available to each honourable senator? Further, will the Minister comply with the request as early as possible as the exercise referred to seems to be a serious infringement of civil liberties?
– I remember that Senator Keeffe asked me something about this matter. 1 mentioned it to the Minister for the Interior. I have nothing further to add to what the Minister then told me. I think I said to Senator Keeffe at the time that the Department did not seem to treat the matter as seriously as Senator Keeffe does. Nonetheless this is a proper subject for inquiry by the honourable senator through me to the Minister. I shall ask the Minister whether he can let me have the information requested by Senator Keeffe.
– I desire to direct a question to you, Mr President. Are you aware that the proof copy of the Senate Hansard for 27th October is not a true and accurate record of the proceedings of the Senate specifically as regards the debate on Senator Murphy’s urgency motion relating to accident insurance? Are you aware that at page 1503 mention is made of an interruption during Senator Murphy’s speech but that when one consults the section covering his speech there is no reference to what Senator Murphy said at that time? Are you aware that although the Melbourne ‘Age’ for 28th October reports this episode and quotes Senator Murphy as saying: ‘If you’re not interested in the debate please leave the chamber’, there is no record of it in Hansard? Does this mean that the Melbourne Age’ should now be regarded as a more accurate record of the debates in this chamber than the official Hansard record? Who was responsible for the deletion from the Hansard report of Senator Murphy’s words on that date? Mr President, will you undertake to have the deleted words reinserted in Hansard?
– I confess that I was not in the chamber at the time when tha matters mentioned by Senator Gair took place. I heard them through the broadcasting system attached to my desk. The next morning I asked the Principal Parliamentary Reporter what had happened because in the meantime. I had checked the Hansard record. As a result of my conversation with the Principal Parliamentary Reporter I asked him to send me a minute. I have this minute on my desk; I have held it there for the last 2 days. The minute from the Principal Parliamentary Reporter is as follows:
In response to your verbal inquiry, I confirm that the words addressed directly by Senator Murphy to Senator Poyser during the debate on Accident Insurance on 27th October last were recorded by the Hansard Reporter but deleted by the sub-editor from the transcript on the ground that they were in the nature of an aside; they were not part of the context of the speech; and they were not made in reply to an interjection.
This was done in accordance with long standing practice.
There have been many occasions when a senator, in mid-sentence, has appealed to the Chair to ask other senators to lower the level of their conversation as he was being distracted from developing the theme of his speech. This appeal in these circumstances has been omitted from the report.
I am satisfied that the action taken by the Principal Parliamentary Reporter is in accordance with the practice of the Senate. As to the last matter raised by Senator Gair - the report in the Melbourne Age’ - I merely make the remark that I have checked the remarks that were made, and the Melbourne ‘Age’ report is not an accurate record of what took place in tha Senate.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In answer to question No. 1471 asked by me yesterday of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General in this place, the Minister stated that surface mail was to be carried for a trial period by departmental transport for some areas and passenger bus services for other areas. Can the Minister indicate the name of the principal passenger bus service company which is to be used?
– I am unable at this stage to give that detail. I shall endeavour to get the information as quickly as possible for the honourable senator.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Will the Minister draw the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise to a statement in the annual report of the Australian Wine Board which was tabled yesterday wherein reference is made to the budgetary estimated revenue from wine excise of Si 2.5m in 1970-71? ls it a fact that the preliminary figures issued by the Treasury show that actual revenue from the tax was $9.25m? Is it a fact that this shortfall in revenue is equal to 6.5 million gallons of wine sales at the 50c per gallon excise? Do not these figures reveal a detriment to the industry warranting an immediate review of the excise imposition with a view to its abolition?
– The honourable senator from South Australia draws our attention to the annual report of the Australian Wine Board in which, he states, figures show a decline in the revenue from excise and from this he has calculated that there has been a decline in production of wine. The honourable senator really asks me whether I will draw the attention of the responsible Minister to the report of the Australian Wine Board and his comments, having examined that report. I shall certainly do that.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. On Wednesday, 18th August, which was the second day of sitting of the Budget session, I asked the Minister the following question which is now No. 1250 on the notice paper:
Have Sir Robert Menzies and Sir John McEwen each had allocated to them a Commonwealth car for their personal use; if so, do the drivers of these cars carry out no other duties, even when they are not required by Sir Robert and Sir John and when these gentlemen are absent from the State of Victoria or Australia?
I now ask: Has the former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable E. M. Forde, been provided with similar facilities? Which former members of this Parliament receive Commonwealth facilities and privileges? What is the nature of any such privileges and amenities provided? When can I expect an answer to this question, as I believe the information sought on 18th August should be quickly and readily available?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI regret that the question which was posed to me as the representative of the Prime Minister, as I understand it, on 18th August has not yet been answered. I can understand that whilst it is proper to pose it to the Prime Minister’s Department there are certain elements of the question which require that the information be obtained from both the Department of the Interior and the Department of Supply. In any event, I will reassert my influence to obtain an answer for the honourable senator as quickly as possible.
– I ask the Minister for External Territories: Has the Papua New Guinea House of Assembly carried a resolution urging the early establishment of a national broadcasting authority of the Territory? Has the Australian Broadcasting Commission expressed to the Government the belief that the integration of the 2 existing broadcasting services within the Territory should not be long delayed? What action has the Government taken to establish a national broadcasting authority of the Territory? Will the Minister agree that the control of broadcasting in the Territory should pass to a local statutory authority which is representative of all sections of the community and free from direct control by the government of the day?
– The only person who could say whether the Minister would agree with the conclusion suggested by the honourable senator is the Minister himself. All I can do in this situation is to ask the honourable senator to put his question on the notice paper. I shall see that the Minister hears about this matter after question time.
– I ask the Minister for Air a question. At the time of the closing of the Tindal air base in the Northern Territory, was a large amount of shelving and lockers, including new lockers, put through a fire and subsequently bulldozed into a dump and covered with earth? Had inquiries been made about the purchase of some of these lockers? What was the purpose in destroying these articles?
– 1 would have to seek details of the points raised by the honourable senator. 1 shall do so and supply him with an answer tomorrow morning.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral taken any further action to hasten the advent of uniform gun control legislation throughout the Commonwealth?
– This matter is not within the ministerial responsibility of the Attorney-General. I seem to recall having been asked a question, I think by Senator Mulvihill, some little time ago in reply to which I indicated that within the Commonwealth sphere this matter is within the responsibility of the Minister for Customs and Excise.
– Does the Minister for Health share my concern at a statement by a spokesman for the Australian Medical Association that tests of drugs and new hospital techniques are being carried out on dying patients and that in fact patients are being kept alive for this purpose? Will he undertake to carry out an investigation as to which hospitals and personnel are involved? If the charges are true, will he protest on behalf of the Commonwealth and undertake to withhold any subsidies that such institutions may be receiving?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI did read the article referred to by the honourable senator and I think it would be fair to say that I experienced a reaction of concern because of the way the article was presented. However, all my instincts told me that I should be aware of the full facts before making any judgments. I have set about obtaining the facts relating to the matters referred to in the article. I think Senator Georges would agree with me that we should know all the facts and not act on an article containing a statement which might have been transposed. To do otherwise might inadvertently do harm. When 1 have all the facts I shall be happy to make the information available to the honourable senator, and if we think the situation justifies a response to the Senate I shall certainly respond to it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that conferences between the management of Qantas Airways Ltd and the Australian Federation of Air Pilots relating to retrenched air crews have ended and that Qantas will retrench forthwith about 130 of its air crew personnel who are now on suspended retrenchment? Does the Minister agree that the loss of these specialised personnel to the airline industry could be a serious loss to Australia? If the information that I have stated is correct, will the Minister confer immediately with the management of Qantas and the Air Pilots Federation, or indicate his preparedness to chair any conferences which might provide a solution to the problem of the pending retrenchments?
– One has been able to follow from the daily Press the circumstances of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots and the management of Qantas discussing before Mr Justice Coldham the problem referred to by Senator Bishop, in the first place in a court situation, if that is the correct legal terminology, and later in chambers, as I suppose it would be referred to, with Mr Justice Coldham trying to look at the situation from both sides. At the point of time at which 1 walked in here today I did not know the result of those discussions. I read in this morning’s paper something which anybody else could have read. It was a comment by a spokesman for the Federation of Air Pilots that the matter would be resolved. I cannot say in what way it has been resolved. As I have mentioned previously, I have used my good offices and those of the Department of Civil Aviation to try to help. I have stated from time to time - I think it has to be understood that this has to be the case - that the operating responsibility for Qantas is vested in the board and the management of the company.
– I ask the Minister for Health this question: Has the Deputy Director-General of Health recommended that to deter unnecessary use of drugs pensioners should pay a fee for pharmaceutical benefits? Does the Minister agree? Does he agree that the present pharmaceutical system is encouraging over-use of drugs? If so, does he think that this over-prescribing is in the hands of the doctors rather than in the hands of the pensioners?
I saw in the Press a comment on this issue. T have been informed that, as it appeared, it rather attributed to the Deputy DirectorGeneral of Health some comments which were in fact views expressed by a member of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits, before which Committee the Deputy Director-General was giving evidence. Therefore the subject was one that emerged not from the views expressed by the Deputy Director-General but rather from views expressed by one of the members of the Committee when they were discussing this aspect. For that reason I think it would be quite unfair to the Deputy Director-General to attribute to him the views as expressed and as I read them on Saturday morning, I think, in one of the inter-city papers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. In view of the answer received by me to a previous question asked of the President concerning the fountains outside Parliament House - I stated that they were closed down for repairs and to investigate an accumulation of leaves - and as the fountains have not operated for 6 months, can the Minister inform me whether the repairs are being carried out in the still watches of the night as I have observed no activity in the area during the last month? How much longer will the investigation and repairs take before overseas and Australian visitors can again enjoy one of the most spectacular sights of this city?
– I think all honourable senators would agree that one of the pleasant sights in Canberra is the fountains as seen from the steps of Parliament House when one is about to begin a fairly long and hard day in this place.
– The fountains look just as good at night.
– As does Senator Little, I enjoy watching the fountains. Those who do not enjoy watching them can remain silent. I will inquire further into the matter because, like the honourable senator, I would like to feel that one of these days we will see them operating again.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Was a statement made recently by the Minister or by an officer of the Department of Civil Aviation that flights by Concorde aircraft at supersonic speeds would not be permitted over Australian territory? Can the Minister indicate to the Senate the reason for this restriction? Is it a fact that flights of aircraft such as the Concorde and the TU144 may have the effect of irreparably damaging the upper atmosphere surrounding the earth? If so, has the Government taken any action in this regard?
– No such statement was made by me or by an officer of the Department of Civil Aviation. The Press attributed a statement to somebody. It appeared that it was said by a representative of Qantas Airways Ltd. Representatives of Qantas say that they did not say anything of the kind. Apparently the statement is not based on anybody’s accurate statement but on somebody’s presumption. I have referred to this matter before. I think perhaps Senator Willesee may have asked a similar question. Nevertheless, it is in Hansard. I was asked what the Department is doing to see that a study is conducted by the Academy of Science into the harmful effects, if any, of supersonic transport in the upper atmosphere. A body of material on this subject is becoming available. That is being studied as well. In the meantime, I do not think that I can add anything more useful on the subject.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Does not
New Zealand’s domination of Australia’s premier turf event justify a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation research project into the thoroughbred industry in Australia to find out why New Zealand bred stayers triumph over Australian bred stayers? Does he not agree that such research would go a long way towards restoring confidence in and support for Australian studs?
I will answer the question in the absence of the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. We do not want to take all the elements of fun and speculation out of the event to which the honourable senator referred. I think that if we stick at it long enough we will breed some stayers. In any event, I think that the role of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is so tremendous in the life of the nation that it would be a fair while before we could give it the charge of looking at the quality of our bloodstock. As I have said, we do not want to take all the element of sport out of racing. While New Zealand can breed stayers and bring them here, I think it is a great challenge for the studs in Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. What is the latest position in regard to the divergent attitudes that seem to exist between his Department and the Flight Engineers Association as to the concept of having an authority to control the trade credentials of members of that organisation?
– I had the good fortune to attend the annual dinner of the Flight Engineers Association. I think the honourable senator would like to know that the discussions have been proceeding satisfactorily. I hope that in due course a situation will come about which will be eminently satisfactory to everybody.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral give urgent consideration to taking appropriate steps to review, either alone or with his appropriate ministerial colleagues, the protection of Australian ownership and control of the valuable deposits of that vital power resource, uranium, located and to be located in Australia? Will he review the Companies (Uranium Mining Companies) Ordinance and either amend that Ordinance or introduce legislation under the corporations power to bring within provisions similar to those in the present Ordinance relating to the Nabarlek uranium deposit all uranium deposits in the Northern Territory and elsewhere in Australia?
– I think it has been made clear on numerous occasions that the Government is vitally interested in maintaining, as far as it is possible, consistent with the development of Australia’s resources, ownership and control in Australian hands. It has taken numerous steps to achieve this. The Nabarlek Ordinances to which the honourable senator refers are within the responsibility of the AttorneyGeneral because they operate in an area where the Commonwealth Government can take direct legislative action by way of Ordinance. These Ordinances have been the subject of consideration over recent months. They are also, of course, Ordinances in respect of which the obligations imposed are currently being carried out. I hope that that work will be completed shortly. I think I can assure the honourable senator that the operation of the Ordinances is continually under review. As to whether or not further or more extensive action is to be taken, that is essentially a matter of Government policy.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Government adopted the statement made by the Treasurer in the House of Representatives on 28th October and entitled “The International Monetary Situation’ as its policy for the time being? Has the Government done this because it is unsure as to what action is best for Australia in the current world monetary crisis? Can the Minister assure the Australian people that the Government is watching closely the fate of the Australian dollar and will take prompt action to prevent any unscrupulous speculation about the future of our dollar which could seriously harm the Australian economy?
– lt is true that a statement was made in the other place on 28th October in relation to the international monetary situation. I hope that, as I ordered to be done, a copy of that statement was circulated to every honourable senator. ] propose, with the leave of the Senate, rather than read it this afternoon, to have it incorporated in Hansard, because all honourable senators should have a copy of it. As to the matters of substance involved in the question, the Government is very conscious of the world problems that are inherent in the present international monetary situation. The Treasurer adverted to those matters in his statement, and referred also to many of the points raised by the honourable senator. It is not for me to add anything now to what the Treasurer has said, but to pick up the question now posed and to send it along to the Treasurer for further observation if he chooses to do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Minister for Primary Industry before his departure for overseas on 30th October take any action to convene a special meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to overcome the deadlock that now exists over the proposed control of production of eggs in all States?
Minister for Primary Industry did not take action to call a special meeting of the Agricultural Council. I understand that legislation to control egg production already exists in Western Australia and that the governments of Queensland and New South Wales are thinking of implementing such legislation. The Tasmanian Government has stated that if excess egg production occurs it will introduce control measures. At present Victoria will not agree to introduce control measures. Until Victoria agrees to come in, a Commonwealth set-up cannot be established, but perhaps control legislation will be operating in 4 States.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that Sir Norman Giles, chairman of
Elder Smith Goldsborough Ltd, yesterday described the S30m subsidy pay-out to wool growers during the last year as a social service handout at the expense of the taxpayer? Did he also .ay that the subsidy achieved nothing for the wool industry in general? In view of this further evidence that the Government’s wool subsidy schemes are coming ur.c’er criticism from all quarters, when will the Government undertake a complete review of all wool subsidy schemes with a view to achieving justice for both the rural producer and the taxpayer?
– The gentleman referred to by the honourable senator is entitled to his own views. He has had considerable experience in many aspects of the wool industry. However, I take issue with him when he says that payments totalling over $20m do nothing to help the wool industry.
– I said over S30m.
– You may have said that but 1 am talking about the facts. The emergency scheme to help the wool industry provided for assistance up to $30m but a sum of just over $20m has been actually paid to wool growers. The matter was complicated because of certain restrictions applied to wool growers. Many cases which otherwise may have been considered worthy of assistance were declared ineligible and not entitled to assistance after the application of a sort of means test. Now that the issue is closed anyone can comment on what has happened and can say that the scheme was not helpful to the industry, but at the time the industry had to meet a crisis quickly. The Government had to get money quickly into the hands of the growers and the way to do it was to avoid a long rigmarole in establishing entitlement under involved and drawn-out legislation. That is why the Government acted as it did. I do not think that the Government would take that action again, in view of the experience it has gained, but the fact is that it did take that action. I repeat chat Sir Norman Giles is entitled to his own opinion.
– Is the Minister aware that Mr Eric Robinson, a prominent member of the Liberal Party, has been selected by his Party to contest the next election for the Federal division of Mcpherson, a seat currently held by a member of the Australian Country Party? Is he also aware that the following Ministers have visited the Isle of Capri, a home of the candidate, to participate in what has become facetiously known as the ‘cocktail campaign’: Mr W. Wentworth, Mr A. Peacock, Mr D. Chipp, Mr M. Fraser and the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable William McMahon. I ask the Minister
– I rise on a point of order. In the light of the ruling given in relation to the objection taken by Senator Murphy yesterday to a similar type of question, I suggest that this quesion is also out of order.
– Yes, it is too. I will give Senator Keeffe an opportunity before the end of question time to rephrase his question in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– I have rephrased it, Mr President.
– I will call the honourable senator later.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer and it follows a question asked by Senator Gietzelt. Is it not a fact that there is considerable division existing between the Government parties on the matter of the position of the Australian dollar? Is it not true that the Leader of the Australian Country Party is supporting devaluation, the Treasurer is supporting the floating of the dollar and now the Prime Minister has come down on the side of revaluation?
– Is revaluation up or down?
– Revaluation is up, devaluation is down and floating is a position in between those 2 situations.
– Order! I ask Senator Georges to ask his question and not to engage in repartee with his neighbours.
– I ask the Minister: When are we going to be led out of this position of confusion which seriously affects our economy?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI do not know where the honourable senator gets his gossip; I remember where I used to get it in the good old days of the war. But the answer to his question is, no, I think, on 2 counts. I suggest that he read the Treasurer’s statement again and then pose some more questions.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Is it true that some years ago either one or two machines for the emptying of cement bags were purchased by the Department of Air at a cost of some $lm and housed in a shed built for the purpose at Tindal air base? Is it a fact that such machine or machines have at no time been used and that the Department has no further use for them? Has it been found that at present a purchaser cannot be found for the machine or machines? Finally, what was the reason for the original purchase?
– 1 have not held the portfolio of Minister for Air for 2 years yet, and I think that the honourable senator is stretching my memory a little with his question. I will have inquiries made into the matter he has raised and let him have an answer.
– Can the Minister for Health inform me whether he has had sufficient time to collect his thoughts regarding my question about the central sterilising unit for the proposed Australian Capital Territory central hospital services complex?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONMr President, my thoughts are set out, as it were, on a piece of paper which I knew I had somewhere. The proposed central sterilising unit in the proposed Australian Capital Territory central hospital services complex will be the first of its kind in Australia. One of the major hospitals in Sydney operates a central sterilising service for a group of hospitals in relation to sterile supplies for theatre and wards such as swabs, dressings etc., but not in regard to instruments. The central services proposed for the Australian Capital Territory will provide for instruments as well as other ward and theatre supplies.
The honourable senator also asked whether such schemes are working in other countries and, if so, whether they are satisfactory to all concerned, particularly to medical practitioners. The answer to that is, yes. The concept of central sterilisation of instruments and other ward and theatre supplies is well established overseas. A number of such establishments have been inspected by Commonwealth officers as part of investigations concerning the proper development of this proposal. From inquiries made by these officers it is apparent that sterilisation services of this type are working to the satisfaction of the medical practitioner overseas.
Thirdly, the honourable senator asked whether there was any substance in an article in the ‘Canberra Times’ which said that the Australian Capital Territory branch of the Australian Medical Association opposed the proposal. The only information that I have in this regard is a letter which, I understand, the Australian Capital Territory Medical Association wrote to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. In this letter the branch apparently said nothing by way of actual opposition to the proposal but expressed some concern about what would happen in the event of a break-down of the central unit. In fact, emergency standby capacity will be available at each hospital particularly in relation to operating theatres. That is standard practice. The proposal to establish this unit is in accordance with the Llewellyn-Davies report on the future development of health services in the Australian Capital Territory and has been explained in detail to representatives of the Australian Capital Territory branch of the Australian Medical Association. My officers are available at any time to discuss any specific points on which the Association may require further information.
Mr President, may I crave your indulgence and the indulgence of the Senate to give further information to a very important question that was posed to me by Senator Georges in relation to experiments. I can now say that the National Health and Medical Research Council has considered carefully the matter. Although it has concluded that no rigid rules can be laid down it did formulate a number of considerations for the guidance of persons conducting research. I shall mention two of these.
One guideline states that the investigator must be mindful at all times of his duty towards the patient, respecting his personality, his rights, wishes, consent and freedom. The other guideline states that the patient should have given his free consent to the research after being made aware of its nature and that, to this end, the patient should be provided with sufficient information about the purpose, methods, demands and reasons governing any discomfort caused by the study. I think that we would all agree that as is stated by the Council, the issue is one primarily of morality and professional ethics; this we could not challenge. Notwithstanding the information that I have given now as to what happened in relation to a study made by the National Health and Medical Research Council, 1 would wish to make further reference to this matter if I thought it appropriate at a subsequent meeting of the Senate.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, relates to the transfer of the major part of the plant of Hawker Siddeley Electronics Ltd from Salisbury in South Australia to Brookvale in Victoria, resulting in the retrenchment of skilled South Australian staff who are employed now on important defence contract work. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that, when this company secured a recent Sim contract for electronic defence devices, it was claimed that the work would be performed in South Australia? I ask the Minister also: In view of the fact that the South Australian work force of this company will be reduced from 250 to 50 by the end of March 1972, will the Minister investigate the matter to see whether the work might be retained in
South Australia as this company is located quite close to the Weapons Research Establishment facility?
This question is posed to me as Minister representing the Minister for Defence. As Senator Bishop and all honourable senators will appreciate, 1 was Minister for Supply and I am aware of the Hawker Siddeley establishment in Salisbury. I cannot recall the circumstances under which the contract was let to that company. I would need to refer to the Department of Supply through the Department of Defence to obtain that information. But I would not imagine that the point made by the honourable senator would have been a factor considered in entering into that contract. It may have been that in announcing the contract the Minister concerned - it may have been me; it may have been the Minister for Defence; I cannot recall - said that this development would be of some significant help in relation to the employment situation in the Salisbury area. I will have some research done on the matter and respond to the question, lt is very difficult in that the Hawker Siddeley company is a private company, a joint s’ock company. In the very nature of things it would carry out the work most advantageously in terms of its contract. 1 would be almost certain that the contract would contain no provision which would in effect bind the company to carrying out the contract in the Salisbury area.
– Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition reminded the Senate of the importance of standing order 99 in chapter XII ‘Questions Seeking Information’. The Leader of the Government in the Senate took a point of order on Senator Keeffe earlier today for flouting that standing order. I asked Senator Keeffe to rephrase his question. I now call Senator Keeffe.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether the following Ministers used VIP aircraft during the past few months in order to participate in the Mcpherson campaign: Mr Wentworth, Mr Peacock, Mr Chipp and Mr Fraser and Mr McMahon, the Prime Minister. Did any of the Ministers concerned use the VIP aircraft more than once or use a VIP aircraft at all, and what was the cost of each flight?
– All the people that the honourable senator named are entitled to use a VIP plane if they have to meet a commitment. As to whether they have used the planes, I cannot keep all the various applications in my head. I shall check and find out for the honourable senator who used the planes, and when, and the other information be seeks.
– Following the question asked by Senator Keeffe I ask a supplementary question of the Minister for Air. When he carries out his investigation will he ascertain whether on any occasion those flights took place outside the normal hours allowed under the curfew arrangements? If they did take place outside the normal hours will he see that this does not occur in the future as such flights result in considerable discomfort to the residents of the area?
– From time to time flights have taken place within the curfew hours. Because of their type some of these aircraft are entitled to fly within the curfew.
– They are still rowdy.
– We endeavour not to be any rowdier than possible, according to the type of aircraft used.
– They should not be allowed to break the curfew.
– If the honourable senator likes to impress on his own leader, for instance, that he should not use a plane after hours, I will be quite happy about it. He has made applications and wc have talked about this but he has taken the aircraft because he was committed and was required to be at a certain place.
– I do not care who has taken aircraft.
