28th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Mon. Sir Magnus Cormack) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– In directing a question to the Attorney-General I refer him to Press reports that the Australian Capital Territory Trades and Labour Council has asked the Government to waive the fines of more than $1,200 imposed on 2 persons convicted of charges relating to malicious injury to property and assault. Is it not a fact that the Attorney-General is the responsible Minister in the Government upon whose decision recommendations for the waiving of fines exclusively depend? Will the AttorneyGeneral forthrightly assure the Senate and the people of Australia that he will not make a decision leading to the waiver of fines imposed for such serious charges when the ground alleged is simply that the persons involved are members of the Builders Labourers Federation and that their case is being taken up by a trades and labour council on the assumption that a union supported government should favourably consider any such application?
– The answer to the first part of the honourable senator’s question is yes. These matters are dealt with on the advice of the Attorney-General. The answer to the second part of the question is that I will not make any comments by way of prejudging any application that might be made. In fact, 1 have not seen the Press report to which the honourable senator referred. These days there does not seem to be as much time as there used to be for reading the newspapers. I assure the honourable senator that 1 will do as I think my predecessors would have done - and 1 trust that 1 can include the honourable senator when he was holding the office. T will wait until I get not only the submission but also the recommendations which have been made by the officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department who are concerned with such matters. Then I will give the case due consideration in accordance with the appropriate principles.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Because of the obvious necessity for the community to have clear knowledge of the Government’s policy, will the honourable gentleman clarify a statement by Prime Minister Whitlam that the Australian Labor Party federal authorities - the Executive and the Conference - can be expected not to alter policy on which the Government was elected, at least until after the next general election? Can this assurance that Government policy is frozen and that the ALP Federal Executive and Conference will not be interfering with it prior to the next election be taken as authoritative?
– I think that the question ought to be transmitted to the Prime Minister for him to answer. A habit seems to be developing of subjecting all statements to a microscopic analysis and of teasing statements out to see what can be made of them; then, if those who make them are foolhardy enough to expand upon them, to take the subsequent statement and see what can be made of it. I will transmit the honourable senator’s question to the Prime Minister and trust that he will get an appropriate reply.
– 1 ask the Minister for Customs and Excise: Would it not be correct to say that criticism levelled at him today by the New South Wales Minister for Lands in connection with the ban on the export of kangaroo products would not represent a major issue if ample wildlife reservations to the extent of 10 per cent of the continent were available? Would it be reasonable to assume that the impending conference between Dr Cass and the State Ministers concerned with fauna conservation will result in the implementation of the second recommendation of the House of Representatives Select Committer, on Wildlife Conservation if the States show a little co-operation with the present Government?
– The honourable senator has asked about a statement, apparently made by Mr Lewis of the New South Wales Government, in which Mr Lewis spoke of bans relating to the export of kangaroo products. This is an important subject which has received the attention not only of Australia but of other countries. / think it was some 2 years ago that the State of California enacted laws to prevent products of the kangaroo being taken into that State. It was on the 8th December J 972, before I became Minister for Customs and Excise, that the United States announced that it proposed to make a Jaw to ban the import into the United States of any kangaroo skins or products. The law was almost in the nature of an order nisi; that unless cause was shown it would come into operation on, I think, 15th March this year. There was a convention on wildlife in Washington about a week ago at which the Australian Government, consistent with its attitude for some 50 years, stated that it proposed to deal with the export of kangaroo products by not allowing their export except by way of permit. There are provisions for advice to be obtained from scientific authorities.
It is true that the American report referred to the lack of any co-ordinated management of conservation of kangaroos in Australia, as I recall the words used, and had some very critical remarks to make about the failure of the States, Queenland in particular, to provide the necessary conservation facilities. I inform the honourable senator that a meeting is to be held tomorrow of the Australian fauna conservation bodies. I hope to attend that meeting. I am sure that attention will be given at that meeting to the remarks of Mr Lewis and to how best the Commonwealth and the States can co-operate in ensuring that the species which is featured on our national emblem is not in any danger.
– Did the
Minister for the Media ask United States film distributors to help with the expansion of the Australian film industry? To which specific authority has the Minister directed his request? Have the negotiations been of a preliminary nature, or has a detailed request been forwarded to the American organisations Concerned?
– I think it was about the beginning of last month - February - when I addressed a meeting of the Australian Motion Picture Distributors Association. As the honourable senator would realise, most of the film distributors operating in Australia are foreign owned companies. At that luncheon and subsequently in my office I had the benefit of discussions with the head of the American Motion Picture Industry Association, Mr Valenti. As a result of these discussions he has undertaken to put certain matters to the Motion Picture Industry Association, and I am awaiting a reply from him. I have arranged to have a discussion - from recollection, next Friday week- with representatives of the distributors operating in Australia to see whether we can get their co-operation in obtaining more Australian productions not only on the Australian distribution circuit but also on the distribution circuit in other parts of the world.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, by saying that no doubt the Minister is aware that at the moment the cost of television and radio licences is the same throughout the country, irrespective of the number of radio or television stations transmitting in a particular area. Will the Minister take steps to reduce the cost of the licence in areas such as Tasmania where a limited number of radio and television stations may be received, thus making the cost proportionate to the number of stations which can be selected?
– I have discussed the matter with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It does not have direct responsibility for the matter. Nonetheless, because of its transmission responsibilities, it has some involvement in the area. The policy of the Board to date has been that the whole costs of transmission throughout Australia should be regarded as an overall national responsibility. It is very difficult to devise a policy by which a standard rate will be charged to some people and a lesser rate to others because it is claimed that in a number of large metropolitan cities certain areas have very poor reception and it could well be that if a differential rate were struck there could be differential rates for different metropolitan areas. However, the matter comes more within the ambit of the Postmaster-General’s Department and I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the Postmaster-General to see what reply he can obtain for the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to Senator Keeffe’s proposal to him on Tuesday, 6th March, which the Minister agreed to consider seriously, to cancel or suspend Australia’s beef and mutton export licences. Would the Minister be prepared to table a statement of contracts or licences for export of beef or mutton to which Australia is now committed? Would he agree that Australia’s reputation as a trading nation and the prosperity of its primary industries are bound up largely in its willingness to honour its contracts and obligations to supply its products? Has the Minister noted an article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald’ that a survey of retail meat prices conducted by the Australian Meat Board in six countries showed that as at 1st March this year meat prices in Sydney were the lowest or the next to lowest?
– I have not seen the newspaper article to which the honourable senator referred. I note that he placed a similar interpretation on my statement to that placed on it by Senator Young. It would appear as though they are of the opinion that I have preconceived ideas as to what ought to be done about meat export controls in respect of local prices. I indicated previously to Senator Young, and 1 reiterate now, that my views on the subject are not in any way prejudiced. I did say to Senator Keeffe that I would investigate the matter and consider his suggestion. This I am in the process of doing.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour. Following the action recently announced by the overseas controlled employers of waterside labour to alter the basis upon which the guaranteed wage levy will be made, I ask: What action does the Government propose to take to maintain the viability of such outer ports as Portland, Cairns, Mackay, Coffs Harbour and Esperance, which would appear to be the ports most affected by this decision?
– 1 think the question calls for a policy statement to be made by the Minister for Labour. J ask the honourable senator to put the question on notice.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as the representative in this chamber of the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to an appeal made in the ‘Australian Financial Review’ by Mr Paul Atroshenko, President of the Artists Guild of Australia, for the Government to sponsor a conference in Canberra of representatives of all art societies, art schools and interested groups to ascertain from them their practical needs and desires in respect to the new Council for the Arts? Further, will the Minister explain why the eminent artists Sir William Dargie, who has been Chairman of the Arts Advisory Board since 1969, and Sir Russell Drysdale, who has been a member of the Board since 1962, both of whom have rendered the arts and the nation outstanding services in the positions to which I have referred, were summarily dismissed? Is it a fact that in the new Council these artists, who understand the practical problems of their art, have been replaced by administrators whose knowledge of the arts is largely theoretical?
– I have some information in front of me which may answer part of the honourable senator’s question. The information has been supplied by the Prime Minister’s Department. It is headed ‘Criticism of Size and Structure of the Council’. It states that the criticism of the form of the structure of the new Council for the Arts generally has not taken into account the role of the Council outlined in Mr Whitlam’s Press statement of 26th January. It will be the function of the new Council to develop broad policies for the arts at a Commonwealth level and advise the Government of new initiatives and on overall budgetary reforms. It will act as a forum for joint discussion and co-ordinated planning between the various boards, lt is therefore essential that a wide range of views should be available within the Council. Overseas experience has shown that a council of 24 members is not unusual. Similar bodies in other countries have from 20 to 26 members. It is hoped that the new arrangements will make it possible for people to make a career in the field of arts administration, as is possible in other countries. In the past the arts have suffered to some extent because at a government level they were administered by people with no special knowledge or commitment in the field.
Some further information has been supplied which seems to be related to some of the associated bodies. 1 am perusing it at the moment. Perhaps it is not precisely in line with the information that the honourable senator has sought. It seems that the Prime Minister had those factors in mind. That may be an explanation of what was put by the honourable senator as to the omission of some very distinguished Australians from the body which was appointed by the Prime Minister.
– On 6th March I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether the Minister for Foreign Affairs was correctly reported in the current issue of ‘Newsweek’ as saying that he feared that American forces in Thailand would produce a situation like that in Vietnam and that American use of bases in Thailand for operations against Vietnam had inevitably caused the suspicion and, in fact, hostility of Hanoi against Thailand. I ask the Minister whether he can now answer the question which I asked him on 6th March in these terms:
If so, is this an extension of the new Whitlam doctrine announced in Indonesia of telling Britain and the United States of America to get out of Asia? ls it a fact that in his policy speech Mr Whitlam made no mention whatever of this new and radical foreign policy?
I ask the Minister also whether he is aware of an Australian Associated Press report quoted on radio 2UE today which said:
Thailand has refuted Prime Minister Whitlam’s claim that it could become another Vietnam.
Thai officials say the Australian leader spoke without understanding the real facts. The Bangkok Post’ has criticised Mr Whitlam in a scathing front page editorial. The newspaper advised Mr Whitlam to keep his mouth shut and to mind ‘his own bloody business’. If the Minister is still unable to answer the questions I have asked him today and those I asked on 6th March, will he give the Senate an assurance that Australia’s relations with Thailand will not be jeopardised in the way our relations have been with the United States of America, Indonesia and South Vietnam? Does the Minister agree that Australia is quickly running out of friends?
– 1 did not note all of those questions asked by the honourable senator but 1 think 1 can assist him. Firstly, in relation to the last part of the question, there is no deteriorating situation between Australia and other countries.
- Senator Webster seems to know far more about the relationships between Australia and the rest of the world than I do. The other point raised by Senator Kane concerns 2 newspaper articles which I now have in front of me. Senator Kane asked whether these articles are damaging to relations between Australia and Thailand in the way our relations with other countries are alleged to have been damaged. Well, our relations with other countries have not been damaged. There has been no damage to relations between the Thais and the Australians. I did not have at the time the exact quotation to which Senator Kane referred the other day, but after he asked his question I did obtain a copy of the relevant section of ‘Newsweek’ which I will read. It consisted of a series of questions asked of and answers given by Mr Whitlam. The particular question and answer that is of interest to Senator Kane reads:
What are your thoughts on the American presence in Asia?
Mr Whitlam said:
My remaining fear is that the American forces in Thailand may produce a situation like Vietnam. American use of air bases in Thailand for operations against Vietnam has inevitably aroused the suspicions, and in fact the hostility of Hanoi against Thailand. The continued presence of American forces in Thailand would prolong that suspicion and hostility.
That is the exact context of the article to which Senator Kane referred. I noticed that one of this morning’s newspapers criticised this statement by Mr Whitlam and used that indelicate word which Senator Kane used. I think the relevant point here, as I understand it from glacing through the article - this was quoted in the Australian Press - was that Mr Whitlam said:
The purpose of the continued American presence, agreed upon by Thai and American authorities, is to ensure that the Vietnam and Laos ceasefire agreements are implemented.
That is the Thai reasoning for maintaining the forces there. I think Mr Whitlam was asked a direct question about the situation in Asia. The presence of Americans in Thailand is a matter for the Americans and the Thais.
In that sense this is not of direct concern to Australia. But when one is asked a question such as this during an interview one expresses an opinion. After all, if we were to confine ourselves in debates here to the relations between Australia and other countries the debates would not be as full as they are. But is not the over-riding consideration that most honourable senators would not want to see another Vietnam? This was the context in which the Prime Minister was speaking. Also it was in the context that Thai bases were used by American bombers during the IndoChinese war. That situation has now changed, we hope permanently. The sort of thing which we want to see now that the cease-fire has taken place is a scaling down of all the military establishments and activity in that area. I would think that would be axiomatic. I do not think we want a cease fire and then have the same number of troops hanging around that area.
– Particularly in the south.
– Yes, all troops. In considering foreign policy and all its nuances honourable senators should use a broad vision not to try to turn it into a political battleground. If they did this perhaps they would understand the situation much better. Another point which Senator Kane makes is that suddenly there has been a radical departure. Surely nobody in Australia or any other country who has done his reasearch properly would expect anything else from a Labor Government when it came to office. We said that we would withdraw troops. The Opposition when in Government beat us to that. It withdrew them. We said that we would do everything possible to stop the Vietnam war and to see that the cease fire continued. Surely that was no surprise. To come to the last point raised by Senator Kane, I point out that Thailand and Australia have had and still enjoy tremendously good relations both politically and economically. There is no reason why this situation should be disturbed. The Thai newspaper has a right to say what it likes. It does not necessarily reflect the views of anybody except the writer. That is the situation with the Press in Australia and, as I understand it, in Thailand. I have been able to assist Senator Kane. I did not have these papers before me when he spoke the other day. As for the rest, that is my answer to him.
– I ask the Minister for the Media: What arrangements, if any, is the Australian Broadcasting Commission making to have an ABC correspondent stationed in Peking now that Australia recognises the People’s Republic of China?
– I understand that the Australian Broadcasting Commission at its last meeting which was held about a fortnight ago decided to appoint an Australian Broadcasting Commission reporter on a permanent basis to Peking as soon as the necessary formalities can be negotiated with the Chinese authorities. I understand that the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Ambassador to China, Dr Fitzgerald, have had discussions on this matter. Dr Fitzgerald has undertaken to do everything possible to enable the Commission to proceed with the appointment at an early date. I am given to understand also by the Australian Broadcasting Commission that our Ambassador to China has undertaken to discuss with the Chinese Government the possibility of having Radio Australia officially recognised by China as an overseas broadcasting service. I understand that such a status has been accorded in China to the British Broadcasting Commission’s Chinese language service.
I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health? Is it a fact that the Minister for Health has indicated a desire to see employment created for what he terms medical mothers’? These would be women medical graduates not now practising medicine who could be gainfully employed professionally, as the Minister said, when their children were at school. Without being in any way critical of the concept, having due regard to the demands made upon the medical profession and medical services, I ask whether it would not be essential that such medical mothers be first given aid in a refresher course on contemporary medical practice before the scheme became operative rather than assume that they could immediately recommence practice and thereby become proficient in modern medical practices.
– 1 understand that it is Dr Everingham^ desire to see employment created for what have been termed medical mothers. As to the second portion of the question, there does appear to me to be a fair amount of common sense in what the honourable senator has put forward and I will therefore forward his SURgestation to my colleague for consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Is it a fact that following discussions in mid-December 1972 between the Victorian Premier, Mr Hamer, and the Federal Treasurer, Mr Crean, the new Labor Government promised the Victorian Government grants totalling $13.5m over the next 6 months for unemployment relief in both the metropolitan and country districts? Was a special grant of $250,000 promised for East Gippsland to provide part-time employment for farmers affected by the severe drought in that area? Did the Commonwealth Government attach any conditions to this grant and from what date was it available? Finally, has the Commonwealth Government received any request from the Victorian Government as to when and how it wants this special grant of $250,000 made available?
– Does the Minister representing the Treasurer carry that information with him?
– I have a general approach to it because I took part in some of these discussions in January. The dates, however, I cannot confirm. I believe that $13. 5m is the correct figure though I do not know what period it is to cover. T think this was the tenor of the general discussion and that that was the amount of money it was considered Victoria would need. I remember that $250,000 was the sum promised for the special situation in East Gippsland because, I understand, of a prolonged drought there. As far as I know no special conditions are attached to it. I do not think that this is the type of grant to which special conditions would apply. Indeed I am sure there were no special conditions. I cannot give the exact dates but I think the matter was consummated in a letter from the Prime Minister in early to middle January, as I remember returning to Canberra after the Christmas break. As a result of having spoken to some people on this the other day I understand that no request has been received yet as to exactly how Victoria wants the money to be allocated.
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate as Minister representing the Prime Minister. Is it correct that the Prime Minister, Mr Whitlam, has expressed himself very strongly in favour of open government? If the answer is yes, I ask why the Prime Minister has not released to the Parliament and the public the contents of his protest to the President of the United States of America in connection with the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong by the United States Air Force. Will he now release the contents of his protest?
– lt is true, as the honourable senator says, that the Prime Minister has expressed himself in favour of open government. Indeed, that is the policy of the Government. May I indicate to honourable senators for their information that the Prime Minister some weeks ago announced that the Cabinet had authorised me to prepare a Bill for freedom of information, broadly following the concepts of the American Freedom of Information Act and to implement in Australia what was broadly then recommended by the Franks Committee in the United Kingdom, that is, to remove restrictions upon public servants and to clarify the areas in which they might not be permitted to speak out. 1 should inform the Senate that a great deal of progress has been made in this direction. I hope that before very long I will be able to introduce a measure into the Senate for the consideration of honourable senators to carry out those announcements of Government policy. There are certain international courtesies which cover the position of diplomatic notes. It is known that sometimes the contents of such notes are not disclosed. Sometimes they are. If this is done, it is generally done by mutual agreement. But it is probably one of the areas in which, in the interests of diplomacy between nations, restraints are placed upon openness which might not properly apply in other areas. It might be convenient if the question were referred to the Prime Minister so that he might add to what I have said if he so desires.
– The Minister for Primary Industry may recall my questions as to whether the Government intended to have a document prepared that will set out clearly the arguments, for and against, in relation to the merino ram export ban referendum. Is he now in a position to advise the Senate of his decision? Will a document be prepared? Who will prepare the cases for and against?
– I have a note on this matter because Senator Webster expressed an interest in it. I advise him that, as it has been the practice in past referendums of having explanatory notes, it is my intention to follow the same procedure in this case. The statement on this occasion will explain firstly, the questions to be decided at the poll; secondly, the principal arguments advanced by those who support opposing views on the issue’; and thirdly, the eligibility to vote. It will not support or deny the arguments which have been advanced on the subject. I regard it as preferable for industry organisations so inclined to present their viewpoints separately. However, the main organisations concerned, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders will be consulted and their advice obtained on aspects to be included in the explanatory statement.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that the Paris Accords stipulate the release of all prisoners of war from North and South Vietnam and the release of political prisoners from detention in South Vietnam and that these releases should be completed within 60 days from the signing of the Vietnam Peace Agreement? Has it been brought to the notice of the Government that scores of thousands of political prisoners - some say 200,000 - are languishing in gaols in South Vietnam and that many of them have now been reclassified as common criminals? Would the Government consider making urgent representations to the Thieu regime suggesting that the return to normal conditions of national reconciliation and democratic government in South Vietnam will be impossible unless all such persons are given their freedom and an opportunity to participate in the rehabilitation of Vietnam?
– As I recall the Vietnam Peace Agreement, it made arrangements for the release of such prisoners within 90 days. As I understand it, it is not spelt out in every detail, but obviously the intention was that the 2 sides in South Vietnam would exchange lists of prisoners and start to release prisoners. The figure of 200,000 has been cited. I understand that it is thought by observers that this figure is far too high. In answer to a question asked the other day I think I said that already lists of the 27,000 people to be released have been prepared. There is a tremendous amount of interest in this matter all over the world. There are scores of people in Vietnam looking for different individuals. Recently Senator Mulvihill asked me about 5 people in whom an Australian group is interested. It is difficult to get specific information about individuals.
The overall situation is that this is now an international agreement to which Australia is not a party. But even if Australia were a party to the agreement, we have to give the agreement a chance to work. This is one of the worrying things that is still coming out of the cease fire, and I am sure that the International Control Commission will be paying tremendously close attention to it. If there is not some movement by the end of this period of time, I am sure that the Commission will be informing the world of it.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General in his capactiy as Minister in charge of security. I refer to his answer to me yesterday on the matter of President Tito’s telecast stating that he had sent his secret police agents to Australia to crush Croatians. I ask the Attorney-General: In the course of his answer to me, does he recall saying that in essence no report of his officers had been given to the Yugoslav authorities in Australia, and that he personally, certainly would not make any such reports available to the Yugoslavs before presenting them in the Parliament? If this is so, I draw the AttorneyGeneral’s attention to a statement in the Melbourne ‘Sun’ on 6th March, which reads:
Mr Whitlam has already told the Yugoslav Government of some Federal police findings on the activities of Croatian nationalists from Australia.
If this is correct, can the Attorney-General inform the Senate whether Mr Whitlam is now administering the security section of his portfolio? Can be explain why this information was given by Mr Whitlam to a foreign power before giving it to this Parliament? Is this another instance of our new independent foreign policy being independent of the Senate?
– I cannot remember precisely all of the questions, but I think that in general, as I heard them, the answer to them is no. The Senate has been informed that I propose to make a statement today touching on matters of terrorism which were raised by Senator James McClelland some few days ago. Senator Hannan suggests that there is something improper in informing the Yugoslav authorities of events in Australia.I would think it was most important that the Yugoslav authorities should be informed of certain happenings, and that there should be certain exchanges of information with them for the very reason that it is evident that in Australia there has been action by, if I recall the precise words used in the report of the former Department of External Affairs presented in this Parliament, extremist or terrorist elements in Australia, directed at the offices and persons of the Yugoslav Government in Australia - principally the consulates.
In the next 2 weeks there is to be a visit to Australia by the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia. It is evident that in connection with that visit, as in connection with the visit of any person from any other country, security arrangements will be made for the protection of the distinguished guest in our country. Most certainly there will be close liaison between the Yugoslav authorities and the appropriate low enforcement and protective authorities in Australia in order to ensure that proper protection shall be given to the visitor. For that reason, if for no other, the honourable senator ought to be aware that there would be an exchange of information between the 2 countries.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister following upon the question asked by Senator Wood. At the time the protest against the bombing of North Vietnam was delivered to the United States, in order to be even-handed why was not an emphatic protest against the invasion of South Vietnam by, as reported, 200,000 well equipped troops, which in fact triggered off the bombing referred to and protested against, delivered to the Hanoi Government instead of advancing a proposal to recognise that Government and to receive some of its trade union representatives in this country?
– I will not enter into the argumentative aspects of what was put by the honourable senator in relation to the protest by Australia. His question could easily have been put to the other countries and persons around the world who were making similar protests, in various degrees, at the same time as the Australian Government made its protest to the United States Government over the bombing of Hanoi. It is evident what the opinion of the world was. The opinion of the Australian Government was conveyed to the United States Government.I do not think the viewpoint of the honourable senator would be shared widely throughout the world.
– Did the Minister for Customs and Excise study the report of the all-party committee of the House of Representatives on kangaroos before imposing the export ban on kangaroo products? Will he obtain reports from areas of inland Australia where the pastoral industry is likely to be affected adversely by the breeding up of great hordes of kangaroos if there is no incentive to control their numbers? As the House of Representatives commitee on wildlife, which included some prominent conservationists, found that the kangaroo was not in danger of extinction and the committee actually advocated the investigation of commercial kangaroo farming, will the. Minister reconsider the export ban?
– The honourable senator asked whether I studied the report of the House of Representatives committee. The answer is yes. That report contained some interesting conclusions, such as that there was conflicting evidence concerning safe levels of harvesting and more research was necessary, that there was inadequate knowledge of management and control methods and that a census of kangaroo numbers was impossible. That was the committee’s conclusion; I do not suggest that it would be universally accepted. The committee also concluded that the industry’s claim that harvesting could be selfregulatory was not acceptable. It said that confusion existed about the degree of competition between kangaroos and stock and that there had been few investigations of kangaroo mobility. The committee members took the view that there ought to be more research in kangaroo ecology and biology and increased management and control staff.
Not only did I study the report of that committee, but the report of the Baysinger Committee in the United States was available to me. Is the honourable senator aware of the Baysinger report of 8th December 1972? It was prepared by Earl B Baysinger, Assistant Chief, Office of Endangered Species and International Activities. In it some extremely critical remarks were passed about what was happening in Australia. It referred to the lack of proper conservation management and said:
From the information available, it appears there is no Federal or co-ordinated State program to gather collate and analyse data concerning the status of the kangaroo throughout their ranges, nor does it appear a co-ordinated program to regulate and enforce the regulation of the harvest of these animals exists.
My own inquiries as to whether that statement by the distinguished United States investigator is correct so far have borne out its validity. It was also said in that report:
Thus it appears the kangaroos are subjected to a heavy commercial harvest and that the state of the art of kangaroo management has not yet progressed to the point at which it can be said with a degree of certainty that such harvest does not constitute a significant threat to the continued survival of these animals.
It said also that there were certain elementary steps which ought to be taken but which had not been taken in Australia. If the honourable senator is interested I might indicate to him that it was considered that there should be a co-ordinated program to monitor the status of each sub-species throughout its range.
– Tell us about exports. That was the question.
– Since the honourable senator and his colleagues are not interested in hearing what further material is available on the matter, may I indicate that there will be a meeting tomorrow of certain government bodies concerned with this subject. It is an extremely important one for Australia. What has been done has been done with a full recognition of what was involved. Whatever steps are taken in the future will be taken with full recognition of the pressures, the consequences and the importance of the subject matter.
– Like the 4 weeks annual leave.
– Order! I think Senator Murphy has been very moderate. I remember a previous Minister taking what seemed like an hour to answer a question.
– 1 ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: ls it not a fact that this administration and previous administrations have spent many millions of the taxpayer’s dollars on education and can exert some influence on the education system throughout Australia? Is it not a fact that uniform spelling of words is desirable and that in respect of the English language system a style of long standing is taught throughout Australia? If the answers are yes, will the Minister give an assurance, and obtain one from the Prime Minister, that the efforts of one of the more eccentric Ministers in the second Whitlam Government to introduce a new and weird system of spelling within his department is stopped forthwith?
– I would hate to have to answer the question on the basis of my assessment as to who was one of the more eccentric of the Ministers either of this Government or of any previous government. However, my understanding is that all Ministers have accepted the style which has been recommended by the Australian Government Publishing Service. My recollection is that a very important committee - the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications, of which both Senator Marriott and I were members - presented a report, which was widely accepted, a style manual and so on. I understand that that style is being observed. There may be a slight amount of cribbing in one department in order to enlighten the Australian public about the possibilities of adopting uniform spelling. If Senator Marriott is referring to Dr Everingham, I know that Dr Everingham has had a very long interest in the subject of not only uniformity of spelling but also uniformity of graphic descriptions of chemicals that might be used in various formulae. His interest is shared by a great many persons. My understanding is that in fact his Department is observing the requirements of style which apply to all departments.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Transport aware that the ‘Straitsman’ was built in Australian yards, that it cost approximately $1.5m and that it has Iain idle for more than 6 months although it was constructed especially for the King Island trade? Has this Government had any negotiations with the interests representing the ‘Straitsman’ for the purpose of putting that ship into the service so badly needed by residents of King Island?
– -I appreciate the position. I know about the idleness of the ship. As I answered on 2 occasions yesterday, the Prime Minister has expressed concern about this matter. In answer to a question yesterday he said that he was calling upon the Minister for Transport for a statement on it. That statement will be made available to Parliament. The whole question of transport to King Island is receiving urgent consideration. I can add nothing until I get an official statement from the Minister.
– Have you made any inquiries?
– Yes, we have.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence seen a statement made by the Prime Minister at his Press conference in Djakarta on 22nd February in which he said, in relation to the Fill aircraft: ‘We have paid for them, so we might as well take them. We cannot trade them in’? Have these aircraft been paid for? What is the final price? Has the Government approached the United States authorities with a view to trading them in?
– The honourable senator may recall that recently I answered a question asked by Senator Drake-Brockman, I think, in which I said that the Royal Australian Air Force will use the Fill aircraft. It will become a part of the RAAF’s complement and it will be used as effectively as it can be in that context. The Government has no intention of not making full use of the aircraft, although, as I stated at the time of the original purchase in 1963, the then Labor Opposition thought that the selection was a bad one. I gave some figures to Senator Brown this week. At present new evaluations of cost and liabilities are before the Cabinet. Until that information is available, I cannot give Senator Maunsell the figures. When they are available I will give them to him.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Secondary Industry, refers to a comment in today’s ‘Australian’ on the manufacture of colour television sets and on a decision regarding the protection, if any, to be granted to local set manufacturers. As the writer expressed the view that on that decision alone rests the economic viability of commercial television for the next 10 years, I ask: When will the Government be in a position to announce a decision that will have a widespread impact on this industry and related industries?
– I will refer the honourable senator’s question to the appropriate Minister.
– I direct a question to the Special Minister of State. Did the Minister note the comment in the editorial that has already been referred to in the ‘Bangkok Post’ that Hanoi is providing material as well as moral support for the insurgents in Thailand? Does the Government agree that this is interference with the internal affairs of Thailand? If so, will the Government advise Hanoi that, in the interests of peace and stability in the region, it should immediately cease interfering with the internal affairs of another country?
– I do not think an Australian Government should make a move concerning its relationships with another country on the basis of an editorial in a third country.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I must say that I was tempted, for obvious reason, to ask the Attorney-General whether he is in fact the author of a book called ‘Speech is of Unconscionable Time*. Leaving whimsy aside, I would like to ask a question that is supplementary to the question asked yesterday by Senator Hannan concerning President Tito’s statement that Yugoslav Government secret police are in Australia. I ask: Does the AttorneyGeneral say of his own knowledge and arising out of information available from bis advisers, including the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, that there is no evidence at all of such foreign agents in Australia? Will the Minister ensure, while taking every possible action to preserve the safety of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia and his party while they are in Australia, that the Australian Government will not permit that visit to be used as a propaganda forum for the domestic philosophies and severe internal conflicts of the Yugoslav Government or, to use the AttorneyGeneral’s own felicitous phrase, ‘to bring the quarrels of Europe to Australia?
– I assure the Senate that 1 will do everything I can do to instruct the persons under my direction to ensure the protection of this distinguished visitor and that I will see to it that there is every proper co-operation with the Yugoslav authorities. I have no doubt that the Yugoslav authorities, as is common with such visits, will probably have officials and protective persons of their own accompanying the Prime Minister. I have little doubt that some may have preceded his visit. I am unable to give the honourable senator any further details on that subject matter. As to the rest of the honourable senator’s question, the visit of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia to Australia is a most important one. I trust that the visit will be conducted in the same manner, as have the visits of many other distinguished persons from Europe, and that it will not be marred by any unpleasantness.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer to an answer which he gave to Senator Greenwood in which he appeared to deny having received any representations about the new matrimonial causes rules from the Family Law Committee of the Sydney University Law Graduates Association, although late in his answer he did indicate that he had received a letter from that body, as I understood his reply. I ask: Will the Attorney-General be prepared to table whatever document he has received from the Family Law Committee, or whatever it may be called, and will he indicate where in that document the criticism was mostly directed to the question of costs?