- Senator McClelland, your interjections are highly disorderly.
Senator Douglas McClelland interjected and I followed up what he said. I shall do as the honourable senator asks. I point out to Senator Georges that sometimes there is a requirement to fly after ahours
– Does the Minister for Health recognise that sport and physical recreation represent an increasingly important dimension in our national life? In those circumstances will he arrange for a management consultant study to be carried out dealing primarily with the phi 11.sophy and rationale underlying the justification for Federal involvement in sport and recreation?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI agree with the first part of the honourable senator’s question. I believe as he does, and I am sure others do, that recreation and sport are an integral part of our way of living in Australia. Australia has shown the world the way in many fields of sport and we will continue to do so. As to Commonwealth intervention, the honourable senator has posed questions to me before and he knows that my Department participates in national fitness campaigns. People need to be fit to participate in sport. I do not know to what depth his question goes and I would like to reflect upon it. There may be another element of it of which I am not aware and I would be happy to respond. Yes, the Commonwealth does react to national fitness and implicit in that is the promotion of sporting bodies and healthy bodies.
– Can the Leader of the Government give any credible explanation as to how the Prime Minister was kept in the dark for a month about an American request to keep Australian troops in Vietnam to train Cambodian troops? Docs this astonishing performance give some clue as to why this country is governed in such an unplanned and haphazard way, or is it just further confirmation that this Government is allowing Australia to drift rudderless into an uncertain future?
I do not subscribe to the last part of the honourable senator’s question. That is a political interpretation which, naturally, somebody sitting on the Opposition side would like to make. 1 commend to the honourable senator an editorial in a
Sydney journal this morning which said that this matter is tittle tattle, insignificant stuff which had been pushed out of all proportion because of politics. As to the balance of the question, I gave an answer yesterday and I add nothing to that.
– My question is directed to you, Mr President. Is there anything contained in Standing Orders which prohibits honourable senators from taking their places in this chamber neatly attired in shorts, shirts and knee length hose, as is now permited in the South Australian Parliament?
– I shall give the honourable senator an answer tomorrow.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. I take it that the hospital reconstruction scheme commenced on 1st November. If that is the case, I ask how it is that the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia in a letter dated 29th October to subscribers in Queensland stated:
It is now certain that we shall not have sufficient information from the Commonwealth in time to advise patients fully on the hospital reconstruction scheme before it comes into effect.
I ask the Minister: How does this position come about? Is the implementation of the scheme so far behind that hospital benefit funds have been thrown into confusion and patients are not likely to gain the benefits from the new scheme?
I think the honourable senator has made a judgment which is not quite accurate in relation to the whole national health scheme. I do not blame him for that because there are many phases to it.
– Am I inaccurate?
The honourable senator asks me a question. Mr President, am ! to bc allowed to answer the question or does the honourable senator want to ask further questions?
– The Minister may answer the question.
– Am I inaccurate?
– Order! Senator Georges, I must say that you do not allow the Minister to answer the question. You have a convoluted way of phrasing your questions and it is very difficult for the Minister and myself to follow them. When the Minister begins to answer the question allow him to complete the answer. If you appeal to me for permission to ask a supplementary question I shall give my accord. Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, do you wish to answer the question?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes. Certain aspects of the last National Health Bill introduced became effective from 1st November. Certain aspects in relation to nursing homes became effective on the day after royal assent was given. I think that was about 23rd or 24th October. One cannot make a broad sweep and say that the National Health Bill came into effect from 1st November. For instance, the increase in the prescription fee from 50c to $1 became effective from 1st November. There has been some variation in Queensland, in isolation from the other States, in relation to medical and hospital benefits. That part of the question has been added to a plethora of other things to make it seem that the national health scheme was in a state of disarray. This is not true. I will be prepared to look after question time at medical and hospital benefits in Queensland, see whether we can narrow the field and then have a discussion with the honourable senator.
– Is the Minister for Health any closer to making a decision on the proposal that employers’ facilities be used to deduct employees’ contributions to medical and hospital contribution funds?
– This matter was part of the Nimmo report which was put down. I have given consideration to it. I do not support the proposal. It is not proposed to make that arrangement applicable.
(Question No. 1390)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Scheme, and how much was allocated to each scheme- within Victoria and actually spent on each project?
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
Projects on River Murray, Salinity reduction - Allocation $3.6m, actual expenditure approximately $1.8m.
King River Dam - Allocation $4m, actual expenditure approximately $4m.
Tailem Bend - Keith Pipeline, South Australia.
Gwydir River Dam (Copeton), New South Wales.
Flood Mitigation Programme, New South Wales.
(Question No. 1438)
asked the Acting Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
Will the Minister provide a statement by 5th October 1971 of Department of Immigration policy towards persons, having New Zealand passports, who enter or transit Australia.
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
A statement of Government policy in relation to the admissionof New Zealand citizens travelling from New Zealand to Australia was provided in reply to Question No. 1262 (Hansard, of 14th September 1971, page 674). The honourable senator referred to that reply in a question to me without notice on 6th October.
The following is a more detailed statement of the policy:
For a clear understanding of the matter it is necessary to state, first, the conditions of entry applicable to citizens of Commonwealth countries generally, and, second, those applying to New Zealand citizens in particular.
Citizens of Commonwealth countries who are of European descent and hold valid passports may travel to Australia without visas or other forms of prior permission to enter. Those intending to settle here or to stay more than 12 months have to produce on arrival evidence of clear chest X-ray examination. On doing so, and provided they are not in serious ill health otherwise and are not known to be of bad character, they are permitted to enter and remain with resident status.
Those intending to stay less than 12 months receive temporary entry permits.
Citizens of Commonwealth countries who are not of European descent have to obtain prior permission to travel to Australia whether for permanent or temporary stay, except those solely travelling through Australia in transit to other countries. Transit passengers may stay up to 72 hours without prior permission. Those who arrive as transit passengers and wish to extend their stay may apply for permission to do so.
The abovementioned conditions apply to citizens of New Zealand, except that they may travel to Australia from New Zealand without passports; when arriving from New Zealand they do not have to produce the evidence of clear chest X-ray examination mentioned earlier in relation to entry for settlement or for stays over a year; New Zealand Maoris may come here on the same basis as persons of European descent.
In short, New Zealand citizens, if they are European or Maori, may come to Australia, for residence or temporary stay, without prior permission; if non European other than Maori, need prior permission to enter, except in transit.
The conditions under which permission to enter is granted to NewZelanders of non European descent (other than Maoris) are the same as those applying to non European citizens of other Commonwealth countries. Briefly, they may be granted migrant visas if they are the spouses, dependent children, fiancees, fiances or aged parents of residents of Australia; or if they have qualifications at the level required by the Government’s policy decision of March 1966 concerning non European immigration (usually professional qualifications); they may readily obtain visitor visas (tourists, businessmen, etc.); these are normally issued within 24 hours of receipt of completed applications; they may also obtain visas for temporary residence in a considerable variety of capacities - students, company executives, specialist workers, entertainers, etc.
(Question No. 1277)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1443)
asked the Acting
Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
How many nationals of (a) Brazil, (b) the Argentine, (c) Chile, (d) Peru, (e) Paraguay, (0 Bolivia, (g) Colombia and (h) Uruguay entered Australia for permanent residence in 1969. 1970 and 1971?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Bureau of Census and Statistics does not record separately ‘Settler Arrivals’ of Latin American Nationality but includes arrivals from those countries with ‘Other American Countries’ (i.e. all American countries excluding USA, Canada and Commonwealth Countries).
Settler Arrivals from ‘Other American Countries’ were as follows:
Discussions are at present being held to determine the possibility of extending the existing computer programme to incorporate a wider range of countries within the overall statistical system.
Departmental records show the number of Settler Arrivals under the Special Passage Assistance Programme for some of these nationals, selected in their own country:
(Question No. 1444)
asked the Acting
Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
From which States of the United States of America have immigrants come to Australia during the past 5 years
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Bureau of Census and Statistics does not classify migrant arrivals from the United States of America (or from any other country) according to the State or other geographic or political region whence they come. The information is therefore not available. Settler arrivals from the United States of America during the last5 financial years were:
The Department’s offices in the United Slates of America do record the Stales from which first migration inquiries are received. Over a recent twelve-month period percentages of total inquiries were observed:
Application of these percentages to the settler arrivals figures would provide an approximation of the distribution of arrivals by States of origin.
(Question No. 1467)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1476)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1497)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1498)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN- The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1499)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Did the Minister refuse to allow the marketing of margarine to be discussed at the Australian Oil Seeds Conference in August 19717 If so, why?
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Australian Oil Seeds Conference is a meeting which brings together representatives of growers and processors of oil seeds and Commonwealth and State officers who are concerned with the industry for the purpose of exchanging information and discussing matters of general concern to the industry on a factual and technical level and not of a political nature. When the agenda for the Conference held in Canberra on 12th August 1971 was being considered by the Working Committee, a request was made on behalf of margarine manufacturing interests for the inclusion of an item on the subject of margarine quotas. With my approval the Chairman of the Working Committee, who is an officer of the Department of Primary Industry, informed the Committee that it was considered inappropriate for this subject to be discussed at the Conference. As State Government policies were involved it was suggested that thematter was one for discussion in industry organisations rather than at a meeting in which Commonwealth and State officers participated and where a Commonwealth department was providing the Chairman and the secretariat. The Working Committee accepted this view. I addressed the Conference myself and spent a little time there. There was no criticism from any of the large number of industry representatives present about the attitude taken by my Department, with my support, on this question.
(Question No. 1500)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
This forecast is very preliminary as some crops such as soya beans have not yet been sown whilst others like sunflower are at present being sown. The actual production level will depend very much on the final sowings achieved and the seasonal conditions prevailing during the growing period. The tentative value of this production forecast - if achieved - could be around $35 million, on the assumption that present domestic and export prices levels are maintained.
Formal Motion for Adjournment
– I have received the following letter from Senator Byrne:
Dear Mr President,
In accordance with Standing Order 64, I intend to move on Wednesday, 3rd November - That the Senate at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 10.29 a.m. - for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The implications for Australian defence and security of Britain’s decision to enter the European Economic Community and the decision of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China in the General Assembly of the United Nations and on the Security Council in place of the Republic of China and to expel the Republic of China from the world body.
– Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places.)
– I move:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 10.29 a.m. ] do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The implications for Australian defence and security of Britain’s decision to enter the European Economic Community and the decision of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China in the General Assembly of the United Nations and on the Security Council in place of the Republic of China and to expel the Republic of China from the world body.
I am indebted to Senators Sim and Lillico, who are Government supporters, and Senator Townley, who is an independent, for rising to support my request for a debate on this matter. Candidly, I express my very deep disappointment that my request received no support from the Australian Labor Party. The statement of the matter of urgency which I have proposed for debate takes up no definite position. The purpose of my motion is to place before the Senate an opportunity for it to express through its members, its view on 2 of the most vital decisions that have been made perhaps in this century and, in the case of Australia, perhaps for a number of centuries. I should have expected that members of the official Opposition would welcome the opportunity, so early after these events have taken place, to express their views on these 2 important decisions.
– Who said that we do not want it?
– I do not know whether the Opposition did or did not want it, but Opposition senators certainly did not assist in providing an opportunity for a debate by rising in their places; at least, I saw no honourable senator from the official Opposition rise in his place, which would have been the most apparent way of manifesting a desire that this matter be debated.
The 2 decisions to which I refer are, firstly, the decision of the British Parliament, through the House of Lords and the House of Commons, by an overwhelming majority to enter the European Economic Community and, secondly, the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to admit the People’s Republic of China as a member nation of the United Nations, to seat it on the Security Council and to expel the Republic of China - that is, Taiwanese China - from the world body. These 2 events happened 6,000 miles apart and it might appear that there is no inter-relation between the two; but honourable senators will notice that I have embodied in the resolution a common consequence, that is, the effect on Australian defence and security of these 2 major and historic decisions taken so very far apart in geographic terms. Twelve thousand miles may separate London from Peking, fewer miles may separate London from New York and more or fewer miles may separate those cities from Australia, but those decisions are of historic consequence, particularly to the Australian nation.
The European Economic Community must be regarded not as a purely trade and customs union. It goes far beyond that in its contemplation, in the intention of its members and in the provisions of the Treaty of Rome which is the governing instrument which constituted the Common Market and which will direct and guide its future and its destiny. Earlier this year, together with other honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives, I had the opportunity to visit the Common Market countries and to have discussions about the Common Market. Under interrrogation it emerged .that what is contemplated is not merely a customs union of those countries. Because there necessarily will be a uniform system of commerce and perhaps of general common law; because there will be a uniform currency situation; because there will be a common trade policy and because there obviously will be ultimately a common defence policy and a common policy on foreign affairs, ultimately there will be a complete politic.il identity. It will move as an individual political unit some kind of super-state on the world stage. We must recognise that once Britain embeds itself in that Community it must necessarily pursue political objectives quite diverse from ours and if the occasion should arise it must take attitudes different from ours, have alliances perhaps different from ours and put emphases on policy different from ours. That is the great decision which Britain made. We must accept that decision and we must accommodate ourselves to all its consequences.
The second important event was the decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China in the General Assembly. In speaking to the motion I do not propose to canvass the merits or demerits of that decision, but I am drawing implications from it. One implication is the immediate United States response. That response has been the continuance of the process of withdrawal from involvement in overseas affairs and, more particularly, a disengagement from the mainland of Asia. That process was operating before the vote was taken. The process is being stimulated by internal American thought and it is being underlined by internal American problems. It is now in the forefront in the thought processes in the United States. The vote having been taken, the immediate United States response was reflected in the decision of the United States Senate which passed, by an overwhelming majority, a resolution that there should be no more foreign aid provided by the United States. In other words, there was to be an immediate acceleration of the process of retraction and of withdrawal by the United States from involvement in the affairs of other nations. Only this morning on the radio I heard an interview with Senator McGovern, who is a possible Democratic Party nominee for the United States presidential election next year, in which he advocated that the United States withdraw from the ANZUS Pact. That very dramatic statement highlights the fact that, quite apart from the control of America in Republican hands, in the hands of Senator McGovern as President, backed by his Party, there would be an American retraction to the extent that he would contemplate the dissociation of the United States even from an existing treaty such as ANZUS. In the course of this Press interview he said that he thought SEATO was a dead letter.
These processes on the part of Britain and of the United States are highlighting one emerging fact in the disposition of world power, particularly as it affects Australia. That disposition is that as Britain withdraws west of Suez and withdraws more and more into an introverted Europe and as the United States, for reasons good and sufficient to itself, withdraws into a quasi-Monroe doctrine, Australia will be faced with a new, emerging and dangerous isolationism. In this part of the world we will be somewhat of an alien because our friends, for national reasons, have withdrawn from this area. Therefore Australia must now accept the fact and face the situation that this is the world in which it has to move, realise the nations with whom it has to accommodate itself and work out how it is going to do that. That is why the Democratic Labor Party has moved this motion as one of extraordinary urgency, because it is important in this time of national crisis for Australia - I make no apologies for using the word ‘crisis’ -that the voice of members of Parliament and of the Parliament should be heard expressing our concern or that those who may feel no concern should express no concern at the position which is developing. The voice of the Parliament should be heard. That is the underlying note of urgency which I trust, if not explicit, is implicit in the terms of the motion propounded. At this stage we must look at Australia’s new and emerging position and see exactly the consequences for this nation in the light of the new disposition of power because the great nations to which I have referred have withdrawn from this part of the world - the friendly nations with whom we have had alliances in war and peace and with whom we have had blood alliances for hundreds of years, since the existence of the Australian nation.
The developing isolation of Australia must cause grave national concern. At the moment the isolation may not be apparent to Australians. It will become more and more evident as year follows year. It will be altogether too late to recognise that fact later if we refuse to face the fact now that the situation is developing and that we should move to accommodate ourselves to it and to prepare for it in the best way in which nationally we can do it - by the mobilisation of our resources to the fullest extent, by the mobilisation of the faculties that we have and of the physical resources at our command and to equip them and to dispose them to the best national advantage. This is not an easy proposition. It is not an easy proposition for a nation which has always found firm friends close at hand. We still have those friends, but today they find themselves in a different position and necessarily we must find ourselves consequentially in a different position also.
What is the situation that is facing Australia at this time? With the retraction of the interest and the identification of our friends we are left alone in this part of the world - in South Eastern Asia and in this part of the Pacific. I think it is undeniable that nations to the north of Australia are targets for subversive attack coming from the north. That subversive attack threatens the independence of those nations and, insofar as it threatens their independence, it poses a threat to the security of Australia. About the middle of last year, as a member of a parliamentary mission, T had the privilege of meeting the leaders of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. I cannot attribute to a particular leader what I am about to say., but there was a consensus that those countries were extraordinarily vulnerable to subversion from the north, for different reasons. Indonesia is very concerned because it was the target for a Communist conspiratorial assault in 196S which only by sheer chance and historical accident was not successful. Malaysia has a particular communal problem in that there is an imbalance between the Malays who have a political superiority and the Chinese who have a commercial superiority. There is an instability in that country which presents a tremendous vulnerability in that area. Malaysia finds itself in the position that already on its northern border with Thailand there is Communist insurgency led by Chin Peng. Singapore knows that if the Communists should break through from the Indo-China peninsula into Malaysia they will break through into Singapore.
Those nations are extraordinarily conscious of the whole situation. They realise that their vulnerability could well be the vulnerability and the instability of the whole area. That is a position which Australia must be prepared to accept. They pleaded along these lines. The Indonesians said: ‘Give us the opportunity to build up our own natural defences. Give us the time to build our own economic strength and to stabilise our political and social system, and we can preserve our own integrity.*
The Malaysians said: ‘Give us the time to overcome this communal problem and we also can build up our social and economic stability’.
Time and again I put the matter of the presence of Australian troops on that area to those to whom I spoke. They say that the mere presence of Australian forces in that area is an assistance and an identification of Australia with those countries and with their stability, integrity, security and future. We are buying time for them. It is not only a question of Australian forward defence; it is also a question of our involvement in the security, independence and integrity of those nations. They welcome that. They were not only disconcerted but also dismayed at the former British Government’s decision to withdraw its forces from east of Suez. They welcomed the change of government in Britain that resulted in a change of policy and the restationing of even token forces in that area. There is a subversive threat from the north of which these nations are conscious and of which they are extraordinarily afraid. In fact, to some extent they are terrified.
I know that when our defence programme is placed before the Parliament, or more particularly when it is mentioned in the Press, we are inclined to hear that type of sarcasm or ridicule which states: Who is going to invade Australia? Will millions of Chinese come down in sampans to occupy this country?’ That type of thinking shows a total unawareness of the real threat and the real problem posed to Australia. Let me remind honourable senators that the closest the world came to major war since the Second World War - we were on the very threshold of it - was during the confrontation between the United States of America and the Soviet Union over Cuba. There was no suggestion of the physical invasion of the United States. All that was required was that within a measurable target distance of the mainland of the United States there should be an accommodating power that could provide a launching base for missiles. When that position had been established, President Kennedy found it necessary to deploy the American fleet and to bring his nation and the world to the brink of a major war because that position in itself was a lethal threat to the security and continuance of the United States. There was no suggestion of armed invasion. That was all that was necessary.
The same position could well develop in South East Asia if China, for example, having a minority ethnic group available to it in some of the countries to our north, as a protecting power tried to subvert any one of these countries by the stimulation of the minority movements in any of them and that country became an accommodating power to China, or to any other nation not friendly to Australia. An antiAustralian enclave could immediately develop within the geographical area. No armed invasion is necessary. There is merely Cuban-type enclave which poses this lethal threat to the security and independence of Australia. I think that is the really great threat. That is the greatest threat that may manifest itself in our part of the world.
Let us remember that Indonesia, which was so close to a Communist takeover in 1965, which still has the major problem of not knowing how deeply or how widely the Communist conspiracy penetrated and which is still trying to discover how far the tentacles went, is the only nation in the world with which we have a land frontier. If Indonesia is vulnerable to any sort of takeover, this immediately poses a threat to Australia. Perhaps the relevance of this is that there may be some stimulation of this type of activity not merely with the takeover by a power hostile to Australia but also with the admission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations which gives that nation an aura of international respectability to which smaller nations may, and probably will, respond. They will give to Mainland China an accommodation which might provide all these opportunities which otherwise could be provided only by armed control or by national hegemony over the smaller power. That is one of the dangers that I see implicit in the international recognition of the People’s Republic of China as we saw it in the United Nations the other day.
In South East Asia, Australia has been identified with the policy that if we can support the economies and maintain and improve the social stability of the areas to which I have referred and of those countries further north, such as Thailand, Cambodia and South Vietnam, that in itself will call a halt to the processes of infiltration and subversion and, in more general terms, will provide containment - not aggressive containment but defensive containment - of those who otherwise would burst through and rob nations of their liberty. The Australian Democratic Labor Party has been gravely concerned that within the last 24 hours the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has made a statement which, to members of this Party, is of major proportions. If the right honourable gentleman is correctly reported and if his words have the meaning and carry the implications which I think, on the face of them, must be given to them - I say this with all the authority of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and speaking seriously-
– How great is that? Your Party is a minority party.
– We may be a minority party. We may be a smaller party in the community. But we are a party which exerts a major influence on Australia’s political thought and which helps in this place to curb the irresponsibility of the official Opposition. I regret that under provocation from Senator Georges I had to say that. The Prime Minister stated that Australia had moved away from the theories of containment of China and active hostility towards Communism. I do not know what those words may mean precisely. But the meaning is fairly selfevident. That the words are attributable to the Prime Minister is undeniable. I have little reason to doubt that they were actually uttered, although they are put in the third person. I say with the full authority of the Australian Democratic Labor Party: We find this political attitude completely indefensible, we find it completely dangerous, and we find it totally inexcusable. Our Party would not be prepared in any sense to find it acceptable at all. It is totally and fundamentally unacceptable to the Democratic Labor Party. I say that with the authority of the Party. I think it is an attitude that might well be taken into account by the Government and by the right honourable gentleman.
After all, my Party has always presented a policy of strength in defence. It is not an outrageous policy but a defensible policy in terms of money, logistics and national capacity. We think that this statement constitutes the abandonment of many of those principles for which this Party has stood and for which this nation has stood. If that proposition were allowed to stand, it would make a mockery of our intervention in Vietnam and of all the lives lost there in defending the containment of the Communists’ sudden thrust and aggression; it would make a mockery of the continued presence of any of our troops at all in that area; and it would make a mockery of our military presence in South East Asia. I hope that that proposition will be spelt out by the right honourable gentleman in different terms because, as I say, it is unacceptable to the Democratic Labor Party.
It has been suggested that the People’s Republic of China can pose no military threat in this area because, although that nation now possesses nuclear capacity, it has no strike force which could provide a delivery stystem
– What about your policy to arm Japan?
– I will deal with that if necessary, Senator Brown. Our policies are always clear and explicit. We know what they are and we never lack the courage to state them. One thing we know: When we state a policy today through our Leader it will not be abandoned tomorrow by other members of the Party and he himself will not have to abandon it under pressure. It was said of Mainland China that she had no strike capacity, but in the last fortnight it has been publicly announced that China has a strike capacity of up to 1,000 miles. She has a nuclear capacity.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Senator Georges, you are interjecting far too much.
– Mainland China therefore now has the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads to countries within a range of 1,000 miles of her launching bases. If the positon should arise, as I am suggesting it might, that she finds an accommodating nation to the north of Australia, she will have a strike capacity within 1,000 miles of Australia. There are those who say that in no circumstances should Australia be armed with nuclear power. The view of the Democratic Labor Party is that we should have in Australia a nuclear capacity which can be a deterrent to those countries which would attempt by this or any other means to impose their will upon this nation, I think it is a national disgrace that in the light of and in the presence of nations that have developed nuclear capacity and have now developed a strike ability to present those war heads in Australia any Australian should advocate that we should be prepared to denude ourselves, at least of the opportunity and the means of deterrents or retaliation.
It is incredible to me that that type of thinking can characterise some great sections of the Australian people represented - and I think I say it fairly - in the political judgment of the Australian Labor Party. We can see no warrant or justification for it We think it is dangerous. We think it is a policy fraught with disaster for Australia.
– Arm us to the teeth.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENTOrder! Senator Georges, you will desist from interjecting.