– 1 am indebted to my distinguised predecessor in this chair, who, in a relatively quiet interjection, indicated that one ought not to table such documents in the Senate. I think that is very sage advice.
– They are not the words you used when refering to a predecessor in answer to a request by me for a lot of documents.
– 1 think I referred to a distinguished predecessor sitting in this chair.
– Any third party also has rights.
– Yes. I thank the distinguished former Leader of the Government. I am not aware that Senator Greenwood has occupied the position. No doubt at times it appeared as though he wanted to do so. I propose to act on the basis that I should not table in the Senate documents which have been sent to me by third parties. If I did so I think it would lead us into all sorts of difficulties. There may be a departure from that practice on occasion but I think as a general rule this practice ought to be applied.
– You misquoted it. What did you do about that?
– 1 did not know that the honourable senator had any access to documents which have been sent to me. He says that 1 misquoted it. I might remind the Senate that I am not conscious of having quoted from such a document. I certainly did not have any such document with me in the Senate, and 1 do not propose to table the document.
– I refer the Special Minister of State, who represents the Treasurer in this chamber, to the premature announcement by the Premier of South Australia during the course of his current State election campaign that a $300m petro-chemical industry will be established by an American owned company at Redcliffs in the north of the Spencer Gulf area of South Australia. Is the Minister aware that the South Australian Premier has stated that he now has a letter of intent from a Japanese company, Mitsubishi, indicating that it is prepared to enter a partnership with the Americans? As this proposal would seem to be supported essentially by foreign capital and therefore conflicts with Federal Labor policy, will the Minister assure the Senate that the Federal Government will give its blessing to this project - that is, of course, if the feasibility studies that are still to be finalised show that the proposition is viable?
– There is a certain amount of hypothetical matter in that question. Firstly, I am aware that the timing of this question has some relation to the event which is to take place in South Australia next Saturday. I suspected as much when Senator Jessop rose to his feet. I am not aware of the details of what is going on in the South Australian election campaign. As I understood him, the honourable senator put forward the proposition that any overseas capital coming into Australia for businesses in Australia would be against Labor policy. Of course, it would not. We have never said that there should be no overseas investment in Australia. What we say is that the money coming into Australia should be examined by the Australian Government to ensure that it will be good for Australia as well as for the participating company.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration say whether Press reports are correct that a Mr and Mrs Bonfield of Elizabeth South in South Australia are returning to England at the expense of the Immigration Department, as agreed to during the Christmas period of this year. I emphasise that it was during the Christmas period, after the Federal elections. If this is so and as the Government propounds the policy of open government, will the Minister give the full facts as to why this family has been granted these financial benefits? Does the Minister intend to give such assistance in the future to all migrant families which wish to return to their own countries?
– I am not aware of the report to which Senator Young has referred. I have not seen it. I will refer the honourable senator’s question to my colleague the Minister for Immigration for a reply.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral or bis Department any responsibility for what are claimed to be inspired Press statements forecasting in detail the statement which the Attorney-General proposes to make on alleged Ustasha activities? As the Press statement that 200 Croat conspirators have left Australia for Yugoslavia very probably places a smear on innocent Croatian citizens who recently may have left Australia on legiti mate and normal visits to their homeland and as the citizen could be subject - on the basis of the Press reports - to arrest or molestation without cause by Yugoslav police, will the Minister expedite his statement and produce the necessary evidence to pinpoint those whom he accuses so that innocent Croatian citizens here and abroad will not suffer further?
– I think that there is a good point in what is being raised by the honourable senator. It should be clear to the Australian public and I think it is a matter of common sense that the great body of migrants who have come from Yugoslavia, including those from Croatia, are law abiding citizens wanting to be assimilated into the Australian community. They, like other persons in Australia, would have no truck with violence or terrorism. I would think they are greatly concerned at the fact that the activities of a relatively few persons have caused such concern to the Australian community and to themselves. I think it would be quite wrong for any inference to be drawn against persons who are leaving Australia as the honourable senator has mentioned. I have not seen the precise report which he has mentioned but I think it is fair to say that it would be quite wrong for anyone to draw the inference against a person that because he is of Croatian descent and is leaving Australia in some way this means that he is a criminal or participating in some kind of illegal activity or has come under the suspicion of the Government in any way. I thank the honourable senator for raising this matter. It is not right that such inferences should be drawn against innocent persons.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. By way of preface 1 refer to proceedings last year when Senators Hannan and McManus deplored the action of the then government in cancelling the passport of Srecko Rover. Honourable senators know of my constant agitation to pinpoint the wrongdoers in the Croatian community. I put it to the Attorney-General: Do not the activities of this gentleman seriously question the creditability of both Senator Hannan and Senator McManus and has not this criticism impaired relations with the broad Yugoslav community which is disgusted with the action of people like Mr Rover?
– I claim that I have been misrepresented by the honourable senator who has just resumed his seat.
– I understood you had that feeling. You are entitled to ask leave of the Senate to make a personal explanation.
– I ask for leave to make a personal explanation.
– You may do that after Senator Murphy has responded.
– I ask that the honourable senator place that question on notice.
– Senator Hannan, do you wish to make a personal explanation?
– Yes. I ask for leave of the Senate to make a personal explanation.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I simply state that Senator Mulvihills statement that I attacked my own Party when in government for cancelling Rover’s passport is not true.
– I claim to have been misrepresented and I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Senator Mulvihill has stated that I attacked the decision of the Government to cancel Mr Rover’s passport. What I did - and Senator Mulvihill approved it - was to ask the Government what were the circumstances in which an Australian citizen’s passport could be cancelled and what was the tribunal or body to which he could apply. Senator Mulvihill said that he had been agitating for that for years. What he has stated today that I am alleged to have done I never did on any occasion.
– I seek information by way of a question without notice directed to the Minister for Repatriation, Senator Bishop, who represents in this place the Minister for Labour, Mr Cameron. Both are South Australians. Does the Minister see the dramatic improvement in the figures released by the Department of Labour relating to the number of people unemployed in Australia as an indicator that Australia is on the move again after 23 years in the doldrums? Does this encouraging trend not indicate that there is a new confidence in this country in trade and industry which combined with good rains, high wool prices, increasing oil and gas discoveries
– Order! Is the honourable senator seeking information or giving it?
– Does the Minister not think that these factors will allow Australia under a Labor Government to forge ahead to a bright and prosperous future?
– Of course I agree with Senator O’Byrne. He has asked me some questions about the drop in unemployment figures.
– McMahon’s policy having its effect.
– Just let me answer. The Government feels that the fact that its Ministers met quite quickly after the election and its quick action in proposing certain aid to the States have resulted in improvements which have been reflected in the employment figures. Yesterday Mr Cameron gave preliminary employment figures which showed that in February 1973 there was a drop of about 31,900 or 23.5 per cent in the number of persons registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. Those figures compare with a decrease of 15,084 or 11.6 per cent during the same period in 1972, 12,860 or 14.4 per cent in 1971, and 19,946 or 24.5 per cent in 1970. As the Senate will recall, yesterday in answer to a question asked by Senator Young about the problem of getting employees to go to the Riverland area of South Australia, I indicated that the South Australian figures were very good. I believe they reflect the good economic policies of the Labor Government, and I believe that what is happening now is an indication that the Labor Government is doing all it can to assist the economy and that its policies are bearing fruit.
– My question which ir directed to the Attorney-General relates to the Matrimonial Causes rules. 1 ask the Attorney-General to appreciate that, although it relates to a matter which was raised yesterday, if he will read the Hansard report of yesterday’s proceedings he will appreciate that he did not answer many of the questions which were then asked. I therefore ask: On what principle does he prejudice and penalise a woman of limited means who is concerned to obtain a divorce from a husband who has no answer to her claim, by taking away her right to have her costs paid by that husband? Does he not recognise that his amendment to these divorce rules - some supposed advance or reform - denying this right to women causes real and unnecessary suffering? Is he not aware or does he not care that some wives are not prepared or able to seek a divorce because of this amendment? How does he justify what he has done?
– The honourable senator has raised a case in which when one starts to examine it, assuming the parties have no money or that the husband has no real means, an order would be futile. What happens is that the costs are built up by the unnecessary procedures of taxation, service of bills and service of orders. This is all part of the procedure by which the costs are built up. On the other hand, let us suppose that the husband has ample means. I think that that was the case suggested by Senator Durack some few days ago. Of course, it is quite clear that if the husband has ample means the wife will be able to get appropriate orders. Supposedly, the wife completely lacking in means is able, by the use of appropriate processes, to get orders for maintenance, division of property and so forth by which her impecunious position can be relieved. If there are some cases that are not met and which fall between the 2 stools or otherwise cause hardship, I have indicated that included in the rules is a provision that hardship cases can be brought to the. notice of the AttorneyGeneral.
If the means of legal aid that are available under some of the State schemes are not sufficient, it seems proper that some form of legal assistance should be given by the Commonwealth in order to enable the proceedings to be carried on. So the hardship that has been referred to by the honourable senator will not occur. Of course, the position has to be looked at against a background in which learned judges considered that the pre-existing rules, which the honourable senator did nothing to reform, added very much to the expense of proceedings. It was evident that persons in the position to which the honourable senator has referred would be paying sums of money to solicitors very much in excess of any amount that could be recovered from husbands. The reality of the position is that there was a good deal of hardship being caused to some members of the community.
It is clear that the cost of proceedings has been very greatly reduced. I am pleased that there has been plenty of indication from members of the legal profession that they think the amount of the costs is reasonable and that they are prepared to face up to their social responsibility and see to it that the rules work, notwithstanding the severe limitation that has been placed on the costs.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Science. What progress has been made towards the development of the proposed Institute of Marine Science at Townsville in Queensland?
– I will refer the question to the Minister for Science and obtain a full answer for the honourable senator.
– As the response of the Attorney-General to my previous question means that the husband who has been guilty of a matrimonial offence and does not want to defend his conduct is not now to be required to pay the costs of the innocent wife, how does he justify the proposal that the innocent taxpayer should be required to pay such husband’s costs?
– I share the view of most members of the community and certainly the view of most of those who have reflected on and written about this subject or who have given evidence before the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. This view is that the notion of the guilty husband and the innocent wife is something that belongs with the rest of the 19th century thinking of the honourable senator. In modern days the legislative provisions under which a great number of divorces are granted is on the ground of separation. This does not involve any question of guilt. As to the other grounds, the common understanding is that it is absurd to talk about guilt and innocence in this way because in practically all cases what happens is an unfortunate human tragedy in which the people are no longer able to live with each other. It is the honourable senator’s views about guilt and innocence which are incompatible with the modern approach to divorce and which, as far as I am concerned, will as soon as possible be swept entirely out of the Act if I can induce this chamber and the other chamber to accept that view.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. In view of the fact that working women who receive pay and status equal to that of a male worker can retire at age 60 years and receive the old age pension, when equal pay becomes the rule in this country will the Minister consider reducing the retiring age for the male to 60 years instead of the present 65 years? This would seem particularly fair when we consider that women outlive men. Therefore, males should be allowed to retire first so that they can have an equal number of years of leisure before they totally retire.
– It appears to me that the question to which Senator Townley has directed my attention is one of policy for my colleague the Minister for Social Security. Therefore, I would ask him to place the question on the notice paper and I will secure a reply for him.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Works as the representative of the Minister for Transport. Is it a fact that the Government has decided that up to 40 per cent of all future exports of Australian minerals shall be carried in Australian ships? Was a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis done on the question? If so, can the report be released? Further, does the Minister really believe that we can expect to pick the eyes out of profitable shipping runs without there being some adverse effect on other shipping rates, or even retaliation by overseas shippers and overseas maritime unions?
– The Minister for Transport decided that 40 per cent of Australian minerals will be carried in Australian ships. This was done as a result of a study which was made. I do not know whether it could be called a feasibility study. The decision takes into account the desire to promote Australian shipping. The Minister who has studied this question is satisfied that it is in Australia’s interests to promote Australian shipping by ensuring that Australian ores are carried in Australian ships. I do not know whether the carrying of minerals is a profitable line of cartage. But I do not think there is any need to fear possible loss of support of other companies by virtue of the fact that we are retaining the right to ship portion of our mineral exports.
– My question, which is directed to the Attorney-General, arises out of a question which I asked him earlier today and in answer to which he refused to table in the Senate a document containing representations to him from the Family Law Committee of the University of Sydney Law Graduates Association.
– Representations to him as a representative of this Parliament.
– That is so.
– Order! Senator Durack does not need any prompting.
– In view of the AttorneyGeneral’s refusal to table in the Senate the document to which he has referred, despite the principles of open government that he espouses, I now ask him whether he would be prepared to re-read that document and to indicate to the Senate whether he did not grossly distort it in referring to it in the Senate yesterday.
– I have no doubt that the submissions of any body, such as the one the honourable senator mentioned, can be made in the appropriate place. I have indicated that I believe it is undesirable - certainly in general - to table in the Senate correspondence that I receive. If the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs proceeds with its inquiry into the question of divorce, I have no doubt that whatever submissions the body wants to make will come before that Committee. I see no reason why we should pursue this line of saying what somebody said to me and so on. If the honourable senator has something to say about the divorce law, let him say it. If other people want to say something about it to the appropriate body, let them say it. I do not intend to become part of the Post Office and to start delivering into this chamber correspondence that has been sent to me; nor do I intend to pass observations on matters in the way the honourable senator has asked me to, whether there is a gross distortion, a distortion or no distortion at all. I do not propose to pursue the matter any further.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns a question asked yesterday by Senator
Mulvihill in which he advocated that graziers on Western Lands Division leases in the far west of New South Wales and in neighbouring South Australia be phased out of the area and that the area be allowed to return to its natural state. Will the Minister, before taking such inhuman and brutal action, give consideration to the old-fashioned principle that the conservation of decent, hard working human beings who have contributed greatly to the development and welfare of all Australians should be more important in government priorities than kangaroos and emus, however attractive these natural fauna may be and however important their conservation may be?
– I indicated yesterday, when I answered the question by Senator Mulvihill, that this was a matter of some fundamental concern in the general consideration of rural industries. I assure Senator Carrick that in my deliberations I will take into account all the factors he has raised.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral endorse the censorship principle stated by a number of his ministerial colleagues that under Labor there will be virtually no censorship in this country? Did the appeal board of the Film Censorship Board reject for public viewing in Australia the film W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism’? Did the Attorney-General direct the appeal board to reverse its decision and make the film available for public viewing? As it has been said to me that this film makes ‘Last Tango in Paris’ look like a Walt Disney cartoon, will the Minister have the film shown to members of the Federal Parliament so that the type of film to be made available to the Australian public under a Labor Government may be evaluated?
– I am not sure what happened about the film ‘W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism’. I know, because one honourable senator communicated with me about it, that there was some difficulty about it being shown in a festival in Perth. There was some technicality as to whether or not it was a film festival. Ultimately the film was shown there subject to some conditions. I am not sure exactly how that decision was arrived at. I remember the film well because I saw it at a film festival in Sydney. I have been warned not to express any personal opinions about films but I must confess that at times during the course of that film I snoozed. I found it to be not as exciting as the honourable senator suggests. If he really thinks that it would advance the understanding of members of Parliament if they were to see the film I am quite sure that in accordance with the previous procedures this could be arranged.
As for censorship in general, the policy of the Australian Labor Party is quite clear: In general, adults shall be entitled to read, hear and view what they wish in private or in public, and persons and those in their care shall not be exposed to unsolicited material which is offensive to them. There is provision for a judicial tribunal to deal with these matters and to publish reasons for decisions. The words ‘in general’ are used because there may be some cases where it would be agreed on all hands that there should be a prohibition of showing. It may be that those cases would not constitute what is normally called censorship, although strictly they would be. I think it would be agreed on all hands that one should not permit, for example, a training course in murder to be conducted, or a training course in how to break safes and to get away undetected. In one sense such things may be regarded not so much as censorship in a normal sense but as the prevention of incitement to crime. No doubt in the technical sense that would be censorship, so it is not thought that censorship would disappear entirely.
I think the Australian Labor Party’s policy was widely welcomed when it was formulated at the 1969 Federal Conference of the Party. I recall that the Young Liberals in Victoria clamoured for that policy to be adopted by the Liberal Party and from time to time various members of other parties have expressed approbation of the ALP policy.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the Government any evidence that North Vietnam and other communist countries are interfering in the internal affairs of Thailand and other South East Asian countries? If so, will the Government make the strongest representations to the countries concerned that in the interests of peace and stability in the region they should immediately cease their interference?
– I do not know whether the Government has any direct information about the interference of one country in the affairs of another, but a broad principle of government is that a country should not set itself up as a judge of other countries. That principle was carried out quite wisely by the previous Government and is adhered to by this Government. Australia does not set itself up as a judge on matters of aid or on its relationships with other countries, otherwise other countries would be sitting in God-like judgment of Australia, which is something to be avoided. Australia establishes relationships with other countries. It respects their sovereignties and their attitudes. When relationships break down there is a very serious position in the world.
– I ask the Attorney-General to confirm that the answers given by him this week about the Acting Prime Minister and the Tasmanian tobacco tax show the following sequence of events: On or before 20th February a decision was taken by the AttorneyGeneral to seek leave to intervene in that case and a letter was written by him informing the Tasmanian Attorney-General of that decision. On 22nd February-
– Order! Senator Rae. you are a barrister. You know the Standing Orders. You are supposed to ask questions, not give information. Will you ask the question that you wish to ask?
– Yes, Mr President. I am asking whether this was the sequence of events and I would like to ask a further question arising out of that. If I may continue: On 22nd February statements were made by Mr Barnard as Acting Prime Minister to the effect that the Government had no plans to intervene and, secondly, that the Commonwealth Government would not take action in relation to the matter until after the High Court hearing; and those statements were made without any communication to the Attorney-General to check their accuracy or otherwise. I therefore ask: Will the Attorney-General take steps to seek to arrange that in respect of legal matters Ministers in the new Government do not mislead the public by making inaccurate statements and, further, that there is some appro priate co-ordination between Ministers making statements about matters other than matters connected with their own portfolios?
– The honourable senator’s question is not very clear. I do not know the sequence and I am not very interested in it. All I know is that Mr Barnard made a statement. I suppose, for the sake of the public, it was a reasonable enough statement. He said that after the High Court case the Government would decide what it would do. In the common understanding that may mean that the Government would take some legislative, administrative or financial action. I do not know why the honourable senator is trying to dredge something out of the fact that I, as Attorney-General, decided that the Commonwealth should intervene in the case in order to protect its position. The Government does not make the decision; the Attorney-General decides. I do not know what on earth the honourable senator wants to make of it all. His suggestions about co-ordination and so forth are not worth worrying about.
– For the information of honourable senators, I present the text of the statement that the Prime Minister made on 2nd March following the meeting between the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and himself concerning the River Murray and the River Murray Commission. Copies of this statement will be available to senators in the Parliament Library.
– I remind honourable senators that yesterday the Senate agreed on the membership of the Library Committee. I think it is appropriate that I should draw the attention of honourable senators to what has been happening during the recess and since the election. The Library is obviously a place which provides, in its reading room, a comfortable area for the traditional library activities of reading or borrowing books; but it is much more than that. As some 5,000 new books and 3,500 different periodicals are received in the Library each year, any of us would find it very difficult to make very effective use of the information available were it not for the help that the Library staff can provide. The Library has a professional staff of more than 50 who provide research and information services to all honourable senators and members. Within practical limits the research service will give oral briefings or will write papers to meet the needs of any senator who wants facts or analysis of any matter of concern to the Parliament. Research staff are not librarians but are graduates with special knowledge of various subjects.
Most of the research service staff are located on the ground floor directly under the reading room. In the same area is the Current Information Section of the reference service. As its name implies, the CIS provides a service based on current material such as newspapers and periodicals. This downstairs accommodation was remodelled during the recent recess and now provides good working conditions for staff. Unfortunately the growth of staff to meet increased demands for service has meant that some of the research service people have to be located elsewhere - some are along the northern side of the Senate courtyard downstairs and some are in temporary accommodation about half a mile away. The reading room has been remodelled also, and reference librarians are more readily accessible there to those who want factual information or access to published material of all kinds. Honourable senators may seek the assistance of their colleagues on the Library Committee or of the Parliamentary Librarian if in any doubt about the services available to them from the Library.
Sitting suspended from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.
– by leave - Mr President, the Senate notice paper contains a notice of motion for the disallowance of the Honey Industry (Election of Board) Regulations. Those regulations lay down the procedure for the conduct of a poll to elect the producer representatives on the Australian Honey Board. This notice of motion has been carried forward from the previous session of the Parliament. It relates to the concern of the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances with regard to the discretionary powers in the regulation and the eligibility of honey producers to be enrolled. I became aware of the problem involved only after being appointed to the portfolio of Primary Industry. I wish to advise the Senate that I am currently examining the position with a view to taking action to have the regulations amended to meet the objections of the Committee.
– by leave - Mr President, the Honey Industry (Election of Board) Regulations were introduced during the previous administration as Statutory Rules 1972, No. 136. These regulations contain provisions relating to the entitlement of honey producers to enrolment as electors in elections for the Honey Board.
As a consequence of doubts which arose concerning enrolment as an elector and therefore eligibility to vote at an election and the possibility that this would depend upon the discretion of returning officers, I gave notice on 12th October 1972 for disallowance of these regulations. The Senate rose on 31st October 1972 and 6 sitting days then remained before the question of disallowance would require to be resolved having regard to the 15 sitting days allowed from the date of giving notice to disallow to a determination of the question.
The time for taking such action expires today. Since the date of gazettal of these regulations, elections took place to elect a new Honey Board with a term: of office of 3 years, these elections being held under the provisions of the regulations in question. I am not clear myself without proper consultation with the incoming Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, what the consequences would be of disallowance of these regulations now and I propose to ask the new Committee to give its early attention to the implications of this question and then to advise the Senate of its findings.
In the meantime I have asked the Minister for Primary Industry to examine this matter and especially the basis of the disallowance motion which arises from the provisions of regulations 7 (2) and 9 (a) upon the terms of which evidence was given to the last Committee by the officers of the Department of Primary Industry and from the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel.
It was agreed that the objections of the former Regulations and Ordinances Committee would be removed if the two offending clauses were amended so that the enrolment of a person as an elector depended upon his eligibility to apply for enrolment according to the criteria contained in Section 7a (2) of the Act and not -upon the returning officers opinion as to this criteria.
Under all the circumstances and especially in view of the Minister’s undertaking given to the Senate this morning - may I interpolate that I have received a letter from the Minister confirming this undertaking - I now withdraw notice of motion No. 1 standing in my name.
– by leave - The question raised by Senator Devitt in his speech is a very serious one for the Senate as a whole. The. effect of a disallowance on the regulations is so important in its consequences to not only the Senate but also the public at large that the matter certainly ought to be determined and put at rest as soon as possible. The question of what happens when a regulation, particularly a portion of a regulation, which may amend another regulation is disallowed and whether there is a revival of the previous regulation is one which is extremely important. It seems as though the view has been expressed in the past that in such a situation there would not be a revival of a regulation which has been repealed when the repealing regulation is disallowed. However it may be, the question is one of utmost importance and ought to be resolved as quickly as possible. As Attorney-General I would want to give every assistance I could. When this matter arose on some earlier occasion a great deal of concern was expressed as to what was the proper answer to the question.
– by leave - I think the Senate is indebted to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) for raising this matter. It is of great interest, as he said. I respectfully suggest to the Attorney-General that it is perhaps capable of resolution by only one of 2 methods - either by a court determining the question of whether the repealed regulation is revived by a disallowance, or by some amendment to the relevant statute. 1 have, no doubt that the Attorney-General has that in mind. I just wanted to indicate to the Senate that the Opposition also has a great deal of interest in resolving the consequences of the disallowance of a regulation.
– I move:
That, unless otherwise ordered, the times of meeting on Thursday, 8th March 1973, be as follows: 11.00 a.m. to 12.45 p.m.. 2.15 p.m. to 5.45 p.m., 8 p.m. to 10.30 p.m., and that General Business, Order of the Day No. 2, take precedence of all other business at 8 p.m.
Mr President if that motion is carried it will enable a debate to be brought on tonight on the statement made in this place the other night by Senator Bishop on behalf of the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard).
– I have no objection to this proposal. Since the original sitting times were agreed upon it has been indicated that some honourable senators wish to sit tonight and debate the statement by Senator Bishop on behalf of the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard), which seems to be a reasonable request.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Withers) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Withers moving a motion relating to the order of business on the notice paper.
Senator WITHERS (Western Australia-
Leader of the Opposition) (2.23) - I move:
That general business, order of the day No. 1, Foreign Affairs and Defence - Standing Committee - report on Japan, take precedence of all other business on the notice paper, except that the maximum period for the consideration of general business, order of the day No. 1, shall be 2 hours but, in any event, shall conclude 3 sitting hours after the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate.
If my arithmetic is correct, Mr President, this means that the debate on this matter must conclude at 3.30 p.m. when ordinary business of the Senate will be brought on. I understand that it is proposed to introduce the Social Services Bill 1973 before this matter is called on.
– If the Senate is agreeable, the course that we would like to follow is to have this motion put and then have the Social Services Bill 1973 introduced. There may be one or 2 other formal matters to dispose of, but then we could proceed in the way that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) has proposed in his motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Douglas McClelland) read a first time.
– I move:
The Bill provides for generous increases in all pensions and in unemployment and sickness benefits by amounts ranging from $1.50 a week to $14 a week. Furthermore it provides for payment of the pension increases to be made retrospectively from and including the first pay day for each category of pension occurring after the House of Representatives elections. The cost of these proposals, and others benefiting dependants which I shall outline a little later, will be $126m in a full year and $66. 2m for this financial year.
This Bill provides a common benefit rate for all pensions and for unemployment and sickness benefits of $21.50 a week standard rate and $37.50 a week married rate. In doing this it removes several seriously unjust, penalising anomalies. This Bill has promptly honoured the undertaking of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made when he delivered the policy speech of the Australian Labor Party. He said then:
The basic pension rate will no longer be tied to the financial and political considerations of annual budgets. All pensions will be immediately raised by $1.50 and thereafter, every spring and every autumn, the basic pension rate will be raised by $1.50 until it reaches 25 per cent of average weekly male earnings. It will never be allowed to fall below that level.
The Bill does more than give effect to the undertaking to increase the basic rate of all pensions immediately by $1.50 a week. In setting common benefit rates for all pensions and for unemployment and sickness benefits we have largely established the principle that common needs deserve common rates of benefit.
We still have some way to go before we fully realise this objective. In the near future the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) hopes to be making further statements on behalf of the Government outlining additional steps which will be undertaken to fully realise this objective. In the meantime the goal already achieved is an extremely important one; it represents a great advance in social values and the appreciation of human worth. Moreover it looks into an ongoing program whereby benefit rates will be automatically adjusted twice a year until they reach 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. Thereafter there will be regular automatic increases to retain this relationship to average weekly earnings. But more on this later.
It is worth noting some of the more objectionable forms of discrimination which will be eliminated by this Bill. For instance we have removed the long standing irritating penalty against the class B and C widows who were deemed eligible for widows’ pensions but paid $2.75 a week less than a class A widow’s pension. We have ended the punishing meanness with which unemployment and sickness benefits have been paid. A man supporting a wife and 2 children, drawing unemployment benefit and even after allowing for child endowment, has been paid a benefit rate some $17 a week below the updated Melbourne University poverty line.
There will be no more of this poor-house alms-giving mentality which sees merit in official meanness and virtue in suffering, as long as it is in others.
The bulk of the unemployed today are the innocent social casualties of the disastrous economic policies of the last Government and its 1971 Budget. These people and their unhappy families neither sought to be, nor wish to remain, among the ranks of the unemployed. The need they suffer as a result of the meanness of unemployment benefit rates and the humiliation they suffer from unwanted unemployment is the penalty visited on them by the blundering economic policies of the last Government. One of the most objectionable aspects of the previous Government was the complete denial of any benefit at all for dependent full time student children over 16 years of an unemployment or sickness beneficiary. We have ended this injustice practised by mean men for too long. Henceforth these student children will attract full benefit rights irrespective of age.
In view of the insignificant cost of this proposal $600,000 in a full year and $200,000 for the remainder of this year - the dogged persistence with which previous governments have clung to this practice of denying and depriving the dependent student children of the needy unemployed is beyond any reasonable comprehension. Unfortunately some people in the community worry that a modest rate of unemployment benefits, as we propose, will destroy the industry and moral fibre of the nation. Given the fact that the weekly rate of benefit of $21.50 for a full week is much less than a great many business representatives pay for a single meal with a client - largely at taxpayers’ expense, of course - it is doubted that anyone drawing benefits will be corrupted by any new-found lavishness in his life style. Unemployment benefits do not pander to lazy layabouts. The work test administered by the Department of Labour through its employment offices effectively controls the work-shy.
In so far as those most tragic social casualties are concerned - the homeless drifting males, and sometimes females, undermined by an unstable personality and reinforced in their sense of failure and worthlessness by their peer group and the insulation an aspiring middle class society tends to set between itself and these people - we are doing something positive right now. For too long attitudes to these people have been negative and repressive. Society has been prepared to outlay large amounts of money for its police, courts and prisons to repress these people. Considerably less money spent on rehabilitation and social aid programs will provide greater benefit for society. It is this positive role which we now stress.
A working party of top social welfare administrators and other experts has been appointed by the Government to investigate and report on a suitable program. We are genuinely committed to a belief in the supreme importance of human worth, the individual’s entitlement to treatment with dignity and his right to self respect.
I will now outline the provisions of the Bill. The standard rate of pension for aged persons, invalids and widows with children is to be increased by $1.50 a week to $21.50 a week. As I have just mentioned, the standard rate will also apply to widow pensioners without children in future which means that these women will receive increases of $4.25 a week. The married rate of pension is to be increased by $3 a week to $37.50 a week, that is increased by $1.50 a week to $18.75 a week, for each partner. The age limit of 21 years for the payment of additional age, invalid or widow’s pension for full-time student children as well as the additional guardian’s or mother’s allowance, as appropriate, where the standard rate applies will be removed. Payment of additional pension for full-time students together with mother’s or guardian’s allowance, if applicable, will continue without regard to the child’s age until either eligibility for pension ceases or the child’s study ceases. Unemployment or sickness benefit received by a spouse will be exempt for the purpose of calculating age or invalid pension. Unemployment benefit rates and also sickness benefit rates where payment has not been made for a continuous period of more than 6 weeks are to be increased by $14 a week to $21.50 a week for unmarried persons 16 to 17 years of age, by $10.50 a week to $21.50 a week for unmarried persons 18 to 20 years of age, by $4.50 a week to $21.50 a week for unmarried adults and unmarried minors with no parent living in Australia and by $12.50 a week to $37.50 a week for married beneficiaries whose wives are dependent upon them.
Sickness benefit rates where payment has been made for a continuous period of more than 16 weeks will be increased by $8.50 a week to $21.50 a week for unmarried persons 16 to 20 years of age, by $1.50 a week to $21.50 a week for unmarried adults and unmarried minors with no parent living in Australia and, by $9.50 a week to $37.50 a week for married beneficiaries whose wives are dependent upon them. The age limit of 16 years for the payment of additional unemployment or sickness benefit in respect of a child will be removed where the child is engaged in full-time studies. Payment will therefore be continued without regard to the child’s age until either eligibility for benefit ceases or the child’s studies cease. Any age invalid pension received by a spouse will be exempt for the purpose of calculating the amount of unemployment or sickness benefit payable. I emphasise that these measures represent a first step towards ensuring that social security beneficiaries receive a rightful share of the community’s increasing prosperity.
When defending pension levels in the past, honourable senators will recall that the former Government consistently compared increases in the rates of pensions with upward movements in the consumer price index. However, the relevant comparison to make is to relate pension increases to increases in average weekly earnings; average weekly earnings themselves give a fairly good indication of the average standard of prosperity in the community. We have no wish to draw comparisons between the position as it was over 20 years ago with what it is now but it should be mentioned that, although the Liberal-Country Party Governments did follow a policy of increasing pensions faster than rises in prices and there were some significant increases during their term in office, from about the beginning of the 1950s the pension as a percentage of average weekly earnings dropped quite dramatically and it never fully recovered from that position. This situation will be corrected by this Government. The increase proposed in this Bill lifts the standard rate of pension as a proportion of average weekly earnings to the highest level of any time in the last 16 years. This position will continue to be improved. The following table which I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard gives a comparison of a selection of existing benefit rates and. of the rates we are proposing.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
– The most significant point the table illustrates is the long term neglect by previous governments which allowed these rates to fall below the updated poverty line, set by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social
Research, to an appalling degree. The substantial improvements we propose in this Bill slice into this problem appreciably but still fall well short of what we regard as a satisfactory situation. We have made a positive start. Within a few months we will be taking further action to overcome this thoroughly undesirable situation where social security benefits provide a living standard below a poverty line defined by the researchers who set it at a very austere level. Incidentally the Minister for Social Security will be having more to say on the subject of poverty in Australia in the near future. I want to stress however that we see the problem of poverty in this wealthy country as much more than solely a matter of income shortfalls.
It is worth noting that in the last election campaign the then Prime Minister made no specific proposal to increase pensions. However, he did promise to increase pension rates in line with increases in the consumer price index, the adjustment to be automatic every half year; in addition he undertook to review pension rates in connection with the Budget, but this would not necessarily have guaranteed a further increase.
It is interesting to note that between 1961- 62 and 1971-72 the consumer price index increased by 36.4 per cent while average weekly earnings increased by 95.8 per cent. It is instructive to look at this in money terms to see what $20 in 1961-62 would be in 1971-72 if it increased according to (a) the consumer price index increase of 36.4 per cent, (b) the increase in average weekly earnings of 95.8 per cent. In the case of (a) it would become $27.28 and in the case of (b) $39.16 or some $12 more. That is, the Liberals were trying to play a mean trick on the pensioners. We are mindful that if there is not some abatement in the rate of growth in average weekly earnings in 1970-71 of 11.3 per cent then the regular annual 2 promised increases of $1.50 will have to be increased to achieve pension rates at 25 per cent of average weekly earnings within a reasonable time. We would be prepared to respond appropriately if such proves the case. We aim at honouring our promises. However there is evidence of aci abatement in this rate of average weekly earnings increase both for last year and on current trends and accordingly at this stage we are maintaining a careful watch on the situation.
Whenever the basic rate of pension is increased it has the effect of raising the limits of income and property at which pensions cease to be payable. This in turn enables many people who are excluded from pension entitlement to qualify for the first time. As a result of the increases now proposed, a single person without property affecting his pension will retain some pension entitlement until his income reaches $63 a week. A single pensioner without other income will be eligible to receive some pension until the value of his non-exempt property reaches $33,160. For a married couple, the equivalent limits of income and property will be $109.50 per week and $57,760 respectively. A widow with one child and no property affecting will now be able to receive income of up to $86 a week before losing her entitlement to widow’s pension, or up to $90 if her child is under 6 years of age or an invalid child requiring fulltime care. If she has no income affecting, a widow with one child may have property to the value of $38,920 or $41,000 if her child is under 6 or an invalid requiring full-time care, before her entitlement to widow’s pension is extinguished. At this point I should say that the proposed pension increases will flow to persons receiving sheltered employment allowances and rehabilitation allowances. These allowances are also payable under the provisions of the Social Services Act.
Mr Deputy President, in the past, when no retrospectivity was given to increased rates, it was the practice to provide in the legislation for payments at the new rates to be made on the first pension payday after the Bill received royal assent. This provision was made, of course, to ensure that pensioners received the benefit of the increases at the earliest possible date. I am informed that, on this occasion, having regard to the retrospective nature of the legislation applying to the increases in pensions and the many time-critical administrative tasks which need to be performed, the earliest practical dates for the Department of Social Security to pay pensions at the increased rates will be 22nd March in the case of age and invalid pensions and 27th March in the case of widows pensions. In this regard, officers of that Department are working on the basis that the Bill will receive an early passage through both Houses. The increases in unemployment and sickness benefits will, as usual, operate in respect of the benefit week ending on the date of the royal assent and each benefit week thereafter. I commend this Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Rae) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 27 February (vide page 18), on motion by Senator Sim:
That the Senate take note of the report.
– When the debate on the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence in relation to Japan was adjourned I had said that I believed the report was worthy of close consideration by the Government Now I shall deal briefly with several aspects of the report which I consider worthy of special attention. I do not wish to traverse the whole of the report for I am aware that my colleagues who worked so hard with me on the Committee will speak later in this debate and wish to express their views on many of the Committee’s findings. Firstly, I should like to indicate that the Committee’s inquiry has pointed up the magnitude of the growth of trade between Australia and Japan in the post-war years to the stage where Japan provides Australia’s greatest single export market. We all know just how greatly trade between these countries has increased since the end of the war in 1945. In 1971 more than one-quarter of Australia’s exports, valued at more than $l,360m, were exported to Japan. To a large extent Australia’s relations with Japan are based on trade. However, the Committee believes that trading alone does not provide an adequate foundation for long term warm relations between the 2 countries, which I am sure everyone of us desires. I believe, and the Committee believes, that much effort must be devoted to the strengthening of personal relationships between the peoples of Australia and Japan. Those who have read the report will know that the Committee has made a number of recommendations in this direction.
When one looks at the current world situation one finds that it is changing rapidly and that many circumstances have altered substantially even since the Committee completed its hearings not very long ago. A major change has occurred recently in the international monetary situation. This is an outstanding example of change. The magnitude of Australia’s trade with Japan stems from 2 principal factors, the first being Japan’s rapid industrial growth and the other Australia’s favourable position as the supplier of raw materials needed to sustain Japanese indus tries and the ease with which these materials can be transported to Japan. Concern has been expressed from time to time that Australia could become too dependent upon the Japanese market. This has been examined very closely by the Committee but this does not seem to be a serious threat in relation to certain of our raw materials which are essential to Japanese industry.
Nevertheless the Committee has suggested that much more needs to be done to establish a clear resources policy in Australia. Our objective should be to have available the greatest amount of information possible on the extent of deposits of many of our minerals and the desirable rate of their exploitation as well as an assurance that Australia is obtaining a just return for these exports. The present Government has set up the Ministry of Minerals and Energy, and I believe that the recently announced decision by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) to bring under export control a number of commodities previously allowed to be freely exported is a step in the right direction. Associated with this resources policy is the need for a close examination of the benefits likely to accrue from the processing or part processing within Australia of many of these raw materials. The evidence put before the Committee showed that little information is available upon which firm decisions on the relative merits of exports of raw materials against processed or part processed materials can be based.
I should like to quote the following extract from the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations at page 81 of the report:
So the report states that there is a great need for such action to be taken.
The evidence has shown also that Japan would in all probability welcome the opportunity to import much more of our raw materials in a partially or fully processed form because of the overwhelming demands now being made on her own industries. The following recommendation of the Committee might interest Senator Laucke who this morning asked a question regarding shipping:
That means be sought of extending the Australian maritime industry.
As the Committee has pointed out under the heading ‘Shipping’ at page 56, every reliance has been placed on overseas owned vessels for the transport of our exports. It was suggested to the Committee by a witness that external influences have operated to the detriment of the growth of the Australian maritime industry. Whether this be true or not the fact remains that it appears to the Committee to be against Australia’s best interests that this heavy reliance on overseas shipping should continue. The following passage appears at page 56 of the report under the heading Shipping’:
A feature of the Austraiian export trade has always been the heavy reliance placed on overseasowned vessels for the transport of goods. One witness suggested that external influences have continued to operate to the detriment of the growth of an Australian maritime industry.
Intermittently attempts have been made to stimulate the growth of Australia’s shipping fleet, but the limited success so far achieved is indicated by evidence that the level of import and export tonnages carried to and from Australia in Australian ships during 1969-70 were 0.09 and 0.08 per cent respectively. By comparison, Japanese ships in the same year carried 35 per cent of Australia’s total exports.
Evidence was also submitted on the strength of what is known as the ‘Conference Line’_ system, which is an association of ship owners which regulates the freight rates and terms and conditions of carriage of goods in any particular trade. Conference Line ships operate on a regular timetable, stopping at scheduled ports and accepting cargo in small or large consignments at established freight rates. This certainty of service offers great benefits, but those criticisms which are made are generally based on the cartel-type operation ond the rates of freights charged. The Conference Lines do not normally operate in the tanker and bulk cargo trade. Many countries have sought to deal with the criticisms of Conference Line operations but have generally come to the conclusion that shippers themselves should form equally strong associations to be able to negotiate from a position of strength with the ship owners.
It seems incongruous that an island continent like Australia, so heavily dependent on shipping for its trade with the rest of the world, should allow itself to be so reliant on foreign owned ships. I also strongly support the Committee’s recommendation that firm measures be taken to give every encouragement to the further development of the Australian shipping industry. The Committee received evi dence that already the Japanese shipbuilding industry has shown a remarkable spirit of co-operation in making available to some Australian shipbuilders its technical know-how and skilled operatives to assist in some of Australia’s limited shipbuilding operations. There is every indication that, if sought, to supplement the skills already available in Australia, this technical knowledge would be made available on a greater scale. I feel sure that not only will this report be well received within the confines of the Australian Parliament in Canberra but also that it will be acclaimed throughout the world.
It is a report that has never been attempted before. It has meant much work and research. Many witnesses had to be contacted. The officers who worked with the Committee had to work extremely hard. The Committee met on every possible occasion and showed by its hard work and diligence that it was investigating an area that should be given the greatest consideration so that a report, such as the one now presented, should meet with the approval that it deserves. I would like to join with the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sim, in thanking the officers who worked so hard during the Committee’s consideration of this reference. I mention Mr Arthur Higgins, the Secretary of the Committee, Mr James Livermore, a member of the Senate committee staff, and Mr David Sissons of the National University. Only those of us who. have worked with these officers know what a great assistance they were to us. Their efforts and hard work were instrumental in helping the Committee to bring down this report.
– This debate concerns the report from the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on its reference, Japan. The report embodies a number of unique features. I will attempt to identify 4 of them. Firstly, this is the first reference of any kind to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence. Secondly, it is the first time that the Seriate and, I think, the Parliament has undertaken the adventure of conducting wholly or partly debates, discussions and investigations in committee form in public. It has been an adventure and, I think, a very useful one, in communication. Thirdly, there is the unique feature that the subject matter was not some particular aspect of a nation but involved the total aspect of a nation. The reference was ‘Japan’ - not Australia-Japan relations, not Japan in Asia, but Japan in all contexts. It involved Japan, the Japanese people, their history, their background, their sociology, their economic and trading problems, their attitudes to foreign affairs and defence, the way that they look at the world, the way that they look at themselves, the way that they negotiate and trade, the way they communicate, the way in which the world looks at them and, in particular, the way in which Asia looks at the Japanese people.
We wanted to know how we could obtain better understandings and how we could try to interpret each other. We were dealing with a reference to a nation which, in virtually every way, has an historical pattern totally different from ours - that of a western, Roman law and a Christian background. This, perhaps, being an exciting challenge, makes it at the same time almost an impossible one. I feel that I and my colleagues could say that if we sought the impossible, our goal was to achieve as much as we could so that as a first step others might follow and cheerfully correct our errors of judgment. We felt that we could, in fact, start a dialogue. In the interests of world understanding, world peace and the world community this, of course, is of utmost importance. How could we communicate? If this document, with its imperfections, says to the Japanese people: This is how we see you’, and they say: That is interesting. But you are wrong there. You are right there’, then we will have started something.
The fourth feature I mention is that this is a unanimous report. I pay tribute to the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Sim. I also express my gratitude to the Deputy Chairman, Senator Drury, who spoke before me in the debate and express my great pleasure at having served alongside him, Senator Wheeldon, Senator McManus and Senator Maunsell so that we could, transcending party political lines, have between ourselves and within this Parliament a dialogue on another country. Therefore, I commend the report to honourable senators as Oliver Cromwell said of himself: ‘Paint me warts and all’. I commend this to honourable senators warts and all. It would be wrong for any of us to suggest in any pretentious way that this is a document that in any way approaches perfection. It does not pretend to do so.
Let me try to describe this. For some 25 to 30 years I have been thoroughly interested in studying, in particular, the Japanese people - something of their origin, something of their language and something of their history, culture and backgrounds. Here are a people who, until 100 years ago, were isolated from the world - until the Meiji regime; until Admiral Perry came. They were a people living on 4 main islands - Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyoshu - which were relatively isolated from the world and from the world’s industrial growth, cultures and impact. Suddenly, these people cast off the old Shogunate era, the Meiji regime, and opened the doors. We are looking at a people who, within the space of 100 years, have come out and have moved in a world community to where today they are third amongst the world’s great industrial nations and are moving upwards to challenge the first 2 nations.
Japan is a nation which after a tragic illjudgment of a wartime venture and a tragic and bitter defeat in that regard, rose from the ashes of defeat and now has a population of 105 million people. It is one of the exciting and dynamic races and nations in the world. These are a kind of people who call themselves Ni Hon Zin, Ni Hon, Nippon, Marco Polo, they say, could not pronounce it and said ‘Japan’. Ni Hon means sun origin - people originating from the sun. They are an interesting kind of people in that regard. They write not in the Roman script but in a combination of ideographic script, that is, word pictures in their Kunji or Chinese characters, and of course in their hiragana.
They are a people who, having adopted from the Chinese so many Chinese characters or kunji, have had to write into their written language literally millions of new words in order to cope with Western technology and Western development. Therefore they are a people who are, in themselves, unique. They are a people who not only had been in a feudal Shogunate over history but also had a belief in a divine emperor. They are a people who on those 4 islands, over thousands of years, had to adapt themselves in a voluntary self-discipline and a developing culture to the primitive nature of the islands, to the relatively infertile, mountainous and volcanic nature of the islands. They are a people who develop in relation to each other attitudes which seem to be enduring and which are likely to remain so in the future. That indeed is one of the main enigma of the Japanese people.
One of the things that our Committee had to inquire into in its own mind and by searching its own storehouse of limited knowledge was this: Does a peep into the past and into the past problems of the Japanese give us any clue to the future behaviour of the Japanese? I think that that, in itself, is almost predicated in the opening chapters where we say that you have such a great change in a country that pre-war was limited in its development and that post-war has developed enormously; that pre-war was indeed something of a dictatorship, with emperor worship, and that post-war has cast these things aside and ventured upon a parliamentary system which, however new, is nevertheless dynamic. It has open government which in some ways could teach us certain things. It has given franchise to women, it has extended the participation of people and today in its Diet it has ventured into foreign affairs and other committees, similar to what we have done.
Pre-war and during the war the people of Japan were defence and militarily orientated. In fact, they were governed by military rulers and their decisions were dominated by military rulers. In the post-war period the. people of Japan apparently have eschewed the military, and here again is an enigma.
– ‘For how long?
– As Senator Turnbull asks, for how long will this be the case? He raises the challenge that we raised: How much of this is revulsion of war? How much of this is revulsion arising out of the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How much will generations forget, as we do forge.t? How much is it a suitable attitude for the Japanese today to take the help, and indeed the magnificent help, of the United States in order to rebuild Japan and to help it to grow? How much is Japan’s attitude towards peace and towards relative disarmament governed by the fact that at this point of time this suits Japan? This was one of the great problems that the Committee had to confront and to adjudge.
I think it would be fair to say - I think my colleagues would agree with me - that nobody, including the Japanese themselves and those who sincerely try to do so, has a final answer or any weight of evidence running a particular way. We came to certain basic conclusions for the time being - the immediate future - because we said we. believed that the actions that Japan would take in the future would be essentially and primarily governed by its national selfinterest. This is the key of this document.
We concluded - I am merely being discursive today because I commend to the Senate a full reading of this document - that at this moment if you asked these questions the answers would be that the Japanese selfdefence forces are not aggressive military forces in the sense that other countries may have military forces. The forces are small if one measures them in terms of gross national product expenditure on military equipment and people. But they are relatively large because Japan is large in numbers and in the size of its gross national product. The forces are adaptable to a move from local home defence to a more aggressive role, and this applies to the Air Force and to the Navy, although for the Japanese to develop in an aggressive fashion they would need to develop, in particular, their Navy and especially their submarine forces. Being an island nation lying so close, as it does, to the Asian mainland, if the Japanese are to have real defence they must move their mobile defences, their mobile rocket launching platforms, wider out into the oceans in order to gain some protection.
To understand this we must realise that here we are studying not only these unique people but also a nation which is uniquely situated geographically. If we have brought to the conscious attention of the Australian people only the essential geography of Japan and its implications, we will have started a communication or a thought process that will be worth while. I wonder how many people in Australia realise that Japan is really 4 main islands which, are off-shore islands of Russia. Indeed, in the north Hokkaido almost touches Sakhalin which was once half shared by Japan but which is now Russian. In the south Kyushu forms the entrance to the Sea of Japan, and locked in the Sea of Japan, whether from the north or the south, is the main Russian Pacific or eastern port of Vladivostok which, in itself in Russian, means eastern capital. Japan is situated as off-shore islands. Just as the United Kingdom is to the continent, so lies Japan. Japan lies so close to Russia that it is within the early warning system of Russian missiles. So, it is of no use to set up missile detection systems on the mainland of Japan because the missiles would arrive before the detection system could detect them.
Japan’s proximity to Russia also raises the quarrel over the ownership of the Kurile Islands to the north and the access from the Sea of Japan not only to the north but also to the south, the question of the ownership of the Senkaku Islands and the problems of the area of the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan. 1 trust that the Senate will pardon me for being somewhat ponderous on this matter but it is important. If we know our geography, we know that the islands of Japan lie within a relatively short distance - less than 100 miles - of Korea and within a few hundred miles of Mainland China. So, 3 of the 5 main power areas of the world lie in close proximity to each other. Japan, the emerged industrial power, Russia, the emerged industrial and military power, and China, the emerging power, lie within a relatively short distance of each other. Across the Pacific Ocean h America. To the west of them is the emerging power of the European Economic Community.
Here is the challenge that our Committee had to face. What will Japan do? As Senator Drury so properly said, half way through our hearings there occurred a number of events which could be landmarks or watersheds in the continuing history of Japan and the region. There came into the Japanese language a new word, namely, ‘shokku’ which is a corruption of the English word ‘shock’. Thus there was the ‘America-no-shokku’ or the ‘Nixon-no-shokku’ - the American shock or the Nixon shock - because twice, within a very short period and without any warning to the Japanese, the Americans acted in a way that could be of fundamental importance to the Japanese in the future. Firstly there was the adjustment of currency values and the putting up of a customs barrier. We must bear in mind that Japan and America have an interwoven or interdependent trade and commerce. Suddenly, because of immense difficulties, America acted radically and Japan had the ‘shokku’, which is now familiar to all Japanese.
Then there was a second …‘.JA…’ Without warning, there was the initiation of the American-Chinese discussions, dialogue, and emerging detente. Out of that there came at that time, although no doubt quite a lot of thinking had been done before, a soulsearching. It came at a time when the Japanese were about to change the leader of their ruling party the Liberal Democratic Party. It has been the ruling party for almost the whole of the post-war period. It came at a time when, after a succession of leaders who had the characteristics of having been bureaucrats and having had a feudal origin, the Japanese people, through the conferences of the Liberal Democratic Party, elected for the first time a leader who is not a bureaucrat, who is not of feudal origin and who, although I understand he is now affluent, is essentially a man of the people - Mr Tanaka.
Also at that time there emerged a number of parties and religions challenging accepted things. There was the extraordinary emergence - I say this quite soberly - of a party called the Komeito. In fact, it is a morality party. It is a fascinating party which is in parallel with the development of almost a new religion, the Soka Gakkai. It has had a tremendous development. All these things have put challenges to the Japanese people. Where will they go in the future? If there is a detente between America and China, how valid or credible is the American defence and nuclear umbrella for the future? Is it credible that America can guarantee and deliver in the future a nuclear and orthodox defence umbrella? How valid is this? How far will America go in its detente with China? What will be Russia’s reaction? Russia’s reaction was very fast. It sent Mr Gromyko to Tokyo hot foot. Will Russia be interested in settling its differences with Japan? How will it look at the American-Chinese detente in the sense of the balance of power? Will Japan go nuclear? Can it do so? Will it make new alliances? These are questions which we open up but which we, out of our storehouse of knowledge, do not pretend to solve. We can merely point the way..
If I have done no more than take honourable senators on the briefest of journeys in this regard, I think they will agree that what the Committee has done, both in the education of its members and in the preparation of the report, is of great worth to this Parliament and to the community. But we went further than that. We said: ‘We cannot predict the future, but we see Japan as an island nation which is totally dependent for its survival, for its growing affluence and for its people’s welfare upon trade and particularly upon the sea lanes - notably the sea lane to the south through the Strait of Malacca and across the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf, because Japan is oil hungry and obtains 90 per cent of its oil along that sea lane. Japan is a trading nation and the satisfaction of its great manufacturing appetite or hunger depends upon it drawing from the world raw materials to process*. So, can Japan maintain its present defence and foreign affairs attitudes if there is any threat to its trade or if there is any challenge to the welfare of its people?
What is the attitude of Japan inside Asia? What should be Japan’s attitude? We found, sadly, that inside Asia there is still a fairly massive suspicion of the Japanese people. That is understandable. I know something of it. I associated with those Asian people under those conditions in those times; so I can understand their attitude. Their suspicion is aggravated by a strange factor; that is, that, whilst the Japanese people have spent their time in a preoccupation with understanding how a Japanese should behave towards another Japanese, the Japanese people as a whole have very little understanding of and have bent their minds in only a narrow way towards how they should behave to nonJapanese people. Because the Japanese people are introspective, because they have been so over thousands of years of history, because of their isolation and because of their whole culture which I have described, other Asian people say: ‘When the Japanese come to our countries they travel on Japanese airlines, they stay at Japanese hotels, they play golf on Japanese golf courses and they make no attempt at all to understand us, to associate with us or to ingratiate themselves with us’. I use the word ‘ingratiate’ in its best sense. 1 believe that the Japanese accept this as a problem, but at the moment they do not know how to solve if.
Just to show something of the magnitude of the situation, the problem of trade alone is aggravated because Japanese contract law is totally different from British contract law. The idea enshrined in British law that a valid contract is sacrosanct is not understood by the Japanese. They look at a contract as a document that can be executed or compromised in equity. So here again we have a difficult situation. As the report has outlined, we have people who speak a language which is one of the most difficult if not the most difficult in the world. It is a language which is difficult not only because of the supreme difficulty of the ideography and the calligraphy, and not only because it is necessary to understand the kunji or Chinese characters and hiragana, but also because when you speak the language you must give expression to your knowledge of honorifics, your knowledge of how to speak to different sexes, to different people of different classes, and therefore your knowledge of the whole relationship of Japanese qua Japanese. In other words you must understand the essential relationship of the Japanese one to the other, particularly the sense of obligation, and the importance of the sense of obligation and the sense of belonging.
The Japanese are a people who have created the ultimate paradox. They have risen from a virtual military dictatorship. Having done so they have taken democracy unto themselves. They have taken free enterprise and its techniques and married it with government through this unique institution called MITI which insinuates as a government body into all aspects of free enterprise. The Japanese are a people who, within their factories, normally expect that they will work there from the time they get a job and join the staff until the time they die, and that there will be amalgamated into their wages a social service and amenities structure which in fact tends to make the average Japanese receive in total not much less, if anything less, than the equivalent Australian worker today. The Japanese are no longer a cheap labour people and I think that is a good thing. I think it is in the interests of the Japanese and the world generally that the living standards of the Japanese should be raised.
These are the very essences of the problem. I have mentioned their geography, their emergence, their problems pre-war and post-war. I have mentioned the difficulty of language and the difficulty of understanding their Buddhist, Confucianist and Shintoist religious philosophy, something which is more a way of life than a spirituality. I have mentioned something of the look into the structure of their new parliamentary system, their Diet, the structure of their government, and, particularly, the functioning of MITI within all phases of free enterprise. Theirs is a structure which gives incentive to workers to work and to create a productivity unknown elsewhere in the free world. They have taken the ingredients of free enterprise, used them and adapted them and are getting from the workers, by common understanding, a drive and a productivity which is for the national good.
What I have said is only part of the journey. Japan today, as I have said, is at another watershed. It has reached the point where it understands that it cannot go on indefinitely expanding its industry and trade at the price of the environment, its people, pollution, urban overcrowding and urban under-development. These things represent another crossroad that Japan now faces. I have spoken at length but subsequently I would like to deal with some of the other matters. Noticing the time and reserving my right to continue at a later date, may I nevertheless join Senator Drury in paying tribute to Mr Arthur Higgins, not only for his great assistance but for his perennial tolerance and good humour amongst some difficult people, and to Mr Livermore, as well as to others. I want to pay a particular tribute in the Senate to the Japanese Ambassador in Australia, who of all men has been most helpful, and, secondly, to Mr Kinase who was then a counsellor of the Japanese Embassy and who became our friend and very great helper.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Davidson) - Order! Three hours of sitting having elapsed since the time fixed for the meeting of the Senate, the Senate, pursuant to order, will now proceed with other business on the notice paper.
Motion (by Senator Cavanagh) agreed to:
That intervening business be postponed until after consideration of Government Business, Order of the Day No. 1, for consideration of the GovernorGeneral’s opening Speech.
– I move:
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I believe that the legislative program outlined by the Governor-General in his Speech sets a great many worthy goals. I was reminded of a saying attributed to Calvin Coolidge who is supposed to have once said:*We cannot do everything at once but we can do something at once’. I believe that the program outlined by the Governor-General expressed that intent. It all came about by the mandate for change given by the Australian people on 2nd December. Since that date the winds of change have blown at gale force across this nation. This might well be documented by the remark of one person to me some time ago who said that the country will never be the same again. I believe that is the way that the average Australian sees the situation today. -
One of the most beneficial steps resulting from the advent of the new party to government in Australia has been the tendency to ease hostilities in Indo-China. Many of us are not completely happy with the rate of decline in hostilities in that unhappy area of the globe but I think that each and every one of us must appreciate that what has happened is to the good. If this good can continue over the next few weeks and months I am hopeful, as I believe every Australian is, that hostilities in Indo-China finally will cease for the immediate future. . The recent events I have referred to leave the way open for the present Australian . Government to take the steps which the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) announced in his policy speech; that is, to move into that area and engage in foreign relations with the governments of those countries, to do our utmost to bring about peace and stability in those areas, and to work with the governments of those areas and other governments which are like minded. The situation in Indo-China during the past 2 decades at least has been totally alien to the philosophies of the Australian Labor Party.
I deal now with another external matter in the Governor-General’s Speech. I refer to the proposals for the granting of independence to Papua New Guinea. That statement brings almost to an end Australia’s colonialist history. There is little doubt that many Australians, including many members of this Parliament, will argue that the granting of independence is too soon. If it is not granted for 100 years people will still say that the time is not yet right. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber believe that the indigenous people of former colonial countries have a right to make their own mistakes. That is the philosophy of the present Federal Government. Those countries will make their own mistakes, but I think it is better that they should make the mistakes than that we, as a colonialist power, should make them.
So many policies were enunciated in the Governor-General’s Speech that it will not be possible for me to deal with all of them. I propose to deal with only a few and I will be rather brief in my comments on those few matters. One other proposal that was outlined by the Governor-General was the proposal to introduce a national health insurance scheme. From my experience, it is not before time. It is something that the taxpayers, the voters and the citizens of Australia have been clamouring for more and more in recent years. The inequalities in the present so-called voluntary health scheme have manifested themselves to thousands of people over the years. Thousands of families were not able or did not see fit to join a health insurance scheme. Consequently, they did not receive the Commonwealth benefit. The Government proposes to introduce a national health scheme «o that each citizen will be able to receive medical treatment as of right.
I believe that one of the most worthy proposals contained in the Governor-General’s Speech was the proposal to give free dental attention to all school children. I am sure that every member of this Parliament who is a parent has been through the experience that my colleagues and I have been through. When one wanted to get dental treatment for one’s children the waiting list was so long that one had to book 3 or 4 months in advance. Recently in South Australia I visited a government school at Millicent. The dental clinic which has been set up at that school is a credit to the South Australian Labor Government. As I understand the position, each school child at Millicent has that facility available to him or her. If the scheme is extended to include all schools in the Commonwealth it will do much to heal the thousands of dental cripples that this country has had for many a long day. 1 think one other matter in the Speech which is worthy of comment is the proposal to help Aborigines. Of all the races in Australia none has been more deprived over the years than the people who lived here prior to the coming of the white man. Recently I have been doing some study in relation to an Aboriginal settlement which still exists in Victoria, although only just. The history is rather horrifying to read. The Aborigines were finally forced into what can be described only as concentration camps because they stood in the way of the white man’s progress and because they refused to move off their lands which meant so much to them. In my youth I heard recalled by older men the days when honeypots and waterholes were laced with arsenic to poison this proud race. I have read the history of the shootings by the early settlers. I believe that each Australian has a heritage of shame in this regard. It was not before time that moves were made at the Commonwealth level to grant to the remaining members of the race some semblance of dignity and some sense of belonging in the community and to try to make some form of reparation for the past deprivations that the white man has caused them. They are the proposals of the Government.