– We would arm nobody to the teeth but we do not want to live in a fool’s paradise. I remind honourable senators of the action of the United States Government when it found that nuclear weapons were in Cuba, so close to its shores. It is a matter of national suicide if we do not at least develop a nuclear capacity so that in an emergency we can provide our own deterrents. Another threat developing in this area is connected with the admission of Mainland China to the United Nations and with Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. 1 refer to the expansion of the Russian naval presence in the Indian Ocean. It is quite possible that the whole confrontation of the great powers may be passing from the European mainland to the basin of the Pacific, which may well be the cockpit in which the great powers will confront one another in years to come.
– But you told us that they were all withdrawing.
– The Soviet Union is not withdrawing from the area. Mainland China is not withdrawing. Japan is present in the area. Britain and the United States are withdrawing, but if confrontation of these great powers should occur in this part of the world, and it seems to be a real strategic possibility, Australia will find herself in the very eye of the cyclone. All this is pointing to one thing - the increasing isolation of Australia in a situation of developing and emerging danger and vulnerability. That is the question with which we must be acquainted and concerned and which we must as far as possible try to convey to the Australian people. lt is never easy in times of peace to persuade a nation like Australia that is dedicated to peace to turn its thoughts towards mobilisation of the resources that may be used for war. That is natural and human and very much a part of the Australian character, but we feel that the responsibility rests upon some, unpleasant as it may be, to draw the attention of the nation to this situation. We have always found that in a crisis the Australian people will face up to the demands of the situation, no matter how rigorous they may be.
Therefore the Democratic Labor Party is grievously concerned about the developing position of the Australian nation in South East Asia in the light of Britain’s new confrontation with Europe, in the light of the developing Chinese position and in the light of penetration by the Russian fleet. I have had the opportunity in the last 12 months of discussing in many countries of the world the expanded Soviet naval presence. The governments of those countries in one way or another are concerned about it. I have in mind Yugoslavia, Turkey, Israel, Great Britain, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. I had an opportunity to speak to the leaders of the governments of those countries because the Soviet naval presence is a matter which in one way or another occupies their minds. Turkey is concerned because the Bosphorus allows the passage of Soviet ships through the Dardanelles. Yugoslavia is concerned because the land umbilical cord would lie through Yugoslavia into the Adriatic to support the Russian naval presence.
Israel is concerned because of passage through the Suez Canal; Britain because of her oil supply and trade routes in South East Asia. This is now becoming a matter of grave international consequence. When the Australian Government first proposed that we should accommodate ourselves to this position with very little concern, the Australian Democratic Labor Party took a strong and unrelenting stand and responded immediately in the Senate by denying in a formal sense to our good friend Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson an opportunity to make a statement. We declined to give leave for him to make a statement identical to a statement made in the House of Represenatives. We wanted to show our immediate response to the preparedness to accommodate the Soviet naval presence. Today there is a general concern among free peoples over this very matter. We of the DLP take great pride in the fact that we were the first to alert this nation to the situation of the Government.
Mr Deputy President, my time has substantially expired. Not in any aspect of hysteria or undue anxiety but with real concern for the welfare of this nation we say that we must assess the position realistically. It is a new position. We must prepare for ourselves within the limits of our economy a national policy to secure this nation against all those who potentially threaten our independence and integrity.
(4.42) - I want to say first that when Senator Byrne rose to move his urgency motion a number of senators on this side of the chamber also rose in order to make up the number required for him to proceed with his motion. Whilst it is true that the honourable senator has moved his motion to enable the discussion of the matter with which it deals, he used words which I am sure he did not intend to use. Those words suggested that the honourable senators on this side of the chamber who rose to support him were in fact supporting the views that he has put on behalf of his Party. The fact is that honourable senators on this side of the chamber stood as an act of courtesy, just as I would have risen in my place in order to enable Senator Byrne to debate the subject he has raised. It is true that his motion will enable discussion of 2 historic events that have occurred this year. They are probably the most significant occurrences in our lifetime and they have occurred close together. I refer to the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community and to the decision of the United Nations to admit the People’s Republic of China and to allow it a seat in the Security Council. 1 feel bound to say that I question the use of an urgency motion as a vehicle for raising these two subjects. 1 particularly question that practice because Senator Byrne in his speech also raised the matter of the expanded Russian naval strength in the Pacific. The Standing Orders limit discussion on an urgency motion to 3 hours. Senator Byrne, as the mover of the motion, was allowed half an hour to speak to it. I perhaps would advocate a little less than that. However, it is certain that honourable senators who want to speak in the debate will be limited to a very short time. An urgency motion does not appeal to me as » vehicle by which to discuss these matters. Of course, Senator Byrne may well say that he wanted to make these points or that his Party wanted to make them and that the forms of the Senate were open for him to do so. 1 also challenge the way in which Senator Byrne has correlated the 2 matters. By implication they are correlated and tied to the Australian defence and security. I cannot accept that. I hope briefly to bring argument to bear as to why the Senate should not agree to discuss the 2 matters which are of such tremendous importance and which are probably the 2 most significant things that have happened so close together in our lifetime. I find it difficult to accept the proposition that the 2 events are tied necessarily to the defence of Australia in the sense that the honourable senator has put them.
I would like to deal quickly with the vote that was taken to decide whether the United Kingdom would join the European Economic Community. Senator Byrne indicated that he had been to the Council of Europe. I have also been to the Council. Senator Byrne and I were able to go to Brussels and express our views to people who belong to both sides of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. We were able to get a very good impression of the arguments for and against Britain’s entry. I think it is fair to say that Australia did not seek to influence the British Government on whether it should or should not join the European Economic Community. The view has always been expressed that this was a judgment that Britain itself had to make. By a vote in the House of Commons in recent days Britain has taken the step to join the Community.
Australia has always made well known to the British Government the problems that would arise for our trading interests if reasonable conditions were not provided to safeguard them in the terms of entry. 1 do not think that this point needs to be argued because it is not particularly germane to the debate. But Australia did emphasise, and has emphasised, that there will need to be a known transitional or access period during which our trading relations with the United Kingdom will be given special consideration. We have told the United Kingdom Government that we need a transitional period in which to adjust to the new situation inherent in that country’s entry. Indeed, the United KingdomAustralia Trade Agreement will need to be phased out over a period so that the Agreement can be terminated without hindrance or hurt to Australia or Britain. I think it is fair also to say that the Australian Government at this point of time has been disappointed by the lack of precise provisions in the phasing out programme over the transitional period. But there it is.
With that background I want to come to the context of the matter of urgency motion, which says that the entry of Britain into the European Economic Community and the vote taken in the United Nations on Communist China’s admission to that body are linked to the defence of Australia. I suppose it is possible to say that the entry by Britain into the EEC could lead in time to that country becoming almost, to use the word, Eurocentric in political as well as strictly economic matters. But I do not believe and cannot accept that. I do not believe that that unhappy state of affairs is likely to happen. For one thing, Britain’s leaders are well aware of the disadvantages of a selfinterested and introverted Europe. They will work, I am sure, from within the Community - that is the whole Community - to ensure that it becomes more outward looking. I think that this is of the very essence of the intention of the bloc. 1 do not think that the EEC, as has been suggested, will be inward looking. I believe that it will not operate in isolation or that - and reference was made to this point - it will follow a Monroe Doctrine concept. I do not believe that those who are in the EEC believe this, either.
– I did not mention the United States.
I know, but you are implying that Europe will tend to adopt a Monroe Doctrine concept and I do not believe that it will, lt will be a task for Australian diplomacy in the broadest meaning of the word to encourage Britain to see that this does not happen, and to suggest that other big trading countries of the world such as the United States and Japan should work towards the same objective and will not become - and I believe this to be so - introverted or inward.
The second point is that Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community will by no means spell the end of her political, commercial, investment and defence interests in the rest of the world. Britain has a very large economic stake in our part of the world. She is still a very real customer of this country. I gather that she is not now our leading customer although she was at one time but if she is not, she is possibly our best customer once removed. As I have said, the United Kingdom has a very large economic stake in Australia, as indeed she has in some of our neighbours such as Malaysia and Singapore. Therefore, as we see it in terms of self share interest she will not become isolated in Europe by her entry. She cannot afford to become isolated and neglect those interests which she has in the rest of the world or stand idly by if they are seriously threatened. I do not believe it. This point was inherent in the subject under discussion.
Only this week Britain has given an earnest of her continuing interest in the security and stability of this part of the world. This assurance has been given this week when we are discussing the proposition that she may move away from us and prejudice our defence. I refer to the Five Power Defence Arrangements which came into effect on 1st November. It is significant that the Arrangements came into effect after the date on which the United Kingdom Government decided by resolution of the Mother of Parliaments after the drama of a vote to go into the European Economic Community. I repeat that the announcement regarding the Five Power Defence Arrangements was made after and not before Britain’s decision to enter the EEC.
Honourable senators will be aware that the governments which make up the Five Power Defence Arrangements - Australia, Britain, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore - have expressed their intention of continuing to co-operate closely in defence matters. Also, they have declared that: ‘In the event of any form of armed attack externally organised or supported, or the threat of such attack, against Malaysia or Singapore’, they will ‘immediately consult together for the purpose of deciding what measures should be taken jointly or separately in relation to such attack or threat’. Therefore, Britain is not moving out of this part of the world. A reference was made to the effect that a British presence is now 12,000 miles away. I suggest, bearing in mind what has been set out in the Five Power Defence Arrangements, that the closest British presence is not moving 12,000 miles away but is continuing to stay in our part of the world.
The 5 governments also have set up an air defence council which is responsible for the functioning of the integrated air defence system, and a joint consultative council. I have made that point in response to the arguments advanced by Senator Byrne. I want to go further and remind the Senate that Britain has retained forces of all arms in Malaysia-Singapore. These forces are grouped with Australian and New Zealand forces stationed in those countries into an integrated ANZUK command. The first series of points made by Senator Byrne can be evaluated against the points which I have advanced. Of course, it is true that Britain’s forces in MalaysiaSingapore have been phased out in recent years. I would not walk away from that fact. It is also true that the AngloMalaysian Defence Treaty has been terminated. But the Five Power arrangements are the clearest possible evidence that Britain’s interest in and concern about the security and stability of this part of the world continue unaffected by its decision to join the EEC. It should be pointed out also that Britain’s membership of the Manila Treaty and her participation in the South East Asia Treaty Organisation both continue. In short, while Britain has contracted somewhat her security commitments and responsibilities in South East Asia - I do not argue that she has contracted them - this has not been done because of the decision to join the European Economic Community. This is a contraction, as I admit, but it is not by any means a total withdrawal, and it is not linked to Britain’s entry into the EEC.
– This policy was in existence long before the vote on EEC membership was taken.
This has been a matter of discussion for a very long time. Britain’s participation in the Five Power arrangements and in SEATO is proof enough. There is no reason to suppose that joining the EEC will affect Britain’s considerations of national interest underlying that participation and Britain’s security ties with Australia. That is my response to the first section of the matter of public importance proposed for discussion by Senator Byrne. That section refers to:
The implications for Australian defence and security. . . .
Two points are made with respect to Australia’s defence and security. The first concerns Britain’s decision to enter the European Economic Community and the second concerns the implications of the decision of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China in the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. I turn now to that second element, namely, the decision of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China.
In this abridged debate I do not wish to take all of my time. It is not wise or desirable for me to traverse detail by detail the various resolutions that were put. Some of these resolutions were rejected; some were ruled out of order; and some were voted on in the United Nations debate. I have attempted to come to the substance of this matter rather than to traverse the various resolutions that were carried at the United Nations. The debate, be it known, ended with the passage of what we know as the Albanian resolution. The Albanian resolution brought the People’s Republic of China into the United Nations with a seat on the Security Council and led to the simultaneous expulsion of the Republic of China which-
– Did not the Republic of China walk out?
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONI am coming to that. Inherent in that resolution was not only the entry of Mainland China but also the expulsion of Taiwan. But Taiwan’s representatives walked out before that happened. The true position is that the Albanian resolution provided for the expulsion of the Republic of China on Taiwan, but Taiwan’s representatives walked out before that resolution was passed. I wish to let it be known that the Austraiian Government voted with 34 other nations against the expulsion of the Republic of China. I will not name all of those 34 nations, but those which have special significance for us included the United States of America, Japan-
– No, Indonesia abstained.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONAs I understand it Indonesia abstained. But the countries of the 34 that I wish to name are the United States of America, Japan and New Zealand. In addition to the 3.5 votes against Taiwan’s expulsion, 17 nations abstained. I emphasise that Australia made its position clear: It supported the entry of the People’s Republic of China - that is, Mainland China - to the General Assembly and the Security Council. That is the critical point.
The other substantive resolution, known as the dual representation draft resolution, was co-sponsored by 18 member states including Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States. The point that I wish to bring out is that this dual representation draft resolution affirmed the right of representation of the People’s Republic of China, recommended that the PRC be seated as one of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council and affirmed the continuing right of representation of the Republic of China - Taiwan. Australia’s position has been made abundantly clear. I have paraphrased the whole series of resolutions involved. If we examine those that were withdrawn and those that were debated, the position is confusing. I have had the advantage of the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs which has assured me that what 1 have said is a fair appreciation of what happened. On 21st October 1971, in addressing the United Nations General Assembly, the Australian representative, Sir Laurence Mclntyre, noted that the great majority of representatives supported the representation of the People’s Republic of China.
Following what 1 am bound to admit has been an abridged summary of the events in the United Nations, we can reflect upon the second part of the matter of public importance proposed by Senator Byrne and say that we hope that when it takes its seat in the General Assembly and in the Security Council, Mainland China will adopt constructive and moderate policies and positions. The membership of the PRC in the United Nations will remove its isolation - this is the critical thing - from the world community and will bring it into contacts with the whole community of nations. This is the first answer to challenge the views expressed by Senator Byrne. The entry of Mainland China into the United Nations will remove it from its isolated position and will bring it into much closer contact with the community of nations, particularly those which arc members of the United Nations. Our policies, as demonstrated at the United Nations and by our vote, reflect a careful assessment of our national interests and objectives. O’ur step was considered in close consultation with our friends and our allies.
Reference was made by Senator Byrne lo the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and to a statement that was made yesterday. Senator Byrne very properly was careful to qualify his remarks with the words ‘as reported’. I would suggest-
– The words ‘if it be’ With respect to its meaning were used also.
– 1 think that it would be fair to say - Senator Byrne would say this - that we would need to see the whole matter in its context before making very stern judgments on it. But from what I saw of the statement, it indeed reflected the views that the Prime Minister and the Government have expressed, not as late as yesterday but over the whole period of the last 6 to 8 months during which this question of the proposed entry of Mainland China into the United Nations has arisen and has been under constant examination. I say that, because I feel that when this matter is studied in its full context that fact will emerge.
It is true that, in the Security Council, the People’s Republic of China will have the power of veto. But that power is in the hands also of other permanent members including our close friends, Britain and the United States. So, Mainland China’s seat on the Security Council is not something which gives it great power in isolation. The General Assembly, in which the People’s Republic of China will have a place also, has the power of recommendation only. The recommendations of the General Assembly do not have any binding force.
The Charter of the United Nations recognises the right of members to join together in regional arrangements. The seating of the PRC in no way affects the existing regional arrangements of which Australia is a member. Another point that I wish to make in this respect is that the entry of the PRC into the United Nations will in no way alter or make any less effective the, ANZUS Treaty. Reference was made by Senator Byrne in his comments to the ANZUS Treaty. The entry of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations will not in any way affect the ANZUS Treaty. Today I saw a Press report of the meeting between President Nixon and the Prime Minister. According to the report President Nixon said:
I was glad to restate our past support of our commitment to the ANZUS Treaty.
He added that he believed the Treaty emphasised the American commitment to the area and that it was fundamental to peace in the Pacific. He was also reported to have said that ANZUS is one of the fundamental pillars of American policy in the Pacific.
I want to make a point about what I believe is a judgment implicit in the subject of this urgency discussion; that is that the entry of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations is going to prejudice our defence. Perhaps that is putting it even milder than Senator Byrne put it. However. that is not the judgment that I express. As Australians we are sad and sorry that we failed to retain the place of the Republic of China, Taiwan, in the United Nations while at the same time we supported the admittance of the People’s Republic of China. Australia’s view always was that there should be a place in the United Nations for the Republic of China. But we need to look forward, not backward. The world is moving rapidly. Changes and adjustments must be made and are being made. The world situation is evolving constantly. These adjustments are as significant in our part of the world as elsewhere. 1 agree with what Senator Byrne said to that extent. It could well be that things are changing more quickly in our part of the world than elsewhere, perhaps with the exception of the European Economic Community.
The Government welcomed President Nixon’s announcement that he would visit the People’s Republic of China. That visit is in accordance with our previously declared policy of seeking to improve relations with those people and this represents an attempt to do that. It has been our stated hope that the People’s Republic of China will come to play a more constructive role in this region. We hope that the People’s Republic of China will come into the group of nations as distinct from being isolated from them as it has been in the past; that it will play a more constructive role in the region than it has in the past; and that its admission to the United Nations will advance prospects for a peaceful settlement of the problems of the Asian and Pacific region. That is our hope and belief and that is the way we have to look at this matter.
I listened very carefully to Senator Byrne because I have a great respect for his understanding of these matters. He and I travelled together to Europe to attend the Council of Europe. I led the Australian delegation. We had the opportunity to talk to parliamentarians from the United Kingdom and from other nations that are members of the European Economic Community. I obtained the clear impression while there that although the United Kingdom desired to enter the Community it was not .coins to enter a closed shop, as it were, but that it was going to make a real contribution to the defence of Europe. I think Senator Byrne acknowledged that point. He went on to say that Britain will not go beyond.
– The defence of Europe.
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSONYes. I accept what Senator Byrne said in the first part. On both sides, the protagonists there-
– Whoever is right-
Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON Let me make my point, Senator Little. You can speak afterwards. The clear view was expressed that Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community would strengthen the defence of Europe but never at any stage was it suggested in the United Kingdom - rather it was to the contrary - by those for and against Britain’s entry that Britain’s ties with the Commonwealth ultimately would be given up; that its entry would mean separation from those ties of blood and brotherhood with Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand. So I say that I cannot accept the view that there will be a threat to our defence as a consequence of Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community. I am prepared to accept in respect of the second part of the topic of discussion that the entry of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations will bring home to the Chinese all the responsibilities of membership of that body. In that way I hope and pray, as I know we all do, that as a consequence the danger to defence and security in the Pacific will be lessened rather than increased.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Health Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has done his best to make what he could of a bad job. His speech, which was commendably quiet, reminded me for all the world of the sort of speech that could have been given by a very moderate member of the Australian Labor Party about 10 years ago. The Minister said that the Government now desires, and always has desired, peaceful and friendly relations with the People’s Republic of China; that it welcomes China’s admission to the United Nations, where it will learn of th? high responsibilities which we and other countries apparently have learnt there; and that it is quite delighted that the People’s Republic has been admitted to the United Nations although it is a pity that the Government’s old friends in Taiwan, the so-called Republic of China, are no longer members.
This statement in itself would be quite acceptable were it not a complete reversal of everything that the Government has been saying for the past 20 years, a reversal of the points it has made consistently in support of its election programmes for the past 20 years, lt seems to me only the other day - it cannot be very much longer - that we were being shown maps with red arrows leading from China to Australia. We were told that th: first duty of all Australians was to resist this menace from the north and that the ultimate proof of the treasonable intent of members of the Australian Labor Party was that they argued that there should b: recognition of the Government of Pekina, and admission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations, lt was not more than a few months ago that we were told about the domino theory. We were told that the dominoes, the countries between China and Australia, were falling over or being pushed over by China, our enemy, and that it was threatening this country. Indeed, young Australians are still being killed and maimed in Vietnam and young Australians are still killing and maiming people in Vietnam in pursuit of the Government’s policies which have been based, so we have been told, on the threat of China to this country. However, the Government at least has decided to put up with what it cannot change. It realises now that China is here, that it is not going to go away, however hard the Govern men may wish that it would go away, and that it is firmly and securely within the United Nations.
If one looks at the terms of the matter raised for discussion by Senator Byrne one sees within it all the ingredients of thai sinister conspiracy which is enveloping Australia. One only wonders that marihuana and abortion were not mentioned as well. We find in this motion this do-ible threat:
The implication!; for Australian defence and security of Britain’s decision to enter the European Economic Community-
Whatever that means remains a mystery to me despite Senator Byrne’s efforts of explanation - and the decision of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China in the General Assembly of the United Nations and on the Security Council in place of the Republic of China and to expel the Republic of China from the world body.
According to Senator Byrne and the Democratic Labor Party we are faced with a double threat, a two-pronged conspiracy. On the one hand there is the conspiracy of Great Britain and the European Economic Community to join together, and on the other hand there is the conspiracy of the United Nations to admit the People’s Republic of China and to expel the Government of the Republic of China which is based in Taipeh. 1 do not know whether a great deal needs to be said about this. I do not think that one could believe seriously that there is some conspiracy in the European Economic Community. I do not think anybody could seriously believe that Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community will make any difference whatsoever to Australia’s security. Ever since the Second World War Britain has been a declining capitalist country. Its colonial possessions have been steadily eroded and it has been withdrawing from every pari of the world in which it once held sway. This has been an inevitable process. I cannot see that it has been either hastened or slowed by Britain’s proposed admission to the European Economic Community. I fail to see what difference this has made to Britain’s political and military position in South East Asia - a declining position resulting from the declining power of a former imperial colossus. For a great many years there has been discussion in Britain about joining bodies such as the European Economic Community. In 1953 and 1954 when I was living in London I can remember that great debates were taking place. Particularly I remember debates inside the British Labour Party; but debates were taking place inside the British Conservative Party and elsewhere as to whether at that stage Britain should join the European Defence Community. In fact, had Britain joined that community there would have been more serious implications - if indeed there are any serious implications - for Australia’s security. That did not happen. The tendency has been for Britain to settle down as a medium sized European power and to get out of its world entanglements. In some respects that is a very wise decision although one may well criticise the composition and constitution of the European Economic Community.
I shall now go on to the other aspect of the conspiratorial situation in which according to the Democratic Labor Party we find ourselves and that is the decision of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China in the General Assembly and on the Security Council and to expel the so-called Republic of Taiwan. The Australian Labor Party is in complete agreement with this decision. Lest it be said that this is only the view of some dissident groups I think it should be noted who were among the 76 countries which voted for the admission of China and the expulsion of Taiwan from the United Nations. I certainly do not intend to name all the countries but it is rather interesting to find the following Western countries - most of which are regarded as being strongly anti-Communist - among the 76 countries which voted for China’s admission and Taiwan’s expulsion. They included Denmark; France; Iceland; Ireland; Israel - a country which we are told is under serious threat from the Communist conspiracy but which had no compunction in voting for the Albanian resolution; Italy; the Netherlands; Norway; Sweden; the United Kingdom and Portugal - a remarkable addition to the list. Several years ago I was in a Portuguese colony. Sometimes I would talk to the Portuguese officials who tended to sound to me like rather more intelligent members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I remember one explaining to me that in his view a very serious situation had occurred in that there had been Communist infiltration of the Vatican. I understood that this was a rather prevalent view among Portuguese colonial officials. But even Portugal - the Klu Klux Klan of the Iberian Peninsula - voted for the admission of the Peking Government to the United Nations and the expulsion of the Taiwan Government.
Senator Byrne quoted various unnamed luminaries in Singapore, Malaysia and elsewhere who spoke about the very real threat they felt from the downward thrust of Communist China, the perturbation that they felt about the presence of battleships from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other aspects of the international Communist conspiracy. But it is rather interesting that despite what they told Senator Byrne - and as the Bible says: ‘By their deeds ye shall know them’ - when the voting actually took place in the United Nations General Assembly quite a number of Asian countries voted for the Albanian resolution. In fact quite an overwhelming majority of Asian countries voted for the resolution. Who were they? They were Afghanistan; Bhutan which has a common border with the People’s Republic of China; Burma, which also borders China and which has had considerable negotiations with China, about the settlement of border problems; Ceylon, India and Laos. Laos is one of the countries are supposed to be saving from the falling dominoes. It voted for the expulsion of Taiwan and the admission of China, as did Malaysia where Senator Byrne was told about the dreadful threat of Communism from the north. Other countries which voted for the resolution were Nepal which is another country which borders China; Pakistan and Singapore, another country which we have been told has been threatened. Every one of those countries is an important member of the Asian community. I am not counting amongst these countries those such as Mongolia which has a Communist Government. I am giving the names of only non-Communist Asian countries. In fact, in some cases they have strongly antiCommunist Asian governments. All these countries voted for the admission of China and the expulsion of the Taipeh Government.