I pass from those matters to the Government’s proposals in relation to rural matters. At present, as one moves about the Australian countryside, one notices an aura of confidence creeping back. One has only to visit the country towns and see the restocking of the machinery merchant’s yards with various equipment which faded away or which did not exist in many country towns during recent years because of the downturn in the rural economy. Primary producers in all the areas which I have travelled during the past few months are spending money and are gearing back to increased production because they feel that there is some future in the industry. The higher prices that have been received for wool, meat and dairy products have created this aura of wellbeing. I believe that the Government’s policy to have a close, hard look at the scheme for the acquisition of wool has convinced Australian wool buyers that unless they keep the prices up to a fairly high level acquisition is around the corner. If they do not keep the prices up they will force the Government’s hand. Their only hope as they see it, and as I see their position, is to keep the price at a reasonable level.
The only concern about the matter is in relation to the Australian textile industry. I have had representations from textile manufacturers who are concerned not so much about the current high price of wool as about the fluctuations in the market. Last year one well known Australian-wide textile mill was using only 5 per cent of man-made fibres in its production. This year, because the mill was caught without reasonable stocks of wool which sold at the previously low price, it is being forced to use 30 per cent of man-made fibres in its production. It is concerned because it is one of the textile plants which, by tradition, prefer to use wool, whose whole background is in wool and whose whole technology is in the fibre of wool and not the man-made fibre.
The increase in the wheat quota to 514 million bushels plus 20 million bushels has, as I said before, brought an area of confidence back into the countryside. One can only hope that the current rains, which have put an end to a lot of the drought conditions which prevailed throughout large areas of the Commonwealth, will continue and that the wheat growers of Australia will reap a bonanza crop this year. Now that the Australian Government has established closer links with the 800 million people of China, I believe there is a future for better and more consistent markets in that country for our wheat.
The situation in the dairying industry has improved, despite the prophecies of the prophets of doom. There were many prophets of doom 10 years ago or so when Britain announced her intention to enter into the European Economic Community. We in the dairying industry in particular were perturbed. Due to mismanagement by the previous Government and due to a downturn in production because of drought and other natural problems across the dairying areas of the Commonwealth production has declined. Instead of sending the 50,000 or 60,000 tons that we normally send to Great Britain and that we have sent there for years we sent something like only 5,000 tons last year. 1 understand that the Australian Dairy Produce Board is at present having a long, close, hard look at the question of the level at which we should cut off our exports of butter in the current season so that we will not be in a position where we run out of butter for the home market. Markets have also been opened up in other countries. More recently 2 of note were opened up in countries in Latin America to which the Board has not exported in previous years. So new markets are being found. I believe that we will be able to export to those markets on a long-term basis. As I see it the future of the dairying industry in Australia is rather bright.
It should not be understood from what I have said that there are no areas of primary industry in Australia in which there are problems because of a lack of markets and revaluation, which is a subject on which the
Minister ‘ for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) has been asked many questions in recent times. As the Minister for Primary Industry and the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) have said, the Government will provide compensation to those industries which put a case that shows that they have been disadvantaged by the fluctuations in world currencies.
– I have been pleased with the decision to date. As I see the situation - I say this quite bluntly - some farmers have been belly-aching when they should not be doing so. For instance, I have been unable to detect any downturn in the price of bullocks at my local market. In fact, I have seen record yardings and record prices week after week in recent times.
– Are they natural whingers?
– Like any other section of the community, I think the farming community has its whingers right across the board. One other matter I noted with some pride with respect to the rural area is the proposal outlined by the Governor-General relative to the fishing industry. I suppose there is no better example of an underdeveloped primary industry in Australia than the fishing industry. By world standards ours is a cockle boat fleet. It is a fleet that, by comparison with other countries, goes to sea in dinghies. As a consequence other nations are fishing almost on our back door - in fact, at times they fish within sight of citizens standing on the seashore. One result is that we have to import far too much of the fish that the country consumes. The proposals of the Government to look into this matter and to apply funds for research into the industry will, I believe, do something to step up the industry and develop it into what it could and the Australian Labor Party believes it should become.
Some of the other proposals contained in the Governor-General’s Speech have already been outlined by various Ministers, including the proposal to introduce legislation to alleviate the burden on people who have to pay high interest rates on housing loans. I believe that that is a step in the right direction. It is a measure that will lighten the load of hundreds of thousands of young married couples, particularly those in our urban communities, who had to take out 2 or 3 mortgages in order to obtain sufficient finance to purchase their homes and who have virtually had an economic collar placed around their necks that weighs them down to such an extent that if either the husband or the wife became ill and could not work the retention of their homes would be placed in jeopardy. I see no reason why an improvement in the present situation cannot be achieved. It has been the practice of past governments - Labor and Liberal - to set good and sound interest rates for ex-servicemen. I do not see why that type of policy could not in some measure be extended to the civilian population of this country.
There is one other matter on which I wish to speak. I wish to do so because it has been on my plate for the last 24 hours. This matter is linked with the Government’s proposals concerning decentralisation or regional development. I am concerned about the decision of the employers of waterfront labour to go ahead and alter the rates of pay that apply in the ports throughout Australia. This will be te the disadvantage of so many of our outer ports. I asked a question on this matter this morning of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron). I intend to follow the matter through because the decision will place in jeopardy the future of so many of our small and what should be thriving outer ports. There has been and I think still is a tendency in the maritime field in Australia towards centralisation. The major ports are copping the lot and the smaller outer ports, which should and I believe could thrive, are being deprived of business.
I can do no better than cite the instance of the port of Portland, where one can see acre upon acre of wool stores and to where thousands upon thousands of bales of wool are taken annually and auctioned. Instead of being shipped out of that port the wool is being put aboard trains and sent to the larger ports in Victoria. To me it is an act of utter stupidity, although it may line the pockets of the conference lines, that, at the same time as a ship going to Geelong is in the port of Portland unloading cargo, bales of wool are being loaded onto a train going to Geelong to meet a ship
– To Melbourne and not Geelong.
– My learned colleague informs me that I should have said Melbourne. He is right. This has been a long term matter of concern to the waterside workers and the port of Geelong. It does go to Melbourne. I believe that is entirely wrong. Surely that is what regional development and decentralisation are all about. Portland has the capabilities of being an important port. I understand that it is the second deepest port in the Commonwealth of Australia. It is only three-quarters of an hour from the main shipping routes. There was a period of time when cargo vessels called at that port for as little as 50 tons of cargo. That is not the situation today. It is a natural outlet for the vast hinterland adjacent to it, the south-west corner of Victoria, reaching right up into our wool growing areas in the Wimmera and Mallee regions. It is a natural outlet also for the south-east area of South Australia. I hope that the Federal Labor Government, in conjunction with what I believe will continue to be a State Labor Government in South Australia, will exert its influence on the conference lines. I ask the responsible. Ministers in both Parliaments to ensure that this port is allowed to operate effectively. When it was established it was, to all intents and purposes, to be something of a Mecca, but because of the influence of vested interests and because of a lackadaisical approach by State and Federal governments, it has been allowed to develop into what will be little more than a white elephant, and it will remain in that state unless some action is taken.
– You will have a change of government in Victoria in a few months.
– I hope that will come about. Such an event would ensure that benefits accrue to that port. I reiterate that on 2nd December the people of this country voted for change. I believe that because of the way in which they voted they have a right to expect that change. I believe also that this Government has the ability and the determination to press on with that mandate given lo it by the people of Australia and to provide a better way of life for thousands of Australians. I am in little doubt and I am sure that any honourable senator who has done his homework, who has been around his electorate, has realised that this country is not as affluent in many areas as it could well be.
It is a very wealthy country but there are large sections of it which are not affluent. I believe that some equalisation in this regard will be brought about by the present Government that will create a unification of this nation.
One of the tragedies that has occurred over the 23 years that this present Government has been out of office has been the tendency to divide the people of this nation. It was done at State level; it was done at Federal level. I think that is a totally wrong attitude for any government to adopt. We believe that the policies outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech will create an identity of purpose. They will create a nation with goals to be achieved and, furthermore and most importantly these policies will create a better standing for this nation, not only within itself but right around the globe.
– At the outset I would like to say how deeply sensitive I am of the honour that is mine in being afforded the opportunity to second the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I feel that the honour is due more to Queensland, the State that I am proud to represent in this chamber, than to me personally. I am aware also that there are other honourable senators in this chamber who no doubt would be more adequate than I to handle this occasion. Nevertheless, I approach it with a great deal of confidence because, having heard the Speech delivered by His Excellency, one could not fail to believe that we are on the eve of a most exciting period, a most useful period and a period of great change.
Honourable senators will recall that during his Speech His Excellency intimated to the assembly that the Government was embarking on a period of great change and would be basing its program on 4 principal grounds. I feel that at this stage it would be opportune to relate again those 4 grounds of approach to the Senate, so that they can be recorded in Hansard for future research and so that they may be given the widest circulation. The first of the 4 principal grounds upon which he said the Government was basing its program for change was the manifest desire of large sections of the Australian community, particularly the youthful majority, for a more tolerant, more open, more humane, more equal, yet more diverse society. The second ground of approach was the clear failure, of existing social and economic structures to meet the needs of modern society, particularly in relation to education, social security, health, industrial relations and urban and regional development. The third ground of approach was the need for government, and principally the national government, to have available machinery and advice to plan for the inevitable and accelerating change now occurring in all modern communities. The, fourth ground of approach was recognition of new and momentous directions in the pattern of international relations, particularly in the region in which Australia’s future lies. It will be recalled that His Excellency said in his address that this was the most comprehensive program of legislation in the history of the Australian Parliament.
I quite appreciate that there will be a section of the community - indeed, there, will be a section of the Parliament- which will be opposed to some of the measures which will be advanced by this Government. But this is not strange, because one can recall that even in the early days of Federation there was violent dissent by some members of Parliament against the legislation that was at that time placed before the people. Disputation in regard to change has been a characteristic of Australia’s history. Most people react against change. I know from my own interests in community affairs and even from interests outside this Parliament that people seem to resist change, even though that change is not Of a revolutionary nature. But the redeeming point about it all is that once the reform has been brought about the majority of people see the wisdom of it and accept it.
I do not need to remind honourable senators that the Australian Labor Party advocates and crusades for change. I can recall as part of the long history of the Australian Labor Parry and the trade union movement the campaign that was launched by the Australian Labor Party when it opposed the export of pig iron to Japan. I can recall the stand of the Australian Labor Party when it supported Indonesia in its call for independence. I can recall the stand in more recent times of the Australian Labor Party when for 5 or 6 years it crusaded continually for a change in government policy in regard to the phoney war in Vietnam. I am happy to say that history has proved the great Australian Labor Party right on those 3 counts, just as history will again prove the Labor Party to be right in the reform that it is presently seeking before this Parliament.
I have no doubt that some of the legislation to be introduced will be warmly contested by sections in the community and by sections of the Parliament. We have already seen evidence of honourable senators opposite contesting some of the legislation the Government has endeavoured to introduce so far. Various sections in the community are already anticipating what will be the outcome of this first session of this Parliament. I venture to say that this first session of this Parliament will be the most momentous in the history of the Australian Federation, and it will be so because, with the advent of a Labor Government, there will be for the first time after 23 years such drastic changes in government policy that the lives of each and every one of us will be affected.
As I said earlier, change was the theme throughout the Speech delivered by His Excellency. The record proves that in the 100 days that this Government has been in power it has achieved more than other governments achieved in the last 23 years. Time will not permit me to deal in depth with the various items: nor is this the occasion. I know that the Senate will afford me the opportunity at a later date to discuss these matters further. We have just heard a very eloquent address by my colleague Senator Primmer who capably moved the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. He very effectively and capably dealt with some of the important items outlined in His Excellency’s Speech. However, on this occasion I would be remiss if I did not mention some of the great humanitarian issues which are contained in the Speech. 1 refer to the abolition of the means test which will occur during the life of this Parliament. I refer to the fact that all Australians who are entitled to social security payments may receive them wherever they choose to live without reciprocal agreements being made with other governments. There will be twice-yearly increases of $1.50 in the basic pension rate until such time as that rate reaches 25 per cent of the average weekly earnings. A national superannuation scheme will be recommended. A national commission on social welfare will be established to advise the Government on all aspects of social welfare. A universal health insurance scheme will be introduced.
These are just a few items in a program which must fire the imagination of anyone who has a spark of humanitarianism left in him. To bring about a maximum effort in Australian ownership and control the Government will establish a national pipeline authority. This is the first such venture which has been undertaken by any government since the establishment of the Snowy Mountains Authority. At this stage it is important to recall that when the then Australian Labor Party Government launched the Snowy Mountains Authority scheme which gained world wide recognition the ceremony was boycotted by the official Opposition of the day. That Opposition was of the same political colour as the Opposition which occupies those benches today. Another progressive step in Government policy is that all minerals will be subject to export control. Surely no think* ing person can object to any government - irrespective of its political persuasion - having control of our export minerals. I am astounded at the role which the Australian Country Party is adopting in this matter. Particularly I refer to the Queensland branch of the Country Party which is playing the role of a small, narrow, sectarian unit. This role is epitomised by the narrowest of them all, the Premier of Queensland, Mr Joh Bjelke-Petersen. He is setting out to cause nothing but strife and disunity. He is now recognising the Torres Strait islanders, people that he did not know existed in the 6 years he was the Minister responsible for Aboriginal affairs. It is on record in Queensland Hansard that in that period he did not make one speech in the Parliament advocating welfare conditions for them. Now he is making promises to those people which he cannot keep.
As I previously said, Labor in the 100 days it has been in office has achieved more than the previous governments achieved in 23 years. However, 1 assure the people of Queensland that the interests of that great State will not be jeopardised by the intemperate remarks made by their Premier who, at the moment, is referred to by a large section of the electorate - this is something to which I do not entirely subscribe because I have respect for the high office of Premier of the State which he occupies - as the peanut king from Kingaroy. It does not do me good as a Queenslander to know that a healthy section of the electorate refers to him in that way. Let us examine some of the objections and protests which he is making against the Federal Government. Recently criticism was levelled by the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) at the Queensland export of minerals. He challenged the Queensland Government over its very poor performance in relation to the amount it is receiving in royalties from coal.
Honourable senators know that on three or four previous occasions when I have spoken on the special report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission in regard to Queensland’s application in 1971 for special financial assistance I have pointed to certain criticisms made by that Commission of the poor performance of Queensland in relation to royalties it is charging on the minerals it is exporting. 1 pointed out that I was not fired by any party political persuasion on the eve of a State election but was merely quoting the valued opinion of high Treasury officials. In considering the Queensland submission for extra financial assistance they brought down certain findings. One was a very severe criticism of Queensland’s poor performance in the field of royalties. So that the record will be straight I quote from page 11, paragraph 24, of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Special Report 1972 which states:
It is pure humbug and rot for the Queensland Premier to say that the attack on the Queensland Government is inspired by a Minister who represents the mining area of Wollongong. Before the Minister ever drew the attention of the national Parliament to Queensland’s performance in royalties it was there in black and white in that Special Report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission in 1972. One cannot help but wonder why the Queensland Government has not responded to this criticism from the Treasury officials and responsible Ministers in the national Parliament. I cannot help but think that there must be some grounds for the argument which is being advanced in Queensland today that when the Queensland Government entered into agreements with overseas countries for the export of minerals it purposely accepted low royalties and asked the countries with which it was negotiating to balance the payments by paying the Queensland Government high freight rates on the minerals which are transported from where they are mined to the port from which they are exported. By doing this the revenue would be tucked away and hidden in the balance sheets of the Queensland Railway Department. When Queensland was making application to the Commonwealth for special financial assistance under the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act this information would be hidden from the commissioners and it would allow Queensland’s case to be falsified. As the information would be hidden from the commissioners it would not affect the final grant which would be given by the Commission to Queensland. If this is so it may be argued that it is good politics on the part of the Queensland Government. But, after all, it is deluding the national Parliament which is paying the bills by granting the money. I think that the Premier in his own interests, and in the interests of the Government which he leads, the Parliament of Queensland and the national Parliament to which he is making his application for special financial assistance should make public the agreements which have been entered into between Queensland and the overseas countries which are buying our minerals. If these agreements were tabled they would be readily available for everyone to see and we would be able to tell whether these claims regarding freight rates are correct. It is no good for Senator Wright to shake his head and look with disgust. Honourable senators will recall that many times I have appealed in this chamber to Country Party senators, when I have exposed in this Parliament that the Queensland Government enters into confidential concessional rates with certain business houses, to help me with my requests to the Queensland Premier and to the Queensland Government. I said that until 1957 when a Labor Government was in office these concession rates were advertised in the Railways Weekly Notice or placed on the notice board for everybody to see but with the advent of the LiberalCountry Party Government in 1957 this practice was discontinued. Consequently those rates have become known as confidential concessional freight rates. The Commonwealth
Grants Commission did make some mention of this. I then appealed to the Queensland Premier. Three years ago, as a result of agitation by Country Party people throughout Queensland regarding the inequality in freight rates and to pacify them on the eve of the election held 3 years before the last election, the Premier of Queensland brought in a firm of management consultants named Beckingsale Management Services Pty Ltd. That firm was commissioned to make an inquiry into freight rates operating in Queensland. It brought down its findings over 12 months ago but despite requests in this chamber and in the Queensland Parliament and by people outside the Parliament, the Queensland Premier and his Government have remained silent. To this day that report has never been tabled. If the Queensland Government will act in such a manner in relation to a report from a management consultant firm, then even though I am an incorrigible optimist I do not look forward with confidence to that Government tabling agreements regarding freight rates it has entered into with overseas countries for the transport of minerals from the point where they are mined to the point of export.
– How do you say that can be concealed from the Government’s revenue papers?
– The honourable senator asks me how that can possibly be concealed from the Commonwealth’s Grants Commission.
-Yes, or from Queensland Government revenue papers.
– If an arrangement has been entered into that for accepting low royalty rates high freight rates will be paid and that is thrown into the overall general revenue of the Railways Department, it would appear in the application to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The Queensland Government’s submission would be based on its performance regarding revenue derived from railway freight in Queensland. Senator Wright has asked me a fair question. So rather than waste the time of the Senate, I seek leave of the Senate to have incorporated in Hansard paragraphs 14,15 and 16 contained on pages 8 and 9 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s special report of 1972.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
Queensland claimed that ‘the Railway schedule of freights and fares in Queensland is considerably higher per ton mile than the standard States, based on calculations made by the Treasury over a number of commodities carried different distances in various States’. It claimed, that although it was not able to introduce any form of weighting into the calculations, ‘the large number of calculations for different commodities and distances could be expected to iron out chance fluctuations’, and ‘taking the average of the ratios of Queensland’s rates to the average of the other two States indicates Queensland’s rates are some 13 per cent above the Standard States’. Commenting on this comparison, the Queensland submission stated: ‘It is realised that a considerable proportion of rail freight is carried at contract rates for which details are not available, but it may be assumed that a similar relationship exists in contract rates and that the comparison we have made reflects the general levels of freight rates.’
Queensland supported its general contention that its freight rates are higher per ton mile than in the standard States by a comparison of railway operating surpluses in recent years in the light of the comparative difficulties under which the Queensland railways operate. These difficulties were exemplified by statistics shown in Table 20 in Appendix C of the Commission’s 38th Report. They included a route mileage in relation to population which is 2.5 times the standard State average; a figure for goods and livestock carried per route mile which is only 52 per cent of the average tonnage for the standard States; and railway employment which relative to population was 49 per cent above the standard State average. Despite these difficulties Queensland’s per capita operating surplus, for the period from 1967-68 to 1969-70 shown in the table, was $5.88 per capita compared with an average of $1.71 for New South Wales and Victoria.
Queensland submitted that it should receive a favourable adjustment for its above-standard level of rail freights of an amount at least sufficient to offset the estimated unfavourable adjustment of $9.7m on account of below-standard severity of State taxation. Its estimate that Queensland’s rates are 13 per cent above standard would imply a favourable adjustment of $14m. In assessing the ‘minimum’ special grant of $10.5m claimed for 1971-72 it had not taken into account any favourable adjustment for railway charges.
– I hope that, when Senator Wright reads what I have said has been suggested in Queensland and when he reads the general comments on Queensland’s submission on railway freights, he will be able to read into them the possibility that what I have said could be happening. I have not dealt at length with the important matters. I have gone further than I meant to go in relation to the freight submissions. I think it is an important submission and I hope that later when the Commonwealth Grants Commission report is tabled I will be able to speak on it again.
I did not want to speak at length on some items, but I do want to say that the State Parliaments still have their sovereign powers and it is important for the national Parliament and equally important for the States to realise that we must co-operate heartily with one another if the national programs for development which we envisage are to be carried out. We all know it is unfortunate that the Commonwealth Parliament has not been able to reach the zenith of its powers. When federation was brought about in 1901, those who brought it about hoped that the people generally, once they got used to the federal system would gradually clothe the national Parliament with more authority. But whether for good or ill, it has not been satisfactorily brought about. Therefore we still have to depend on State parliaments and State governments to co-operate with the national Government and the national Parliament if national policies are to be implemented. I was pleased to read in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General that the Government intended to co-operate with the governments of the various States in regard to many of these important matters. Of course in His Excellency’s Speech there were other proposals in relation to which the national Parliament can go it alone - and no doubt some of them; as I said earlier, will be opposed by honourable senators opposite.
I should at this stage make some mention of the powers and function of the Parliament. I believe that the powers and function of the Parliament should transcend any Party political considerations. All Australians pin their faith on their parliamentary system and on the power of their representatives, and they are very jealous of their heritage. They are able to recall their representatives should they do things of which the people do not approve. It is dangerous to tell the people that a parliament will exceed its constitutional powers. I point out to people, and particularly to the Premier of Queensland, that the Constitution has given Parliament authority to make laws in certain directions beyond the limits of State control. These powers have been conferred upon the Parliament; they have not been conferred on any Party political organisation. Yet there are men in the community who, to gain some slight political advantage, are prepared to inflame the minds of the people by suggesting that the Government will exceed its authority and will flout the expressed will of the people.
My colleague Senator Georges, when speaking in the Torres Strait Islands debate, called upon the Premier of Queensland to table advice regarding the shares he holds in a company named Exoil Australia Ltd., a company which the senator believed had lodged an application to explore for oil in the Gulf of Papua. It has since been disclosed that the Queensland Premier is a big shareholder in that company, but the company itself has advised that it is no longer an applicant for the right to explore for oil in that area.
– That is to credit.
– That is to credit. I am correcting what was said recently in this chamber. However, 6 companies are applicants for the right to explore for oil in the Gulf of Papua - and their applications are locked in a safe in the Executive Building awaiting the findings of the royal commission on oil drilling in the Great Barrier Reef. I will now make another request of the Queensland Premier: Will he disclose to the Queensland people whether he is a shareholder in any of the 6 other companies that have applied for the rights to explore for oil in the Gulf of Papua? If he is not, he has nothing to hide. All he has to do is tell the people of Queensland that he is not.
Before concluding, 1 want to make some remarks about allegations that were made by Senator Byrne when he was speaking in the debate concerning the Torres Strait islands. He spoke with great dramatics. I was surprised at this because I have known him for a long time and I have a lot of respect for him. I feel that he is an intelligent enough senator not to indulge in denigration, dramatics and the challenging of his fellow honourable senators who sit opposite him to stand in their places and be counted. This was offensive to me. Whatever shortcomings I might have, one of them is not a lack of moral courage. If ever I have made a statement I have stood by what I have said, or if I have been proven wrong, I have apologised. One of my shortcomings is not a lack of moral courage. I thought that it was offensive for Senator Byrne to look over at honourable senators on this side of the chamber and ask with great dramatics where Queensland senators would stand in this matter. He challenged us to stand up and be counted. I just want to remind Senator Byrne that there are honourable senators on this side of the Senate, particularly Queenslanders, who are not afraid to be counted nor to say where their allegiance lies in regard to their State or country. In a practical performance about 1939 when a bugle was sounded, they answered it. They did that in a more practical manner than by means of verbiage in the Senate chamber. They showed their allegiance to their State and country. Another bugle was sounded in 1957. Senator Byrne heard that one, but he turned his back on it and went the other way.
His Excellency the Governor-General said in his Speech, in outlining the measures that the Government proposed to take:
The Government recognises that the use of leisure in a modern society presents problems and opportunities involving profound questions of the relations between man and his community -
He went on to say that it was proposed to build community centres based upon schools and to grant youth leadership courses. This brings me to raise the point that my colleague, Senator Primmer, mentioned earlier. It is that all cannot be achieved in one day. I realise that, as His Excellency the GovernorGeneral said, this is the most comprehensive program of legislation ever introduced in the history of Australia. They are the words used by the Governor-General, not by any biased party politician. They were used by no lesser person than His Excellency the GovernorGeneral. He said that it was the most comprehensive program of legislation in the history of Australia and I accept his assurances.
As I said, I know that everything cannot be achieved at once. But I have a couple of requests that are pretty close to my heart that I have been pressing in the Parliament for some time. I know that Cabinet, in its wisdom, evaluates and considers the various policies that have to be introduced on their merit. But I hope that in future the Cabinet will give some serious consideration to upgrading and reconstituting the National Fitness Council of Australia. This Council was introduced in 1939 as a war time measure. It did a remarkable and magnificent job in achieving all its objectives. What I have, to say is in no way to be taken as a reflection on the long line of successive officers and members of the Council who have served with it up to the present time. They have all done a magnificent job with the machinery at their disposal. But the Council is not geared to meet the requirements of the 1970s.
Australia is a country that is very comparable with the United States of America. That country had the same problem. In 1961 the late President John F. Kennedy constituted the President’s National Fitness Council. But by 1970 it was found to be inadequate. It was upgraded and reconstituted as a committee of 14 under the chairmanship of astronaut James Lovell. I am not suggesting that we have an astronaut to chair our Council in Australia, although I point out that some Opposition senators go into orbit now and again. Of the 13 remaining members of the committee, 6 were specialists in the field of national fitness. We have an abundance of talent in Australia - men who have made their mark on a national and international level by their energies and efforts through activity medicine or through the Australian Sports Medicine Association. I seriously suggest to Ministers in the Senate that they suggest to their colleagues in the Cabinet that serious consideration be given in the near future to upgrading and reconstituting the National Fitness Council of Australia so that it can function in accordance with the requirements of the 1970s.
Other items I would like to mention briefly concern tourism. I commend 4 points to the Minister for Tourism and Recreation (Mr Stewart). I hope that in the very near future he will be able to place these requests before the Cabinet for its urgent and favourable consideration. I feel that special assistance should be given to local authorities in tourist areas where the local ratepayers provide the facilities for tourists and get no relief from the rates that they pay. I feel that the depreciation of new buildings and the maintenance and renovation of tourist buildings should be an allowable tax deduction as is the case in Pacific areas which are our greatest competitors in this field. I feel that a tourist development fund should be established along similar lines to the one already operating in New Zealand. Finally, I believe that the Australian National Line should use its passenger ships for tourist cruises to north Queensland in the winter months. As I said earlier, I know that all these things cannot be done overnight. The Government has embarked upon a legislative program that has created new records in the history of government in this country. I know that as a matter of commonsense, being an attentive Government, it will consider these matters in the future.
In conclusion, I believe I express the sentiments of all honourable senators when 1 say that we can visualise big things ahead and that everyone, regardless of political party, will give the best attention to these tasks. Someone in the chamber has suggested that I may be wrong in taking that view. If I am wrong it will be only because since the beginning of the world there has always been some effort by people to prevent progress. However, out of the collective wisdom of this Parliament 1 am certain that we will make progress. At any rate, the Parliament contains sufficient members to overcome any obstruction that may arise. We on this side of the Senate, at any rate, shall nail our sail to the mast. I trust that as a result of our deliberations we shall progress towards the fulfilment of the great destiny awaiting this young country.
– Before moving to what I intend to say, 1 just comment on one matter that was adverted to by Senator McAuliffe in his speech. It is that there is some sort of magic in the speech of His Excellency the Governor-General because it appears under the name of Sir Paul Hasluck. As we all know, it is a speech from the Throne. But I do not think any of us are so naive as to believe that that speech is written by anybody other than the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) for delivery by the Governor-General. I think it is rather playing with words to try to put into Sir Paul’s mouth what in fact the Prime Minister put into his mouth.
Before moving the amendment, which on behalf of the Opposition I will shortly move, I think it as well at the outset to make clear the Opposition’s attitude to many of the claims of the present Government. Firstly, there is this almost slogan which the Government has been using as a justification for its actions - ‘We have a mandate from the people’. It is true that the Australian Labor Party received 49.6 per cent of the first preference vote and 52.7 per cent of the vote under the Mackerras preferred party vote allocation system, and is therefore entitled to form a Government. With this we do not quarrel, but what is also true is that a very large proportion of the electorate did not give the Labor Party a so-called ‘mandate’, if I may use the term of which 2 honourable senators opposite are so fond. Figures belie the claim that the whole nation has grasped the Labor Party to its breast. The overall swing to the ALP was only 2.5 per cent, and for the information of honourable senators opposite, that was the smallest swing that has occurred to either this Government or the present Opposition in the past 5 elections.
It is also terribly important to realise, particularly in the Senate, that this swing took place in only 3 States, namely, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland indicated an enormous lack of enthusiasm for the call ‘it’s time’ by swinging to the Liberal and Country Parties. In the cases of South Australia and Western Australia, there is no doubt that the policies and inept and inefficient administration of those Labor State Governments, plus their craven acceptance of the dictates of their Trades Hall masters, had demonstrated to South Australia and Western Australia that the ALP was not the panacea of all ills that it was setting itself up to be. In my own State of Western Australia, the overall swing to the Liberal and Country Parties was 4.3 per cent - much greater, if I may point out, than the overall swing that took place to Labor - and all seats showed movement to the then Government parties.
For the information of honourable senators opposite, who perhaps have not looked at the Oxford Dictionary, it states that a mandate is the ‘political authority supposed to be given by electors to (party in) Parliament’. ‘Supposed’ is, in my opinion, the operative word. On what is this ‘mandate’ claim based? Does it mean that the ALP believes it is in power because of the program it put forward in its policy speech at the last election, or is its mandate based on the ALP Conference proposals? I believe that electors choose between parties and not necessarily between issues. A sizable proportion of our electorate is not in a position to choose otherwise. Electors are not always aware of the alternatives proposed, or the implications of suggested changes or even of present policies. The Labor Party chose the issues which appear in its policy speech and the proportion of ALP members to the total electorate is small. It is not just policies that have influenced the electors - it is a whole range of personal and social attitudes, images and generalised impressions that have motivated the electors’ choice. In a survey of voters taken on polling day, and referred to in the book written by 2 Canberra journalists, Solomon and Oakes, a majority of those who changed their vote to Labor did so on the basis of ‘it was time for a change’.
To claim a so-called mandate on an individual policy issue, unless that issue has been directly put in a referendum or a policy speech, is dishonest. It is most unlikely that those who supported the ALP would give overwhelming support on all issues. It is probable that many who voted for the ALP are completely unaware of the Party’s attitude on some subjects and opposed to it on others. The Government, to my mind, is using the term as a justification to legitimise all Government action and implies that what it is doing is the will of the people. I believe that dictatorships and communist controlled nations claim that they follow the will of the people, and consequently to oppose that so-called ‘will’ is to become not only an enemy of the government, but of the people. Therefore, to claim that the Government is following the will of the people would be a dangerous precedent for a democratic country; just as dangerous as the spectacle of this Australian democracy being controlled by a 2-man Government. Now how does this alleged mandate affect the Senate? I would remind the Government that we too were sent here with just as good a mandate as the Government now claims it possesses.
– Not as recent.
– I will come to that. We were all elected on the same franchise, as is the House of Representatives, by proportional representation which is undoubtedly a far more satisfactory method of determining the will of the electorate than the House of Representatives preferential system, but I realise that proportional representation for the House of Representatives would present more difficulties than it would solve. Adverting to the interjection which was just made, I am well aware that our colleague, Senator Bonner, in whose election in his own right we all rejoice, received an overwhelming mandate from his Queensland electors to come into the Senate and oppose all that was contained in the Government’s policy speech.
So let us not talk overmuch of mandates. Let us also remember that the Senate was deliberately set up by the founding fathers with its enormous powers to act as a check and a balance to protect the interests of the smaller States from the excesses of the larger. Because of the temporary electoral insanity of the 2 most populous Australian States, the Senate may well be called upon to protect the national interest by exercising its undoubted constitutional rights and powers.
Before I move to another topic, may I mention that part of the speech from the Throne where the Government stated its intention to remove the malapportionment of the electorates for the House of Representatives. Why cannot the Labor Party stop squealing about the electoral system, be it boundaries or voting methods? The simple fact is that the last election with all its alleged defects gave the Government 54 per cent of the seats, although it obtained only 49.6 per cent of the primary vote. Surely this is proof that the electoral system is not biased against the Labor Party. The simple fact is that over the vast majority of elections since 1949, more people have preferred to vote for the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party than for the Labor Party. This is the simple fact of electoral history which the Labor Party ought to live with.
To squeal unfair and to want to alter the system so that the Labor Party may win with a minority of votes will fool no-one, least of all the average decent sensible Australian who, whilst pretty easy going about many matters, will not be fooled by cheap political slogans which he knows instinctively to be untrue. The electors of Australia have given the Labor Party the opportunity of Government; therefore, it is responsible, or rather should be, for its own decisions and there should be no attempt to cast this responsibility onto anyone else. We all saw an example of this when the Prime Minister, at a Press conference, tried to excuse the rude and distasteful personal attacks that his Ministers had made on the American President by saying that he had a mandate from the Australian people to bring the Vietnam war to an end. Mr Whitlam tried to make the Australian electorate responsible for his Ministers’ action. In point of fact, it is most unlikely that the Labor Party’s so-called mandate could by any stretch of the imagination be extended to include the hurling of insults by Government Ministers at the President of a nation with which we have long, friendly and beneficial relations and which, in the final analysis, is the one nation which could guarantee our safety and freedom if that need arose.
It is the responsibility of the major Party in this Parliament to provide the government, and the government is charged with the task of governing and directing the nation and ensuring the security and well-being of all the people. Each member of Parliament has obligations to his electorate; more importantly, he must recognise that he has these obligations. The Labor Party parliamentarians’ obligations do not extend only to members of the Labor Party and what is written in its platform; the obligations extend to all other groups and sections in our community. The Labor Party would do well to remember this. It is in office not on the sole support of unionists and Labor Party members; other members of the community supported it for their own particular reasons. To implement policies which encompass the interests of one group in the community cannot be said to be in the interests of the whole community. This country expects that the government, not its Party organisation, will decide the policies to be pursued. The Government is responsible to the whole community, not just a section of it, and it should be responsive to the whole community, not just a particular section of it.
Let me now look at the performance of the ALP since it took office. Firstly, let me look at the field of foreign affairs and defence. It is ludicrous for the Labor Party Government to suggest that it, and it alone, is capable of implementing a new policy direction in relation to our neighbours. Previous LiberalCountry Party governments did undertake a reassessment of our policy in this area, such as when the British Government announced some years ago that it would be taking a less active role in the region and was therefore withdrawing large numbers of its troops. Previous governments have long participated in and encouraged attempts by nations in out region to do more to help themselves so as to bring stability and security to the region in order that we may all develop our domestic potential. What is certain is that there has been a change in the method and means since Labor came to office. Whereas we worked with the nations of this region on a basis of equals, the Labor Prime Minister wishes to be the leader, to impose upon nations of different culture, language and ideas our prescription for success without hearing what they have to say.
When the Indonesian Foreign Minister rejected the Labor proposals, it is alleged by 2 responsible journalists, namely, Alan Ramsay of the ‘Australian’ and Brian Johns of the Sydney Morning Herald’, in issues of those newspapers dated 23rd February 1973 and 24th February 1973 respectively, that Mr Malik, a widely respected statesman, was discredited and belittled by Australian embassy officials and those travelling with the Prime Minister. Alan Ramsay reported:
Some scathing remarks about Mr Malik were made in private to Australian journalists accompanying Mr Whitlam. One official said: ‘Adam Malik is Indonesia’s Jim Cairns’.
Brian Johns wrote:
That night Australian embassy officials - and members of Mr Whitlam’s party - were telling Australian journalists that Dr Malik was ‘unreliable’, ‘erratic’ and ‘out of favour in the Indonesian Government’.
Those quotations are from 2 separate newspapers. The Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) assures us that this would not have taken place, but he has not yet said that the stories are untrue. What is the truth concerning this matter? Either the Prime Minister acted as alleged or the 2 journalists are fabricators. There can be no other explanation. For the sake of our present and future relationships with Indonesia, there is an obligation on the Government to state definitely which of the 2 alternatives is correct.
The recognition of the People’s Republic of China is not something which was initiated when the Labor Government came to power; the previous Government was already taking steps in this direction. We, however, believed in moving a little more slowly. We thought it important to move in concert with our friends and ensure that the nations of our region knew what we were about and why. We also believed in the long and previously well known Australian tradition that one does not just sacrifice old friends merely for the sake of making new, even if more powerful, friends. We on this side of the chamber are astounded that the Government, in taking steps to recognise North Vietnam, and in doing so acknowledging that North Vietnam was an aggressor against South Vietnam and the war was not just a civil war, did not use its apparent good offices with the communist regime in Hanoi to induce it to withdraw its troops from South Vietnam, Khmer and Laos. Such a step would have been a positive contribution to the cause of peace and stability in the region - a cause in which the ALP professes a great theoretical interest. While North Vietnam continues to maintain troops within the borders of independent nations against their wishes, the chances of a lasting and enduring peace are made less likely.
Although it is generally conceded that there is no apparent threat to Australia’s security in the foreseeable future, this does not mean that Australia can allow its defence status to decline. The lack of a perceivable threat does not alter the obligation of a government to provide for the safety and security of the nation, either from our own resources or in concert with others. The need to have a sufficient defence, capability exists at all times; it does not alter because of foreign policy shifts. The Australian people are in the unfortunate situation that, irrespective of the defence need and the nation’s security, it is not these factors that will dictate whether a small contingent of ground forces remains in Singapore or whether some other aspect of defence, policy is implemented. Unfortunately, it is dependent on the attitude of the Party organisation of the Labor Party, not the Government which the nation has elected to handle its affairs. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard), who is also the Minister for Defence, has made it quite clear that it is the Federal Conference of the ALP which is responsible for dispositions of Australia’s ground forces - not the Government. The Government is responsible and very obviously responsive to the ALP Federal Conference.
We on this side of the Senate believe that in the conduct of foreign affairs and the shaping of defence policies we do not have to turn our back on those nations which have been friends and allies for a long period of time. We believe that our alliance with the United States is still of crucial importance. There is one thing of which we may be certain: The United States Government and people harbour no aggressive intentions against this nation. But I cannot be sure that the same applies in the long term to some of the Labor Party’s friends who are being eagerly sought out and pandered to. Our Government Ministers insult the United States President, yet that is the one nation which through the ANZUS pact could physically guarantee our security.
In the policy speech delivered by Mr Whitlam last November and in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, the need for justice and the ending of inequality is stressed. Yet this present Government has announced that the rewards for the labour of a man or woman depends no longer on the basis of the value of work performed but on whether a man or woman is a unionist. Surely this is discrimination, not justice, and just as surely it will create inequality not equality. A man’s reward, according to our Labor Government, should depend not on how hard he works or how much individual initiative and enterprise he puts into his work but on whether he or she belongs to a union or whether an employer gives preference to unionists. This is despite the fact that in the address given at the opening of Parliament on 27th February we are confronted with the sentence:
My Government is determined that the men and women of the Australian work force will share fairly and fully in the nation’s prosperity and productivity.
Favours are to be given to an interest group, a pressure group, which supports the Labor Party. If you do not join, you miss out. If that is not coercion, I do not know what is? If you want to ‘get along’ with this Government, you obviously must ‘go along’.
In the platform of the Labor Party we read:
Labor’s policy on wage and salary standards applies equally to all workers irrespective of their colour, race, sex, creed or politics. It demands the right to leisure and to working hours and holidays geared to technological change. Labor declares that every citizen has the right to industrial equality. . .
Apparently there was some undertaking given to the Federal Conference of the Labor Party and once again the Labor Government sees its responsibility to its union base and Labor Party supporters - not to all the public servants and others in the work force who may have helped in their election, but only to unionists. Yet it has the hypocrisy to talk about justice, equality and the ending of discrimination when its policies are aimed at and directed to achieving the opposite effect. Its policies are aimed at causing disharmony and diversion within the community.
The Opposition by its disapproval of the Public Service Arbitrator’s determinations has already shown that we on this side of the chamber will not allow a particular section of the community to be favoured against the other. We will not at any time allow unionists rights, privileges and rewards which are not available to all other members of the working community. As the ‘Canberra Times’ pointed out on 21st February 1973:
Labor was not elected to power to single out for privileged treatment the members of the unions which support it and traditionally contribute to election funds.
We will oppose for the same reasons the granting of government contracts simply on the basis that tenderers employ unionists.
I turn now to the economic wellbeing of this nation. The dire predictions of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) concerning unemployment have not eventuated due to policies initiated and pursued by the former Government. The other curse of modern government - inflation - goes unchecked. What is this Government doing in an attempt to control it? From the evidence so far, nothing. We are launched on what has been described as the greatest spending spree this country has ever seen. We face an enormous deficit Budget this year estimated to be $958m - an increase of over $300m on the Budget estimate of last year. This compares with a deficit of $187m in 1971-72 and $75m in 1970-71.
Where is the sound economic growth that the nation was promised? One wonders whether in fact the Labor Government has any control or understanding of what is involved in managing an economy. Certainly the Prime Minister showed no understanding of what was involved before he became Prime Minister; there is no evidence to show that he has any greater understanding now. We have seen an enormous capital outflow from this nation. Because of the monetary policies of this Government our exporters of raw materials face a bleak future as the Labor Government causes millions of dollars to be cut off their export contracts. Such actions affect not only the exporter but also those employed by him. Our manufacturing industries are disadvantaged - their goods in comparison to those of their competitors are dearer. The removal or reduction of export incentives would further harm these industries.
The primary producer has suffered through the Government’s economic policies and there can be little doubt that he and others in the rural areas will suffer even more before this Government finishes with them. It is quite obvious why a member of this place has been given the Primary Industry portfolio - to give it to Dr Patterson, for instance, would have meant conflict, even more than at present, in the Labor Government over the handling of this sensitive area. As Minister for Primary Industry, I am certain that Dr Patterson would not have stood by and presided over the demise of a section of our economy that still provides more than 50 per cent of our export income. As it is, Dr Patterson, who is probably the only ALP man with a proper understanding of primary industry, has been made the Minister in charge of sugar and virtually isolated from any influence in the field of primary industry. The Government has promised: to establish a protection commission to advise on assistance for both primary and secondary industries.
At the rate this Government is progressing, any such intention will be too late to render assistance to large sectors of those involved in primary and secondary industries. Primary and secondary industry need a soundly based and efficiently managed economy, not more and more boards commencing inquiries. These do not solve basic economic defects but only waste the taxpayers’ hard earned money.
Mr President, when one looks behind the facade, when one hears beyond the blowing of its own trumpet, the performance of the Government to date gives no cause for us to be confident that Australia is being run by people of any competence. Therefore I move:
That there be added to the motion moved by Senator Primmer the following words: but the Senate is of the opinion and regrets that-
The Government in its conduct of the nation’s affairs has subordinated the security and welfare of the Australian people on whose behalf it should govern to the factional decisions of the Conference and Executive of the Australian Labor Party in that:
Without regard to either economic or social consequences it intends to award government contracts to employers who will comply with trade union policies;
in defiance of its election policy, it attempted to introduce compulsory unionism for Commonwealth public servants;
it has pursued and intends to pursue defence and foreign policies which are contrary to Australia’s international treaty obligations and which ignore or reject long established bonds with traditional and trusted allies; and further the Senate views with alarm -
economic decisions which take no account of their impact on the nation’s exporters and their employees; and
the Government’s lack of action to curb runaway inflation.’
I commend the amendment to the Senate.
– I sympathise with the last speaker. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) and the Opposition parties are in a state of mind similar to that of the French nation when the Maginot Line collapsed. Senator Withers and other people had the general idea that you could gull the people for a continuous period of time. Unfortunately history caught up with them. As far as electoral systems are concerned, I know that in the not too distant future we will get an opportunity to have a look at the Commonwealth Electoral Act. In the last couple of years the previous Government was extremely reluctant to do very much about the Act.
I could supply one direct answer to the Leader of the Opposition. He talked about juggling percentages and the political attitude of the people. The honourable senator can look at leading political theorists like Malcolm Mackerras and Mr Aitkin, who has a Country Party background. Mr Aitkin summed it up in a very reasonable way. He said that the Labor Party was cursed with many electorates in which it has massive majorities. I instance seats such as Hunter and Reid. But there are many swinging seats. That brings me back to the Labor Party’s strong objection to the 20 per cent tolerance which the previous Government allowed when it created electorates with fewer than 50,000 electors and others with more than 70,000. The Labor Party won the electorate of Mitchell in New South Wales which has well over 70,000 electors.
Senator Withers is a legal man. He would appreciate this argument. We should have adopted the principles which were laid down by the United States Supreme Court well over 10 years ago when the imbalance between the rural population and the urban population in most states was reduced drastically. I can assure the Opposition that what we will be seeking in the not distant future is a 10 per cent tolerance. We realise that there cannot be a perfect system with each electorate being equal, whether in number of people or number of electors. Surely a 10 per cent tolerance will be quite sufficient in the future. If there is an equitable redistribution, any party which loses will not feel that it has been discriminated against unfairly. I speak with considerable experience of the western suburbs of
Sydney and of the Brisbane Waters area. The Labor Party lost the 1954 and the 1961 elections narrowly. The strategic manoeuvrings that occurred in key electorates at the next redistribution was remarkable. There has been talk about community of interest. I mention the Drummoyne municipality in Evans, a piece of which found itself switched in a tango - I will not use the full phrase which is the name of a contentious motion picture - from Evans to Lowe. The strategic maneouvrings do not just happen. Without going into an endless discourse on it. I think that honourable senators will find that Australia is one of the few countries regarded as parliamentary democracies which has a 20 per cent tolerance in the numbers of voters in electorates.
I return to the contents of the Governor-General’s Speech. In the 6 months prior to the election many of us said quite definitely that under our federal system, to which I do not object, there was a parallel between the imminent era of Mr Whitlam, in his anticipated role of Prime Minister, and that of the great American President Franklin D. Roosevelt. I said that then and I repeat it now because I believe that federal agencies are essential in the generating and energising of State governments. I make no distinction between Labor and Liberal governments. I give 2 particular instances. After more than 20 years of an immigration program, which we introduced and which previous Liberal-Country Party governments followed for a considerable time, the State governments were still very sluggish. My colleague the Minister for Works, Senator Cavanagh, and I have attended many citizenship conventions. We knew that the States were sluggish. For the past 12 months I have been agitating for the employment of more interpreters by State governments.
I have been very fair on this matter. I have been critical of the Liberal Minister for Health in New South Wales, Mr Jago, because there is not an ample number of interpreters employed in maternity hospitals. I have been equally critical of both Sir Charles Court and Mr Don May in Western Australia. Mr May is the present Labor Minister for Mines in Western Australia. They have been dazzled by mining companies. As a result - I use this verb knowing the full impact of its meaning - a minority of mining companies have swindled workers on the Western Australian minefields out of their wages. During a recent debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate I said that in 1973 a group of 4 men was still waiting for 8 weeks pay for work which they slugged out in the heat at Dampier Sound last year. There has been mention in this chamber of federal intervention. My colleague the Federal Minister for Immigration, Mr Grassby, intends to set up in the near future in Perth a citizens committee which Mr Joe Berinson, the member for Perth, will chair to try to energise that State Government. I believe in criticising people, no matter to which party they belong. The proliferation of federal agencies shows that we are sick and tired of all State governments using so many rubbishing arguments to explain why they do not do something. That is the attitude to which we are objecting.
I thought that the contrast between this Government and the previous one was illustrated vividly when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Greenwood, went to the rostrum last week and argued about the granting of an additional week’s leave to public servants. He could not say that he opposed the principle. All that he argued about was the method of its implementation. For the past 5 years each time the Senate has debated a matter concerning unions, my illustrious colleague Senator Milliner and I defended trade union rights. We were always trying to defend something. At least now we are benefiting general society and particularly the industrial worker.
I deal now with Senator Withers’ statements about Indonesia. I thought he was very foolish when he referred to our relations with Indonesia. Not only the Australian Press but also overseas publications such as “Newsweek’ and ‘Time’ paid tribute to the presence of Mr Whitlam, his very effective wife Margaret and his daughter in Indonesia. Senator McAuliffe drew my attention to this matter. When Mr Whitiam, his wife and his daughter met the President of Indonesia the people outside were holding flags showing that they remembered that an Australian Labor Government, through the efforts of a fine jurist, Sir Richard Kirby, helped to forge independence for that country. If we had not assisted that country to nationhood, 10 years afterwards we may have had another Algeria.
II we had not assisted, it would have shown our shortsightedness. Honourable senators opposite might say that we were the Government, that we had the opportunity and that we were in office. They should go back through the corridors of time and they should read the memoirs of a Minister from a later period, Sir Percy Spender. He was reluctant to concede that that plunge paid dividends.
Reference was made to the image of Indonesian Foreign Minister Malik. We have to be sophisticated about these matters. At various times all our papers say what is wrong with leading parliamentarians in the national Parliament, and we have to accept that give and take. People are talking about the book ‘The Making of a Prime Minister’. At the commencement of my speech I said that certain historical developments militated against the presentation of the present Opposition’s policy. No matter how much honourable senators opposite talked and no matter how much they endeavoured to label the Labor Party as a group of Benedict Arnolds, when the United States Republican President Richard Nixon had a dialogue with the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China he destroyed the credibility of the present Opposition’s foreign policy. There is no question about that. Foreign affairs was previously a field of distortion for honourable senators opposite. It is no longer such a field. It will not be because people in the opposition parties, the same as everybody else, now have a multitude of differing views. I think people expect more precision in our foreign policy utterances. Mr Whitlam went to Indonesia not on a junket tour but to project new ideas. All honourable senators, no matter to which party they belong find that they cannot always get their colleagues on a committee to accept an idea. After 3 months it finally gets across to the other members. Some of the things that we thought of first when in opposition became realities. 1 will not deal with United States-Australian relations because I think we will have a opportunity later tonight to debate that matter. There is a constant nagging by the Opposition about anything that we do to bring about the withdrawal of Australian and ultimately United States forces from the Asian mainland. I refer to an interview given to Newsweek’ by Tun Abdul Razak, the Malaysian Prime Minister, in relation to the future of his country. The interview appeared in the edition of 12th February. There was one particularly pregnant admission. He talked about the military presence of the United States in South East Asia. He said:
Well, in my mind, the answer, both for the United States and the South East Asian nations, is clearly that an American military presence cannot be a permanent feature.
The Whitlam-Barnard attitude has been that eventually the Asian countries will have to stand on their own feet. I suppose the Opposition will probably ask about subversion. A former Prime Minister, Mr John Gorton, was rightly fearful that if Australian troops were kept in Malaysia they could become internal policemen if there was a communal riot. I wonder whether honourable senators opposite have read the writings of Sir William Thompson, who was regarded as being a leading British expert on internal subversion. He took the view that the logical thing to do if one wanted to create internal strife in a country - I do not care whether it is Cyprus or Northern Ireland - was to do so from within. The idea is to keep the army on its toes. Those are the sorts of problems that all the South East Asian governments are going to have to face. The greatest fear is that Australian troops will be used in that field. I notice that in the interview to which I have referred the Malaysian Prime Minister was asked by an American Pressman about the fact that his country had on its borders a small scale communist threat and that he said: ‘This is a matter which we must contain ourselves’.
As a Socialist I believe that in order to achieve an egalitarian society a campaign should be mounted to remove the feudal landlords and the corrupt merchants from these countries. I believe that is the only way to handle the problem. I think it is conceded even in my own Party that Mr Lee in Singapore has been able to control the throttle of his nation because he has been ruthless with racketeers. I make no bones about the fact that I believe that in time of war in any Asian country any merchant who corners a food market and allows people to starve should be put before a firing squad. I have never had any inhibitions about that. As far as I am concerned the dispute about capital punishment does not arise in this instance. Any person who manipulates food supplies or indulges in food racketeering should be shot. There should be no hesitation about doing so.
A girl I know had a severe bronchial ailment. She was on the verge of contracting TB and now each winter has to watch herself very carefully. She told me that she was one of the people who were affected by what happened in 1948 under the Marshall Plan when rogues got at medicine that went in through UNRRA - the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration - and diluted it. Kiddies who at that stage thought they were getting antibiotics were in fact getting a very pale dilution. The sort of people in the Harry Lime - Third Man mould around Vienna are the ones who I would have no compunction whatever about shooting. To my way of thinking there is only one way to deal wilh those who indulge in food racketeering of that magnitude. Senator Webster is smiling. I would not go to the same degree with respect to similar happenings in Sydney. But I do believe that those people who deliberately defy the prices justification tribunal which Labor is going to set up ought to be in Long Bay Gaol cracking stones, particularly if they corner the market and deny reasonably priced food to pensioners. I have no inhibitions whatsoever about that.
I turn to Senator Withers argument about who did and who did not vote for the Labor Party. It is a fact of life that lots of urban problems were not being grappled with. That was one of the reasons why there was support for the Australian Labor Party in the larger Victorian, New South Wales and Queensland electorates. I think Senator Withers was very careless with the truth in the way in which he juggled the figures for votes obtained in the other States. Senator Cotton, who is listening intently to what I am saying, knows the situation that prevails in New South Wales. I have known occasions when State Labor governments had thumping victories because of mistakes that were made by the Menzies Government. There is no government that does not have its ups and downs. An examination of the graphs of the success or otherwise of the Heath and Wilson governments will reveal that at one time they were up and at another they were down. That is because a large number of people are floating voters. If at a given time one does something in relation to which the people think one is tops one’s rating could go up to 55 per cent, but at another time it could plummet to 40 per cent.
I have never been one to equate conservatism with fascism, but I must say that there is a certain element opposite which has been very prone to equate radicalism with Marxism.
That is one thing I resent. I think that to do so is to do a disservice to democracy. I think it will be found from time to time that we all adopt a radical stance on one thing and a conservative stance on another. I do not doubt that honourable senators opposite will say: Senator Mulvihill would be very ruthless with racketeers. How does that fit in with the Labor Party’s policy on capital punishment?’ I would like Senator Young to know that I am speaking of what happens outside Australia where people are hungry. I am not dealing with a crime in Australia by one person against another. I have therefore spiked Senator Young’s guns in anticipation.
There are one or two other matters with which I wish to deal. I have always had great admiration for Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. I thought he was a sound administrator. But I did not agree with his policy of cajoling the hospital and medical benefit funds or with Senator Greenwood’s policy of using a big stick. Neither of them was able to control the New South Wales hospital and medical benefit funds. For some reason that we have never been able to find out the previous Government set up the costly Nimmo Committee but to my mind its report was a good halfway house between what the Labor Party suggested concerning national health and what the then Government thought. Having gone around many electorates at large before and since the last election, I am more than ever convinced that the people are clamouring for a better deal on national health. Somebody is going to be hurt in this respect.
Honourable senators may have noticed that I am one of the fortunate ones who has not had to have glasses. They may also have noticed that I am a bit long-sighted. When 1 was talking recently to a prominent Sydney doctor - I am not going to mention his name, although the proceedings are not being broadcast - he sounded me out about whether the Minister for Social Security, Mr Hayden, was a nice man. I said that he was a very fair man. I told him that my quarrel was not with the doctors but with the health insurance funds. The Opposition has complained about trade union bureaucracy and members of such unions not being consulted before certain action is taken. As Gaitskell said on one occasion about fighting, I will never be satisfied until every bureaucratic decision by a health insurance fund can be reviewed.
Two years ago I was part of a delegation which went overseas. It was led at one time by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson. Others who were in the delegation were the former Speaker, Sir William Aston, and Senator Davidson. In most of the European countries, although they had various types of governments, there always seemed to be a much fairer assessment of anomalies than we see here. We still have the situation where persons are billed a full day for the day they go into hospital and for the day they come out. In some cases even the funds themselves admit that only one day should be charged for. Let us take the case of the child of 2 years which goes into hospital for a hernia but is found also to have something wrong with its colon, which is not a condition for which the cost of the extra operation can be fully recouped. A worker on a small wage who has to pay an extra $10 or $15 for such an additional operation could find that the extra slug has a tremendous effect on his budgeting for the next 3 weeks. These are human problems. The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) has agitated on this issue. He is just as concerned as I am to see that these things are redressed.
I did not like Senator Withers’ implication that the Opposition is going to be in a position to use a lot of power. I have noticed that most honourable senators opposite read a lot about politics. We of the Labor Party have gone back further than the Chifley-Curtin era and studied what happened in Scullin’s time. I can assure those honourable senators who have read ‘Caucus Crisis’ that none of my colleagues, and certainly not the Ministers, are going to be put in the situation in which my Party found itself in the 1930s because it had been out manoeuvred. We have learned from our experiences. We are not going to cop threats of double dissolutions for 3 years and be pushed down on our knees. We would sooner die on our feet. I say that with some feeling. Honourable senators will recognise my words as those of a very effective Mexican President in the 1930s. He was dealing with American big business. There is some analogy there with this situation. I would warn honourable senators opposite of the consequences of attempting to emasculate every piece of legislation we put forward. I assure Senator Withers that we will be quite happy to go to the people after our first 100 days and say: ‘We have tried’. I assure the honourable senator that the resurgence of Australian nationalism that has become part and parcel of things is an irresistible tide.
The honourable senator spoke in very muted tones about gallup polls. They show an increase of 1 per cent in the popularity of the Labor Party. I think people realise that those who never made mistakes have never achieved anything. That has been our whole theme. In fact, one honourable senator happened to say to me: ‘You know, when you are a government senator you find that you cannot go out and bash everybody; you have to be more discreet’. I suppose in my own case that is the reason why the number of questions I usually have on the notice paper in the first week of session is down from about 40 to about 8. We all realise that this is the situation. Of course, when I have colleagues such as Senator Douglas McClelland on the front bench there is no need to ask a lot of questions because I know I will get instant action if I approach him personally.
Like some other honourable senators, I will speak again in the debate this evening. The Speech delivered by the Governor-General is a milestone in the history of Australia. I am sure that when we come back for the first session next year it will be found that most of our election promises have been carried out. I hope to be either a delegate or an observer at our Federal Conference in Surfers Paradise in July. The television cameras and the Press will be there. Whoever our new federal president may be, I am sure he will be kind to us. Somebody mentioned a Mr Southey. He does not seem to talk as much about open government and what his party is doing as our people do. Surfers Paradise will be the watershed of the Australian Labor Party. There will be no shackles on us as parliamentarians because it will be seen that a mighty big percentage of the people seen in the dining rooms of Parliament House will be delegates at Surfers Paradise.
– The address delivered in the Senate on 27th February by His Excellency was a statement of the advice which the new Labor Government had given to the Governor-General as to its legislative proposals during its term of office. I congratulate the Governor-General on that address. I congratulate the Labor
Party on having achieved office. It Ls a momentous achievement for that party. We are in a unique situation where, I believe, for the first time in 35 years a Labor Government under its own right has assumed office in the Federal sphere in Australia. I think congratulations should be given to those who have led the Labor Party to victory at this time under great difficulties. The proposals which the Prime Minister outlined in his address prior to the election are complimentary to him. There are many proposals in that address which one could be encouraged to adopt very simply into one’s own philosophy, and these things have been transferred into the Governor-General’s Speech.
It is of interest to note the manner in which the Labor Party came to office. I compliment the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Withers) on his speech in this AddressinReply debate. Amongst the number of matters that he pointed out to the Australian electorate was that a very minor swing in voting brought the Labor Party to power. That swing was one of 2.5 per cent, and that is not great enough for the Labor Government to run away with the view that it has a complete mandate to do what it wishes. A 2.5 per cent swing represents the vote of perhaps some of those people who have been caught up, as I believe they have, in the very excellent publicity campaign which was launched by the Labor Party in this instance. It always appeared to me to be quite uncommon that during the years I have been in this Senate the Labor Party has posed as a fine Australian Labor Party which demands Australian interest in most things in Australia and which appears to set its face against overseas interests in Australia. While it may sometimes welcome those overseas interests it demands that Australia have an interest in their ventures.
The amazing thing about that excellent publicity campaign that was launched - I give the Labor Party great credit for it; it was a publicity campaign which outshone that of the Liberal Party, the Country Party, the Democratic Labor Party or any other party - is that it was mounted by an American-based publicity firm. In its wisdom the Labor Party engaged Hansen Rubensohn-McCann Erickson Pty Ltd, a most successful advertising firm, to mount its campaign. In actual fact, it is an overseas concern and it gave to the Labor Party those 2 winning phrases: ‘It’s time’ and ‘Don’t blame me’. They were the 2 phrases which caught the minds of Australians. How could one argue against the proposition that ‘It’s time’ and ‘Don’t blame me’. The average Australian certainly would endorse that latter sentiment. These were the phrases which helped provide that small margin of change. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) used some very attractive words in the campaign, but it was the publicity campaign - the mounting of stickers on the backs of cars and in windows - which caused the swing. That is not really an argument on political philosophies but it was the highlight of the election campaign and something which had not come to Australia before - a fully mounted costly publicity campaign.