When one looks at the 35 nations which voted against the expulsion of the Taipeh Government and the admission of China, one finds Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti - a great democracy - Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Out of the 35 countries which voted against the Albanian proposition 12 - over a third - were South American client states of the United States of America. Those countries are almost completely dependent for their arms and the maintenance of their government upon American aid through the mis-named Alliance for Progress, lt is rather interesting to find that the threat of Communist China is felt so clearly in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Paraguay and Bolivia - where a new crowd of colonels has just taken over - but not felt in Singapore, Malaysia and Nepal.
At this stage something should be said about the expulsion of the Taipeh Government from the United Nations. Only the other day Senator Lillico asked a question. It reflects something which has been said in a number of places - including the United Nations by the Australian delegate - and that is that Taiwan, a country of 14 million people, has always paid its bills and done the right thing by everybody, a friend to every man and an enemy to none, has been sadly and shabbily treated by being expelled from the United Nations. In fact, no such thing happened. Taiwan was not expelled from the United Nations. The decision of the United Nations General Assembly was that the Government in Peking was the government of China and the Government in Taipeh was not the government of China.
The Government in Taipeh never claimed that it was the government of Taiwan, entitled to have representation in the United Nations as a country of 14 million people. The Government in Taipeh claimed to be the government for the whole of China. It claimed precisely the same territorial boundaries as those claimed by the Government in Peking - the Government of the People’s Republic of China. The United Nations was called upon to decide which government was the government of China. Clearly the United Nations could not say that they both were, so at long last it said the sensible thing. It said that the Government in Peking was the Government of China, not the Government in Taipeh. The Australian Government had refused to recognise this situation. Reluctantly and belatedly after SOO Australian deaths in Vietnam the Australian Government came to the conclusion that it had to recognise that the Government in Peking was at least the government on the mainland of China.
The Australian Government was carried by President Nixon into the 1970s kicking and screaming. But still it refused to recognise the simple point that there could not be 2 governments of China. It tried to save its old friends in Taiwan and it failed as it was doomed to fail.
Some mention has been made of the menace of the Soviet Union and its naval forces. I have never been quite clear as to precisely what these naval forces are. 1 have heard of fishing boats in Mauritius and 1 have heard of a cruiser which went to Colombo at the invitation of the conservative former Government of Ceylon in order to celebrate the anniversary of Buddah’s birth. I do not know what these great naval forces are in the Indian Ocean about which we hear so much.
But I find among the latest press releases a communique, for example, from the French Ambassador in Canberra. What does he say? He is referring to a very complex bubble chamber which has been manufactured in France and transported to the Soviet Union. What does this bubble chamber do? This complex bubble chamber enables the photographing of the traces of particles emitted during high energy nuclear reactions. These photographs are used in the study of nuclear physics and matter structure. Here we find a country such as France with an anti-communist government under President Pompidou so little in a state of fear of what the Soviet Union might do that it is even cooperating with the Soviet Union in such important matters to the life of humanity and the security of France as nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. Yet the Australian Demorcratic Labor Party and the Australian Government are still talking about this great menace coming from the Soviet Union. 1 should like to conclude by quoting a few words from the Prime Minister of Great Britain who has just led his country into negotiations for Britain’s entry to the European Common Market. No-one could accuse Mr Heath of being a communist or a communist sympathiser. He says:
I have spoken to you of a new world.
This is the speech he made at the Conservative Party conference. He continues:
That is no vision of the future. It’s happening out there now for all to see. It’s there in the new patterns of power. In the sight of China, the awakened giant, taking up its role in the world.
I would commend this speech of Mr Heath to his fellow Tories sitting opposite and to the Democratic Labor Party. At least the Prime Minister of Britain has been prepared to look at these matters seriously, without emotion or hysteria, and come down to sensible conclusions about the world in which we live.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Order! The honourable senator’s lime has expired.
– Senator Wheeldon made a predictable speech and, as such, it is hardly worth commenting upon. Senator Wheeldon always seems to mistake smart alec comments as a substitute for logical debate. 1 think he was quite unfair to Senator Byrne when he accused him of seeing conspiracies everywhere. Perhaps that is an indication of Senator Wheeldon’s own mind. In fairness to Senator Byrne, I do not agree with all he said. I do not believe that Senator Byrne put forward the proposition that the European Economic Community was some form of conspiracy but rather he tried to argue, on a reasoned and logical basis, the import to Australia of the entry of the United Kingdom to the EEC. It is on this aspect that T intend to concentrate.
When Senator Wheeldon tries to equate the votes of Singapore and Malaysia in the United Nations to the fact that they really do not fear subversion inspired from the People’s Republic of China, I wish to say to him only that perhaps he should go and speak to the leaders of the countries of South East Asia - and go with his ears open, his eyes open and his mind open - because he will find that each of those countries expressed grave concern at the continued subversion, the continued terrorism being practised in their territory by Communist terrorists. Indeed, only the other day Indonesia reported having discovered in a terrorist camp clear signs of Peking’s involvement in this campaign. These arc the reports of the leaders of these countries.
Having said that, 1 wish to concentrate on the great significance of the historic and momentous decision of the House of Commons to take the United Kingdom :i-to the European Economic Community, lt was a decision which was momentous not only to the United Kingdom but also, I suggest, to the world. Senator Byrne was correct in reminding us that the European Economic Community is not just a customs union. Indeed, it is a political union in the purest sense. The significance of the entry of the United Kingdom is, I believe, more in the political context than in the economic context. lt is significant also because of its effect upon Europe and the world. If one looks at the debates and the statements made by British leaders over the years I think it will be shown quite clearly that they saw their entry more in the political context than in the economic context.
– The Treaty of Rome contemplates this.
– As Senator Byrne reminds us, we could quote the Treaty of Rome which indeed contemplates this. I have here an extract from a speech made on 2nd May 1967 by Mr Harold Wilson, the then Labour Prime Minister. What he envisaged is quite clear, because he said:
Together we can ensure that Europe plays in world affairs the part which the Europe of today is not at present playing. For a Europe that fails to put forward its full economic strength will never have the political influence which I believe it could and should exert within the United Nations, with the Western Alliance, and as the means for effecting n lasting detente between East and West: and equally in contributing in ever fuller measure to the solution of the North-South problem, to the needs of the developing world.
– What are you posing? Is not that a satisfactory solution to the problem?
– Honestly, you have been asleep for too long.
– What are you posing?
– Will Senator Georges allow me to make my speech without his help? If he were capable of understanding he would find out what I am posing. It is quite clear from Mr Wilson that he envisaged the entry of the United Kingdom as a means of developing a greater and fuller Europe.
– It would be a super state.
– 1 will come to the super state proposal.
– At least we will not be embroiled in the wars of Europe in future.
– Oh dear, what a shallow mind! 1 now turn to Mr Heath. I think it is quite clear that Mr Heath envisaged the same thing, because he posed the question:
How can British continue to exert in the world a strong and constant influence - in defence of her own interests, certainly, but also in the interests of commonsense and of humanity?
Mr Heath then went on to mention the great problems that faced the United Kingdom with which the House of Commons concerned itself but which could make little impact upon the world. He then continued:
The fact is - and I think that almost all of us would recognise it today - that neither our membership of the United Nations, nor our membership of the Commonwealth, nor our natural relationship with the United States, has provided us with that leverage in world affairs for which the instinct of this House continues to ask. The same is increasingly true of our power to influence international agreements covering world trade and payments . . .
The significance of the United Kingdom decision is that we now see being created in Europe a huge world ‘force, a new super power - indeed, it might be said, a power capable of exercising enormous economic, political and, if need be, military power in the world, lt will be a power equal to, if not greater than, that of the United States, of the Soviet Union, of the People’s Republic China, if it seeks to be a super power, and of Japan. In a world of growing super powers, if we were to assume that these 4 countries are super powers, Europe will be a fifth super power. The facts of life are that the United Kingdom with 55 million people could not play a part in world affairs, which she herself recognises. She is «o longer able to exercise a major influence in the world, but there will be with the United Kingdom, Denmark and other countries as part of Europe a community of 255 million people - a population far greater than that of the United States, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Japan. This will be a power of great economic strength.
It has been argued that Europe has been an inward looking force, and there is some justification for that view. However, 1 believe that the main significance of the entry of the United Kingdom will be to bring into Europe outward looking influences. There are, within Europe, countries such as Germany which are outward looking and great trading nations. 1 believe that a significance of the United Kingdom’s entry will be that Europe - one of the great trading blocs of the world - with outward looking policies will expand as a trading bloc and that it will expand its political influence beyond Europe into the outside world, including the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and in time throughout the eastern areas of the world. I believe that this is inevitable. With a growing capacity for investment and for aid and trade, there is no doubt that we will see developing in Europe a super state whose influence for good will be tremendous. This is why I have always believed the political aspect of the United Kingdom’s entry to be more important than the economic aspect. 1 believe that most European countries wanted the United Kingdom as a member of the Community, not for any economic reason but because of the political influence that she would wield - a political influence that would introduce into the Community outward looking influences with regard to the world situation. The significance of this outlook is something that I believe we in the Senate should note. I deplore calamity howling over the United Kingdom’s decision. I believe that we and others will suffer short term disadvantages but that in the long run - this is what we must interest ourselves in - the development of the European Economic Community into a community of 10 nations will exercise a balance of power influence throughout the world. I believe that it will be a counter to the other super states and that a community with the great experience of Europe cannot be other than a beneficial influence on world affairs.
Although I would have liked to see somewhat different wording in the matter of urgency, I believe that it is well for us to take the opportunity to discuss these subjects in the Senate. I hope that there will be an endeavour to keep the debate on a high level and that it will not be dragged down by all the pettifogging little things of the kind that Senator Wheeldon introduced. The major issue is the decision by the United Kingdom to enter the European
Economic Community, the effect of that decision upon us and its effect upon the world.
– 1 join my colleagues of the Opposition in opposing the motion that has been placed before the Senate by Senator Byrne on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I propose, firstly, to examine the matter of urgency, which is probably the greatest hotchpotch that has ever been placed before the Senate for debate. The matter of urgency refers to the implications for Australian defence and security of Britain’s decision to enter the European Economic Community and the decision of the United Nations to seat the People’s Republic of China in the General Assembly of the United Nations and on the Security Council in place of the Republic of China and to expel the Republic of China from the world body. Why 2 separate subjects should be mixed up in one matter of urgency is difficult to understand. As I proceed with my contribution to the debate, I shall endeavour to show that the subject has become so confusing that it is difficult to sort out precisely what was meant by Senator Byrne in raising this matter.
I was not impressed by Senator Byrne when he referred to a national crisis. I was listening to his remarks through the broadcasting system in my office and I almost burst into tears or dived under my desk because I could see the teeming millions coming down in their canoes to invade Australia before dinner this evening. He expressed great dismay at the crisis facing Australia today and said that we came closest to a third world war at the time of the Cuban crisis. The honourable senator’s contribution contained such a strange mixlure of facts that it was difficult to ascertain what he was driving at. He gave very little time to the crisis which he alleges has arisen because of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. As for the remarks made by speakers on the Government side of the chamber. I think my colleague Senator Wheeldon fairly accurately described Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson’s contribution; end Senator Sim has just made a small contribution to the debate, but when he had to face a couple of interjections from my colleague Senator Georges he became like the economy can become - rather overheated.
The geographic implications in this issue have been set before the Senate excellently by Senator Wheeldon. But let us go a little deeper into the matter of urgency. The Democratic Labor Party, which has 5 members in the Senate, is the Party which introduced this subject for debate. I remind the Senate that Senator Gair, who is the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, was old enough to serve in World War I and young enough to serve in World War II, but if .ve were giving military awards we would have to suggest that he should be given the M.M. for his mealy-mouthed approach to the defence situation. The Deputy Leader of that Party, Senator McManus, who is somewhere outside Australia at the moment, also was old enough to serve in World War I and young enough to serve in World War II. We could probably give him a mention in dispatches for having failed to serve in either war.
I mention this only because this small group of people in ‘he Democratic Labor Party have consistently wanted to turn Australia into a war zone for some world conflict that they imagine might take place. They have adopted a consistent attitude of warmongering during the whole of the time they have been represented in the Parliament. The latest addition to their ranks in this place, Senator Kane, was aged 31 years when World War II broke out and was quite capable of serving at that time. Senator Byrne, who introduced this matter of urgency, was quite capable of serving in World War II, and Senator Little, of course, as I have said before, was a conscientious objector during the last war.
– That is a lie.
– It is not much use saying that it is a lie. In what zone did he serve?
– When did I ever make an application as a conscientious objector? You said that I was a conscientious objector. Substantiate it.
– It has been well said publicly before that this was the honourable senator’s attitude during World War
II because he was opposed to it. He had a perfect right to be opposed to it if he wanted to be, but he has no right now to send 20-year-old kids from Australia into wars when he has not the guts to be in them himself.
Let me refer to some of the other attitudes that have been displayed over the years. On 11th August 1969 the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Gair, said that a new defence pact between Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia and other Asian nations should be established. The statement that he made at that time is consistent with the words appearing at the beginning of the matter of urgency. On 23rd October 1965, when addressing the Commonwealth Conference of the Democratic Labor Party, Senator Gair said:
The Government is required to find additional money for the defence of this country, which can be justified in present circumstances.
The money to which he was referring was for war, yet the Government could not find enough money for social services.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was outlining some of the continuing policies of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in relation to war. I feel that the terms of the matter of urgency must cast grave doubts on the credibility and sincerity of the DLP. 1 have with me enough documents from official records of the DLP to bear out in great detail the accusations that 1 have made already. Let me quote from 2 or 3 of the official Press releases of the Party to which Senator Byrne belongs. On 20th January 1969 the Leader of the DLP forwarded a message to President Richard Nixon on his elevation to the Presidency of the United States. In it he dealt with a 5-point plan and he said:
Assumption by Australia of some responsibility for the defence of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand; strengthened defence capability to make that possible; active Australian diplomacy for regional co-operation to provide the framework for collective self-defence; expanded Australian aid to Indonesia; trade opportunities for Malaysia and Singapore; and a trade agreement with the United States to end our squabbling over meat and wool.
That, from a country of 12 million people, was the ambitious programme outlined by the Leader of that Party. A Press release issued in August 1966 by Senator Gair stated:
Senator Gair said that defence funds had been allocated unevenly since World War II. Australia was regarded as a near-perfect nuclear target because of its concentrations of population.
This indicated 3 necessary strategic considerations - decentralisation of the population, adequate civil defence expenditure and preparation for the day when Australia could make its own atomic warheads.
– Hear, hear!
– I quite understand the ‘hear, hear’ coming from the corner on my left because what 1 am quoting is consistent with the policy of members of the Democratic Labor Party. On 8th September 1969 the DLP became perturbed because it thought that Mr Gorton had gone left wing, so it issued a Press release which stated:
The Government defence policy and the question of Soviet influence in the Indian Ocean area a’re rapidly emerging as key issues in the election campaign.
Electors have heard what the Government currently thinks about these subjects and surely must have noted the great step towards the left which has been taken. Electors know precisely where the DLP stands.
– We won the election.
– 1 would not kid myself too much, Senator Little-by-little, because 1 do not think the DLP, with its policies, won the election. Let us return to another Press release. This was issued shortly after that. This very vocal little Party said:
What is required is a co-ordinated plan of response founded on 4 basic guide lines: Retention and possible expansion of national service training so that our Army matches our requirements;
Good gracious! The next thing, Australia will be invading Thursday Island. The Press release continued: development of adequate naval power; encouragement of domestic manufacture of aircraft so that we are not dependent on overseas supplies or parts and components; development of an Australian nuclear capacity so that we can produce our own nuclear deterrent should future events demand it.
One might be impressed by those statements if the Party were consistent in its advocacy. If ever I see its 5 elected representatives wearing their jungle greens in here, on leave from Vietnam, I might be tempted to take a bit of notice of them. Only a few days ago the Leader of the
Party said: ‘We must arm Japan.’ Possibly none of his relatives but relatives of most of us in this chamber were killed in the war against Japan not so many years ago. Yet he wants to arm Japan. He wants to create a military power in our region, despite the fact that peace loving nations do not want Japan armed. A few week;, before this the Leader of the Democratic Labor Party made an accusation that there were spies in the Public Service and in the trade union movement. When we asked the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to investigate this accusation we learned that apparently the DLP had not discussed this subject with the Government. Obviously the Attorney-General has given little credence to the statements made by the Leader of the DLP. Now its members are shedding crocodile tears because Taiwan has lost its seat in the United Nations. That is the way the leading speaker for the DLP spoke. T ask the mover of the motion when the last free election was held in Taiwan and how many people have been imprisoned there for expressing trade union views.
– When was the last free election held in Mainland China?
– I am talking about Taiwan at the moment. If the honourable senator wishes to expand that aspect, he may do so. We are fully aware of his utterly conservative views. I think that a lot of people were rather surprised tonight when they saw the Taiwan flag flying on a dining room table in Parliament House. Maybe that is the last place that it shall fly.
The other event referred to by the mover of the motion was the entry of Britain into the European Economic Community. If there are any problems associated with the entry of Britain into the EEC, they have been brought about by the ineptitude of the present Government which has had since 1957 to find alternative markets. It is Britain’s decision whether it enters the EEC. It is not our decision. As I said on a previous occasion in this chamber during this session, while the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) stayed home on holidays his counterpart in New Zealand was in Britain driving the best bargain that he could for his country. The fact that we did not take any notice of
Britain’s impending entry into the EEC, or take action about it, are reflections on the Government and those who support it. That applies to everybody in the little group on my left.
Since 1955 the Australian Labor Party has advocated the recognition by all countries of the People’s Republic of China, lt has taken all these years before that recognition has come about. We have said that we should trade with every country. The head in the sand or ostrichlike attitude adopted by the Government and by the noisy little minority on my left has been quite contrary to this policy. At long last we have decided to recognise 800 million people whom we classed as non-people, as persons who did not exist for purposes of diplomacy, for purposes of world trade and for purposes of world discussion. Suddenly they appear on the scene and they are given their rightful place in the United Nations organisation. Some members opposite and most members of the DLP have endeavoured to decry this organisation by saying that it is Communist dominated. That is a good old catchcry. The Government continues to use such catch-cries. I suppose that is looked upon as political expediency. I doubt the credibility of the members of the Party which moved the .notion. It has been moved for the express purpose of drying their crocodile tears and of taking a rearguard action in the face of an obstacle which they cannot overcome - in the face of something which the whole world has come to accept. That part of the matter of urgency dealing with Taiwan is tied up with another part dealing with the European Economic Community. It is not only a case of doubting their credibility and sincerity; it is also a case of being confused by their approach to the whole subject.
– When one reads carefully the matter contained in the motion of urgency moved by Senator Byrne it becomes quite clear that the operative words are ‘Australian defence and security implications’.
– That is right. That is what it is all about.
– I will read those words again. They are ‘Australian defence and security implications’.
– Why did not the mover of the motion say that they were the operative words?
– He said it in the terms of the matter of urgency. Explicit in the definition of the principal part of the matter of urgency is the British decision to enter the European Economic Community, the decision of the United Nations to allow the People’s Republic of China to take its place in the General Assembly and in the Security Council and the expulsion of the Republic of China from the United Nations. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has dealt, in quite a detailed way, with the foreign affairs and defence aspects of this matter. I do not want to duplicate his remarks. But there are certain highlights in this area which, when one goes back to the base of the matter of urgency, can stand reiteration. First of all, it is clear to anybody who understands and is concerned about these matters and who takes the emotion out of them that Britain’s leaders, without any doubt at all, have a clear view that they will avoid an introverted Europe; that they will avoid a situation in which Europe turns towards itself. Equally, Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community will not spell the end of its political, commercial, investment and defence interests in Australia and countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Defence has to depend to a very great extent upon self-interest, and there is great self-interest by the British in the area with which we are concerned. The United Kingdom alone has invested $2, 333m in this country in the last 10 years. This is a reality of life as it concerns the people of this country.
There is the 5-power defence arrangement referred to by the Leader of the Government. The British decision to participate in this arrangement was taken after the decision to join the European Economic Community. So there is no doubt about the bona fides of the British in the matter. We all depend on our friends in matters of defence and security. I would like to restate what the Leader of the Government said about Press reports of the meeting between our Prime Minister and President Nixon.
The President is reported to have said: 1 was glad to restate our past support of our commitment to the ANZUS Treaty.
The ANZUS Treaty emphasises the American commitment to the area and is fundamental to pence in the Pacific and it is one of the fundamental pillars of the American policy in the Pacific.
If we cast our minds back to the beginning of the matter of urgency where it refers to Australian defence and security implications, and refer to the remarks made by the President of the United States to the Prime Minister a couple of days ago, I suggest that that is a reasonably fair defence and security implication which should be read by everybody who is interested in this matter.
Some comments have been made about United Stales isolationism and the idea that we will not see any more of that country in matters of defence. I think that the President’s comment indicates clearly that this is not the case. Equally, it should be noted that the United States has security treaties with Japan, the Philippines and the Republic of China, in addition to the ANZUS Treaty. After the United Nations vote on the admission of the People’s Republic of China to that body, Secretary of State Rogers said:
The Republic of China continues to be a respected and valued member of the international community and the ties between us remain unaffected by the action of the United Nations.
Senator Wheeldon dealt at some length with the Albanian resolution and the voting for it by some non-Communist countries. I suppose that it is easy for us to stand aside and criticise small countries on the fringe of China, a great and powerful country. But perhaps we would say to ourselves, if we were in their position in those circumstances: ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you do not know’, and decide that we ought to do something of this kind.
– Do you say that China is a threat to them?
– I certainly do. I always have said so. I would now like to deal with some aspects of trade because 1 believe that in trade matters we are vitally concerned with elements of this matter of urgency. Equally, we are concerned with the fact that trade indicates an interest that we would have in the peoples of other countries and that peoples of other countries would have in us. To some extent, people’s support for us and ours for them depend upon our associations.
First of ali, one point must be borne in mind in regard to the European Economic Community: Australia, by itself, is a country of very considerable economic strength. There is very great confidence in this country by other parts of the world. This is demonstrated by the strength of the Australian currency in the recent international currency movements. Honourable senators will have seen how strongly our currency has held. We are in a financial position to withstand some of the problems of adjustment that the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community, without doubt, will force upon many peoples. Our overseas reserves as at 30tb September 1971 were $2,536m, which represents an immense growth in the reserves of this country. Our reserves have more than doubled since 1967-68. If one examines the imports of this country, it will be found that our reserves today cover the imports more than 7 times. I remember being in Japan in 1967 and talking to people about these sorts of problems. The Japanese were very happy in 1967 to have overseas reserves that covered their imports for 4 weeks. Here we have a currency strength position of reserves where our imports are potentially covered by 7i times. We are in a position to make an adjustment and accordingly to adjust ourselves to a new scene.
– Our future is assured.
– I think so, if we have in this country people with a little courage and not permanent knockers. Trade is a critical matter for everybody in this country and anybody who concerns himself with the trade problems of this country will know that throughout the years trade has been subject to adjustment and change country by country, item by item and product by product. That is the pattern of overseas trade. It always has been so and it always will be so. 0U trade, through all the vicissitudes and all the difficulties, has gone on growing very steadily both in the kinds of articles we produce and the alternative places to which we send goods. The trade position has been characterised by both change in destination and change in type of goods. We have demonstrated through the years in this country our capacity to be flexible, to adjust to changes of circumstances. This is the sort of thing that Australians can do if they are given the sort of leadership that this Government has provided.
It is interesting to look at the Australian trading position. As honourable senators will know, our trading situation has declined markedly with the United Kingdom, so much so that in 1959-60 we exported 26.4 per cent of our exports to the United Kingdom but today the figure is 11.8 per cent. In 1959-60 we exported to Japan 14.3 per cent of our exports. We now export 24.7 per cent of our exports to that country. In 1959-60 we exported 8.1 per cent of our exports to the United States of America. The figure is now 13.4 per cent. In 1959-60 we imported 4.5 per cent of our imports from Japan. The figure is now 12.4 per cent. In 1959-60 we imported 16.2 per cent of our imports from the United States. The figure is now 24.9 per cent. In 1959-60 we imported 35.6 per cent, or one-third, of our imports from the United Kingdom. Today the figure is 21.8 per cent, or approximately one-fifth, of our imports. These situations have shown dramatic change. What has happened to this country through all these years of dramatic change? This country’s wealth has grown. Its confidence in itself has grown. The world has shown confidence in this country. Its reserves now stand at an unparalleled high level. It has demonstrated its capacity and its competence. Why cannot it continue to do so in the future?