This poses a great problem, in my mind, because, having achieved success on that basis, Labor certainly must continue on that basis in the future. I do not know how much money Labor had available to it, but my understanding from discussions with some business leaders in the community is that Labor attracted contributions for its campaign from many areas in which it had not had success previously. It will now pursue that basis on which to campaign, and I am sure that other political parties will adopt this type of American campaigning in the future. I would not like to see Australian elections following the pattern which we see- in America and which is something I abhor, but I foresee that we will become involved in this type of campaign in the future. I regret that the La’bor Party approached the election in that way, but having taken the lead in this matter over all other parties, it has gained success. I congratulate the Labor Party on its success but I congratulate even more that overseas publicity firm because if the newspaper reports are correct, Hansen Rubensohn was able to provide for the Labor Party a $10,000 dinner at the end of the campaign as an expression of congratulations to the Government. This certainly emphasises the fact that it was an enormously expensive campaign. I hope that honourable senators opposite will bear in mind that at future elections they will be posed with this same situation, so that in attempting to regain government in the future monetary contributions probably will be the most important factor.
The main aims that Labor has pronounced, not only in the Prime ‘Minister’s pre-election speeches hut also in the Governor-General’s Speech, are complimentary. Labor stated that it had 3 great aims. Those 3 great aims would be agreed to by any person. They must be the policy of any party which has sought office over the last 40 or 50 years. Originally they were stated by the Prime Minister as promoting equality, involving the Australian people in the decision making processes of the law and liberating the talents and uplifting the horizons of the Australian people. When one sees them written that way they are pretty simple statements. When one reads them they have little relationship to policy. They were transferred into 4 points by the GovernorGeneral. Without my reiterating them I point out that they can be found on pages 1 and 2 of the Gover.nor-General’s Speech.
But I believe the important factor which was acknowledged was that the Labor Government would certainly be using its socialist philosophy in an attempt to control the Government of Australia for all time. The most important aspect of the Governor-General’s Speech was the indication by Labor that it intended to alter the electoral system. Labor suggests that this is for the good of the Australian people. Undoubtedly it is for the good of the Labor Party. As was pointed out to the Senate by the Leader of the Opposition, under the electoral system the Labor Party can come to office without the first preference support of 50 per cent of the Australian people and yet acquire 54 per cent of the seats at the election. Surely this is a system which has served Labor particularly well.
Let us look at the first proposal which Labor is going to put to the Parliament. Labor, by seeking to reduce from 20 per cent to 10 per cent the permitted variation from a quota is attempting immediately to break a principle which has stood this country in good stead since 1902. That is the first principle which Labor, when it comes into office, attempts to change. Further, if it attempts to bring in what it calls the first past the post system and do some of the other things which it hopes to do in relation to electoral boundaries, it cannot but be judged as introducing, in its own interests, the greatest gerrymander which has ever been seen in Australia. I hope that before long the Senate strength which has been demonstrated in past years on such legislation will be demonstrated again and that such legislation will be firmly rejected.
One of the main comments made by the Governor-General was on our relationship with near countries. The Governor-General stated:
They believed that in no area is this more important or more opportune than in the field of Australia’s future relations with her neighbours and with the wider region.
Certainly the previous Government pursued a policy which gave us great friendship and a great relationship with our near neighbours. I am somewhat disturbed in my own mind because of what has been brought about in the very few months of this Labor Government so far as our international relations are concerned. My own view is that the greatest harm has been done to Australia that has ever been done in the past 70 years of federal government. To some extent I feel ashamed that the Prime Minister and other Ministers have been leading this Government during the past 2 or 3 months. I ask: What have we seen? One Minister has attempted to create a break in our friendship with Great Britain. That has been emphasised in the hope that in future we will be a more independent Australia and place less reliance on Great Britain. As a small country in world terms and having a great friendship with Great Britain and many of the traditions that have been handed down from that founding nation, I regret that this break has been created by the Labor Government.
We have seen an enormous break with our very great friend the United States of America. How can any supposedly responsible Minister of this Government abuse the President of the United States and expect that the people of America will ever view this country in the same light? A typical reaction was shown by one international character who came to Australia. He refused to shake hands with the Minister who is at the table, the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), because he was a member of the Labor Government in Australia. It is a pretty poor outlook for all of us as Australians that that should happen. It is most regrettable. I say to the United States that I have the greatest respect for that country. I have the greatest respect for what it has attempted to do in South East Asia. I have the greatest respect because that country has done more to pour out its wealth to less fortunate countries than has any other great nation. It has received nothing but abuse, generally, throughout the world. Perhaps its method of going about its giving has not been all that we would envisage but it has been a wonderful friend to Australia. It has been the saviour of Australia in our time of need. I certainly do not stand with those Ministers who criticise the United States. This Government has harmed our relations with the United States.
The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Barnard) have recognised China. I received a statement from the Prime Minister that no undertaking was given to China except that which has been expressed in writing and that is the simple recognition of each other. I am afraid that I do not believe that statement. I believe that one of the demands of China was that we would rid ourselves of our relations with Taiwan. That has been suggested for many years. I believe that the letter which the Prime Minister sent to me under his hand should have stated that as one of the conditions to which he immediately adhered. How will China view Australia as a fair and responsible friend when, after having had a small neighbour and good friend for some 14 or 15 years, Australia immediately, on recognising a larger and - I acknowledge - a more important nation in the world, cuts our ties with that good friend. Undoubtedly China will judge this Australian Government for what it is. Australia will be called on at some other stage to do that in relation to China. Are we always to cut our ties with our old though small friends if a larger and more important nation comes on the scene?
I disagree with the way in which this Government has gone about the recognition of mainland China. The Prime Minister rushed to Indonesia and attempted to say that we must have a wider relationship and that we must bring in the communist countries of South East Asia. I thought that the comments of the President of Indonesia were well applicable to the situation. He quietly told the Prime Minister that he - the Prime Minister - did not understand the situation of subversion which takes place in those countries. The Prime Minister’s statement was very light on that matter. It is regrettable that again we have done ourselves harm because of the Prime Minister’s recent attitude to the recognition of North Vietnam.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 28 February (vide page 55), on motion by Senator Greenwood:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
– On 28th February a statement was made in another place by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Mr Barnard, and was placed on the record in the Senate. It was a statement of considerable importance. The statement of the Minister for Defence marked the first occasion on which a government of this country had sought to place openly on the record a clear expression of the place of United States defence installations in Australia in terms of Australian national interests. It was the first statement by a government concerned to protect and develop Australia’s interests, and determined to clarify the position of these installations in Australia. In less than three months Ministers have been able to review questions related to these installations. However, this is not a simple matter. It has not been simple because before we took office the Australian Labor Party, in Opposition, had been denied access to information about these installations. So the review we have made involved in the first instance our establishing what these installations did.
The Deputy Prime Minister’s statement is an important step, setting the record straight - an exercise in providing information about these installations. It has defined the terms on which we will be dealing with the questions raised by the presence of these installations. This will take some months at least. It will involve negotiation with the United States on some issues, particularly affecting North West Cape. It will involve our asserting a full and proper place for Australia in respect of management, operation and control of these installations, and ensuring that they serve Australian interests. It was proposed by the Opposition last night in another place not only that the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement should be noted and commended, but also that full benediction should be given to the situation existing at 28th February. That is not acceptable to the Government nor does it make sense. The situation existing at 28th February was that the Deputy Prime Minister had made a statement publicly and clearly, in a way that our predecessors had not, about the circumstances in which these installations had come to be in Australia and the Deputy Prime Minister had said what he had been able to do and what he intended to do to bring these circumstances into line with a proper regard for Australian interests, Australian sovereignty and Australian policy today.
It would be meaningless in these circumstances to say that all the arrangements as they stood at 28th February were to the good of Australia, and entirely satisfactory to Australia, when the Deputy Prime Minister has so clearly stated that a number of matters are unsatisfactory. It is the Government’s intention to take up those matters with the Government of the United States to ensure a proper Australian role in management, operation and control of the installations, and to ensure that their presence is or remains consistent with Australia’s national interests. It may be of value and to the benefit of honourable senators opposite to say clearly that Australia does have national interests, in the defence area as in other areas, distinct from those of the United States. Our defence alliance with the United States is natural and reflects the breadth of our common interests in many fields. But this does not make our interests identical. The United States is a major power. It is a nuclear power. It has positions in relation to the Soviet Union, China, Japan and western Europe which cannot be adopted or shared by Australia. Australia is a middle ranking power in a multipolar world. It must stand on its own feet.
The relationship we seek with the United States is one based on maturity and mutual recognition that each is equally an independent and sovereign state. If this is novel it is because for too long Australia has been understood to be an acquiescent, often subservient, partner. I have confidence that the United States not only will accept but will appreciate the opportunities this new relationship will offer for us both. What has the acquiescence of previous governments meant in respect of American defence installations in Australia? It has meant that agreements have been concluded, installations have been established and their presence has been justified publicly by our predecessors on the basis that what is good for America must be good for Australia.
That policy was not good enough for Australia and was rejected. The policy of the Australian Labor Party in respect of United States installations in Australia has as its basis that each must be justified on the basis of an assessment of Australian national interests. They must at least be under joint control. They must mean no derogation from Australian sovereignty. There must be access to them for authorised Australians.
These are the concerns to which the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement is addressed. These are the matters that will be under discussion with the United States. We expect to talk to Americans here, and the Deputy Prime Minister intends to take these questions up in Washington during the year. The previous Government’s mystery about these matters raised public apprehension and suspicions. There has been confusion to the point that commentators have tried at times to link all the stations together into some bizarre and monolithic weapon system.
It should be made quite clear what the specific concerns are that we are putting to the Americans. We are trying to put these matters on a clear and practical footing. We may take up all our concerns with the United States at one time, but it should be clear that the concerns we have about Pine Gap and Woomera are not the same as those we have about North West Cape. What are our concerns about Pine Gap and Woomera? The Deputy Prime Minister said:
My concern has been to ensure not only that these installations do not conflict with our defence interests, but also that they contribute specifically to the improvement and development of Australia’s defence system. To date, some measure of this has been accomplished by the following: Firstly, we have access to the installations so that we know what is being done there; secondly, there is joint management of the facilities and participation by Australian civilians and servicemen in their operation; thirdly, all data available to the United States Government from these facilities is available to the Australian Government; and fourthly, we have the right to use either or both systems to meet specifically Australian requirements.
Notwithstanding these arrangements or opportunities for substantial participation, I am not satisfied that Australia has taken a sufficiently positive role in and share of the control of these installations in the past. I expect later this year, at a mutually convenient time, to visit the United States. When I go there, I shall further discuss these and other aspects of management and control of the installations with the United States Defense Secretary and his advisers. I believe that in these circumstances, should it be desirable, as I expect it will, we could expect that United States advisers would discuss the implications of these matters with officials in Australia.
These are the sorts of questions we will be discussing with the United States.
Pine Gap and Woomera are already joint installations. The agreements under which they are established make that clear. The joint Defence Space Research Facility at Pine Gap was established in 1966 under an agreement, Article 1 of which says:
In accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in this Agreement the Australian Government and the United States Government shall establish maintain and operate in Australia a facility for general defence research in the space field.
Article 3 of the same agreement says:
The facility shall be established, maintained and operated by the co-operating agencies of the two Governments and information derived from the research programs conducted at the facility shall be shared by the two Governments. These agencies are the Australian Department of Defence and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) of the United States Department of Defense.
That is a joint agreement. Pine Gap is a joint installation. The agreement remains in force for 10 years and thereafter until terminated on a year’s notice.
Our concern is that Australia makes full use of that agreement. Our concern is that the leaders of both sides of the Parliament should understand what goes on there. These are our objectives.
The Joint Defence Space Communications Station at Nurrungar near Woomera was established under an Agreement in 1969 which states at Article 1 that:
The Australian Government and the United States Government shall co-operate in establishing, maintaining and operating a joint space communications station in the vicinity of Woomera, Australia, together with support facilities, to support defence activities.
Article 2 of that Agreement states:
Again, that is a joint agreement. Again, it will last for 10 years and thereafter until terminated by a years notice. Again, our concern is to ensure that Australia makes full use of the Agreement. In respect of both these installations - the Joint Defence Research Facility at Pine Gap and the Joint Defence Space Communications Station at Woomera - we believe that Australian sovereignty and the breadth of Australian defence interests and other national interests are not disadvantaged by their continuation. We have not been able to make a fresh start in considering these questions, lt should be clearly understood that the Agreements to which Australia is party in respect of these installations are international agreements. Agreements between Sovereign States, being binding as they are upon successive Governments, must be entered into with the greatest care and concern by Governments for the breadth of national interests of Australia over the term of such agreements.
Every member of this Parliament is aware of the fundamental objection the Australian Labor Party expressed in respect of the terms and the nature of the Agreement for the establishment of the United States Naval Communications Station at North West Cape to which our predecessors made Australia party in 1963. That Agreement lasts for 25 years to 1988. It does not establish a joint project or a joint installation. Article 1 states that in accordance with the terms and conditions set out in this Agreement, the United States Government may establish, maintain and operate a naval communication station at North West Cape in the State of Western Australia. Article 2 states that the Australian Government will acquire such land as is required for the purposes of the station. All land so acquired will remain vested in the Australian Government which will for the duration of this Agreement grant to the United States Government all necessary rights of access to, and of exclusive use and occupancy of, such land. Article 3 states:
Article 4 states that the communications services of the station will be available to the Australian armed forces in accordance with technical arrangements made by the cooperating agencies of the 2 Governments. Article 5 states that at all stages in the construction and maintenance of the station, the maximum practicable use would be made of Australian resources. Arrangements for giving effect to this article were to be as determined from time to time by the 2 Governments. Article 6 states the Australian Government will, jointly with the Government of the State of Western Australia, appoint a Civil Commissioner at Exmouth, who will have such functions as those Governments may vest in him and will represent them in such matters as they may determine. Article 7 states that the United States Government will conform to the provisions of applicable Commonwealth and State laws and regulations, including quarantine laws and industrial awards and determinations, and United States personnel will observe those laws and regulations.
The Agreement therefore says that the land on which this base is established is Australian. It says that Australian forces can use the communications services of this station, and they do. It says that Australian materials would be used in building the station. It says that Australia will have a Civil Commissioner there. He also represents Western Australia and the local council. It says that the United States will observe Austra’ian laws and regulations including quarantine laws and industrial awards and determinations. But this does not make it a joint installation.
Article 3, I would emphasise, makes provision for the 2 Governments to consult ‘on any matters connected with the station and its use’. Those are the terms in the Agreement entered in the Australian treaty series, registered with the United Nations and placed for rubber stamping before this Parliament in May 1963. The Bill to approve this Agreement was introduced in this Parliament on 9th May. It passed the third reading stage in the Senate on 23rd May. But Article 3 of that Agreement and provision for consultation on ‘any matters connected with the station and its use’ does not apply in any real sense in that form.
Two days before the Agreement was signed. 2 days before it was placed before this Parliament under a Bill to approve it, the provisions of Article 3 were undercut by an exchange of letters between the United States Ambassador and the Australian Minister for External Affairs at the time, Sir Garfield Barwick. On 7th May 1963 the United States Ambassador wrote as follows to the Minister for External Affairs: 1 enclose a copy of my memorandum of our conversation of today concerning the construction of Article 3 of the VLF Agreement. Whereas this construction is not intended to restrict the Government of Australia’s right of consultation, it is intended to spell out clearly that consultation does not carry with it any degree of control over the station or ils use.
IF this is in accordance with your understanding, 1 would appreciate you so indicating.
The Ambassador’s memorandum of conversation read as follows:
After a full and complete discussion regarding consultation on use of the station with Minister for External Affairs, il was clearly understood thai consultation connoted no more than consultation and was not intended to establish Australian control over use of station nor to imply any Government of Australia design to restrict at any time United States Government use of station for defence communications, including, for example, communications for Polaris submarines, lt is also understood that it was not intended to give Australia control over or access to the contents of messages transmitted over the station.
The Minister’s reply was contained in a letter of 7th May to the Ambassador. It read:
Thank you for your letter of today’s dale enclosing a copy of your memorandum of our conversation concerning the construction of Article 3 of the Agreement concerning the Naval Communication Station at North West Cape.
Your memorandum is entirely in accordance with my understanding.
The Agreement lasts until 1988. An agreement restricted in this way would not have been made by a Labor government. It was a derogation from Australian sovereignty which ought to have been unacceptable to any Australian Government. The Deputy Prime Minister has said that the Government will negotiate with the United States for the application of the actual terms of the Agreement.
In response to our approach, that is, the approach of the first Australian Government to seek consultations under Article 3 and to seek the restoration of Australia’s interests in this matter, the United States has told us that it is willing to enter into consultations and that it is prepared to make North West Cape a joint installation. We already have the desirability of this under study and this will be an aspect of the discussions we will be having with the United States in coming months.
They will be discussions between members of a defence alliance - ANZUS. That alliance is of benefit to Australia not only in the long term eventuality of some possible attack on Australia, for which there is provision in Article 4 of the Treaty, but also right now in terms of Article 2 of the Treaty. Article 2 of the Treaty states:
In order more effectively to achieve the objective of this Treaty the Parties separately and jointly by means of continuous effective self help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
This has considerable practical benefit for Australia. Moreover, there is nothing in the ANZUS Treaty which would make the relationship an unequal one. lt is a relationship of defence co-operation between friendly, independent and sovereign states. It is on the basis of friendship, independence and an abiding concern for Australian sovereignty that the outstanding matters in relation to United States defence installations in Australia will be discussed with the United States Government.
– Mr President, I suppose it is fair to say at the outset that this debate tonight has now taken an interesting twist. On Wednesday of last week Senator Bishop, representing the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) in another place, took some 15 minutes to put down a defence statement on this matter. What then happened in the other place was that Dr Forbes, the honourable member for Barker, moved an amendment to the motion “That the House take note of the paper’, in which is it fair to say that the Opposition, in some aspects, praised the Minister for Defence for what he had said. I think that that amendment was moved by the Opposition in the full knowledge that it would tend to flush out the differences between the left and the right in the Australian Labor Party. Dr Forbes ought to be congratuled because I think that what has happened tonight is the result of the motion he moved. Without being personally offensive to Senator Willesee, I must say that he has not really made a speech here tonight. What he has done is to put down a new and better statement, and evidence of that can be found in the fact that so many of my colleagues who came into the chamber not knowing that Senator Willesee was making a speech asked: ‘Where is a copy of the Minister’s speech?’
Tonight Senator Willesee has taken more than 20 minutes to put straight what Mr Barnard said in 15 minutes. From this one can draw only 2 inferences: Either Mr Barnard was so inept and inefficient that he did not know what he was putting down and therefore what he put down did not represent the policies of the Labor Party in Government, or, since Dr Forbes moved his amendment the Left has put pressure on the Government so that Senator Willesee now espouses a different line. Of course, evidence of this can be found in the fact that so much of Senator Willesee’s speech was devoted to events of 1963. I think we all recall those days of the leaders of the Labor Party standing outside the Hotel Kingston waiting for their instructions from the 36 faceless men. 1 suppose it is an interesting 10th anniversary that we should have so much reference to those events tonight because the Labor Party has always been terribly sensitive about them.
All of the matters to which Senator Willesee adverted tonight were, in the main, not mentioned by Mr Barnard. I think that this debate tonight ought to take the course of attempting to discover the truth of what happened last Wednesday and tonight. Did Mr Barnard, in effect, put down what the Government’s policy then was, and has what has happened in the intervening 8 days changed the statement that Senator Willesee put down tonight? It was my original intention to move in this place the same amendment as was moved by Dr Forbes.
– We spiked your guns.
– Thank you, Senator. This is what I was looking for. We now have an admission from Senator Mulvihill, for which I am terribly grateful, that the Opposition has spiked my guns. What Dr Forbes’s amendment did was to highlight the fact that there was almost no difference between what Mr Barnard said and what our Defence Ministers have been saying for years. Now, of course, Senator Willesee comes in here tonight and - again without being personally offensive - makes a speech which was, in effect, a new Government statement on these bases in Australia.
– Who do you think made it for him?
- Senator Willesee made the speech, and therefore I attribute it to him. I would not attempt to say that it was made by anybody other than the honourable senator. I would not be so rude as to suspect otherwise. But this is an interesting fact. After all, in fairness to Senator Willesee, he is a Minister of the Crown and most likely he now has lost the right to speak as Senator Willesee. He speaks now as a member of the Government putting down Government policy. I know that honourable senators on this side of the chamber have had some doubts on whether honourable senators opposite have ever heard of collective responsibility. There were the occasions, firstly, when Dr Cairns and Mr Uren were making statements; secondly, when we had the 2-man Government, and thirdly, the appearance of four or five Foreign Ministers in the following Government. We have had some interesting situations.
– Don’t leave Billy out.
– Billy goat? Do you wish me to refer to you? Do not interrupt. The real problem that the Senate has to solve is which statement ought to be believed. Is Mr Barnard’s statement to be believed as being the Government’s policy, or has there been a complete somersault because of a caucus direction in the last 8 days? Senator Mulvihill more or less admitted that when he said: ‘We spiked your guns’.
– I was helping you out of your dilemma, senator.
– Cut it out, senator. Why the change in emphasis? The Government should not chop and change from one policy statement one week to another policy statement another week.
– That is what we used to say.
– It is no use worrying about our past sins of ommission or commission. Let us worry about the Government that is in office. It is of no use raking up that sort of nonsense. We are dealing with a change in 2 statements - one by the Minister for Defence and one by the Special Minister of State. I imagine that the Australian people are somewhat worried about what is the true policy of the Government, because if some other amendment is moved to this statement, will we get a different speech? Will we have the 6 Ministers in the Senate making speechescumstatements giving a different emphasis? Therefore. I think that rather than debate the pure statement that has been put down, my colleagues who sit behind me will have an interesting time tonight attempting to sort out which is the Government’s policy. Perhaps the Government itself has not yet made up its mind. I have no doubt that those who sit on the Government back benches and who no doubt exercise what is the ultimate power within caucus might, before the night is out, enlighten us on which policy the Government presently espouses.
– I think the first thing I should say is that it is a sad commentary on the Opposition that Senator Withers, as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate - a very important place - should commence his speech by saying that the intention of his Party in the other place was to flush out the differences between the left and right wings of the Australian Labor Party. Here we have the Queen’s Opposition, which claims that it was defeated unfairly in the election and which is competing with us for the management of this country on the basis that it is better able to run this country than the Labor Party is, debating a very important national issue, namely, United States bases in Australia; and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate says: 1 must admit that Dr Forbes, in leading for the Opposition in the other place, had the intention of flushing out the differences between the left and right wings of the Labor Party’. He does not accept that this is a national question.
Would not anybody believe that the responsibility of the Leader of the Opposition is to state what the Opposition feels about the policies of the Government, particularly in respect of defence and foreign affairs matters, to make a studied complaint about what the Labor Party has done and to give some reasons for his objections? But he has not done that. He has not even advanced the reasons given by Dr Forbes in his amendment, it is shocking and a disgrace for the Leader of the Opposition to come into the Senate and take that attitude. All he is worried about in this instance is being divisive in relation to the Labor Party organisation. The Labor Party is like the Opposition parties in this respect. If we look across the chamber we can see the strata of differences in the group of senators who vote against us. We hear from them views ranging from the extreme right to the more moderate right.
– We are all right.
– Very right. In fact they are too right. They have a very shaky coalition. We know that the coalition is strained very much tonight. The best that Senator Withers could do was talk about trying to divide the Labor Party. He did not answer the questions that have been posed by the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard). I was shocked to hear him discuss the matter in the way he did. Honourable senators opposite should be thinking of Australia and the national interest. They should be contesting, if they want to, the position of the Labor Party in respect of United States bases. They should be saying to us: ‘You are right about one thing and wrong about another’. But the best they can say is that they do not see any differences between the Labor Party and the Liberal Party in this instance. We do, and I shall show them the differences.
Senator Withers complained that Senator Willesee had made a new statement. Senator Willesee has made no new statement. He has simply amplified something the Minister for Defence said in his statement, which was rather brief. It had to be brief because it was designed to present in a short document the issues as the Labor Party sees them. Honourable senators will remember that, in the statement which [ read in this place on his behalf, the Minister for Defence made the point that there had been too much secrecy about the United States installations; that it was an obligation of the Government to give the Parliament more information about them, which we are doing; and that it was an obligation of the Government to identify the differences between the previous Government and ourselves on some matters. That was done by the Minister for Defence in a very brief but very clear statement. For instance, Mr Barnard’s statement included this passage:
For example, there are 2 installations which have been in Australia for many years, at Amberley in Queensland and at Alice Springs, both of which have operated with a degree of secrecy which has led to quite unnecessary speculation and mystery about their purpose. The US Air Force detachment at Amberley has been described as ‘measuring the physical effects of disturbances in the atmosphere or in space, with particular emphasis on the effect on radio communications’.
For many years the previous Government went along with the American concept that such information, which was well known to many of our government departments, should be kept secret. We have said clearly - this is the first time this has been said by any Australian government - that, where such devices, instruments and stations are patently of advantage to the public and the nation because they study underground disturbances and are useful in checking on nuclear explosions, that information should be made public and members of the Parliament should be allowed to visit the stations. Is not that a clear identification of an Australian interest? Is it not a good interest? Obviously we as Australians have an obligation to protect this country. If the information is made public, we will all be better informed. We have said that such installations should be open to members of the Parliament, and we intend to see that they are. Apparently the United States Government now accepts the proposition that such installations should be open to members of the Parliament. We believe that members of the Parliament should be encouraged to become acquainted with these matters.
The second point of difference is that, whereas the previous Government would not even brief the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, on these bases, we take the view that Senator Withers, as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, if they want to, should be able to find out all the facts about these installations. My own view is that any member of the Parliament who so chooses should be able to be briefed on these matters. Of course, he would have to accept the responsibilities of the briefing, and I think he would do so because he is an Australian. That is our viewpoint. The next point is that the Parliament must be advised on these matters. Very soon after we came into government we presented a report to the Parliament. But the best the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate can say is: ‘We are out to divide the left and right wings of the Labor Party’.
As honourable senators know, I accompanied the Minister for Defence and certain advisers on the visit to the installations at Woomera and Pine Gap. I know something about the system now. I know that Australians are sharing in those operations. We believe that the Australians who are at those installations are getting important information which is valuable to Australia. We want that sort of thing to happen to make sure that Australia’s defence facilities and abilities are the best we can have. Having visited them, we say that those installations are not part of a weapons system. This is a clear indication to the Parliament - it is the first clear indication to the Parliament - that not only is the position opened up and revealed but we will allow and encourage members of the Parliament to visit those places. Some aspects of the operations of those stations will not be revealed to members of the Parliament - there are some things which cannot be told to members of the Parliament - but at least members of the Parliament will be able to visit the areas, will know the environment and will be better equipped to debate matters concerning them in the Parliament and to say whether in their opinion co-operation between Australia and the United States in those areas is a good idea. In my opinion and in the opinion of the Government it is a good idea.
In our view, the Minister for Defence has made a progressive statement in respect of those areas and it is good that he has become involved in promoting visits to them by members of the Parliament. It is good not only for the Parliament but also for Australia. I am sure that all honourable senators, whether they are on the Government side of the Parliament or on the Opposition side, want to see Australia in a position of having the best defence capability. Secondly - and I have argued this as a member of the Opposition, as honourable senators know - I want to see Australia equipped in the best possible way. I want it to have the best technology available to any country.
Referring now to the sharing of those installations with the United States of America, we are satisfied that it is a good thing. Australians take part in those operations and we are able to analyse and interpret what is going on, which is a good thing for the country. It would be a good thing for this Parliament if members of Parliament visited those places. The Minister for Defence said that he intends to have arrangements made so that members of Parliament might visit them. That demonstrates the progress that has been made by the Labor Government in the short time that we have been in office. The Minister dealt with this matter in addition to his other very important duties. He said that this is an issue that we have to face up to because we want to know whether Australia is purely a satellite of another country or whether we are standing on our own feet as Australians, as we have always been so proud to do. 1 make no bones about saying, as an Australian, that I want to see Australia perform its duties and accept its responsibilities as it has done always. We can do that only if we have the fullest knowledge. I am satisfied that what we are doing is the best thing for our country and I am satisfied also that it conforms with Labor policy. 1 refer now to the second proposition under which there is some obligation upon the Australian Government to meet the Americans. This concerns the United States Naval Communications Station at North West Cape. This was dealt with in the document presented to the Parliament. Senator Willesee pointed out thoroughly that when the Agreement was made to set up this installation it was recognised, certainly by me as a backbench senator at that time, that we would be bound by article 3 of the Agreement which states: (11 The two Governments will consult from time to time at the request of either Government on any matters connected with the station and its use.
I have told honourable senators that in respect of the other stations I have referred to we are satisfied that Australians are sharing in their operation and control. The only point which the Minister for Defence made in respect of Pine Gap and Woomera is that he would like to see our responsibilities upgraded. That does not mean that we are not getting full information and that our experienced servicemen do not know all about the operations. They do know about them but we feel that a case could be made to upgrade our establishment at those bases. Generally speaking, however, we are sharing those facilities and the Australian defence organisation knows what is going on. The Government knows what is going on and the leaders of the Opposition parties can know what is going on if they want to be briefed about the bases. I am satisfied that these bases are not part of a weapons system.
In relation to the North West Cape base, the Government feels that it should talk to the United States Government about some matters. We want to talk to the United States Government as equal partners. Senator Willesee made the point that we are equal partners in the ANZUS pact. We are not subordinates; we are not juniors; we are Australians. We are a young nation but we have carried out our obligations in every situation. We want to speak man to man with the Americans about what is taking place at North West Cape and what sort of controls should be employed.
The distinction between the point of view of the Opposition parties and our point of view is this: The Minister for Defence said that he believes that Australia should take up with the United States Government the issue 01 control at North West Cape. Senator Willesee pointed out that the Agreement which was presented to the Parliament represents a reasonable sort of arrangement. There was an exchange of letters between the Governments but in those letters the purpose of consultation was limited. There was a qualification and this raises the question that Australia and its Government leaders ought to be able to talk to the Americans about the operations of this base. Our leaders should be able to say: All right, you have a base on Australia’s coast which could become a very important and vital base in any sort of offensive operation. Therefore we want to know about it. We want to be involved because it is on our shoreline’. The Government is doing that. We do not want any restrictive propositions, as were moved by Dr Forbes in the other place. I noticed that Senator Withers did not move such prohibitions in this place but simply referred to what Dr Forbes said. I refer the Senate to the amendment moved by Dr Forbes. His amendment was:
That the following words be added to the motion: and recognising that the paper acknowledges (i) that the installations in central Australia are not part of a weapons system and are not able to be used to attack any country and that the United States Naval Communications installation at North West Cape is used for the purpose of defence communication; . . .
May I point out again the difference in the point of view of Dr Forbes and that of the Government. We agree that the installations in central Australia are not part of a weapons system but in respect of North West Cape we say exactly what the Minister for Defence said in his statement, and what he said was no different to what Senator Willesee stated. Senator Willesee simply drew out for the benefit of honourable senators the extra points which were not developed by the Minister for Defence. In his statement the Minister for Defence said:
I expect later this year, at a mutually convenient time, to visit the United States. When I go there. I shall further discuss these and other aspects of management and control of the installations with the United Slates Defense Secretary and his advisers.
Honourable senators would expect Australia to do so. When in Opposition we said that nobody respects a satellite; nobody respects a partner in an arrangement which cannot speak for itself, a partner which does not have the strength and conviction of the nation. Why should we Australians, either in Opposition or in Government, not do the sort of things that we did in the war years? Why should we be less audacious than Billy Hughes was in the First World War and John Curtin in the Second World War? Why should we not adopt a strong Australian point of view? That is exactly what the Labor Government is doing. I cannot understand any honourable senator of the Australian Parliament coming into the Parliament and being more concerned about the politics of a defence matter, something which concerns this country’s welfare, and talking about separating the left and right wings of the Labor Party. On that question, all I can say is what I have said earlier. In every wide, strong party there are shades of opinion and shades of emphasis. The Australian Labor Party is a party of long standing. It is a very important mass party. The people have supported our policies and those policies are well known. Honourable senators on the opposite side have often referred to the testament, the policy of the Australian Labor Party. In addition, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence have stated our policy and that policy has been re-affirmed by the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.
We intend to discharge our duties in the way that we feel they should be discharged. We do not want to be a junior partner. We want to be treated as Australians; as people living in an important country. In my opinion no Australian should feel that in some way he is inferior in respect of technology, administration, productivity, defence capability or anything else. We have great and wide varieties of skills. We have the ability to produce almost all the things that we need for our defence requirements.
– The honourable senator keeps using the plural ‘we’.
– In our short time in government, as Senator Young is well aware, our Party has already sent missions overseas to ensure that there will be a proper evaluation of the replacement aircraft for the Mirage. We have got off the stocks the doubt about the capability of the Australian aircraft industry. We have established conditions of service for defence personnel which are fair, just and modern. For those reasons we think that we are able to say that we are performing our role in ensuring that Australia will be well defended.
We want to go a little further. We want to undo something which the previous Government did. We want to remove the veil of secrecy from these installations. As the Prime Minister and Mr Barnard have stated, we will preserve any information which is important and secret to both partners. Nothing will be revealed in respect of such matters. We will ensure that Australia has the greatest competence in the fields in which modern society needs competence. I suggest that Senator Withers’ speech was a very poor excuse for bringing on the debate tonight.
– Not only poor but weak.
– And weak. I am ashamed - I mean this - and I cannot understand how he could say, in opening such an important debate, what he said. Because of the defence connotations there will be areas of disagreement between the 2 sides, but some members of the Government say that there is not much difference between the point of view expressed by the Opposition and our point of view. I have tried to bring out to the Senate the differences that are there. I shall summarise them. We say that the central Australian station is not a weapons system. We want members of Parliament to go there. We want members of the Opposition to be briefed. This will be facilitated. We say that there is no need for secrecy about the Amberley and Alice Springs stations. Each station carries out operations which are beneficial to this country, in that they provide answers to questions about the dangers of nuclear explosions and nuclear war. The stations should be open. People should be able to ask what we are learning. The North West Cape station is a critical matter which should be left to the Government to consult its partner - the United States of America - to ensure that we are involved completely. We have a status. Under section 3 of the agreement we were to be consulted. It would appear that that is not being done. In the other place the Prime Minister stated quite clearly that if the amendment moved by Dr Forbes were carried shackles would be put on any Australian Minister who went to the United States to have talks about the station. I ask the Senate to consider what Senator Willesee and 1 have said and to look at the basic document tabled by Mr Barnard as being definite proof of what we are doing in relation to. defence. We want to see Australia consulted to a greater degree, to be treated as an equal partner and to have the right to say when and where we will be involved in a defensive war.
– This debate has sprung from serious differences of opinion which have been expressed in recent weeks in the ranks of the Government Party. Let us not disguise that fact. The seriousness of the differences of opinion is illustrated by the fact that the leader of the opposition to the attitude which Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard have adopted is a member of the Australian Labor Party’s Federal Executive, Mr Hartley.
– ls he the Leader of the Opposition?
– The opposition to the attitude adopted by Mr Whitlam is led by Mr Hartley. Mr Hartley is a member of the Federal Executive, and he has expressed his determination to take action at the Federal Conference or Executive level against decisions which have been announced by Mr Barnard in the last week. What that means is that within 3 months of being elected the Government has come to the moment of truth, which is this: When a party is in government responsibility is essential. When a party is in opposition it may tolerate irresponsibles and irresponsibility. But in government a party must be responsible. A government is responsible for the foreign policy on which the security of the country depends. Therefore the Australian Labor Party in government has an obligation to ensure that security, and to ensure that security it must act against any attempt in its ranks to take action of an irresponsible character. That was stated years ago by Dr Evatt during the period when Woomera was first being established. In those days there were 2 schools of thought in the
ALP on the matter of foreign bases. I recommend to members of the Government that they read the statement issued by Dr Evatt on that occasion. It is called ‘Hands off the Nation’s Defences’. In it Dr Evatt drew the essential distinction between 2 utterly different propositions:
On the one hand, the legitimate right to criticise and seek to change the Government’s defence policy by democratic process: on the other, the illicit claim to perform acts designed to destroy defence measures undertaken by the elected Government, responsible to a democratically elected Parliament.
They seem to be the 2 issues.
– Is that why the honourable senator attacked him?
– Therefore I believe that Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard-
– Senator Devitt has just woken up.
– I am a wake-up to Senator Gair.
– If I may continue, I believe that Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard, as they have done in the past week, must take a stand-
– Senator Devitt has just woken up.
– I have not been asleep; that is more than I can say for Senator Gair.
– Order, Senator Devitt!
– On a point of order, Mr President. I can stand a certain amount. I do wish to defend myself in situations such as this. Senator Gair has resorted to an attack on me across the corridor. I feel bound to respond to it.
– Why did not Senator Devitt bring his nursemaid with him?
– Order! Senator Devitt, you may not respond. You may seek my protection.
– He woke up and started to interject on my friend.
– As I was saying under some difficulty, Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard have an obligation - I feel that they have undertaken that obligation in the past week - to state where their Party stood and to state that they would stand firm by arrangements in regard to those bases which had been entered into by the previous Government and which they felt, on examination, must be retained in the interests of Australia’s security.
I do not agree with some very vocal Australians who say that everybody is entitled to know everything about these bases. All countries observe a certain amount of confidence and secrecy in regard to their defence installations and establishments. Neither the present Government nor the previous government or any other government in Australia is obliged to make available to the community in general full and complete information which might be used by foreign powers at a later date to the detriment of our defences. The present Government is entitled to say, as Senator Bishop made clear, that there is certain information which must be handled on a confidential basis, as long as the Government is satisfied that it has full information on the subject and as long as it has taken steps to ensure that reasonable Australian knowledge and involvement have been achieved.
I do not know whether there has been such a great deal of secrecy about these installations. Most Australians who are interested in this kind of thing know that there are installations at North West Cape, Pine Gap, Woomera, Amberley and Alice Springs, and most Australians who are interested in this kind of thing have a pretty good idea of the reason why these installations were established, although they may be wrong. It seemed to be freely known that the North West Cape installation was a communications base and that it was concerned, although perhaps not entirely, with communicating with American nuclear armed submarines operating in the Indian Ocean. I do not know whether the purpose of the Pine Gap installation was so terribly secret.
I have in front of me an article which was published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ as long ago as 3rd July 1969 which goes into quite a bit of detail about the Pine Gap installation. I do not know with what authority the authors spoke. The authors were Robert Cooksey, Lecturer in International Relations, and Des Ball, Research Scholar in International Relations, at the Australian National University. They explained in considerable detail that Pine Gap is uniquely placed to control and monitor space vehicles crossing the Soviet Union and China. They said that being in a valley and in the centre of Australia the base cannot be jammed and being near Alice Springs it has logistics support. They referred to the reason for the installation. Apparently it was to assist to put some kind of space laboratory into orbit. Further down in their paper they said that this had become unnecessary because unmanned reconnaissance satellites, in relation to earth stations with information-processing facilities, are now adequate. Nobody has denied that they were right. News trickles out here and there. People who are interested in that kind of thing should have a good knowledge of what has been going on.
The position at Woomera has been perhaps a little more confusing because there has been a change in what is going on there. We all knew that something was going on at Amberley and Alice Springs. As a member of Parliament, I did not feel particularly deprived because I was not taken there and shown the installations. If I had gone there I would have been in the same position as I am in when I am being shown over some modern factories - I would not have been able to make head or tail of what was being done. The average member of Parliament who was taken to Pine Gap or Woomera and shown around would look at the instruments and pretend that he was very learned and had a good idea of what was going on but would in fact know very little at all. The average member of Parliament would not have slightest idea whether anyone was trying to conceal what was going on.
I agree with Senator Bishop that there are certain areas which must be kept confidential. I have no objection to that. They must be kept confidential in the interests of Australia and in the interest of our allies. I believe that we are entitled to consider our alliances and that we ought to be prepared to accept the presence of any installations which are considered vital to Australia’s security and her alliances with other countries. I believe that there are dangers in all of this outcry by certain elements of the Australian Labor Party for knowledge of everything and for everything to be above board. Unfortunately allies take notice of this kind of thing and where there are matters of a particularly confidential character the natural tendency is for them to feel that perhaps they should not make the information available to us. I hope that we will be sensible about this matter and that we will not, first because of an outcry which is in effect designed to destroy defence measures, adopt the attitude which some people say we should adopt and which Dr Evatt condemned. We have to adopt a sensible attitude and say that certain things must be confidential.
As long as Australia has reasonable access to information and as long as our Government knows what is going on and is satisfied that what is going on is desirable in Australia’s interest, we should support those in the Government who say that they intend to maintain these installations as they are now to be found. I believe that the attempt, under the guise of seeking desirable and necessary information, to endeavour to force discontinuance of defence arrangements which are in Australia’s interests is a very serious matter. In the same way as Dr Evatt and Mr Chifley stood up to it in 1948, I hope that the Government will stand up to that section of the community which is attempting to force the Government, which has apparently made up its mind that these installations have to be retained, to change its mind. These matters were the subject of some disputation in the Australian Labor Party at the time the North West Cape installation was about to be set up. Mr Whitlam made a statement on the matter when he delivered the fourteenth Roy Milne Memorial Lecture on Australia’s foreign policy at the University of New England. As long ago as 1963 - his Party has not at any time told him to countermand the statement - he said:
A country as isolated and small as Australia must for the time being seek security in collective arrangements.
The ANZUS Treaty is the most important such arrangement to which we belong.
Mr Whitlam said the Australian Labor Party supported the establishment of the radio base because it safeguarded Australia’s alliance with the United States. However it objected to the government - that is the former government - allowing an interpretation which excluded Australian control. Mr Whitlam said any Australian government should and would agree in advance that facilities at North West Cape could be immediately used in the event of an attack on the United States. He said:
If war breaks out between Russia and America, it is axiomatic that an attack would be made on America itself and, under the ANZUS Pact, Australia would go to war with Russia.
That is what Mr Whitlam said as long ago as 1963 when Mr Chamberlain supported certain people who threatened the actual building of the base. As is well known, the legislation which could have operated against that was legislation passed by the Chifley Government.
Prior to the election Mr Barnard made the Australian Labor Party’s position very clear. He said that the Labor Party’s written policy on this issue is explicit. I will quote his actual words. He said:
The Party opposed the existence of foreign owned, controlled or operated bases in Australian territory, especially when such bases involved a derogation from Australian sovereignty.
The policy stated: ‘Labor is not opposed to the use of Australian bases and facilities in war-time or in periods of international tension involving a threat to Austrafia, provided that Australia is not involved in hostilities without Australia’s consent’.
It is impossible-
This is the significant point - to predict the international strategic context when and if a Labor Government is elected.
Labor’s policy will be interpreted in accordance with the reality which confronts it when it gains office. A stumbling block to any sort of projection is lack of information about the functions of these bases.
He referred to the fact that the former government had restricted information on these matters. He went on to say that on the basis of Labor principles it would be certain that no bases would be allowed in future by a Labor government on the conditions now applying to Pine Gap and Woomera. So Mr Barnard said that when it got into office Labor firstly would make a decision on the basis of the international conditions and, secondly, would not allow the bases to continue under circumstances where information was not properly made available to the Australian government. I see nothing wrong in that. I presume that what Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard have done upon coming to office has been to examine the bases. Apparently they have said that in the present international context these bases should be maintained. Then they have gone on and said that, in the terms of their preelection statement, they w.’ll insist on adequate information being supplied. Having done that, they have now announced that they believe that these bases should be continued.
The thing that is worrying me and other people on this side of the chamber is whether Mr Whitlam and Mr Barnard will be permitted to continue in their present attitude. Mr
Whitlam said the other day - I wonder whether he has some fears in regard to the matter - that the Labor Party would not alter its policies within the currency of this Parliament. I think he is a supreme optimist if he puts that propostion before a Labor Federal conference and expects it to be accepted. 1 have been a delegate at a Labor Federal conference. Labor Federal conferences have always had the right - they still have the right - to alter policies within the currency of the Parliament. Take the example of the Curtin decision on conscription. It was during the currency of the Parliament that Mr Curtin approached the Federal body on this matter, and it made a decision to alter the policy during the currency of the Parliament. Who would know about such things better than Senator Gair? He won a State election in Queensland by an overwhelming and record majority. He then went to the conference of the party, lt altered the policy and gave him instructions on the policy. It altered the policy in this respect: lt said it would direct. That is the crux of the situation. It altered the policy and the result of that decision was that Senator Gair and all of his Cabinet, except one, refused to accept dictation and were placed outside the party. I want to say bluntly that I hope that when the Federal conference comes on Mr Barnard and Mr Whitlam will win. I hope my saying that does not do them any harm.
– It will be like the kiss of death.
– I do not know. I think the tough men on each side have already made up their minds. Having had some experience with Labor conferences and some experience in organising them - some people said I organised them well - I know that usually everybody knows how everybody else will vote a week or two before they get there. Senator Milliner nods agreement with my proposition. I hope that the decision will be for the maintenance of the installations because f believe they are in Australia’s interests and in the interests of our vital alliances.
There is a good deal of concern in the community about differences of opinion which exist in the Labor Party at the present time. No doubt it will make its own decisions, but I conclude by saying that 2 things are causing a good deal of the trouble at the present time. Firstly, Mr Barnard has been called upon to carry a task impossible for any man. In the previous Government 5 Ministers had to look after the 5 defence portfolios, and none of them said that he was underworked. I believe it is asking too much of a very sincere man to give him control of those 5 portfolios and expect him to carry it out. That is a matter which the Labor Party no doubt will consider.
I believe that it would be in the interests of the Labor Party and the country if Mr Whitlam ceased to be Foreign Minister. In a new Government with an inexperienced Ministry he should divest himself of the very serious responsibilities of being Foreign Minister and devote himself to making his Ministry work smoothly. It is necessary these days for a Foreign Minister to be repeatedly outside the country. Mr Whitlam, as Prime Minister in a new government with inexperienced men, should be in the country doing the job of Prime Minister, taking control of everything and keeping everything in hand. I believe that if steps were taken by the Australian Labor Party to place the Foreign Ministry in other hands and allow the Prime Minister to concentrate on his main task, and if Mr Barnard were given some relief, the Labor Party would find its program functioning much better than it is at the moment.
– I think that the Senate will agree that the statement presented by Senator Bishop, the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence, does strike a new tone. As I listened to Senator McManus, who made out a case for a little discretion on defence secrets, 1 was reminded that one of the things that always irked Government supporters when we were in opposition was that we were told to be seen and not heard, but we found that facts released to the Press from United States congressional inquiries were not given here. One of the things that irritated us, if we were expected to keep our side of the agreement in relation to the sanctity of defence secrets, was that the bounden duty on the United States Congress was not always adhered to. I hope that the statement that we have before us tonight will be the forerunner of more such statements which will allow us to look al the transition which will occur in foreign relations between Australia and the United States. As ;i matter of fact, in the time since the new Parliament met the Opposition has been quoting the policy speech which Mr Whitlam presented before the election and which was the blueprint of victory. On pages 43 and 44 Mr Whitlam stated:
The Australian Labor Party will foster close and continuing co-operation with the people of the United States and our Commonwealth partners to make these associations instruments for justice and peace . . .
One of the crucial points, of course, has been that every United States President has been imbued with the same principles, and I do not say that in any idle way. I go back to the period in 1963 when I, with other honourable senators, was one of the 36 delegates who deliberated on this very vital subject. It did not matter to what element of the Labor Party we belonged. There was a universal fear - the argument was even advanced by Government sources - that joint consultations might not mean the protection of Australian sovereignty. Of course, what came out afterwards was this infamous article 3. In effect, early in the piece we were told - I think it was emblazoned in the editorial of every major newspaper - that it virtually means co-management. The subsequent dialogue which occurred between the United States ambassador and Sir Garfield Barwick proved that America put a different interpretation on the matter.
I shall develop this theme about presidential power. Since 1963 a spate of books has dealt with various United States Presidents - Kennedy, Johnson and now Nixon - and just how they arrived at decisions. Nobody in his right mind would say that the enormous power which the United States President exercises should be unfettered by any checks and balances. It is not merely what is said in the Australian Parliament. Such a seasoned parliamentarian as Senator Mike Mansfield has expressed grave doubts. I shall come back to the Kennedy era in a moment. What more or less brought the United States into top participation in Vietnam was the Bay of Tonkin incident. At the time of the first incident the President said that it was serious. Old Glory was waved in the air and America went in. But after three or four years when America began to look at the situation it was questioned whether there had been over-reaction by the United States fleet. I am using this as an example of why there has been inherent concern among Australians as to any bases which are here.
Do we have joint management? To put the matter broadly, would one or two fingers be on the button if any action were being taken which could lead to a worldwide conflict? It is not a question of Australia running out on its allies if this means being partners. This is what we are concerned about. Senator McManus, in his concluding remarks, made the point about a new Prime Minister coming in, the toils of office and whether he could be a man for all seasons. Consider the way President Kennedy handled or mismanaged the inherited debacle in the Bay of Pigs. Then have a look at his different attitude in relation to the Cuban confrontation. I know that different people will have different attitudes. As far as Cuba is concerned I would say that an area was left for manoeuvre by the Russians. Other people could argue about whether America was over-rigid. But Kennedy was a different President when he handled the Cuba confrontation from when he was conned by the CIA over the Bay of Pigs incident. Anyone who has noticed that attitude would agree that we do not know when that may happen with the present President of the United States or somebody else. Such people are subject to internal pressures. That is why we have hammered the idea that when we say consultation on bases we mean that in its full import. Kennedy inherited a ramshackle agreement on certain American defence installations in Turkey and, to a lesser degree, in Spain.
I do not think that any Australian should take a jingoistic attitude but Australia has never had to grovel for any economic favours from the United States as probably Turkey has. I know that Turkey has been a poor country. This is one thing we are concerned about and I do not think it makes any of us anti-American. It may have been good enough for the previous Government to have Sir Garfield Barwick deal with the U.S. Ambassador in relation to Australia’s role in the south west Pacific. But taking a normal modern and nationalistic attitude in future I think we should deal with Secretary of State Rogers or Dr Kissinger. They should meet Mr Barnard or Mr Whitlam. One hundred years ago we were fed up with the colonial ministry in London sending out despatches to Australian governors. We soon shed that situation. Without any fear of being called anti-American I believe that we should accept our treaty obligations but any future negotiations should not be a matter of the Ambassador visiting the Prime Minister’s Lodge. It has to be someone higher up such as the present Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the United States or Dr Kissinger. I think that is a fair request to make.
There are numerous countries in eastern Europe and even pretty average countries in the Middle East which have access to Dr Kissinger or Mr Rogers. These gentlemen go on a safari and talk to leaders. In this situation I think I have made a reasonable request. But there is also a different type of climate in this regard. We have not gone on with a tirade of abuse and said that no questions should be raised. If one peruses the debates in this chamber and. more so, in the other place, one will find that when any Labor man questioned joint control taunts were hurled across the chamber implying that he was a Benedict Arnold or something like that. The very way in which we have submitted this statement tonight indicates that we are in a new atmosphere and that we are entitled to be treated as full partners. One can over-react to the fear that we will be more or less isolated in the south west Pacific. We can look at the attitude taken by the famous Canadian Foreign Minister Lester Pearson and even by the Trudeau administration in the other hemisphere. There have been situations where even a Conservative British Government has not completely adopted the official Washington line. I honestly believe that the role of Australia in the future will be akin to that taken by many of the Scandinavian countries. 1 believe that we will accept responsibility in United Nations contingents. But when a collective decision is made we will be there to vote on it.
For the record, some people like myself supported Mr Calwell in what he sought. Mark you, it was only a question of degree on detail. All of us, even the majority group like myself, voted a certain way because we thought that ‘joint consultation’ in article 3 meant joint management. Of course we found out afterwards that apparently it did not. So this is the question that we face. I want to deal with some of the fears raised by Senator McManus. Whether in Australia, the United States or Great Britain it has become a regular thing for pressmen to anticipate. In the case of the United States if a Democratic convention is being held they anticipate whether this will make the country more isolationist and whether that will affect Australia’s relations with the United States. On the other side of the coin they anticipate what the Labor Party attitude will be at Surfers Paradise.
In the 6 years that the Wilson Government was in office in Britain it had weighty decisions to make. In the Attlee era decisions had to be made as to whether the British Labour Government would accept the fact that Germany, in view of World War II events, should be resurrected and allowed to become part of the NATO complex. These decisions were made by Labour Governments. Some of the decisions may have been unpalatable but they were made. When we go to Surfers Paradise every member of the Government here will not be on the same wave length, as was pointed out by my colleague Senator Bishop. Anything that any of us say there will be reported by the media, lt will not be like somebody getting up at a Liberal Party executive meeting and a prepared Press statement being issued. We will take our lumps whichever way the, come. Perhaps somebody may think that something we have said is wrong but at least it will be healthy democracy. As far as our relations with the United States and Great Britain are concerned, the day has long gone when we adopted a colonial posture. I think the United States knows this.
I noticed that Senator McManus had quite a lot of Press clippings. 1 think that one of the best clippings to read is the report of the farewell dinner whenever a United States Ambassador goes home. He always says: ‘Yes, my relations have been good with this Government and if another Government comes in tomorrow they will be equally as good’. When honourable senators talk about what Mr Uren or Dr Cairns or Mr Clyde Cameron may have said about American policy I suggest that they take their blinkers off their eyes and have a look at what was said by some of the Scandinavian Premiers and Prime Ministers. They have been far more caustic than we have been. After all some of the honourable senators on the other side who constituted the Government before Christmas were just as disparaging about a famous American, Senator Fulbright, because he disparaged their efforts in Vietnam. It is of no use for Opposition senators to resurrect somebody and say that he is going to put secret military sanctions on the Commonwealth Government, because for every case they mention I can mention others. It is time in 1973 to be mature about this. After all, in this very Senate I can be pretty savage to somebody, and somebody else can be very savage to me. But neither of us is likely to stand outside tonight and sandbag the other as he is going home. It is the same with particular relationships. We have all heard the abuse that has gone on between the President of the United States and the Kremlin and Peking; yet I wonder how many of the Opposition senators think about it when they see the President and his envoy talking amicably to the Russians and the Chinese. That is the maturity of modern diplomacy; we all have to live with these situations.
In the short time that the Labor Government has been in office we have been able to prove conclusively that there was, to say the least, some very careless drafting of Article 3 or, at the best, that the previous Government created a smoke screen in order to gull the then Opposition about what its responsibilities were. Thank goodness, saner counsels have prevailed and we have not had a Cuba-type confrontation in the South West Pacific. Goodness knows what the position would have been if we had. I repeat that the outcome would have depended not only upon the Australian Prime Minister; obviously the President of the United States would have had the prime responsibility. Anybody who has read the numerous books about President Johnson and President Kennedy would know that some of the genuine feelings the Australian Labor Party had were founded on fact. I feel that overall in this coming year it can probably be said that the diplomatic climate will be pretty good. As far as this Government is concerned we will face up to our particular responsibilities. It would be idle to say that we will be satisfied until we achieve joint control in the full sense. It could well be that by that time, because of technical advances, these particular installations will be phased out.
There is another aspect to it, politics being what they are. The Opposition always likes to be selective in its targets. We have argued about the question of the signing of agreements for nuclear control, and the previous Government had been very reluctant at times to do this. In fact even the United States was ahead of it in this respect. I make this point about all these situations: We feel that if we have at least one installation in this country which can monitor nuclear explosions it will be very valuable. The principles espoused by the Prime Minister in the other chamber and by his worthy assistant, Senator Willesee, in this House are completely in accord with those followed by Dr Evatt, John Curtin and Benedict Chifley during their periods of office. Opposition senators may talk until they are blue in the face but they cannot deny that some of the achievements of the early postwar years did establish peace in South East Asia. 1 said this afternoon when referring to our role in assisting Indonesia to attain self government that had we remained in office a little longer it is possible that Indo-China would have been independent. I indict all the European powers for their failure in IndoChina; the French were equally at fault as the rest, no matter whether those in power were socialists, radicals or even conservatives. I conclude on this point: We proved in the early post-war years that our concept of foreign affairs, with self government for Indonesia and our assistance in enabling both India and Pakistan to stand on their own feet, will stand us in good stead in the future.
– Honourable senators will, I think, recall Voltaire’s words: 1 have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘Oh Lord make my enemies ridiculous’. And God granted it.
The people of Australia in common with the Opposition will at this moment, looking at this and at other issues of recent weeks, join with Voltaire in that prayer. We have had extraordinary situations moving from convulsive effort to convulsive effort of the Labor Party, and here we have another political convulsion. This is government by political convulsion. We were listed to debate tonight Order of the Day No. 2, United States installations in Australia, ministerial statement - a statement read to this House by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Bishop) on behalf of the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard). What we had read to us tonight was a ministerial statement amended by the Labor Party Caucus which had had its nose tweaked by the outside rulers who had forced an amendment and a series of qualifications.
This Government is breaking every rule of constitutional government. Day after day decisions that it made are being altered by pressure groups from without. The Australian Labor Party is, as the newspapers say, split down the middle on this.
– Since the honourable senator says ‘Oh, no’-
– 1 said ‘rubbish*.
– Let him have his Senator Keeffe, his Senator Georges and others who come in here and tell us the views that they expressed in Caucus. I am as interested in open government as the honourable senators opposite but 1 have one qualification; I am reminded by the interjectors of another famous person, Thomas Hardy, who said: That man’s silence is wonderful to listen to’. I do hope, Mr Deputy President, that honourable senators opposite will consider Thomas Hardy. To understand the substance of this debate and the dilemma that this Government has got itself into in its orgiastic approach to government over the past 14 weeks one must understand certain fact. The Labor Party has been living a lie for some years. The Labor Party has existed on one premise: ‘Let us say anything, let us do anything no matter how outrageous, no matter how much we know it is untrue, so long as it scares the voters and gets them to vote for us’. That was premise No. 1. and it was the basis of a thousand speeches by the then Opposition Labor members all over Australia. They were saying, in effect: ‘These bases are wrong, these bases are aggressive war installations which would threaten Australia, which would bring a nuclear holocaust to Australia’. These are the Labor claims of the past: ‘These bases are bad for Australia, we should not have them and we ask you, the Australian people, to vote the Government out and to vote us in’. That is why the people of Australia now pray with Voltaire; they realise the mistake they made.
I come to the. second premise. The Labor Party has a simple rule of diplomacy and it is this: ‘Oppose anything that is American; oppose anything that is British; oppose anything that is French: oppose anything that is from the democratic Free World and from the kidney and kith of the Australian people, and realign Australia with the communist dominated Third World. In the United
Nations give instructions that on everything which the Third World votes for get in with it, and oppose what the Free World votes for. Break the American alliance, go throughout Asia dismantling the good neighbourly arrangements which the previous Government has made. Do that.’ This Government has approached the very sensitive and delicate field of diplomacy and foreign relations with the same finesse as would a rogue male elephant in a herd of females and with the same devastating results to all those around it. Let me underline this: While this Labor Government remains in office not one government, not one nation of any reputation or status in the world, will be willing to give to it any of the real secret and confidential information that it should be seeing.
– You would not know.
– Because previous Labor governments acted in the same reckless and irresponsible way with just the same results so I talk not from theory but from practice. The countries of the world say: How can we trust a government which is out to destroy everything that we have built up’?
– The honourable senator is degrading his own nation.
– I am speaking to the United States installations statement. I am outlining the reasons that motivate the Labor Party. Senator Mulvihill said: ‘We will get cooperation from the United States. We will talk with that country. We will be able to have wonderful co-operation*. The United States-
– We will not have to grovel.
– I am proud to say that the governments I have supported in the past - and proudly supported - negotiated the American alliance and the SEATO and ANZUS pacts and formed a comradeship with a nation which has brought greater peace and prosperity than any other nation has to this world. Whatever the imperfections of the United States of America, it should be remembered that that country played a significant part in winning the war. It played a significant part with its massive humanity, massive understanding and massive contribution to the post-war peace. The nations of the world owe their growth and position to the great contribution of the United States which, in fact, has crippled itself in its overseas balances in so doing. Kipling wrote:
Winds of the World, give answer! They are whimpering to and fro -
And what should they know of England who only England know?
The people of the world sneered at the British in the old days when they carried the responsibility that the United States carries today, just as some people of the world today and members of the Australian Labor Party sneer at the Americans. I reject this attitude. In fact, the Australian people should understand the significance of the appointment by the United States Government of Mr Marshall Green, a remarkably able diplomat of senior status, beyond ambassador to ambassador at large. Undoubtedly, that man is coming to Australia because the United States fears that what this Government is doing in Asia is creating chaos in the area and undoing the good of the past.
Mr Marshall Green was one of the great men who, over the years from Sukarno to Suharto, did more than anyone else to bring about the stability and the non-Communist character of Indonesia. Mr Whitlam failed to understand this in his recent visit to Indonesia. So insensitive was Mr Whitlam, our Prime Minister and our part-time Foreign Minister to an understanding of Indonesian history that whilst making a proper gesture of putting flower petals on the graves of the dead generals, he talked about bringing mainland China into a rapprochement with Indonesia. He did this whilst standing in the living memory of 8 great non-communist generals who had been emasculated, mutilated and murdered by Peking-operated PKI. The total insensitivity of a man who is a part-time Foreign Minister could not have been more greatly demonstrated. This kind of thing has been repeated time and again throughout recent weeks. What has happened in relation to this document is this: The Labor Party, having come to government, has had to come to terms with the truth, a difficult thing for a Party that has behaved, as I say, like a rogue elephant. It has had to come to terms with the truth. It has had to say, because we have forced it out, the truth in the eyes of the world. It has said in this first document in the clearest terms that what the successive non-Labor governments - the successive Liberal and Country Party govern ments - did regarding the basis was absolutely right. What the Labor Party said about their being aggressive war weapons threatening the very existence of Australia was absolutely wrong. Let me test these statements: Has the ALP said, whether in the Barnard version, the Willesee version or the caucus version, that it has looked at this base, that it is a threat to Australia, that it does not involve a question of dialogue with the United States or any other nation, that it must be removed from Australia because it is a threat to Australia or that it is an aggressive, dangerous war machine? Have members of the ALP said that? They have, not said that at all. They have said: ‘We want to keep it and we are going to keep it. We think it is good, but we will retain it a bit on our terms’.