– Because it has too many unemployed.
– That is complete, utter and total rubbish. Let us look at the European Economic Community situation, because it is quite interesting. In the last year on record the European Economic Community was a bigger trading partner of this country than was the United Kingdom. Our exports to the European Economic Community were greater than those to the United Kingdom. So we have, within that community, our foothold, our lodgment and our opportunity.
When we talk about Britain’s entry into the Community, we also talk about the problems that will be experienced by some Australian primary industries. Undoubtedly they will experience problems and there will be adjustments to be made But I believe that we are strong enough to handle them. I believe that we have enough reserve capacity to make adjustments to help them, and I believe that we should properly do so. Although our dependence on the United Kingdom market has fallen dramatically from 26.4 per cent of our exports to 11.8 per cent of our exports, certain industries will have problems. There is no doubt that they will, and that there will be problems within the Community itself. Let us not forget that we have a very favourable preferential tariff arrangement with the United Kingdom. We will be engaged very shortly in BritishAustralian trade talks. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) has said that we will be discussing the trade preferences we have with that country in order to protect our own people to the best of our ability. Honourable senators may be sure that that is what will be done.
Senator Sim mentioned the emergence in the world of the future great economic trading blocs. I have in mind the North American continent, the Soviet Union and its satellites, and the European Economic Community. He also dealt with the growth of Japan. Predictions indicate that by 2000 Japan could well be a bigger country economically in total terms than the United States of America. We have a very strong link with Japan. We have opportunities for change and growth with the North American continent, Japan and the European Economic Community so we are not without ability to diversify and change.
Senator Byrne stated that the countries to our north with whom we have substantial friendly and defensive arrangements are conscious of the danger of subversion from outside and require time to strengthen their defences and security. Of course, that is a logical and understandable wish. Anybody who has been to that area would have heard it expressed. The United Kingdom forces remain east of Suez and we are involved ourselves with other people in defence arrangements. We are partners in regional pacts amongst a group of nations. That is what we are doing for ourselves.
The motion expresses concern at a time of great importance in this country. In response it could well be said that the future of Australia will depend on us and the concern we have for ourselves; but it will also depend on our friends as it always has done. It will depend on the regional arrangements we make and what our partners think of us. It will depend on the word we give to them and on how we keep it. We have never in the past been found wanting in an emergency involving war, economic difficulty or trading arrangement. I have no doubt that we will perform as well in the future as we have performed in the past. I do not have the slightest doubt about it and I do not know why people would ever be worried that we would do otherwise.
Our friends will stand by us, I am sure, as they have done in the past. The United Kingdom as part of a greater Europe will be in a position to be a stronger friend than it has been in the past. Surely a united Europe can remove one of the most potent forces for trouble in the world and we would all hope to see that happen in our time. Perhaps the world will settle down because of China’s participation in the family of nations. This should be everybody’s hope, but it will happen only if China is a member of the family, behaves like a member of the family and stops subverting the democratic people who live on its southern borders.
– I could be grateful to Senator Cotton for bringing the debate back to the real issue in the motion; that is the implications for Australia’s defence and security. The motion refers to great events that have taken place in the world in the last week and their effect on the circumstances under which Australia should consider those matters. The motion makes no comment on whether the events of history were justified or unjustified, or whether the Australian Democratic Labor Party has one view and the Australian Labor Party has four or five different views, as is usual in the field of international affairs. That is irrelevant to our discussion tonight.
I could be grateful to Senator Cotton if he did not depend so much upon sentiment in saying that we have performed well in the past when challenged and we will perform as well again in the future. They are very high sounding words, and they are true, but in pronouncing them we should never forget that although we performed well once before, that is no justification for lack of preparedness now. I think my colleague Senator Byrne achieved the purpose of the DLP in this debate when he spoke to this Parliament as a statesman. We are seeking to give leadership to the Australian people so that they may think constructively about a situation that we do not seek but which may confront us in the future.
Let us consider the arguments. Who would attempt to deny that Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community will make an enormous difference in the Pacific area, a difference that will grow with the years if history is to repeat itself as it has the happy knack of doing? We are dealing with the probabilities and nobody knows whether the experiment of Britain’s entry will succeed. To date it is only an economic experiment and it is nol known for how long the European Economic Community will endure. But we must assume that it will last and that Australia will feel the effects, although they will be minor compared to the effects on New Zealand. Fiji, Samoa and other nations in the Pacific area.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) rightly said that Australia is a leader in the Pacific area. It must take a leader’s part and play a leader’s role if it is to be regarded as a leader by its neighbours and friends. We may even have to come to the economic assistance of much smaller nations in this area which are less strong economically than we are. Inevitably there will be repercussions for them from Britain’s involvement in the Common Market. The DLP does not criticise Britain for taking this step, for trying this experiment. Britain has earned the right to do so through her sacrifices to preserve freedom in the last war. We are the first to recognise that right and have no criticism at all of Britain. However, we are alarmed at a point that emerged from 2 speeches made by members of the Opposition. It was mentioned almost casually in passing by Senator Keeffe that since 1957 the writing has been on the wall. We have heard a lot of talk but I am sure there has been very little action to counter what must be the inevitable repercussions of the decision of the mother country. We have tried time and again to draw the attention of Australians to this problem. Wc do not want to see and do not expect catastrophic results for Australia, but in all these issues we must plan not only for what appears to be obvious but also for what may happen.
I have mentioned some of the nations in the Pacific that will be affected. Others will look to Australia because of the effect on their defence even though Britain’s entry into the Common Market may not produce trading repercussions for them. I have in mind the Condominium of the New Hebrides. I refer, too, to the French possession of New Caledonia which is in our area. I refer above all to Papua New Guinea and West Irian, a vast expanse of territory the mineral wealth of which is unknown to the world at present. Those people who speak idly, as Senator Keeffe did, may not properly understand the position. He seemed to think it important to prove whether I was a hero or a conscientious objector. I regard conscientious objectors as heroes and that is why I said he lied when he said that I was one. The late John Curtin was a conscientious objector and he sent men to war when it was necessary for this country’s defence. I have never had the courage to be a conscientious objector. I went along with things as they came. It is irrelevant to this discussion whether I am an arrant coward or not. I am speaking tonight of the interests of Australia and I make no excuses to anyone for my record. I say that to people who may think it important enough to track down what I have done in my lifetime.
It is not necessary to use a great deal of imagination to visualise what can happen in the Pacific area now that it seems that the world is heading in a particular direction. Quite conceivably the world should in this area fear not an invasion of Australia but a major clash between Communist Russia and Communist China. Senator Keeffe could well ask how we would become involved in that clash between 2 major powers, armed to the teeth as they are. He seems to have no objection or word of criticism because Communist China and Communist Russia have nuclear weapons. But if we speak of a nuclear deterrent for Australia, that seems to be the absolute of stupidity for Australians.
– So it is.
– Well, if the honourable senator thought that we could hold Japan back last time with broomsticks that we had at the beginning and if he wants to see this repeated, he is entitled to his point of view. My leader, Senator Gair, went on a television programme the other night and pointed out the necessity for it, with 2 major powers armed to the teeth as Russia and China are in the Pacific area. If we are sensible we are inevitably led to the fact, whatever the consequences are, that Japan, which is a free agent, which has a population of 100 million people and which is the greatest economic power in the area, has to take steps to arm itself - unless we go there and prevent the Japanese from rearming - to compete with those major powers that are not friendly towards it and which are so close to its shores
If all these major powers in the area become involved in even a disputation among themselves the mineral wealth of this country, the mineral prospects of New Guinea and -the wealth of nickel in new Caledonia will become involved
– At the rate you are going-
- Senator Keeffe, with due respect, Sir, keep your cheap little enunciations of propaganda statements for an issue more worthy of them. We are discussing the future security of this great nation of ours. We are trying to deal not with what we know but what the facts of history surely have taught us to be the things that we must take into consideration
The Territory of Papua New Guinea today is the reseponsibility of Australia. Who knows what will happen in the future? 1 have no hesitation in saying that we were disappointed at the attitude taken at the United Nations to a small nation like Taiwan. Australia may be the next country to be expelled from the United Nations because, at the request of the people of Papua New Guinea, we may be prepared to stay for longer than the United Nations, for the political reasons of some of the nations which sit there, thinks we should. Is that or is that not a political possibility in the United Nations as it functions today? We should remember the responsibilities that this nation has accepted towards the Territory of Papua New Guinea and the enormous amount of economic aid that as a prime responsibility we have thrown into that area over the last 15 to 20 years The Territory is only just beginning to modestly develop some copper resources - copper being a mineral that would be of absolute necessity in time of war anywhere in the world. We live in this area
There are those who say that the records of Australian Democratic Labor Party senators are important to a discussion of this magnitude What has history taught us of those countries which have no democracy today? I well remember Senator Wheeldon standing up in this chamber only 2 years ago and denouncing the Russian invasion of Czcheslovakia. But tonight he says that an invasion by Russia could take place in Czechoslovakia, which is a fellow-Communist country of Russia, but it could never happen to Australia. One doubts the reasons why people enunciate these 2 different philosophies which are so closely associated
I agree with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) who expressed the hopes of us all about what the admission of mainland China to the United Nations may do for China. But the historical facts of her behaviour to date and the behaviour of her fellow Communist colossus, Russia, are against our hopes being fulfilled. If I am wrong about that then I am wrong about everything. However, history, of course, substantiates and makes my statement true, and all honourable senators know it. The Australian Labor Party knows it because that Party could not stomach what happened so recently to the smaller Communist nation of Czechoslovakia. Yes, it is true that the flag of free China was on a table in the Parliamentary Dining Room tonight. The Democratic Labor Party senators invited the Ambassador of free China and his wife to dinner. We will never desert our friends, lt has never been our role to do this. They have been our friends and we have had a trade balance with them over the last 5 years which far exceeds any possibilities that we may have in the future with the Chinese colossus on the mainland. If honourable senators do not believe me they should believe Professor Arndt, a former member of the Australian Labor Party, who said that Communist China might want to buy but does not have the international funds to pay. He would know more than I would on this question.
We regret that Israel was one of those countries which, perhaps was prompted by the same hopes as were expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate tonight that mainland China would desert the policies that she has practised towards her neighbours up to date, would accept the responsibility of being a member of the family of nations and would not use its position against the democratic world but would come more closely towards a democratic way of life. But this is not the announced intention of any of the Communist countries, lt is not I who say that that country will misuse its new position. It is they who say that one must use these organisations for the destruction of the vile capitalism that exists in this and other countries.
What was the other inference that my statesman friend, Senator Byrne, drew from the admission of mainland China to the United Nations? He faced the fact that the immediate reaction in the United States of America was to return to a policy of isolationism. Senator Cotton should remember that whatever presidents may say. countries change presidents and presidents change their minds and policies. I am no historical genius but I see every indication of a return by the United States to the isolationism that has been her attitude for most of her history. I do not criticise her for it. I respect and admire her isolationsim which may have not been in the best interests, perhaps, of us and may noi perhaps be in our best interests in the future. But it is bad-
– Has my time expired?
– Yes, your time has expired.
– I would like to say at the outset that I do not believe for one moment that there was any ulterior motive attached to the bringing forward of this subject for discussion as a matter of urgency. I do not believe that there was any desire to uncover a conspiracy, as was suggested by Senator Wheeldon; I believe there was just a genuine desire to have discussed the implications for the defence and security of this country of the impact of 2 very, very important events so far as the whole world is concerned. I agree with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) that the undertakings entered into by the United Kingdom in this part of the world were given with the very best intentions. T do not doubt for a moment that the will would be there to honour those intentions and for Britain to do what it may to safeguard the interests of all of us in this part of the world. But I cannot escape the feeling that the dwindling strength of that same United Kingdom makes it arguable whether that could be accomplished.
Senator Sim dealt with the political aspect of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. There is another factor - ‘the economic aspect. I cannot escape the feeling that has been expressed by economists in the United Kingdom and by some members of the Labor Party in that country that because the centralising power in a federation or a confederation of nations, whatever one may call it, is overwhelming, there is the desire and the force to concentrate industries in the nations in the centre. Because Britain is on the periphery of the circle, they claim that the trend will be to centralise in the middle of the Community, probably in the Ruhr or somewhere else. In fact, this has been going on already. Sooner than locate its industries on the outside of the circle, the EEC, it is suggested, will have them in the centre, and so have them in places where less industrial unrest occurs than arises in Britain. Industrial unrest in Britain has been largely responsible for bringing the United Kingdom to the pass in which it finds itself today.
– That is rubbish.
– 1 am told that that is rubbish.
– Britain was bankrupt after the last World War.
– I noticed a report the other day which indicated that whereas the time lost through strikes in Australia last year increased by IS per cent the figure in the United Kingdom in this respect increased by 60 per cent. While entry into the EEC may not be a good thing for the United Kingdom economically and while it may be true, as Mr Wilson says, that the struggle is only just beginning, nevertheless if the guidance is forthcoming politically for the United Kingdom this could have long range effects upon the defence of this country and upon the peace of the world.
Senator Little spoke about isolationism in the United States of America. Only a few days ago I read an article describing a mounting campaign in the United States to withdraw or at at ‘.east to reduce drastically the United States forces that are stationed in Europe. The writer of this article termed it the withdrawal from Western Europe of the nuclear umbrella on which that part of the world has depended so much as a protection against the Soviet influence further east. As Senator Little pointed out, there are people in this Senate who cry aloud about the peaceful intentions of the Soviet Union and Red China. I believe that, with respect to the Soviet Union, the Hungarians, the Czechoslovaks and the Poles, on the one hand, would not believe them. On the other hand, with regard to Red China, the Tibetans, the Indians and some others also would not believe them. Without any doubt whatever the intentions of these two peoples are aggressive.
If the United States sinks more and more into isolationism and withdraws its forces or part of them from or substantially reduces them in Europe, it does seem reasonable to think that this action might speed up the further federation of the countries that comprise the European Economic Community into a real, virile defence unit as a counterpoise to the influence further east of the Soviet Union. If such action does not have this result, that part of the world could well be in a position of great jeopardy indeed. It is to be hoped that the political influence of the United Kingdom amongst the members of the European Economic Community will be such that the EEC can be built into a force in the world that will be a counterpoise to the forces of the two great communist blocs which I and a good many others believe threaten the security of the world.
Australia for a long time past has had a most adverse trading balance with the United Kingdom. It is true that, when Britain enters the EEC we will lose some markets - in all probability, for primary products. But the trading balance between Australia and the United Kingdom is adverse to this country at the ratio of 2:1 or 2i:l. If that lost trade can be replaced and if trade can be encouraged with countries which will trade on a reciprocal basis, the trading relations of our country could gain. The United States and the United Kingdom are 2 countries with which Australia has had most adverse trading balances. If one of those countries - that is. the United Kingdom - readjusted its trade with Australia, in the Iona term Australia could profit bv the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community.
The other factor in the discussion in this matter of public importance is the seating of Red China in the United Nations. I took note that Senator Wheeldon said that the choice was simply as to which Chinese government - the Red Chinese Government on the mainland or the Republic of China Government on Formosa - would be preferred. But the decision was not as simple as all that. In fact, whether Taiwan should be given a new seat or continue to hold its former seat in the United Nations following the seating of the Red Chinese was voted upon. In my view it is a matter for the greatest regret that the action that was taken in the United Nations precluded the Taiwanese from membership of the United Nations. 1 wish to quote from a leading article which appeared in the Launceston Examiner’-
– That is a good left wing paper.
– No. It is not a left wing paper. It is a paper that many times talks a lot of commonsense. This leading article is headed: ‘Taiwan Infamy’. It states:
The expulsion of Taiwan from the United Nations was a cruel and cynical decision- 1 think it was; I agree with that statement: . . which throws a dark shadow over the general pleasure that has been aroused by China’s taking its rightful place in the world. Smaller nations like Australia should take warning: They, too, are clearly expendable on the altars of bigpower convenience and of African and Asian racial hatreds.
The Taiwanese invited trouble in the UN by insisting that they were the only true and lawful representatives of China. This made it difficult to seat two Chinas in the Assembly. But a compromise was not impossible. Precedents exist. For example, the Byelorussian and Ukrainian republics of the Soviet Union are members of the UN. Taiwan is a separate state which has been a loyal and generous member of the UN since the inception of the world body. Its expulsion as though it had failed in its observance of duties and responsibilities was callous.
The article continues:
Worse was the dancing and cheering of delegates as Taiwan’s expulsion was announced - a moment of infamy indeed, as the US Ambassador to the UN (Mr George Bush) commented with justifiable bitterness. Said Mr Bush: ‘Anybody with a heartbeat in his chest who saw those decent people thrown out of the UN couldn’t help being affected, lt was a terribly moving and disappointing thing’.
– They could apply now under their own name, don’t you think?
– I hope Taiwan does apply and that it is accepted. I concede that the United Nations has failed miserably in achieving the ultimate aim envisaged at its inception. I say that because apparently there has been no genuine desire on the part of most of its members to avoid war, to police the world as they thought it should be policed and to bring about a state of peace in the world. In fact, in the circumstances that exist, the United Nations could degenerate into a Communist sounding board.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The Senate is debating a matter raised by the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I suggest it is a very loose proposal because it refers to the implications for Australian defence and security of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community and also raises the subject of the entry of the People’s Republic of China into the United Nations. The subject is phrased in a fairly imprecise way because it refers to the implications for Australian security. I suggest that honourable senators representing the Democratic Labor Party have made very clear their position in respect of these matters. They rest on military solutions. I put it to the Senate that in our lifetime we have found that military solutions are not satisfactory. They do not solve the problems. Let us look at the current issues throughout the world. I refer to the agreement to admit the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations and related matters. Briefly, I agree with the great work of Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany, who has been able, against great resistence from people within his own country and also from other people, to consummate an agreement with East Germany. As a result of that he earned the Noble Prize. He has been commended by everybody because he has been able to reach some sort of agreement. Senator Little is trying to interject. I point out that his Party talks about the need for nuclear arms. It challenges the Government’s policy and threatens to vote against it. The Democratic Labor Party looks for military solutions all (he time.
– No. We realise the necessity of them.
– The Australian Labor Party believes that we have to exploit new political avenues. We have said for many, many years that the Government has been lax in not supporting the claims by Communist China to enter the United Nations. Belatedly, Government supporters came here today and accepted the position, as the United States of America has done. That is the real position tonight. Rather vaguely every Government speaker tonight has said that he realises that Communist China had to be admitted to the United Nations. Honourable senators opposite admit that this could be a good thing for the world, just as the arrangement between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United States has been. We know that many world crises have been avoided because of the understanding - I admit there have been some misunderstandings - between the Soviet Union and the United States. Those 2 countries have been conversing. This policy has been extended in the postwar years in the countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, particularly as a result of the work of Willy Brandt. That is the sort of policy that we believe in and it is the sort of policy which the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) now accepts as fundamental. It is a pragmatic idea and we have to try it. However much people talk about the need to set up military security and to send Australian troops outside this country, history has proved that these policies are wrong. They do not solve problems.
– They solve the situation
– They do not solve the situation. Senator Little, I have only a few minutes and you are wasting my time. You should consider the situation when we have put troops into the field. Consider South East Asia, if you like. After all the fighting we find that the real solutions are made politically. A stage is reached when people have to talk to one another. I will give an illustration relating to Laos. I do not dispute that North Vietnamese forces have been in Laos many times. Yet persistently, throughout the years that Prince Souvanna Phouma, a Social Democrat, has been in power in Laos, he has maintained that Communist China should be admitted to the United Nations. As Senator Wheeldon pointed out earlier, Laos is one of the countries to which we are giving aid although it has spasmodically had a very turbulent military experience, lt voted in favour of China’s admission to the United Nations. It is like most of the South East Asian countries, and I include Cambodia and Vietnam.
J have been to Vietnam on two occasions, once in 1964 and then again last year. I found that most people wanted to reach some accommodation with Communist China. That is the sort of solution we have to reach. There are some risks in this policy. Nobody can say that either China or the Soviet Union has given up the Leninist idea of world revolution but experience has clearly shown that both countries are pragmatic enough to accept agreements that they reach with major countries. We know that relationships with the Americans have been fairly reasonable and satisfactory. We hope that China’s experience will mean that it will not take any overt action and that its presence in the United Nations will bring a new peaceful era to the world.
The Democratic Labor Party, as the Government’s parties used to do, thinks about solving things in a military way. I put it to the Senate that we already have found that these are not solutions; we have found that we have to talk to people. Let us consider the question raised by Senator Byrne relating to Malaysia. He talked about the stresses of Malaysia and I want to put a counter argument. I was there recently attending the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference. Some countries have to realise that if they do not follow democratic processes they will be faced with Communist insurgency or local insurgency. In Malaysia today the Chinese population is the most industrious. The Chinese are strong commercially and industrially yet there are strong discrimination laws against them. Only small numbers of them can enter the military services. Only small numbers are allowed to engage in educational or university activities. The result is that this very active and efficient Chinese population, which helps to make the economy of Malaysia work, resents what is taking place in that country. Apart from asking for our aid, Malaysia has to find solutions to its problems and give its people a form of democracy which will be lasting.
Let us get back to the Australian scene. We talk about defence capability. Do honourable senators know that the real defence capability is to have a capability in our own country? It is no good exporting arms and people. In an economic sense the aid which we should give to our near neighbours who are not as sophisticated as we are is the product of Austraiian industry. What are we doing about this matter? We have a very efficient aircraft industry which everybody knows is being allowed to run down to the extent that the Government is talking about rationalising the industry. We are not prepared to give these industrial components - both Government factories and private factories - enough work because we are importing heavy equipment. Because we are not going to give the industry enough work we say: ‘Let us rationalise it’. We are talking about the Government Aircraft Factories being taken over. They are among the most efficient government factories in Australia. We are talking about turning the factories into some sort of a combine with private industry because we will not give them work. At the same time we are importing about S90m worth of munitions and war supplies in a year. We import over SI 00m worth of aircraft, spares and helicopters in a year. We could produce half this equipment in Australia. That is the defence capability we have; that is the capability we have to develop.
Sending troops overseas and stationing them in other countries, which causes resentment because they are foreign troops, is no solution at all. 1 agree that we have to assist Indonesia and Malaysia. I had the experience recently of testing an idea of mine and of the Australian Labor Party at Butterworth. I am satisfied that we are continuing a mistake by keeping troops at Butterworth. We are now adopting a 2- country arrangement to control the Butterworth base. The Malaysian people are looking after the aerodrome security and deciding whether Royal Australian Air Force personnel will come into the base or leave the base. As a result of this situation there is some friction between both forces and it will grow. Our expert RAAF personnel are really the brains of the outfit. Shortly they will be told that it is time for them to leave. We have to use the advanced technology of this country. We have to use our capability, develop it and give aid in supply and capital goods to the people who need it. We should not export troops and arms; that is not a solution to this sort of situation. I accept that Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community clearly will make a complete change in the idea of the Commonwealth of Nations. As the Government speakers said rather primly - I would rather they had said it more strongly - Britain’s entry is going to produce a stronger Britain if the terms are good. Obviously if Britain is stronger it might be possible for Britain to give aid in the area where she has traditionally given aid. That is the situation in relation to the EEC. Honourable senators can talk as much as they like about whether Britain should or should not enter. But finally Britain will enter the Common Market. As a result of entering the Common Market she will be a stronger Britain. If she stays outside the Common Market she will be a weaker Britain. Obviously a weaker Britain cannot give the same sort of support to the old Commonwealth countries, her neighbours and friends, as she used to. lt seems to me that whether we like it or not Britain will go into the European Economic Community. I have always thought, that we had a damned cheek in telling Britain what she should do because it is her business. 1 remind the Democratic Labor Party, because it is always attacking the Labor Party about these matters, that it is the British Labour Party which is trying to obtain the best terms for entry. But I accept as a fait accompli that Britain is going into the Common Market. As a result of this action she will be a stronger country technologically and financially. 1 believe that the ties which Britain has with Commonwealth countries will be of some advantage to us. Again I submit the main point of difference between the Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party. We believe that Australia should develop the maximum capability within its shores. We can do this if we give aid to the industries about which I have spoken and if we take a positive stand about the importation of aircraft, defence equipment, war stores and munitions. I have given honourable senators figures in relation to these matters. They can check with the Library as I did today. The figures show roughly our importation of this equipment but it has been greater. A large part of the imported equipment we need not have. While we are importing this equipment honourable senators from both sides of the chamber are talking about rationalising the aircraft industry. That is a damned shame. This position should not be allowed to continue. We should force the Government to make sure that orders for a large quota of imported equipment which is related to aircraft and defence requirements are given to Australian industry. In that way we will develop a capability within Australia. Then, if we want to, we can decide where we should give aid. We can decide to give near neighbours aid in the form they most need such as advanced equipment, technology and capital. Once we- start exporting men and materials we reach the situation which has been reached in Asia today.
Honourable senators opposite have complained about the treatment of Taiwan. I believe that the United States of America has realistically accepted the position. I remind honourable senators that while the debate was taking place in the United Nations Mr Kissinger made his second visit to Peking. He was seeking an accommodation with Peking and he has reached that accommodation. President Nixon is going to Peking. There will be a studied and proper reception of President Nixon in Peking. There will be no crises. He will be received and internal Chinese policy will be trimmed in order to accept the new relationship with America. It is true that as far back as 1955 the Chinese tried to reach an agreement with the United States. Because of United States commitments in the area the approach was dropped. Well, America has reached the commitment and, sensibly, this Government has said: ‘We accept the realities of the situation’.
It is my opinion, however much honourable senators lament the fact, that Taiwan is only a province of China. Taiwan has a population of 14 million. At no time has it had any substantial claim to be the main government of China. In reality everybody knew that 14 million people could not speak for 800 million people. We have reached the situation where Taiwan has been dropped from the United Nations. 1 believe that the Chinese are very experienced and industrious people. They are pragmatic. I accept that Taiwan will reach an accommodation with China in the not distant future. There is some evidence that Taipeh has had discussions with Peking. These discussions will continue. It is my opinion that in a short time - 5 to 10 years - Taipeh will make the same sort of accommodation with China as the United States has made.
Finally, what is the world picture? In my opinion it is not unsatisfactory. We have a relationship in Europe which is very satisfactory. We have the greatest peace time arrangement of all times between the East and the West. If we are realists we should try to reach the same sort of arrangements with China and use these arrangements to further peace and not war.
– I commend Senator Byrne ‘ r bringing forward this matter of urgency for discussion. It seeks to examine the implications to the defence and security of Australia of 2 epoch making events - the potential entry of Britain into the European Economic Community and the entry of Mainland China into the United Nations. The defence and security of Australia cannot be observed or studied in isolation. It cannot be merely regional. It must take note of the stability, the peace and the desire for peace of the whole world. I want to put my view on the European Economic Community. Ever since the Treaty of Rome I have believed that that Treaty is potentially the greatest and most exciting adventure in long term and imaginative peace making over a region or over a community of nations upon which this world has ever embarked. 1 say that not in any sense of exaggeration. I believe that the fact that we have called it the Common Market, the fact that we have called it the European Economic Community, the fact that we have talked of customs unions has obscured the truth. We have dealt with means and not ends, lt has been said tonight that the Treaty of Rome is not an economic but a political treaty. I say that if honourable senators read it - there are some 360 pages - they will find it is a defence treaty. It is a defence treaty as a whole. I repeat that it is the most exciting ideal of mankind. If we go back to our own schooldays all we read about on the history of Europe over the centuries was concerned with war after continuous war of the countries of western Europe. Here for the first time in the history of mankind was a concept brought forward to enable a bringing together in a particular fashion of these nations to compel them to live together without war and yet at the same time to give them the opportunity to preserve their distinctive characteristics as states: in other words, to move towards a confederation of states
– And to our great benefit.
– And, I agree with Senator Georges, to the eternal benefit of this world. I go further and say to you, Mr Deputy President, that unless this world can move into regional blocs that are meaningful, that will work together, that will learn to compromise, that will learn to respect the freedoms of individual states, there will be no long term peace, there will be no meaningful working of world bodies such as the United Nations. The United Nations can never work in its present form. It has done a magnificent job in its many subsidiary bodies, but a group of some 120 nations that meets to try to get some kind of agreement can never do so. Four, five or six regions may intelligently discuss something, but the lobbying and counter-lobbying of an international Tower of Babel must fail. I put it to honourable senators that just as there is peril in what Senator Byrne has foreshadowed, there is very real economic hardship for Great Britain in the years immediately ahead. Let no-one disguise that fact. There are very real adjustments for all of us to make. I put it this high, that the potential long term peace of this world may well yet be gained through a fifth force - Western Europe - finding unity, finding the ability to live together as the great adventure of man. I look with excitement to this prospect. I think that it will be of positive benefit for Australia.
Some comment was made today about the fact that although Britain is entering the European Economic Community it will still have forces in Asia. I think this is good. But the real safety of Asia will not be secured in Asia but will be secured by a balance of regions knocking their heads together and getting some sense on the world scene, not in some one corner of the world. Therefore 1 think that everything that can possibly be done in this world to make Western Europe a success should be done despite the sacrifices involved.
Against that background we have a situation of another great emergence - the emergence of China into the public sector of the nations. Let nobody disguise the fears that this has aroused. I think honourable senators have heard me say in this place on previous occasions that I look forward to peace with every nation - no permanent enmities, no permanent corners of the world with rigisitus. But, as I have said, peace is not to be bought at any price. Peace is brought about when the problems are recognised and sorted out. Let nobody think that the emergence of China on the public scene is being accepted with unadulterated glee by the great super powers of this world. The fact is that the emergence of China has created in Japan the greatest turbulence in postwar Japanese history. Indeed, in terms of Japan’s military trends in the future, in terms of its economic trends in the future, in terms of its alliances, the great test of whether it shall go nuclear, whether it shall stay under the American umbrella, whether it shall seek an alliance with Russia, what it shall do with trade, indeed the very challenge to our own mineral trade for the future - all of these things are in the yeasting at the moment.
The same situation applies to Russia in relation to these matters, because Australia is geographically situated under an arc of 4 great powers - America, Russia, Japan and China. Japan is an offshore island system of Russia and is close to China. Japan is feared because of its growth in power inside Asia. I hope that China will come forward with bona fides in this world. But at the risk of being misunderstood I want to put the record straight in very short time. It has been said by the Opposition speakers - the earlier speakers in particular - that the Government has changed its views and suddenly discovered that China ought to be welcome into the United Nations and that China has been wanting to do this but has been blocked. The history of the past 20 years refutes that proposition. History shows that China did not strive, over the great majority of those years, to enter the United Nations. On the contrary, it suited her revolutionary techniques to stay outside, to be the truant child, to press outwards on her borders. At this moment no-one can tell why she is on the move. In welcoming China to the United Nations I still urge this Parliament and our people to put on inquiry all motives of all nations that are now yeasting in their approach to this problem.
I remind the Senate that the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949. In 1950 it was at war with the United Nations. That was a very good start indeed, if from the start it wanted to gain admission to the United Nations. In 19S1 the United Nations was passing resolutions in the General Assembly condemning China for aggression in Korea. Incidentally, may I be whimsical and say that 1951 was 20 years ago. Some 2 months ago Mr Whitlam said to Chou En-lai: ‘Is it possible that if an Australian Labor Party Prime Minister had visited China 20 years ago all the destruction and slaughter in Vietnam could have been avoided?’ The Leader of the Australian Labor Party misunderstood history. If he had visited China at that time he would have visited a country which was at war with the United Nations, and let no-one forget it.
– It was at war with the United States.
– History can stand on its own feet; it does not need the brain fever birds. In 1950 Peking announced the military invasion of Tibet. Those honourable senators who want to understand this should go to the Library and get the report on Tibet of the International Commission of Jurists, of which our own Sir Owen Dixon, then Chief Justice of Australia and the greatest jurist in the free world at the time, was a member. What did the International Commission of Jurists say? It was asked what was the intention of the Chinese in Tibet; was it religious genocide? Religious genocide in that context meant the wiping out of the whole Buddhist religion in a nation. The Commission found solemnly that genocide had been committed against this religious group by such methods that it took a full document to recount.
In 1951 China had fully occupied Tibet. In 1954 it had started the bombardment of Quemoy and Matsue. In 1956 mainland China occupied large sections of Burma. In 1959 its troops concentrated on the Tibetludian frontier. In 1962 a military offensive was started to secure 40,000 square miles of Indian territory. So it went on through the 1960s. This was a country which history shows was at war, an active war, on its boundaries with sovereign countries. Indeed, this is a country which, we hope, is now moving into the comity of nations. We hope that, but we are entitled to look at its various objectives and to look at the countries around it.
I conclude with this thought: Australia has a major role to play here because, apart from the 5 great super powers, there are some 250 million sometimes forgotten people. They are the people of countries south of Japan and south of China - the Filipinos, the Thais, the Malays, and people right through Indonesia and south to Australia. Those 250 million people have a right to freedom, a right to separate identity and a right to have their voices heard. Australia can walk with its head high among these countries. It is our job to learn to understand them, to help them in teamwork and to help work out regional ideas without the destruction of any of the individuality of these nations. I think there never was a time when the role of a small nation could be more significant.
Tonight we welcomed the renewal of the pledge on the ANZUS Treaty. The role of America in stabilisation in this world is a massive one and one to which I pay credit. There are many knockers of America, and it is time that we put it on the line that many American people have paid a huge price in the service of world peace. But alongside America I believe that Australia has an individual and unique role to play, moving around South East Asia, collecting the viewpoints of the peoples of Asia and communicating them to the big powers. I believe that because we can walk with our head high in South East Asia, because we can talk to the peoples of western Europe, because we can talk to the people of the United States and because we are developing links with Japan we can be a political placenta for the exchange of ideas and, therefore, we can be a great factor towards peace.
So I am quite excited by the matter of urgency raised by Senator Byrne. I repeat my hope that the greatest adventure seen in political history, the Treaty of Rome, will be an enormous success. I hope that we will not do what we did in the 1930s - have sudden waves of optimism and sudden waves of pessimism - but will maintain a cautious hope that China may move into the adulthood of nations and into a peaceful role in this world.
– I look upon this matter of urgency with some misgivings because it purports to indicate that there are serious implications for the defence and security of Australia.
For that reason I was pleased to listen to the contribution by Senator Carrick who welcomed these 2 great events - the entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community and the entry of the People’s Republic of China into the United Nations - because he indicated that here was represented the greatest hope for peace. If this is true, the implications for our position are not matters to be feared but matters for which we should be grateful. The result which flows from the entry of Great Britain into the Common Market is that we shall not, ever again, be embroiled in a struggle in Europe caused by the petty disagreements of the minor nations of Europe. There is no chance that we will be so embroiled again. The entry of China into the family of nations, as it was referred to, in my view represents another great step forward. It adds to my great hope for peace in this area.
For this reason I was astounded as I listened to the fear-crazed reaction of the Democratic Labor Party to these 2 great events. This is a fear which members of that Party have endeavoured to generate not only within themselves - they have an hysterical reaction to these things and we are used to it - but also in this place and throughout the country. Let us make no mistake about it: At this time members of that Party represent the power in Australia. They are the power behind the Government of this country. They are the ones who are responsible for the policy of this Government. When they react in this manner to 2 of the greatest events in the history of mankind, we can fear for the position in which Australia will find itself because of the machinations of this group. After listening to Senator Byrne today, there is no doubt that they will blackmail the Government into changing its policy from one of an acceptance of a possibility of peace and a reduction in our efforts to arm ourselves to the teeth. They will stand over the Government and see that its policy is reversed and that we shall continue to take up the posture of the warrior nation of the southern hemisphere.
– What roti
– This is exactly so. Led by that pint sized colossus, Senator Gair, the Democratic Labor Party stands across the path of destiny of Australia.
– You are wrapping them up a little too much.
– I am not wrapping them up at all; I am merely appreciating exactly where we stand in this country. Senator Webster, as a member of the Country Party, and other honourable senators opposite who support the Government, have continually withdrawn from new policies, as a result of pressure applied by these people, and have caused this country a considerable amount of concern and sorrow, especially in the case of those who have become directly implicated in the wars in South East Asia.
– Order! The time allowed for the debate on this motion having expired, the Senate will now proceed to the next business.
– Pursuant to section 29 of the Wine Overseas Marketing Act 1929-1966, I present the forty-third annual report of the Australian Wine Board for the year ended 30th June 1971.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is grated. (The statements read as follows) -
THE INTERNATIONAL MONETARY SITUATION
President Nixon’s statement on various new economic measures the United States was taking was made on 15th August last. Shortly stated, the President announced the following main measures: Convertibility of United States dollars into gold and other reserve assets was to be temporarily suspended; a 10 per cent surcharge on all dutiable imports into the United States, other than those subject to quotas, was to be imposed.
The President announced certain other measures the main effects of which were designed to stimulate the growth of output in the United States while at the same time attempting to restrain wage and price increases. One of these measures however - the job development tax credit - also has the effect of discriminating against imports into the United States of various manufactured products.
The world currency system was thrown into disarray, there was great confusion and recognition of a very serious and complex problem for the world.
In this atmosphere I attended the Commonwealth Finance Ministers’ meeting in Nassau. Immediately after 1 joined in the Annual Meeting of the Internationa) Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Washington. Thereafter I went to France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland and Japan. In the many discussions I had with Finance Ministers, bankers and officials, the subject of the international monetary situation dominated all others. And it is that on which 1 now report to the House.
I heard many diagnoses and many prescriptions - many of them contradictory. The single thing that everyone is agreed on is that the problem is serious and that the future is uncertain for the level of trade and for the prosperity of the world. 1 pui before the House my own assessment of the situation - with the reservation that since circumstances are changing so rapid/y, what may be fact and necessary consequence today may be changed, even negated, tomorrow.
In international terms the significant element of the United States action - apart from the suspension of convertibility of the dollar, the consequence of which I will come to later - was ‘.he 10 per cent surcharge on imports. There were many factors which contributed to the United States’ balance of payments crisis. For one thing, the United States, which had once been an example to the world in maintaining cost and price stability, found itself in a position where, for some time, its prices and costs had been rising more rapidly than those of its main competitors. Its domestic markets were more and more being penetrated by foreign made consumer and capital goods.
Beyond that the United States has claimed thai some of its troubles have been due to the fact that it has been shouldering an undue share of the free world’s defence burdens. Defence expenditures abroad by the United States have recently been running at around SUS5 billion annually Australia is probably in as good a position as any country to appreciate the size of the defence expenditures the United States has been assuming.
Then again, the United States has claimed that its trading position has been worsened by what it regards as the unfair practices pursued by some of its trading partners. Australia, of course, which is more dependent than most on the export of primary products, would certainly agree that in many cases the United Slates, like ourselves, has some real grievances in terms of the trading practices of others. The United States is facing a deficit on its trade account this year for the first time for almost 80 years. In these circumstances. it is a good thing that a country as powerful as the United States is prepared to take up seriously this matter of unfair trading practices. As 1 said in an address which I gave in New York last month to the American-Australian Association there, if it does so it may find that the unfairness may not be all on the one side. In that context, incidentally, I certainly took the opportunity of pointing out the barriers that exist to many of our own exports to the United States.
Bearing in mind all these circumstances, the United States has taken the view that a number of its trading partners were conducting their trade with the United States on the basis of exchange rates which gave them an unfair advantage. The United States has called foi a major realignment of exchange parities. This realignment would recognise the over-valuation ot the United States dollar, or the under-valuation of the currencies of those countries in balance of payments surplusthe way of expressing it depends upon the point of view.
Finally, the United States has recognised that this dollar crisis is only the last of a series of crises which have affected in turn the pound sterling, the French franc, the German deutschemark, and now the United Slates dollar. It has been suggested therefore that the monetary system itself may be in need of review.
President Nixon’s announcements of 15th August left the financial world rather stunned. Most markets remained closed for foreign transactions until 23 rd August. And when they did open, parities with the United States dollar were not maintained. The currencies of most major trading countries floated upwards against the dollar until today the deutschemark is almost 10 per cent up on the United States dollar, lite yen about 9 pei cent, the Netherlands guilder 8 per cent, the Belgian financial frac 7 per cent and sterling 4 pet cent.
These movements have already gone a long way to producing a considerable realignment of currencies. They have however not done so in an adequately co-ordinated and wholly satisfactory manner. 1 shall say something more later about the likely consequences if this rather rigged process were to be continued for too long without any agreement b being reached on a satisfactory mutual realignment as we understand that term. Meanwhile, the United States and its major trading partners are still debating bilaterally, and within other forums, notably the Group of Ten, what further contribution to the restoration of equilibrium in international trade and payments is still required by the United Slates, on the one hand, and by the rest of the Group of Ten. on the other.
The areas of disagreement are many.
When President Nixon announced his measures on 15th August, reference w was made, as 1 have mentioned, to trade and defence issues. This has continued to be stressed, albeit perhaps a little less forcefully, by the Americans. Realignment of currencies is not enough. They also seek some undertakings from some of their trading partners on trade and defence matters. For example, it is clear that they will be looking closely at certain aspects of their trading relationships with such key countries as Japan, Canada and the EEC bloc. Similarly, one might expect them to be chiefly interested, as far as defence burden-sharing is concerned, in the policies of such countries as Japan, Germany and Canada. I am glad to be able to say, however, that one thing that is clear is that Australia figures in neither category.
The United States, however, has not had things all its own way on these non-financial issues and criticism is mounting not only against the import surcharge, but also against some related measures such as the application of the United States job development tax credit which has the effect of discriminating against imports of capital equipment into the United States.
Then there is the basic question of the magnitude of the balance of payments turnaround which needs to be achieved between the United States and the rest of the Group of Ten. The United States has made no secret of the fact that it seeks a total turnaround of the order of $13 billion per annum. This figure is significantly larger than the figure, freely reported as being of the order of $8 billion, being suggested by, the two international institutions chiefly concerned, namely the International Monetary Fund and the OECD. And this figure in turn is significantly larger than the amount which the rest of the Group of Ten appear prepared to ‘contribute’ by way of a reduction in their balance of payments surpluses. While there is no clear statement of what this latter amount may be, published reports suggest something less than $S billion or thereabouts.
These differences go to the nub of the matter. For example, one reason which is reported to figure prominently in the argument between the United States and the other members of the Group of Ten is that the latter, particularly some of them, seriously question the need on their part to worsen their balances of payments on current account in order, among other things, to provide the United States with a sufficient surplus to enable it to maintain a high level of net capital investment abroad. In that and perhaps in some other ways t there are differences not merely of arithmetical estimation but of basic philosophy about the international balance of payments structure which different countries wish to see.
The truth is, of course, that it is in any case very difficult for governments to accept with equanimity proposals for reducing their exports, or increasing their imports, by some specified sum or other designed to produce a total turnaround for the beneficiary country of some agreed order. They are bound to consider the effects of that decision on their own citizens and to give great weight to their own national interests in that regard, lt is because I believe that the present procedures run some risk of foundering on those grounds that I have, in all my talks with the Finance Ministers of various members of the Group of Ten, continued to emphasise the need I see for someone of them to put forward what would no doubt be a first shot at a new ‘schedule’ of parities, about which argument might then proceed.
However that may be, what is clear is that even if trade and defence issues are left aside, the attitude of the United States appears to be that the realignment has not yet gone far enough. But some of the Group of Ten -.’e already; eyeing off others within the Ten and saying because soma individual members have allowed their rates to move very little, they themselves may already have gone too far. The United States is an important trading partner of the Europeans, but not all-important. The Germans, for instance, have to watch their commercial relationships with, say France, and, if it comes to that, Japan.
The rest of the Group of Ten, for their part, have said in voices of varying strength, that if the United States is seeking a more substantial realignment, it should be making a contribution itself. By this they mean that the United States should itself devalue in terms of gold.
In one sense this is not a particularly meaningful point. What really matters to those engaged in international transactions is the altered rate at which currencies exchange relative to one another following realignment. It does not matter to tha trader and the financier how the realignment of parities has come about. From that point of view the United States dollar can just as much be said to have floated downwards against most major currencies as those currencies can be said to have floated upwards against the dollar.
In another sense, however, it does matter to those countries who are substantial holders of gold for, to the extent that they revalue, their gold reserves fall in value in terms of their local currencies. Another^ and more far-reaching, aspect of this matter is its significance for the role of gold in the monetary system in the future; and in that context also the Managing Director of the Fund, Mr Schweitzer, has made the valid point that any outcome to the present impasse which did not involve gold in at least maintaining its value relative to the average appreciation of other currencies against the United States dollar would not only affect the future of gold but also the future of Special Drawing Rights which are. of course, defined in terms of gold. In the present context I will not go into all these ramifications. Suffice it to say that the United States at this point of time asserts that an increase in the dollar price of gold is not acceptable to it.
Then there is the question not of ‘how’ the turnaround in the balance of payments and the realignment of currencies should be achieved, but the question of ‘when’. It is this matter of timing which is becoming in many ways the most critical issue. One problem is that the United States is an enormous economy in which, in relative terms, international trade does not loom so large. Exports as a proportion of United States Gross National Product are only some 5 per cent. For Japan, on the other hand, the figure is 11 per cent, and for Australia 16 per cent. For some other countries, such as the United Kingdom, the proportion is even higher.
It follows that the United States is obviously under less pressure, from a purely economic viewpoint, in arriving at an outcome which it would regard as giving it a satisfactory contribution from the surplus countries. And there are some individual countries in turn for whom trade with the United States is not so important - for example, only some 5 per cent of France’s trade is with the United States. Countries in that position may also find little difficulty in waiting.
The great risk in all this, however, is that as the import surcharge and other measures taken by the United Staes begin to bite - as exports to the United States and employment in export industries begins to fall away - the countries affected could well become less and less willing, and perhaps less and less able, to make the further contributions which the United States expects. In order to protect their position, these countries may resort to retaliation. Already one country (Denmark) has imposed its own 10 per cent import surcharge. Developments along these lines would pose great risks, and not least for those countries, such as Australia, which are not directly involved. As I said in my speech to the Board of Governors of the IMF and IBRD, let world wisdom spare us from trade barriers and a bout of retaliation.
The great risk, as I say, is that if the present situation lingers on too long, the world could see a series of retaliatory import cuts which could only lead to a downward spiral in world trade and employment. It must be hoped that the major trading countries will have too much sense to allow this to happen But I do want to stress the importance of not allowing it to do so. The longer the present position continues, the more entrenched national positions become, the greater is the danger. Unless the further meetings which are planned for November can at least clear the way towards an outcome, so that the outlines at least of a multilateral re-alignment are in sight, then I greatly fear that such a re-alignment may evade us.
Certainly, we cannot afford to be complacent - the more so since, as the French Minister of Finance warned the Annual Meeting of the Fund in Washington, ‘the world economy appears to have entered a stage of lessened growth in recent months.’ Unemployment is running in the region of about 6 per cent in the United States, about 7 per cent in Canada, and over 31 per cent in the United Kingdom. In Japan and in Germany the boom seems to be over and in both countries there has been a marked reduction in the growth rate. The authorities of each country have, it is true, recently taken certain measures to stimulate demand; yet on my present assessment it would be unrealistic to expect any very early strong upturn in either.
In these circumstances, it is simply not good enough for the rest of the world to have to sit back and wait to see when the protagonists in this struggle will reach a settlement. As I have said, failure to reach an early agreed realignment of parities will place individual countries under increasing pressures to look after their own situations. The result could be a relapse by countries into unilateral decision, taken either singly or in certain groups of countries such as the EEC. Such a situation would, of course, represent a serious setback for international economic cooperation in general and for the future orderly workling of the international monetary system in particular.
In my discussions with the Finance Ministers wherever they have taken place I have strongly argued these points.
First, I have stressed the urgency of finding a solution to the present impasse.
Secondly, 1 have urged the importance of a currency realignment as the immediate objective.
Thirdly, I have made it clear that we are not taking sides, as between the United States on the one hand and the other members of the Group of Ten on the other, on the issue of whether or not the United States should effect a minor devaluation in terms of gold. All we say is that we would not object to such action if that will facilitate agreement on an early realignment. We wish no issues of national dignity within the Group of Ten, nor any sense of the luxury of being relatively unaffected, to obstruct a speedy conclusion.
Fourthly, I have argued that member countries of the Fund should concentrate all their energies at (his lime upon the resolution of the current problems, rather than, perhaps being diverted to the longer term issues of monetary reform. We should indeed be very careful about abandoning the system we have before we find a better system to take its place. The fault may be not in the system but in the actions of its members, including their failure to observe and abide by the rules. In this connexion there is, indeed, something of a paradox to be observed. Thus, if the United States docs achieve the turnaround in its balance of payments necessary to correct its deficit, it is by no means unlikely that the status of the US dollar as a reserve asset will be restored. In that case, the nature of the changes needed, and indeed the necessity of changes at all, may take on a rather different aspect.
This is not to say we are not prepared for change - far from it.
There is genera] support now amongst member countries of the Fund for wider margins about parity. Any arrangements such as that, which might facilitate the realignment procedure, should certainly be worthy of close and careful examination. We would only say that arrangements for flexibility in exchange rates should not go so far as to turn a system of relatively stable parities into a system of uncontrolled floating rates.
There is some strong support now in certain quarters for an increased role for Special Drawing Rights (SDR’s) in the monetary system. We are not at all opposed in principle to the idea of a managed international reserve asset based on some concept such as SDR’s, although it would be only realistic to note both the considerable practical difficulties which might stand in the way of bringing such a scheme to fruition and the disadvantages under which any reserve asset will labour that does not have behind it the backing of real authority and international power.
In the shorter term, however, what we do say is that the creation of SDR’s must be handled with care. SDR’s, like dollars or any other reserve asset, can lose acceptability through overexposure.
There is some support now in some quarters for action of an unspecified kind to be taken in relation to balances of reserve currencies. As a country which has traditionally held a large pa/1 of its reserves in the form of foreign exchange, with consequent benefit to our balance of payments, what we say is that any such action, il indeed it is needed once the United States achieves balance again, must be acceptable to the existing holders of foreign balances.
In all, I believe what 1 have been saying is summed up in the view that we should be cautious about abandoning the system we have before we find a better one to take its place. It is also fundamental to any discussion on international monetary systems that we should not lose, sight of basic relationships between these matters and domestic economic management. Until we learn more about the art of combining domestic economic growth with stability, no monetary system will be safe from threats of breakdown. Again, it is important to us all that the current problems of speculative capital flows, which have played a large part in bringing about the present situation, should be resolved without prejudicing the longerterm capital flows which have contributed so much to the post-war growth in world production and trade.
The discussion between the United States and the rest of the Group of Ten is to continue in Paris next month. We will be keeping in touch with developments through our representatives in the Fund, in OECD. and in the capital cities concerned.
Australia is inextricably involved in the outcome of these discussions, it is for that reason that, in my talks with Ministers of Finance and with such senior international civil servants as Mr Van Lennep of the OECD and Mr Schweitzer of the IMF I have urged the case for admission of Australia .to the councils in which these matters are being discussed, and in particular to Working Party Three of the OECD. lt is clear that by any criterion Australia would not merely benefit from being present at such discussions but, what is equally important, make a worthwhile contribution towards them from what might be, perhaps, a somewhat different viewpoint upon the world from that shared by most of the other present participants.
So far as Australia’s ability to sustain any consequences of an outcome to the present situation is concerned, our position is such that we will meet any new developments from a position of considerable strength. We bad a balance of payments surplus last vear of around $A600m and as things stand at the moment we have in prospect another very sizable surplus in 1971-72. Our reserves are at present somewhat in excess of $A2i billion.
At the present time, the Australian dollar is continuing in its traditional role of being maintained in a fixed relationship with sterling. This means that the Australian dollar has appreciated by about 4 per cent in terms of parity with the United States dollar. However, other countries, some of them important trading partners of Australia, have appreciated even more against the United States dollar. If the Australian dollar i« related to the currencies of our main trading partners, it is evident that overall the Australian dollar has effectively neither revalued nor devalued to any significant extent. It may be easily overlooked that, when many other major currencies are moving, it requires some positive action to achieve a situation which may be characterised as doing nothing. By retaining our fixed relationship with sterling in these circumstances we have, therefore, so far as humanly possible, kept our options open.
It is the policy of the Government to maintain this broad position until such time as there is u firm realignment of currencies. On that realignment taking place, a decision can be taken about the Australian dollar with some certainty as to the circumstances which will obtain in the foreign exchange markets in the period beyond. And ais the Prime Minister said in his statement to th« House on 26th August, any such decision will have only one proper basis - the interests of the Australian economy and the Australian nation as a whole.
VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTION TO IDA BY AUSTRALIA
1 wish to inform the Senate of certain action that the Government has taken in regard to Australia’s participation in the third replenishment of the Resources of the International Development Association, or IDA as it is commonly called.
Honourable senators will recall that in May of this year Parliament approved legislation authorising Australia to contribute a further sum equivalent to $US48m to IDA over a period of 3 yean commencing in 1971-72, in accordance with the. agreement previously reached between various countries regarding the third replenishment of the resources of that institution.
This agreement, however, is subject to the explicit condition that it will not enter into effect unless and until at least 12 developed member countries with subscriptions and contributions totalling not less than $US1,900m have formally notified IDA that they have taken all the steps necessary to enable them to make the payments designated for them. In practice, this means that the agreement cannot become effective unless and until it is ratified by the United States.
It was hoped that this condition would be satisfied by 1st July, by which time IDA had exhausted all its existing commitment authority.
The position at that date, however, was that 10 developed member countries, including Australia, wilh subscriptions and contributions totalling $US1,008m had given the requisite formal notifications to IDA. Although the United States administration had commenced proceedings to have Congress pass the necessary legislation to authorise payment of the subscription and contribution totalling $US960m for that country, action on this matter had not then been completed and indeed still remains outstanding.
This left IDA in the position where it had to curtail its previous rate of lending substantially, since there was no guarantee that funds would be made available to it when needed to finance new projects approved after 1st July.
A similar situation occurred 3 years ago when the second exercise to replenish IDA’s resources was held up for 12 months due to a delay by the United States Congress in ratifying the relevant agreement. Then, IDA was able to carry on only because a number of countries, including Australia, agreed to make voluntary contributions to it in advance of the second replenishment formally entering into effect.
In view of the critical importance of IDA to the many developing countries with pressing externa] debt servicing problems and a limited capacity to service additional borrowings overseas on commercial terms, the president of IDA, Mr McNamara, appealed to individual developed member countries recently to make voluntary contributions to IDA in advance of the third replenishment formally entering into effect. That IDA has been able to continue its lending activities since July has been largely due to the fact that a number of countries, including Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Japan and Yugoslavia, have responded to this request and agreed to make such voluntary contributions to IDA.
As has been previously stated in this chamber Australia continues to hold IDA in high regard as an effective and efficient aid institution. It is by far the largest agency lending on concessional terms in the world today. It has been of particular benefit to developing countries in our own part of the world. In the past, about three-quarters of all IDA lending has gone to countries in the Asian region, including in particular India, Pakistan and Indonesia. There is no need for me to emphasise the importance of these countries to Australia, or our interests in helping them to develop their economies and raise the living standards of their populations in future. It is also likely that Papua New Guinea will benefit from the third replenishment of IDA’s resources. So far, Papua New Guinea has received loans and credits totalling $US45m from the World Bank group. Further proposals to borrow from these institutions on the Territory’s behalf are under consideration at the present time. With these considerations in mind, the Government decided that Australia should join the other countries I have mentioned in making a voluntary contribution to IDA equivalent to the first annual instalment ($US16m) of our commitment under the third replenishment exercise, subject to the explicit understanding that this contribution would bc duly credited against Australia’s obligations under the relevant agreement when it enters into effect.
I might add that because of the usual lag between commitments and disbursements of funds by IDA, this action is not expected to add to the burdens on the Commonwealth Budget in the current financial year. IDA is not short of funds at the present time: what it is seeking is authority to enter into additional commitments which will require outlays in the future.
The Treasurer announced the Government’s decision on this matter during his Address to the Annual Meeting of the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank (and its two affiliates, IDA and IFC) in Washington on September 29.
The International Development Association (Further Payment) Act 1971 which was passed in May provides sufficient legislative authority for Australia to make such a voluntary contribution to IDA without further recourse to Parliament. However, I thought it only right and proper to inform honourable senators of the Government’s decision and to give some account of the considerations which lay behind it.
Debate resumed from 26 October (vide page 1466), on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Senator WILKINSON (Western Australia) (9.29) - For the past 3 hours we have been listening to a debate on a matter of urgency with which the Senate has been rightly concerned. We now come to the discussion of a Bill which is a matter of extreme importance to our primary producers, the people on the land in Australia. This is a fairly complicated Bill. It is the first time that a Bill of this nature has been brought down and, because of its complexity, I envisage that considerable areas in the administration of it will be open to various interpretations. The people who have drafted the Bill have done a very good job in trying to solve the problems with which they have been presented 1 believe that the drafting is quite good.
I remind honourable senators of the purpose of the Bill. In the primary industries, in the wool growing industry in particular, there was and still is considerable concern at the prices which are prevailing now and which have been prevailing for a fairly long period without, it would appear, any possibility of change in the immediate future. At meetings and by resolutions of various farmer organisations the Australian wool growers have tried to insist that the Government give very serious consideration to introducing legislation which would give an assured return to growers of a minimum of 40c per lb. It was fairly obvious that the Government was not prepared to agree to that amount. That would have been a tremendously costly scheme and the taxpayers would have raised serious objections. That does not get away from the fact that in the industry certain things have to be looked at. I think we can see this very readily by reading the second reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). I quote from page 2033 of the House of Representatives Hansard. At the beginning of his speech the Minister said:
Gross returns from wool declined from $839m in 1968-69 to $S47m in 1970-71. During 1970-71 more than half of all wool growers were estimated to have less than 32,000 on which to live after servicing their debts. For a significant section of the Australian community this situation will be reflected in reduced standards of living: indeed it has been estimated that approximately i million persons are wholly or partly dependent upon the wool industry for their living.
Towards the end of his speech he said:
The combined effect of the Commission’s marketing activities and the deficiency payments scheme will be to lift woolgrowers’ returns by some $100m over last year’s market place realisations. This will go far towards preserving the wool industry’s viability and the beneficial effects will be widely felt throughout the whole Australian community of people, particularly in the rural areas.
The main purpose of the Bill is expressed concisely in the words of the Minister, lt is to meet the needs of those people who are in a bad position and to meet those needs as adequately as possible. When the Government decided that it would guarantee to the industry 36c per lb for approved wools - which is the equivalent of 79.37c per kilo - the industry expected that the Bill, when it was introduced, would be in the nature of a welfare Bill for the industry. When I look at the Bill and when I try to see what effect it will have. I very much lee! that far from being a welfare Bill, from the point of view of the grower it is almost a farewell Bill. 1 do not think that the Bill will bring about a considerable improvement in the position of wool growers. I will develop this point later. I do not think the Bill will solve the problems of the wool growers. I would be prepared to oppose the Bill or to amend many of its provisions in order that the needs of the farmers who really require assistance are met, but it has been decided that the Opposition should take other steps. In effect we will be supporting the Bill as it stands and moving as an amendment that certain words be added to the motion that the Bill be read a second time.
The problem with the Bill, as I see it, will be in its application. How will the money be distributed? That is a very important point. Perhaps I could read one of the clauses of the Bill to show how complicated it is and how difficult it will be for people to understand. It almost defies interpretation by the ordinary wool grower who will be far too busy trying to produce wool to take time off to understand what clause 13 means. That is the important clause. It determines the percentage rates of deficiency payments. This is the clause with which the wool grower is vitally concerned. Clause 13 (1) states:
The Commission shall, in respect of each week in the prescribed period in which wool has been sold in Australia at an approved auction -
determine, as nearly as practicable -
the total of the sale prices of all wool, other than excluded wool, that was sold in Australia at approved auctions during the week; and
the amount that would have been the total of those prices if each lot of wool so sold had been sold at a price calculated by applying to the estimated yield of clean wool from that lot the notional price per kilogramme applicable to wool of that type under the table of notional prices; and
determining the percentage of the amount determined under sub-paragraph (i) of the last preceding paragraph that is represented by the amount, if any, by which the amount so determined is less than the amount determined under sub-paragraph (ii) of that paragraph, and cause that percentage to be notified in the Gazette and to registered persons as being the rate of deficiency payments in respect of that week.
The percentage is not the same every week. lt has to be notified each week. The complications are terrific. How the grower will be able to understand this is beyond me.
As 1 read the second reading speech, it is expected that $100m may be the amount that will be distributed under this Bill. Interestingly enough, $100m is the amount that was mentioned at a seminar which took place in Western Australia on 3rd and 4th April last year. Among the speakers at that seminar were the Minister for Primary Industry at that time, Mr Anthony, Dr Rex Patterson and other very important people in the realm of agriculture. Dr Schapper, who I think is fairly well known to honourable senators as an agricultural economist, in the address he gave cited some figures which were based on figures obtained from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics for 1966-67 because they were the latest available figures at that time. I should point out that these figures apply to farmers generally and not only to wool growers. But the situation that applies to wool growers would be approximately the same. I quote from
Policy for Agriculture’, which is a verbatim report of the seminar. On page 111 he gave these estimates:
He applied these figures to the amount that would be distributed to each of these farmers on an average if $100m was available. This is the interesting point that we obtain from this survey: The 15 per cent of farmers who operate at a loss or who receive no income at all would receive an average of $66 each under this scheme. The next group - it will be remembered that 1 said that it consisted of those in receipt of incomes ranging from $1 to $5,999 and represented 53 per cent of farmers - would receive an average of $253. 1 will class the remaining group - those with incomes of $6,000 and more - as an affluent group. That group represents 32 per cent, or approximately one-third of farmers. It would receive an average of $706 to $1 ,566 for each farmer.
This is ridiculous. The situation is just incredible when it is put in terms like these. I consider this position to be bad enough. But what is worse is that this deficiency payment is to be made on the basis of the wool produced which comes within the category of being suitable wool to be covered by the scheme. Of course, this will include the wool from the big sheep stations. I am talking about not only the privately owned sheep stations but also those owned by organisations such as Dalgety and New Zealand Loan Ltd which has very large station interests in this country, British Tobacco Co. (Aust.) Ltd which also has very large station interests in this country and other concerns - there is no point in enumerating them - which are overseas controlled. These firms will receive the majority of the amount of money available under this wool deficiency payments scheme. The farmers who need the assistance - those who are not able to meet their commitments - will receive approximately $66 each. That is what it will work out at. They will receive a ridiculous amount.
Let us imagine that such farmers were to receive big amounts or reasonable amounts to keep them going. At the present moment, the situation is made worse by the fact that these people who need assistance, because of their position, will be mortgaged to the hilt, will be subject to liens, and will be in financial difficulties with all sorts of organisations that are providing them with the finance to carry on. These organisations would be generally the wool broking firms and all sorts of agencies that are providing finance. When this deficiency payment is paid for the wool, where will it go? I think it was the intention of the Government that this payment should go to the farmer as the owner of the wool. But he is not the owner of the wool. The owner of the wool is the person who has the lien on it. As soon as the wool has been shorn, it belongs to that person. For instance, if I am correct in my assumption the money will be paid to the wool grower through the broker, the person who has sold the wool for him. This broker is the person who has lent him the money. So the broker will demand his interest from the amount that is being paid and this money will not get to the producer.
– Of course there should be. This money will not go to the producer. This is the important point. We are trying to help these industries. We are trying to allow them to have some income from which to pay their debts to the baker, the butcher and the other people in their country towns, which will keep the country town in existence. But if the money is being paid to these bigger organisations in the cities it is going out of the country towns, and if it is being paid to corporations under overseas control it is going out of Australia. That is what we are doing with our money under this deficiency payments scheme. For the life of me, I cannot see how the scheme will benefit any but a few people. It will not do anything considerable to ease the plight of the growers themselves.
I notice in reading the report of the debate on the Bill in the other place that criticism was made of clause 4, which is the one that deals with the question of who owns the wool. Under the definition in that clause the producer is the person who owns the wool immediately after it is shorn. This was a question that was asked of the Minister in the other place. He gave his reply on that point. I quote from the report of the debate in the other place. It should be noted that the Minister said:
Under the definition of producer in clause 4 I am told that the holder of a lien over wool or a mortgage over sheep is not the producer. Certainly that had not been the intention. In fact the farmer is the producer within the intention of the definition in clause 4. However it is also true that under some State laws relating to mortgages and liens the mortgagee or holder of the lien owns the v/ool immediately after it is shorn and so would come within the words of paragraph (a) of the definition of producer.
However by the words following paragraph (c) of that definition the person having the equity of redemption is deemed to be the owner of wool or sheep, and this is (he farmer who is given the lien. Although it has been said that the holder of a lien or a mortgage is not the producer, under clause 9 of the Bill he may well have a right, so that the effect of what the honourable gentleman said is correct, but the way in which de said it is applied is technically incorrect. Clause 9 provides for the person who holds the lien the right to take payment in accordance with whatever obligation there might be under the lien. But the definition in clause 4 specifically relates to the producer, and it is not intended that that definition should refer other than to the farmer himself.
This may be so, but how will it be judged when this legislation is put into operation? The wool broker or agent with whom a farmer is dealing will say: ‘You have this money. You owe me a certain amount and I am taking it out. This is just going through my books in the ordinary way and I will take this amount.’ This would be the normal procedure of any business house that finds money is available. I have known of instances such as that, as I am sure other honourable senators have. I am dealing with a very disturbing case in Western Australia at present. It concerns a farmer with a property that carries about 7,000 sheep and is worth - disregarding inflation values - about $180,000. But he is broke. He cannot sell his sheep. He tried the other day and sold 450 sheep but the return to him was 83c a sheep - I think he said - out of which he had to pay freight and other charges.
The return from the sale would not meet the bill that he has from the local shire council. The shire council wants its money and he cannot pay it. He cannot sell anything to gain enough to pay his expenses. He sold 150 bales of wool at an average of 20c per lb. A lot of people would say that he did not do too badly, but in fact he could not even meet the expenses charged by the company financing him. Two years ago he expanded his operations because he was receiving reasonable prices and he expected them <o continue. The expansion put him in difficulties and at present prices he will get practically nothing out of this scheme. His returns will go through the broker and the broker will get the lot. This really disturbs me about the operation of this legislation.
I think it is worth while to read a letter which appeared in last Sunday’s edition of the Western Australian ‘Sunday Times’. I do not know the writer of the letter. I have heard of Collins Street farmers in Victoria and Pitt Street farmers in New South Wales. For all I know the writer of the letter may be a St George’s Terrace farmer. He is Mr E. R. Pedlow of Claremont. He wrote:
The staggering hypocrisy of the Federal Government in regard to the future of Australia’s medium and smaller woolgrowers must he exposed.
There is no possible chance that the average woolgrower will benefit from the 36c a pound legislation which the Commonwealth now proposes.
The only people who will be protected are the brokers - the group which has constantly grown fat over the good years in primary industry.
More than one million Australians depend for their livelihood on the wool industry. A microscopic number will receive real assistance under the Deficiency Payments Act now before the Parliament.
In section 4 of the proposed Act it is stated that deficiency payments must go to the mortgagee or the holder of a bill of sale for the wool involved.
In the current parlous condition of the wool industry there are literally thousands upon thousands of woolgrowers mortgaged to the hilt to broking houses.
This means that the moneys paid by the Commonwealth, allegedly to help the woolgrower and to breathe life back into country towns, will never reach either him or the local trader.
Instead it will be swallowed up in the broking house, becoming a book entry against the grower’s mortgage.
The claim of the Minister for Primary Industry that the legislation will assist the industry is a hollow mockery.
The plan will not put one extra cent into the hands of the average woolgrower. It will not advance him one step in his struggle to stay on his property, keep his wife and children above the poverty level so many are now reduced to, or meet his bills in the nearby town.
This shocking situation is being faced by farmers all over Australia. We propose to move an amendment and I shall now read the first part of it.
-I hope you can explain what it means.
– The first part of the proposed amendment reads:
At end of motion add: but the Senate is of the opinion that:
the one-year emergency grant moneys available under the Bill should be directed only to those bona fide wool producers, big or small, who are genuinely in need of emergency finance;
– I hope you can explain what that means.
– Apparently there are some people who cannot understand simple language.
– Does that first part of your proposed amendment apply to the man who sold 150 bales of wool, as you have just mentioned?
– Does it apply to the man with 7,000 sheep or to a farmer who drivers a Mercedes car?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - If honourable senators will allow Senator Wilkinson to continue he may be able to explain it.
– The point is that the proposed amendment highlights the fact that there is no discrimination in this Bill in respect of people who are wool producers on a large scale and are on a very good thing with their other interests, as distinct from the people who are in need. 1 say particularly for Senator Webster’s benefit that a person with 150 bales of wool or 7,000 sheep could still be in serious need, as judged by his taxation return. I am not saying that a person who owns a lot of sheep is necessarily able to live well.
– Does it depend on the basis of a taxation return?
– How it would be done is not spelt out. There is no need to put in any more. Our proposal relates to bona fide wool producers, big or small, who are genuinely in need of emergency finance. I am prepared to suggest 2 methods, and honourable senators opposite can make a choice. Other methods are open but I will not discuss them now. I do not have to do so. The first possible method is on the basis of a taxation return. A second possible method is on the basis of a balance sheet certified by an accountant. This would show the position of a farmer. Either method would show whether a wool producer is in need. Other methods could be used, but my concern is about the big corporations who are to take out large amounts of the deficiency payments which should be going to producers in need. I think I have said enough about the first clause and now pass to the next part of the Bill.
I am not the only one who is objecting to this Bill. I have been subjected to a considerable amount of pressure from various groups, particularly from the private buyers. The private buyers of wool feel that this Bill places them under a disability and that they could be forced out of business. I do not think that the Government is dodging the issue or that it is opting for the auction system, or is not very interested about what happens to the private buyers. There are certain difficulties in drafting a Bill which would meet the situation as far as private buyers are concerned and which would give exactly the same provision for people selling through a private buyer as those who sell on the auction system. The Bill tries to meet this situation in the best way it can.
In the case of the private buyer the Bill makes a payment on the net value to the grower and the deficiency payment percentage will be applied to that. In the case of the auction system the deficiency percentage will be worked out and paid on the gross amount. To put the situation in terms of figures I ran out a couple of examples which may be of interest. The values I have chosen are not entirely fictitious and they are a reasonable average. Let us say that the bale of wool at an auction will bring$90. The deficiency payment at present looks as though it will be about 20 per cent. Therefore, the amount that would be paid on the percentage basis would be SI 8. This would give a total of $108 less the charges that would be made by the broker for selling the bale of wool. We could say that this charge would be around about S8. This figure is not absolutely accurate but it will illustrate my point. If Senator Prowse is writing down the figures I am giving I will be prepared to read them again if he so wishes. The price paid for the bale is $90 and 20 per cent is the deficiency payment rate. This would mean a deficiency payment of $18 would be paid on the gross amount. This makes a total of SI 08 less $8 for charges, giving the grower Si 00.
If the same bale of wool were sold to a private buyer he should give the grower $90 for it. His charges are only about half of what other broker houses charge. The percentage would be the same but it would be calculated on only $86 and not on $90 because $4 would be payment for charges. Therefore Si 7.20 would be paid by way of deficiency payment which makes a total of $107.20 or, allowing for a deduction of $4 in charges, would be a return to the grower of Si 03.20, which is $3 more than the grower would have received had he sold his bale by the auction system.
I pointed this out when I was approached by the private wool buyers and they challenged my figures on the basis - and I ask honourable senators to listen to this - that they would not pay S90 for the bale. They said that they would pay only what the grower would receive if the bale were sold at auction. In other words, they would only pay on the basis of $86. If we work on the basis of $86, the grower will be down because he will receive only $98.40 as opposed to the $100 he would receive if he sold his wool by the auction system. The private buyers contend therefore that this arrangement will drive them out of business because the grower will get more from the auction system and the private buyers will not be able to compete.
– The figures that you give indicate that the private buyer pays in the end $103 which is more than the wool grower would receive at auction?
– You have the figures round the wrong way.
– No. I have not. The honourable senator did not listen thoroughly.
– You stated that the private buyer-
– Excuse me, Senator. You did not listen carefully because 1 said ‘if he paid S90 But the private wool buyer is not paying $90. He refuses to pay S90. That is the point of the whole of my argument. This is where the private buyer is wrong in his assumption. He is trying to get something extra lor himself out of this compared with what he would get if he was paying the auction price. The point is that the private buyer could then sell to a miller at a lower price than when the wool goes through auction. I think this is quite different.
– And so undercut the Commission.
– The honourable senator can pick up the point later if he wishes to.
I would now like to deal with a couple of other points. I want to discuss the rest of my amendment. As I have pointed out, the disturbing feature of the Bill is, I believe, that it will not help the wool growers because it does not go far enough. One of the important things that we ought to be doing if we are looking at wool is to give some thought to the acquisition of the whole clip. This is not an idle thought which has been put forward by the Opposition. All growers’ organisations and even Sir William Gunn have come around to the point of saying that we ought to have an acquisition of the clip and that we will have to get down to it eventually. We have to acquire the clip, appraise it and market the whole of it. We must have control of the whole system.
I was astounded by what was said by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony), who at the moment is the Acting Prime Minister, at a national conference in Perth on 3rd April of last year. He said:
I do not accept the view that is frequently put forward that the Government should take over from farmers and their industry organisations the responsibility for planning the production and distribution of their output. The feeling :hal the Government should do this is quite strong in some quarters, and indeed is quite strong in the minds of many farmers.
As I said, the Minister said this in April of last year and he has not changed his mind over the ensuing months. He still says the same sort of thing. Yesterday’s ‘Australian’ newspaper under the headline of ‘Time running out, says Anthony’ states:
Mr Anthony was speaking at a meeting of the National Press Club in Canberra.
The article went on to say that he:
The article then quoted the Minister as saying:
If at the end of 12 months we have a situation where stockpiles have built up to a million bales or mure, then the industry can’t expect that sort of situation to go on continuously without making some adjustments’.
The quotation continued:
And if the adjustments mean trying to restrain the SUpplY of wool to the market, then that is what they must look at’.
Further on the article stated:
He said there was a need for supply management in the industry but he did not believe iti telling it what it must do.
For goodness sake, the Acting Prime Minister said 2 days ago that he does not believe that we ought to tell the industry what to do. However around Australia we have a collection of wool growers who, apart from those farmers organisations which do meet, are largely disorganised, and do not have control of their industry. They do not know what to do. I admit that the Government is doing its best to give them advice, but we cannot get the industry to make up its mind as to what it ought to do. This is tremendously important because the Government must take the responsibility for what should be done in this respect.
I think that we should also look at the state of affairs in which we are becoming afraid of the wool situation because of the low price of wool. The wool situation is such that at the end of each year we do not finish up with a surplus of wool. I think that we need to look at some of the facts. I have here an analysis of the situation since 1963. I am not prepared to doubt the figures that have been given to me. They can be checked. On the basis of this investigation, to give an idea of what th– situation is we should look al wool apparel which is what we are concerned with in Australia. The use of wool in apparel has dropped only minutely since 1963. The use of synthetics has risen from 8 per cent to 20 per cent. The first point to note is that more apparel has been sold. The other point is that the rise in the use of synthetics from 8 per cent to 20 per cent has been at the expense of cotton, the use of which in apparel has dropped since 1963 from 63 per cent to 54 per cent. Cotton, not wool, is involved. Wool finishes up at the end of the year without a surplus. We are being conned into accepting the fact that the value of wool has reduced to this ridiculous figure that we now have. The wool millers want wool. They need it for apparel. Wool is recognised as the most valuable commodity that can be used in an article of apparel. Wool has tremendous advantages. It is nol for us, I believe, to denigrate the position that the wool industry should hold. What we need to do is look at what is happening with respect to the selling of wool.
I am very concerned that 80 per cent of Australia’s wool is sold before it gets to the auction room floor. I mentioned this in a previous speech. This is a tragedy, I think. The brokers and the wool buyers have contracts for wool which has not been shorn. Then they obtain the wool at the price for which they have been given a contract. No amount of buying by the Australian Wool Commission will avoid this until we gel to the situation where a stockpile of wool is established and people want apparel wool when none is otherwise available. When this situation arises we may have a chance of breaking the current practice. But we need to go more thoroughly in our research to find out what is happening as far as futures are concerned.
We have advocated for a long time - this proposal does nol appear in the Bill at all - thai a better appraisal should be made of the situation in the marketing system. We ought to have core testing. Incidentally, it is extremely interesting that in every sale in Australia about three-quarters of wool is core tested after auction before it leaves the auction floor. So do not say that we cannot do core testing. This can be done. It is being done. The machine which does this testing will core test 200 bales an hour. This machine is in operation right now. Wool is being core tested to determine whether the judgment of wool buyers formed on the basis of opening up the top of a wool bale is correct. We al] know that when the value of a bale of wool is assessed, the accuracy of the assessment has a plus or minus 15 per cent factor. In core testing the accuracy factor is plus or minus 2 per cent only. This is an important fact.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I do not wish to delay the Senate any longer. From my remarks, honourable senators will see the reason for the second part of the amendment that I have moved. This part reads:
the emergency finance should be complemented by legislation to:
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - Order! Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– Mr Acting Deputy President, the honourable senator who has just spoken has had the advantage of a longer speaking time than is available to me this evening. So I do not intend to traverse at any length his arguments, because quite frankly I do not think they are worth spending very much time on. I am in agreement with one feature of what he said. I join with Senator Wilkinson in expressing a substantial degree of confidence in the future of the wool industry.
This is a rather historic occasion. For the first time in our economic history a subsidy is being provided to an industry that in the past has been proud and independent. Those engaged in it have previously rejected indignantly any idea of a subsidy. They have wanted to be independent. They have fought against the influences that they could see were dragging their industry down. These influences include increasing costs to the community. They could see the peril of a stationary or declining return while faced with constantly rising costs. But still they desired to preserve their independence. The most stubborn people in Australia in rejecting the idea of a subsidy for their product have been the people in the wool industry.
During the last decades the wool industry has been the mainstay of the Australian economy. For many years the wool industry alone has earned one-third and more of Australia’s total export income. Today we are recording the lowest and the saddest time in the history of an industry upon which the wealth of this country has been built. I believe that this occasion calls for a greater measure of interest than is being exhibited in the Senate tonight. In the wool industry in the last 4 years prices received by growers have fallen by some 40 per cent. During that same period costs have increased. This is indicated by the fact that the average wage of Australian workers has increased from S61.70 to $89.70. Wool growers have seen their incomes disappear while the rest of the community is prospering and getting increased returns. During the period from 1966-67 the consumer price index rose from 100 to 117.2. This illustrates in dramatic form the situation of the wool industry today.
The Government has taken action in 2 ways. Firstly it set up the reserve price scheme. Originally it was intended that the scheme should have some flexibility in order to prevent inequalities in the market, the so-called potholing operation. But it was soon found that the decline in prices necessitated the introduction of a firm base. The Australian Wool Commission decided that it would not allow the price of wool to fall beneath the established base. This Wool (Deficiency Payments) Bill relates to that base. Following the establishment of that firm price base there are to be payments to the industry to lift the price of wool to 36c per Jb. Although we are on the verge of switching to metric weights and measures I will continue speaking of cents per lb because most of us are accustomed to thinking in that way.
That substantially was the concept of this legislation and what the industry requested. lt asked for a price of 40c per lb originally but the Government, having been advised by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the probable price trends over a period, decided that the appropriate price would be 40c plus or minus 10c. The Government adopted a conservative line because it realised a great amount of money would be involved in the scheme. Tt decided on a price of 36c. Tt was never intended that this should be a social welfare measure or a means of making payments to individuals in the greatest difficulty. The Government has passed other legislation to deal with those difficulties. I refer to the rural reconstruction scheme. The Government is doing this with a limited amount of funds. It is limited in many other ways in attempting to deal with this very difficult aspect involving individuals is the industry who are in the greatest economic trouble. The rural reconstruction scheme is similar in concept to the dairy industry payments which have never been subject to a means test. It is similar to payments made in the wheat industry which have never taken into account the financial position of growers but rather have been industry payments.
A similar principle has applied to the Tariff Board where payments are made to economic members of the community, people who can show some chance of standing up economically to the price level determined.
It seems to me that only one member of the Labor Party comprehends or understands this and that is the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Allan Fraser). I take my hat off to him for the way he has stood up for his clear understanding of the needs of the industry. Many criticisms have been levelled at this legislation and I have mine. I believe it could well have been planned to cover a 3-year period. That is what (he industry requested and I believe that would have been the soundest base on which to work. One year is far too short a time in which to see what will be the real future of the industry. It is not long enough to determine a national policy with regard to the industry which for generations has been the mainstay of the Australian economy. Is the Government going to allow the scheme to run for a few short months and then decide to dump the whole thing? That is a dangerous concept and is my main criticism of this legislation which I otherwise fully support. We could prejudice the whole of our endeavours in the reconstruction, planned to take place over a period of some 4 years, by a premature decision about this assistance to the wool industry. Much of the criticism we have heard tonight has been inspired by and emanates from the private wool buyers. Senator Wilkinson innocently quoted a letter whose author he said he did not know.
– That is right.
– That letter was sigsed and it was published in the ‘West Australian’. I will tell the honourable senator who wrote it. It was written by Mr E. R. Pedlow, manager in Western Australia of CIL, one of the biggest wool buying firms in the State. He wrote it and today he is advocating that interest. That gentleman has great financial interests in buying wool and he is accusing the Government of hypocrisy. Later on I will let the Senate decide who is guilty of hypocrisy. Private wool buying interests in Western Australia purchase something like 30 per cent of the Western Australian clip. Some firms fail to pay the growers. There was a recent sad experience when buyers for a private firm received SI. 5m worth of wool and did not pay a cent to the growers. These are the people that our friend on the Opposition side of this chamber is supporting; the people whose arguments he swallowed holus-bolus.
– I did not. 1 criticised them. Be fair.
– Yes. Private buyers buy the best wool. They go to the best growers and offer them a price for their wool. To the extent that they take that wool away from the auction room they lower the average return at auction. Private buyers do not buy the rubbish; they do not buy the crutchings and the locks. By and large they leave those to go onto the auction floor. This results in a double pressure aimed at decreasing the average realisation at auction. Those buyers then use this depressed standard as the price at which to buy in country areas. They go round and say to growers: ‘We will offer you a better price that that received at auction’. They will do this because they have already depressed the price through the use of their policy to buy the better wools. I believe that it is these interests - this opinion is firmly held bv the Wool Commission - which have been largely responsible for the Wool Commission having to buy in 40 per cent of the Western Australian din at the outset of the wool sales. Recently the Australian Wool Commission was negotiating sales to Russia. It was undercut by the private buyers by 5c 1o 6c a kilo. These are the people who have the interests of the growers at heart. Right at the outset this very Mr Pedlow went around saying that the Wool Commission price was too high. He published a statement in which he said that the Wool Commission was buying at 2c above the market price. This gentleman has the interests of the growers at heart.
– He may be a com.
– No, he is a private enterprise.
– Yes. Very private. I repeat that this is not a glorified social service scheme, lt is an industry scheme which sets out to lift the price of wool approximately 20 per cent from its present base. Mr Pedlow - echoed by Senator Wilkinson - said that there is no possible chance that the average woolgrower will benefit from the 36c a pound payment scheme. What he is saying is that a lift of 20 per cent to the wool industry will be no good to the industry -
– I said: No good to the grower. I ask the honourable senator to be fair.
– If the honourable senator likes to split hairs he may. We will take the honourable senator’s verdict. He says that the 20 per cent increase in the price of wool will be no good to the grower. I think that if the honourable senator received a 20 per cent increase in his salary it would be some good to him. In any case, I reject completely the absurdity of that statement, whoever makes it. We tried the idea of specialised assistance. Senator Poke reminded us of that idea this morning. He called it the S30m scheme, lt started out to be a S30m scheme but it finished up as a S21m scheme. Senator Wilkinson would know very well that it was the biggest disaster to result from anything that we ever attempted. We produced anomalies which we could not have foreseen and they were tragic in their effects. Never again do I hope to see an attempt to repeat the application of some sort of means test to an industry.
I was interested to hear the figures put forward by Senator Wilkinson. I have prepared similar figures. Perhaps great minds think alike. Our figures are very much alike but what they prove and what ons can deduce from them is something very different. The wool buyers pretend - for all their accusations of hypocrisy against the Government - that their concern about the deficiency payments is that the growers should benefit. But let us have a look at the figures. My figures are slightly different from the honourable senator’s, although not much. The private buyer on a farm pays the net auction value. An average bale of wool today at auction is worth $90. On my information costs would be about $10. The wool buyer can offer S80 on a price equality but he claims - I do not know how valid this is - that the cost savings are in the vicinity of S6. Assuming that in the goodness of his heart and in order to make a sale he passes on $5, the price he offers to the grower is $85. The deficiency payment on that wool is $17.
– No, the deficiency payment is paid on the $80.
– Pardon me. The price on farm is $85 and the deficiency payment is $17.
– The honourable senator is wrong.
– We will not argue about the matter at this time. The price is the price paid on the farm. The deficiency payment is $17. In addition to this the grower who sells to the private buyer receives his money some 2 to 3 months sooner than does the man who sells at auction. At current interest rates this is worth approximately $2 a bale. The private seller is able to give to the grower a price of $104. At auction the seller sells at $90. less $10 which he has to pay in costs. So he receives a net return of $80 and he receives a deficiency payment of $18. The total amount to the grower is $98. I fail to see how there is any injustice in this proposition to either the private seller or the grower who sells privately. It is my experience that the private buyer will pass on that saving to the grower who knows enough about his wool to know what it is worth. To others he will offer a different price. In other words the private buyer will make as much out of the grower as he can. His concern now about the difference in the deficiency payment is not that the grower will receive $1 less but that he, the buyer, might have to offer $1 more to make up the price. So where lies the hypocrisy?
I do not know how much time 1 have left but I wish to look at the criticism which has been coming from the Press and over the radio - we hear it every morning from Senator Poke - criticism of the accumulation of wool. At 30th June this year the Commission had on hand some 340,507 bales. Much of this wool was from the dubious price averaging plan scheme. The Commission now holds approximately 600,000 bales which is 20 per cent of all wool which was offered at auction during the ensuing period. I want honourable senators to note that at the moment the current buying in at Sydney is 15 per cent and at Geelong it is 10 per cent. This is because there has been a considerable improvement in wool prices. I can find no-one associated with the wool trade of any opinion other than that this wool stock could not have been absorbed by the industry. By that I mean that it would not have been possible for this amount of wool to go into the manufacturing side of the industry at this time and under the conditions which exist in the textile industry.
– There are a great number of reasons and if the honourable senator knew as much about the industry as he thinks he knows he would know the answer.
– Rubbish. We got rid of it last year’. Why can you not do it this year?
– -Last year the wool industry did not absorb all the wool. It finished up with about 340,000 bales at 30th June. At the moment, under existing conditions, the manufacturing side of the industry cannot absorb this wool. What is the alternative? We do not hear much about the alternative. We hear a great deal about the amount of wool on hand but we do not look at the alternatives. I want honourable senators to look at what the alternatives would have to be in order that this wool could be transferred by the buying interests; I do not say to the trade. The wool would have to be paid for and finance would have to be obtained. The price at which the wool was bought would have to be discounted from the current price to allow for the capital cost of buying and holding the wool. The wool would incur storage costs somewhere. Therefore it would incur costs considerably greater overseas than the costs incurred in Australia. So storage costs cannot be wiped. An allowance would have to be made and the price accordingly discounted to allow for these costs.
Then the wool would have to be shipped overseas. This would incur freight charges, another capital cost that would have to be allowed for, and the speculator who entered into this sort of transaction, having calculated all his costs and allowed himself a considerable margin of risk, would buy this wool at a price - nobody could determine it exactly - which would be, in my view, at least 30 per cent below the price at which wool was bought by the Wool Commission. But the point is that this price of 30 per cent below the Commission’s present price would constitute the price for the whole of the Australian clip. The net result would be that we would have sold all our wool certainly, and we would not have a stockpile here in Australia. But we would have received in total for all of the wool sold less money than we now receive for the 70 per cent or so bought by the trade. We would have no asset in the form of wool on hand. Nobody would have been better off. The industry would have been worse off. We would have lowered the price of wool to a depth that would have meant the absolute destruction of the wool industry.
– How can you say that wool that is stockpiled is an asset when you cannot find a market for it?
– If we burnt the wool that we have in stockpile we would be better off than if we had sold all of the wool at the price to which it would have been depressed had we attempted to force its sales. I believe it is an asset. If we accept the proposition that the wool on hand is worthless then we have written off the whole future of the wool industry. Like Senator Wilkinson, I will not agree that there is no future in the wool industry. I believe that we are seeing a lift in prices. In the last two or three weeks the sales at Goulburn, Sydney and Fremantle have shown substantial and worthwhile rises in prices. This confirms my judgment, that by firmly holding to the policy that we have set out to achieve of creating a reserve of wool by what is virtually a supplymanagement scheme we can hold the price of wool at a stable level. 1 know that there are a lot of people who love fluctuations. The people on the futures market live by this sort of gambling. They love fluctuations. They hate an idea that might lead to the stabilisation of the wool industry. I trust that the Australian Government will hold firmly to the course it has set, because only by pursuing that course, and pursuing it consistently, can we hope to enable the industry to get back onto a firm basis. We can and we must continue this policy as long as they supply-management technique can be applied by the growers instead of by speculators. By doing so we will retain a reasonable price for wool, otherwise we will have to face up to the complete disappearance of wool as a commodity and the complete disappearance of the industry which for so long has been the mainstay of the Australian economy.
– I wish to indicate the support of the Australian Democratic Labor Party for the measure before the House, and, like some other honourable senators, voice some doubts and make some suggestions to the Government as a means of asssiting this very sorely pressed industry. I admire both Senator Wilkinson and Senator Prowse for their very forthright statements of confidence in this industry. I would hope to share their confidence but, I hope, not blindly so, because I am reminded that in my early days of studying the history of the great industrial movements of the world 1 read that in the establishment of the labour unions in France one of the great industrial strikes was the strike of 50,000 silk weavers in the city of Lyon in France. There would be no silk weavers in France today but for that strike, and it is possible that the demand for a commodity would have completely disappeared. 1 join with the other 2 honourable senators in their optimistic approach, but do not let us be blindly optimistic. Let us remember the enormous competition that is now beginning to concentrate from the synthetic industries against this particular commodity.
– We want Luddites to destroy the synthetic industry.
– No, I do not suggest we should do that. You cannot hold back this sort of progress. I am not an expert in the field, but I would say that many of those substances that have replaced silk in demand are superior to silk for the uses nf mankind. Of course, these substances were produced by synthetic and chemical methods when production by silkworms was an uneconomic proposition. I hope the sheep will never become a silkworm and vanish into obscurity. Unless we are realists we will ignore these challenges. I feel that in this discussion one of the challenges is being ignored. The Bill, of course, fixes a matter that has been discussed already, and indeed there have been indications of approval, even during the Budget session, of the Government’s attempts to provide some assistance for the industry over a restricted period. The Bill operates for only 12 months. It is not suggested at this point of time that there is any definite plan - indeed, there is hope that it may not have to be continued beyond that point of time. This type of assistance to an industry must in itself be limited in terms of time or ultimately it can become a means of the gradual destruction of an industry.
I want to refer specifically to a question I asked in this chamber only recently regarding the enormous increase in the use of acrylic tow and fibres of that nature in this country, which has a population of only 13 million people. My question to the Minister was for the purpose of establishing why this substance was being admitted into Australia from Japan and the United States of America duty free when the United States imposed a 25£c duty, T think it is, on every pound of our wool going into the United States. The reply which I received from the Minister stated that of course there was no duty on this acrylic tow because the Tariff Board had looked at the case and nobody had asked that a duty be imposed. If the Government is going to allow the salvation at least of our own internal consumption market for wool to rest in the hands of some other people they will go to the Tariff Board and ask for tariff protection. Even if the Government itself is well aware of the necessity of it, it will not take the initiative. Is it frightened of the Tariff Board or that somebody may disapprove of the Government itself initiating protection for one of Our basic primary industries which is under tremendous stress? The answer that I received from the Minister confirmed the figures that had been supplied to me by a very small knitting factory in Melbourne, representatives of which abhorred the fact that their use of wool had been reduced by about 80 per cent. That factory is now using about 20 per cent wool whereas it would prefer to use, as it once did, 100 per cent wool. However, if it used 100 per cent wool it would be unable to compete with others who are able to use the acrylic tow which has been imported into Australia free of duty.
I wish to reiterate some of the figures supplied by the Government to substantiats the enormous increase that is taking place in the use of this type of fibre. In answering my question the Minister said:
Imports of acrylic tow and staple have increased from about 2.3 million lb in 1961-62, the first year for which official statistics are available, to about 14.6 million lb in 1970-71.
That increase from 2 million lb to 14 million lb was in a period of about 10 years. Acrylic yarns which are manufactured and brought into Australia formerly attracted a duty of 40 per cent, but because the raw material - the acrylic tow - was being allowed into the countryfree of duty the rate of duty was reduced from 40 per cent to 20 per cent. It is interesting to note that in the past not a great deal of acrylic yarn was imported. Imports of wholly man-made yarn, predominantly of acrylic fibre, rose from about 0.23 million lb in 1969-70 to 2.27 million lb in 1970-71. So in only one year, from a fraction of 1 million lb imports rose by 2 million lb. But, as 1 mentioned, the Government has reduced the import duty on this yarn from 40 per cent to 20 per cent. The Minister said also in his answer:
Local yarn spinners, however, supplied more than 82 per cent of the market acrylic yarn in 1970-71.
I do not see how that helps our wool growers. The Minister continued:
A proportion of local usage of this yarn is in carpet production where it competes against imported wool.
So apparently we import acrylic yarn for the manufacture of carpels, but that is quite apart from the acrylic tow, the imports of which have risen to 14 million lb over a period of 10 years. I presume that this is a new product, as the Minister has suggested, and that this tremendous increase in imports over this short period is at a time when the product is in an experimental stage only. At this time we are not in a position to predict what its future will be in competition with the naturally produced fibre from the wool industry.
I suggest that if the Government is playing for a 12-month time lapse with respect to deficiency payments under its wool price support scheme it will need more than pious talk about helping the wool industry if, at the end of that period, it is to avoid being faced with the inevitable prospect of a continuation of the scheme. 1 should like to see the Government initiate action to search out every possible avenue, at least in our internal markets over which we have control, to increase the demand for the Australian grown product which is competing with the chemically produced product which is imported from, among other countries, the United States of America. I remind the Senate that already we have an adverse balance of trade with the United States.
But, having said that, I propose next to refer to other problems facing the industry. Some of these have been mentioned before because they are associated with other problems confronting us in Australia. Among those problems are the difficulties associated with the deficiency of State and local government finances and the enormous additional costs that are added to the cost of producing wool because of the high interest rates that are applicable, particularly to farmers who have to borrow to maintain their way of life until they receive payment for their clip. Interest payments have reached tremendous proportions which were almost unheard of previously in economic history either in Australia or anywhere else. The average overdraft rate of interest is about 8 per cent. The Government adopts a purist economic theory and claims that a high interest rate in some measure is a control on the inflation that is bounding along, despite high interest rates and encouraged by the inflow of overseas capital that is being encouraged to come into Australia - a politically stable country which is offering high interest rates on money that is invested.
Will the Government, within the 12- month period that it is attempting to buy through this programme of assistance to wool growers, give attention to some of these things, even in a general sense, at the same time pursuing the idea of controlling the inflation that continues despite the high interest rates. The Government claims that the inflation is not in any way aggravated by the addition to costs which flows from high interest rates. But, of course, increased interest charges add to prices in the same way as increased wages add to prices, and in some cases a higher interest rate is a greater embarrassment to a production or industrial company than are the wages paid to the people who are producing the goods. This is especially so when interest rates reach the level that they have been allowed to attain in Australia. If the Government will not do anything about high interest rates, can it be persuaded to do something to improve the prospects of primary industries by pursuing the suggestions made by the Democratic Labor Party and introducing a rural finance corporation, backed by the Government, to alleviate the position in greater measure than has been achieved by the Government’s pressure on the banking system of Australia? In this way loans could be made available to primary producers at rates of interest lower than those which are applicable to industry generally and the general public.
The Government should examine the proposition to give complete assistance to primary producers who have always been high borrowers because sometimes, instead of having a weekly income, they have to wait for an annual cheque which at times can be delayed by a very slow market. Delays can be occasioned also by the need to withhold their product from sale while waiting for the market to adjust itself to a higher level which will enable the product to be sold at a price which affords them a reasonable return.
The Democratic Labor Party does not support the amendments proposed by the Australian Labor Party. An examination of the amendments reveals that they do not in any way suggest to the Government a positive line of action, as I have endeavoured to do during my very brief speech. I have made very small suggestions only, but if the Government is bereft of ideas it may attend at the Democratic Labor Party room where we will be able to offer many more suggestions on how to assist primary producers.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question: That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 November 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1971/19711103_senate_27_s50/>.