Let the people of Australia understand quite clearly that the Labor Party has now denied and denounced its own stance because everywhere throughout this document are these fine statements. Let us look at the position at Amberley and Alice Springs. In effect, the document states: ‘We want to tell you about these like excited little children. We have looked at them. Do you know what we find? Not only are they not naughty, but also they are jolly good for Australia. What do you think of that, chaps? Do you know that at Amberley and at Alice Springs we have looked at the position? What did we find? We found that the bases are useful. In fact, we will be able to measure the levels of radiation. It will help Senator Murphy who is preparing a brief to appear before the World Court’. Two or three days ago Senator Murphy could not tell me the present level of radiation in Australia. What kind of an Attorney-General have we who says: ‘I have looked at the specifics of radiation. I tell you that it will corrupt and hurt the people of Australia. But, pardon me chaps, I have just forgotten what the level is at this moment’. 1 will tell honourable senators what it is.
– The honourable senator has a preoccupation with this.
– I do not have a preoccupation. The level of radiation in Australia at this moment is 2 units or less. What is more, I will tell honourable senators about the amount of fallout as a result of the French nuclear tests. What did the experts say when they were asked by this Government what effect the tests would have on a human being over a period of time in terms of cancer or genetic mutation? TheGovernment will not disclose what was said, even though I have asked. But, the experts said that there will be no measurable genetic or mutative effect.
– They cannot say that.
– Let those who deny it stand up and be counted and give us the facts, because I have asked for them. When pressed, the experts told the Government that as far as human science could measure, something like 0.002 of one person might suffer some effect in the next 25 years. These are figures on which 1 do not need to prepare a brief to appear before the World Court. I invite the Government to bring forward the figures. The Labor Party went to the people of Australia saying: ‘Put us in government. This wicked Liberal-Country Party Government is polluting the Australian atmosphere’. What it did not say was that a person can run more risk -I hope that honourable senators from Western Australia are not listening - by making a couple of return flights a month between Canberra and Perth because of the radiation that is absorbed than by absorbing radiation from the fallout of the nuclear tests. Why do not honourable senators opposite get excited about that? Why do not they warn people not to wear a wristlet watch because the luminous dials emit radiation? Perhaps Senator Milliner who is trying to interject is past the era when these things have any effect on him. He may be living in wondrous envy. Again, we have been presented with a classic example. In effect, the document says ‘By jove, look at the bases at Amberley and Alice Springs. They are good. They are not bad. They are very exciting. Do you know that we can measure either natural or man made earth tremors? Do you know that we can measure radiation?’I point out that we have been doing that. We knew it was good, and now the Australian Labor Party is excited about the position. Then the statement said:
The object and value of having these installations at Amberley and Alice Springs in Australia will now be evident.
Jolly good show.
– Did you know these things?
– Yes, I knew these things and I will tell you shortly how 1 knew them. They are available to all. Then the state ment goes on to deal with Pine Gap and Nurrunga. What do we learn of these installations? We learn:
The Government will respect all classified information shared between us and the United Stales, as well as with Britain, New Zealand and other powers, including our friends in Asia. Defence co-operation cannot be conducted on any other basis.
That is exactly what we said when in office. It is a case of: Let it get richer as you roll it around your tongue. Then the statement says:
Apart from these undertakings, there is no doubt in our minds that details of the techniques employed, and of the data being analysed and tested in the stations, must be kept highly secret if the 2 installations are to continue to serve their objectives.
That is exactly what we said and exactly what the then Opposition - the Labor Party - refuted.
– Mr Hartley will not like that.
– No, he will not like it one little bit. Then comes the choice thing: We will show you open government. True, we will not tell you anything that embarrasses us, but the big way in which we will be different from that wicked Liberal-Country Party Government is that parliamentarians who ask can go and visit’. I asked and I went and visited. Indeed, this is the greatest piece of deception that any government could thrust on the Australian people because what the Government is saying to the Australian people is: ‘You can trust us because we are willing to let your legislators from the Liberal Party, Country Party, DLP and the Labor Party go and look. Of course, if it is naughty they will tell you’. If indeed they want us to know they do not have to take us on a tour. One can get a Pioneer coach from Perth and visit North West Cape and one will see as much as some honourable senators would see on a free parliamentary tour. I challenge the Government. If the Government is sincere on this question, it will not be saying to the Australian people: ‘Parliamentarians can go on a picnic tour and therefore you are safeguarded’. What did the Government do with the Leader of the Opposition? It properly briefed him. If the Government really meant that there was information that it felt should be made available to parliamentarians, it could make that information available more properly inside this Parliament, in closed session, by calling experts and showing diagrams, photographs and models. That would do more than all the picnic tours on earth. Let nobody talk this arrant humbug.
Unless anyone has any doubts about what I am saying, I am not advocating that there should be any more profound briefing. 1 believe that it is available to any honourable senator who so desires to obtain for himself as full and frank information on these things as would satisfy him, and indeed as much as he would get from a picnic tour. This is another example of pretended open government. In fact, it is subterfuge. The classic and outstanding paragraph in this document, which should be tattooed on the souls of honourable senators opposite, is as follows:
I state clearly that neither station is part of a weapons system and neither station can be used to attack any country.
How many honourable senators opposite dissembled with the Australian people and misrepresented these bases as being weapons of attack, part of a weapon system? Now the Government has been forced to say that this is not so. The Government goes on to say: We want to tell you what we have at this moment, what that wicked Liberal-Country Party Government gave you’. The statement says:
We have access to the installations so that we know what is being done there.
That is good stuff, lt continues:
There is joint management of the facilities and participation by Australian civilians and servicemen in (heir operation.
Not bad, is it? lt goes on:
All data available to the United States Government from these facilities is available to the Australian Government. We have the right to use either or both systems to meet specifically Australian requirements.
Could there be a more total justification of the previous Government’s policy? What more could the Australian community ask of a policy on bases? Then the Government goes on to say: ‘Yes, but we had better have a look because there may be some more icing we would like to put on the cake’. In the interests of open government, there was a very strange silence in this statement.
– You will not answer questions.
– Incidentally, I am still waiting for a copy of the Labor Party policy speech, which is as slow of delivery as is the Labor Party’s policy. There is a notable omission from this statement. Where is there reference to this wicked Omega navigation system? Where is there reference, to this system in respect of which honourable senators opposite went throughout the length and breadth of Australia saying: ‘You cannot have this. This is a weapons system; this is a system of aggression; this is something that will attract nuclear bombs to Australia’. Where is there mention of this? Where is the evaluation of this? What do I find in the corner of a newspaper - not told to us in this Parliament? I find that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has referred the Omega system to the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) for evaluation. Evaluation what for? For a civil navigation aid. Do not forget that it has been referred - let this be denied - to the Minister for Transport and Minister for Civil Aviation - not to the Minister for Defence (Mr Barnard) or to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Whitlam) or to the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) who is in charge of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, or to any of these naughty boys - for evaluation for civil communications use.
Although Ministers of late have had the habit of telling us how reluctant they are to read, how loath they are to inform themselves - indeed, this has been the substance of question time, the greatest non-event in the history of this Parliament - I invite members of the Government sitting opposite to look at an article entitled ‘Omega - a Documented Analysis’ by Nicholas Turner in the 1972 issue of the periodical ‘Australian Outlook’. I suggest to them, after considerable research, that what is said there is as accurate an analysis as might be found in the common circulation of publications, and also that it disposes totally of the hypocrisy of the Labor Party. I suggest to honourable senators opposite that those who live by fear will die by fear. Those who have preached fear over the last year or two to the Australian people will have it recoil on them because the Australian people now know that when honourable senators opposite cry wolf there is no wolf. Mr Cameron was so torn between his anxiety to do some good for Mr Dunstan in South Australia and his anxiety to cover up his own false, predictions that he cried wolf and said that 200,000 people would be unemployed in Australia. But what do we find? There are approximately 85,000 people unemployed - a figure moving towards a record low - but it is of no credit to the present Government because it said that there would be 200,000 people unemployed. Of course, this is the fear tactic.
I want to mention why this situation has arisen. It has arisen, in my judgment, through a basic tragedy in the Australian Labor Party and in the present Australian Government. Mr Whitlam has, for his own values, chosen to be both Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Every previous Prime Minister of Australia has found that job to be a full time job. Does Mr Whitlam say that he has not found it so, that it is only a part time job? Is he, in fact, Super-Gough? We are finding that he has feet of clay; so he had better not jump off buildings. He is a part time Prime Minister. Every previous government has found, for most of its term of office, that the need is for a full time Foreign Minister. In recent years the pressure upon the Foreign Minister has grown and grown.
Today we have the tragedy of Mr Whitlam saying: T have so much contempt for foreign affairs that I regard it as a part time job’. He has in this chamber not a Minister representing him but a Minister assisting him, who has so much contempt for the portfolio that he is unwilling to come to grips with it and unwilling, when on his feet, to give any reasoned or succinct replies to questions and who is treating not the Opposition but the Parliament with contempt. The Parliament can survive in its dignity; the contempt will accumulate.
– Who is doing that?
– I am referring to the Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
– Mr Deputy President, I suggest that you should call Senator Carrick to order. In my opinion his remarks about Senator Willesee are offensive.
– Are you taking a point of order or what?
– It is a point of order. Senator Carrick has stated that Senator Willesee is treating the Parliament with contempt. I ask that he be requested to withdraw that remark.
– What is the point of order?
– The point of order is that those remarks are offensive to Senator Willesee, who is the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - Can the Minister tell me the words to which he is referring?
– The words Senator Carrick used were that Senator Willesee was treating the Parliament with contempt by not answering questions put to him on foreign affairs.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Minister has claimd to be offended by the remarks of Senator Carrick.
– What were the remarks?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The words were that the Parliament was being treated with contempt. I find it difficult to rule that those words are offensive in the normal sense; but the Minister claims that they are offensive and I would suggest to Senator Carrick that he might modify his remarks.
– Although I am utterly sure, from having read the learned Clerk’s book many times, that this has been said many times and both in the House of Commons and here it has been ruled that it is not offensive to say that someone holds the Parliament in contempt, I withdraw that and say that Senator Willesee has treated the Senate with cavalier disregard. I invite that to be found to be in contempt.
As we have found the soft underbelly in respect of this matter, let me put this very simply: Why have we a part time Foreign Minister? Why has not the Prime Minister appointed a Foreign Minister? The reason is that the Prime Minister knows that the men who want the job are completely untrustworthy and would do great damage to the Party and to Australia. The present dilemma of the Government in another place, in its difficulty over press secretaries, lies in the fact that the Minister for Defence has not 5 jobs but 6 jobs. His primary job is that of Minister for Defence of Mr Whitlam’s back. His whole modus vivendi is the protection of his Leader against the knives. Mr Barnard, as the Minister for Defence, has been in bother as being an overoccupied man. I think someone said that Mr Barnard is a humble man. I was reminded of Winston Churchill’s remark: ‘He has a lot to be humble about’.
When the Prime Minister made a South East Asian tour recently, he went to 3 countries. Firstly, he went to New Zealand where he peddled the idea that the New Zealand Government should join with the Australian Government in presenting a joint case to the International Court of Justice. He could not get a hearing. He came away defeated. Then he went to New Guinea, where he said to the people of New Guinea: You will get independence on our terms and our time-table’. They said to him: ‘Mr Prime Minister, your terms are too hurried; they are too dangerous. In fact, they will create grave trouble in this country.’ He replied, in effect: Whatever you say, you will get it on our terms’.
He then went to Indonesia, where he committed a classic diplomatic gaffe regarding China and the generals. Honourable senators will know that I have sought to obtain information concerning 2 Press reports - one by Alan Ramsey of the ‘Australian’ and the other by Brian Johns of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, both very senior and very competent journalists. I have known one of them for years and. casting no reflection on the other, I am sure that he is a very trustworthy journalist. These 2 journalists have said something to which mv Leader referred this afternoon and which, if untrue, should be the subject of a refutation and an apology to the Indonesian Government, with the journalists concerned being asked to explain. Nothing like that has happened. What happened was that there was a report, that officials on the Australian Prime Minister’s tour, when confronted with a flat rejection by Dr Malik of Mr Whitlam’s thesis, proceeded to say to Australian journalists in a private briefing: ‘This man Malik is erratic. He is out of touch. He is the Indonesian Jim Cairns’. If, in fact, this was done by the Prime Minister of Australia, it is one of the most shocking actions that any leader of a government could do. I invite the Senate to prove this issue one way or another.
Not content with that, Mr Whitlam has pushed on. He has read a lecture, as the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) does each day when we get the text for the day from him in the pious hope that he can fill up question time that way. The Prime Minister has read a lecture to the people of Thailand through ‘Newsweek’. Thailand is a country of 37 million people. They are first class, noncommunist people who are fighting against communist insurgence, particularly in the northeast province. They are good friends and good neighbours who welcome peace. I would have thought that if the Australian Government had looked towards peace at all it would have given special blessing to the Thais. In fact, the very name ‘Thai’ means peace. What has the Prime Minister done? In his frenzy and taking the advice, as he always does, of Dr Ross Terrill, of I think future happy promotion and of Peking fame and who has been lecturing in America recently on why the Americans should get out of Thailand, the Prime Minister has read to the Thai people, through ‘Newsweek’, a lecture on why America should get a flea in its ear and get out of Thailand. Quite rightly, the senior members of the Thai Government-
– Would you like to come back to the subject?
– You do not like it, do you?
– I rise to a point of order. It is based on standing order 421 which states:
The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, and may direct a senator to discontinue his speech: . . .
The honourable senator’s remarks are irrelevant to the subject matter before the Senate tonight which is that the Senate take note of the statement by the Minister assisting the Minister for Defence in relation to United States bases in Australia.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Prowse) - I am sure Senator Carrick will heed the point of order and make his remarks relevant to the motion before the Senate.
– Mr Deputy President, you may be assured of that and you may be assured also that my words will hurt Government supporters. It is the relevance, not the alleged irrelevance, which is hitting home. I was about to say that the senior members of the Thailand Government said, in effect, what the ‘Bangkok Post’ said to Mr Whitlam. They said that he should mind his own bloody business, and that should be remembered by him.
– I raise a further point of order. My point of order is based on standing order 421 and I ask for your ruling as to whether the remarks by Senator Carrick are relevant to the subject matter before the Chair, namely, that the Senate take not of the statement about bases in Australia.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I cannot rule that the remarks are irrelevant to the broad question of defence.
– I said that the fact that we have so many different views coming from this Government, and so many different papers coming from it on the matter of the American installations and bases, is symptomatic of and caused by the fact that we have a part time Prime Minister and a part time Foreign Minister who has given gratuitous and unsought advice. The relevance of this to the document being debated must be clear to the people of South East Asia and they have told him to mind his own bloody business. This has happened because we do not have a Minister for Foreign Affairs; we have a Minister for gratuitous advice and diplomatic gaff, and this will cause great trouble to the people of Australia. I hope that we will hear both the contending views of the Labor Party. I hope that Senator Keeffe, Senator Georges and others will express their views.
– You did not mention my name.
– Since Senator Poyser is a tender flower I mention his name. I hope we hear those views. I am sure that as this debate evolves we will get more and more papers, more and more pressure applied by Mr Hartley, and more and more pressure by whoever is the contending faction in the Caucus for the moment. We shall await the next instalment with eager anticipation. I have made the point that we have a Government which came into office on the basis of misrepresentation, a Government that now finds that its misrepresentations are being exposed. This Government is facing the dilemma of exposure and is unwilling to be honest and say: ‘Yes, that is true. What we said is wrong.’ It is now trying to cover up. By so doing, by simulating, this Government has done great harm in Asia. I repeat that, as in the time of a past Labor government, no responsible nation will confide in this nation while this Labor Government is in office because of what it is doing. I say also that this Government is less than frank. It has hidden the Omega navigation scheme. Let it come out and tell us about it now. We cannot wait.
The people of Australia should reject the idea that sending parliamentarians on a picnic tour will prove that they can sleep in peace. The Australian people will be badly served while we have a part time Foreign Minister. Lest there be any reflection in my remarks upon a Minister of this chamber, I hope that the Minister assisting the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Willesee, will help this Senate to grow in strength and wisdom of debate on foreign affairs, the most important issue in Australia. I hope that, despite his remarks on several occasions, he will occasionally read the newspapers so that he will know what is going on and will give us something more in substance rather than superficiality when answering questions. I hope that this Senate will look towards frankness and towards bringing out the truth. The truth has now been exposed and it vindicates the former Liberal-Country Party Government.
– I am sorry that I have to say that the address delivered tonight by Senator Carrick was one of the most insulting speeches ever delivered in any parliament in the world. I say that for one reason only: Senator Carrick insulted the people of Australia. Towards the end of his diatribe he said that the Labor Party was in power due to misrepresentation and lies. In effect he said that the Australian people are a lot of idiots with no intelligence whatsoever and that they listen to any type of argument put forward. That is not so. Senator Carrick forgets that at the start of World War II the Prime Minister of the then government, a member of the party he represents, ratted on the country and could not do his work. The Australian Labor Party was called on to do the job of defending this country. Yet we heard Senator Carrick say that this Government cannot defend the people of Australia. I charge him with insulting the people of Australia. I charge him with fabrication. I charge him with making untruthful statements tonight, and I will prove those charges now.
– Mr President, I am not a tender flower but I raise a point of order. 1 find those statements objectionable. They are slightly more intense than were the words which were the subject of the points of order taken by Senator Brown.
– I deprecate, as honourable senators know, the use of what might be described as injudicious words but I was reminded, as I was listening, of an observation made by a distinguished President of the Canadian Senate. If I may quote him, he said that Parliament is not an arena into which sensitive souls should enter. I ask honourable senators to bear that in mind. I have to make a judgment as to whether sensitivity is being abraded beyond what is normal. I think that Senator Milliner is using rhetorical devices.
– Devices which I can live with, sir. I sought no withdrawal. I merely sought to draw attention to the points of order taken by Senator Brown.
– I refer to a time when Senator Carrick got Senator Wright, a Minister in the previous government, into all sorts of trouble in the world. Senator Carrick repeated the same stupidity tonight. On one occasion Senator Carrick asked Senator Wright, whether the Australian Labor Party ever protested about mainland China entering the nuclear field. Senator Wright in his nlmcal manner, blasted the Australian Labor Party for never making a protest. Subsequently he had to come back and apologise to the Senate for what he had said because he found out that we had made such a statement. We had condemned mainland China For testing nuclear weapons.
Tonight Senator Carrick said that wo had not condemned the USSR or any communist country which had committed acts of aggression. Let me remind Senator Carrick and honourable senators opposite, if they need reminding, that the ALP was the first party to condemn the acts of aggression committed by the USSR against Czechoslovakia. I believe that it was to the credit of the Government of the day and the ALP that the Senate condemned unanimously the USSR for its acts of aggression. So if was useless for Senator Carrick to say what he said. Those 2 examples have proved him wrong. Again he fell for the old political trick of making an assumption and using it as a conclusion. He said that the Prime Minister cannot do the work which he has allotted to himself. Why should he assume that the Prime Minister cannot do the work? The Prime Minister, in his own good time, will pass a portfolio to somebody else if he cannot do all the work. But that is his business. It has nothing to do with the honourable senator.
– The Prime Minister is incapable.
– Senator Maunsell said that the Prime Minister is incapable. I wonder whether the honorable senator would like to ask Senator Murphy or any of my other ministerial colleagues how capable our Ministers are. This morning Senator Maunsell^ colleague asked a question about kangaroos. By the time Senator Murphy finished answering Senator Lawrie he proved that Senator Lawrie knew nothing about kangaroos. Senator Maunsell is such a lightweight that he is not worth worrying about. Senator Carrick said all types of things to try to denigrate the work of the ALP and the Government. He said that there was nothing wrong with 2 of the bases about which we have asked questions os-er the years. Of course there is nothing wrong with them, but why could nol the Parliament and the Australian people have been told that there was nothing wrong with the bases? That is the point on which we differ from the Opposition. We have maintained that the previous Government should have told the people whether there was anything dangerous in the buses, but it declined to do so. Tonight we have told the people that there is nothing wrong with the 2 bases to which I have referred.
Tonight Senator Carrick spoke at some length about Pine Gap. He said that tourist buses can get into the base. He might recall that his Government, when it was in power, refused to allow parliamentarians to visit Pine Gap. Senator Keeffe asked and wrote for permission to go to Pine Gap. He was told that he could not go. He produced the document which was produced by the Democratic Labor Party tonight to show that everybody in Australia could see what was going on at Pine Gap. He stated that American congressmen could go to Pine Gap of their own free will. That statement was accepted. The Government had to agree to parliamentarians being allowed to go to Pine Gap.
There are other things that I would very much like to say. 1 repeat that 1 believe that Senator Carrick’s speech tonight was one of the most insulting speeches ever recorded in the annals of parliamentary debates. I ask him to read his speech in Hansard. If he does I think he will agree that he insulted the people of Australia. I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debated adjourned.
Statement by Minister - Divorce Law Reform
– I move: That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire to correct a misstatement that I made on 6th March about a building in Sydney.
When speaking in the debate on the motion to disapprove certain determinations by the Public Service Arbitrator, I stated, as reported at page 179 of Hansard:
The Department of Transport has office accommodation at North Sydney, Alterations and partitioning were carried out for the Department on floors 3 to 9 inclusive. The lease required the use of Max Cooper and Sons, who were the contractors nominated by the owners, the Mutual Life and Citizens Fire and General Insurance Co. One selected tender of $125,449 was obtained from this firm on 27tb July 1971 for floors 3 to 8. The Department of Works tender estimate was $87,237. Negotiations with the contractor later reduced the price to $107,449. The contract was let on 16th August 1971, for completion on 5th December 1971. Occupation of the premises took place on 6th December 1971.
Today the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron), in discussing a matter of public importance, made the same statement in another place. I am informed, through the good offices of Senator Carrick, that the MLC is concerned about the matter because it does not own the building and it does not know Max Cooper and Sons, the contracting firm. On making further inquiries I discovered that the insurance company was the Australian Mutual Provident Society, not the MLC. I apologise to the insurance company for the mistake that was made. I take full responsibility for what the Minister for Labour and I have said. I regret any inconvenience caused to the company. The whole story is a true story, except that the insurance company is the AMP, not the MLC.
– I refer to a matter which was raised at question time this morning. It relates to answers that the Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, gave to me today and to Senator Greenwood yesterday. I believe that a matter of principle is involved here. I believe that the matter should concern the Senate deeply. Sir, I have already asked a question of you - to which I have not yet received an answer - in relation to Senator Murphy’s use of documents, which were submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, to answer a number of the questions that have been put to him over the last few days in relation to the matrimonial causes rules. It appears to me from the number of answers he has given that he has made very extensive use of documents some of which have not been the subject of public record before that Committee. But I do not wish to pursue that matter this evening.
The matter that is concerning me is of a somewhat similar character, but gives different offence to the Senate. In the course of question time on 7th March 1973 - the matter is reported at page 207 of Hansard - Senator Greenwood asked the Attorney-General whether he had received from the Family Law Committee of the Sydney University Law Graduates Association, among a number of other bodies, representations relating to the confusion inherent in the recent amendments to the matrimonial causes rules. In reply to that question Senator Murphy said, first of all, that the answer was no - in other words, that he had not received representations from the Family Law Committee - but that he had received letters. He went on to say: 1 must say that some of the bodies, including the law graduates, the family committee and certain others, particularly in New South Wales-
I feel that in using the phraseology ‘the law graduates, the family committee and certain others’, he was referring to the same body, that is, the Family Law Committee of the Sydney University Law Graduates Association - have presented some criticism, mostly directed to the question of costs and mostly inspired by a small group of divorce barristers who have expressed to me personally their very great concern at the ruin that may be caused to their practices by the changes in the divorce rules.
If that purports to be a summary of the basic criticism that was levelled at the rules by the Family Law Committee of the Sydney University Law Graduates Association, I submit to the Senate - I propose to endeavour to establish my case by using material in my possession - that that summary represents a gross distortion of the representations which were made by that body to the AttorneyGeneral. First of all let me say that the Sydney University Law Graduates Association is a body consisting not only of members of the legal profession who practise in Sydney but also of lawyers in academic life in various parts of Australia who have a completely disinterested view - I think Senator Murphy would be the first to agree; at least I hope he would - in the reform of the divorce law. They made a very substantial submission to the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee. I understood from Senator Murphy’s reaction to that submission that he shared my view that they had a disinterested and very broad, sympathetic attitude to the reform of the divorce law.
This Association has taken the trouble to give very close consideration to the Murphy rules, as they have now become widely known in Australia. Maybe there are interesting implications about that title. But the Association has taken a very close though disinterested view of these rules. It has made representations to the Attorney-General. The Association has made its representations quite widely known. It has sent copies of those representations to, among others, members of the Senate, including myself. I have a copy of those representations in front of me.
– Could the honourable senator let us have a look at them?
– I now propose, with the leave of the Senate, to incorporate those representations in Hansard. I take it that Senator Murphy will not object to that?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– 1 will read the document, which indicates the very disinterested attitude that I have said this body of eminent lawyers has adopted in taking the trouble, quite gratuituously, to study these rules and make its views known to the AttorneyGeneral and the public. The document reads:
In January 1973, Senator Lionel Murphy, AttorneyGeneral for the Commonwealth, issued new divorce rules effective from 1st February 1973. These rules were designed to abolish discretion statements, streamline divorce pleadings, make the intervention of co-respondents optional, simplify divorce hearings, and reduce divorce costs.
The Family, Law Committee of the Sydney University Law Graduates’ Association has carefully considered these rules. We are a body consisting of judges, magistrates, barristers, solicitors, law teachers and other citizens whose only common denominator is that we are law graduates. For several years now we have proposed far-reaching reforms in family law such as the creation of Family Courts, the simplification of maintenance and divorce procedures and above all the introduction of a divorce system based on the fact that the marriage has broken down and not on whether either party was at fault for such breakdown. Last July the signatories hereto on behalf of the Committee submitted detailed proposals to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. The Standing Committee had before it Senator Murphy’s resolution that it examine the law relating to divorce, custody, and family mutters.
Our Committee welcomes the determination of the Commonwealth Government and Senator Murphy to implement a policy intended to cut down the indignities, delays and costs which have beset the divorce jurisdiction. Nevertheless we are deeply concerned at the manner in which Senator Murphy has sought to achieve this objective.
Our concern stems primarily from bad drafting and from innovations which, although appropriate to a non-fault system of divorce, are quite inappropriate to a system based on the concept of the matrimonial offence. Until the Act itself is amended by Parliament it is confusing and misleading to introduce Rules that leave the basic principles of the Act unaffected, but reduce the opportunity for the courts to apply those principles. Into this category, we place such matters as the amended Rules governing the hearing of undefended divorce petitions, the severing of ancillary proceedings from the hearing of the petition for principal relief and the additional barriers created for the institution of suits for judicial separation.
The Committee’s view is that many of the reforms introduced by the new Rules are desirable, if properly implemented, but that the correct method of implementation is by means of carefully considered and fully debated amendments to the Matrimonial Causes Act. lt is regrettable that the Senate Standing Committee which has had the benefit of many submissions on all aspects of divorce law and practice, should have been by-passed, apparently without consideration of the submissions presented to that Committee.
In at least 2 aspects the Rules will achieve a result entirely, opposite to what a man as humane as Senator Murphy obviously intended:
by separating the hearing of the divorce from vital matters such as custody, maintenance and settlement of property we revert to the bad old days of ‘trial by ambush’ and increased litigation.
by railing that there shall be no costs paid by a respondent husband in an undefended divorce matter, be it the decree or a suit for custody or maintenance, the impoverished wife in New South Wales who has no income or savings cannot get her case into Court.
Up to now such wives have had limited help through the Fees Suspended system operating out of the New South Wales Divorce Court. Now even that has gone and there is presently, no other form of legal aid available to this large group of women.
We sincerely hope that Senator Murphy will reconsider those rules which are not achieving the real objectives of a good divorce law and the principles of which should be: dissolution without fault, and resolution of custody, maintenance and property disputes effectively and expeditiously. We would urge that the Senate Committee be given every opportunity to further and complete its enquiries as quickly as possible with full Government co-operation (After all the enquiry was initiated by Senator Murphy himself).
Finally we urge the Government after such full enquiry to bring before Parliament and the people in the August session of Parliament a completely reformed Matrimonial Causes bill more consonant with community needs than the present fault-based code.
I am sure that honourable senators will readily recognise there some very substantial attitude of co-operation towards Senator Murphy, to the extent that, I think, many honourable senators here would find hard to recognise, particularly when it refers to a man as humane as Senator Murphy. However, there may be some room for argument about that point. At all events, they are exercising a most co-operative attitude and, in some respects, a very new and, in their case, humane attitude towards divorce law reform. As I have said, they have taken the trouble to express their views about the matrimonial causes rules on which Senator Murphy has been asked a number of questions. It seemed to me to be an appalling and gross distortion of that Committee’s submissions, which I have just read, for Senator Murphy, as Attorney-General and as Leader of the Government in this place, to belabour this body as having presented some criticism directed mostly to the question of costs. It was on that basis that I sought from Senator Murphy the tabling of this report today. Of course, honourable senators will know that he refused to do so on somewhat technical grounds, which surprised me considerably because, in fact, the Sydney University law graduates have made public the submissions they made. In the ‘Australian’ of 23rd February 1973 there is a fairly broad summary of those representations. I seek leave to incorporate that summary in Hansard.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -
The new divorce laws are having the opposite effect from that intended, a group of judges, magistrates, lawyers and legal academics said yesterday.
They said the new laws were a welcome attempt to cut down the indignities, delays and costs in divorce proceedings, but they had been badly drafted.
They were also inappropriate to the present legal concept of matrimonial offence.
Until the act itself is amended by Parliament it is confusing and misleading to introduce rules that leave the basic principles of the act unaffected, but which reduce the opportunity, for the courts to apply those principles’, the group said.
This particularly applied lo new rules governing the hearing of undefended divorce petitions, the severing of ancillary proceedings from the main petition and the additional barriers created for bringing suits for judicial separation.
The new laws were introduced by the Federal Attorney-General, Senator Murphy, and came into force on 1 February.
The reforms reduce the costs of a defended divorce to $500 and the cost of an undefended divorce, which is now heard in the judge’s chambers, to S150.
The forms to be filed for divorces have been simplified and guilt admissions have been dropped.
The strong criticism comes from the Family Law Committee of the Sydney University Law Graduates Association.
The chairman of the committee is Mr Ray Watson, QC.
Some of the committee members are Professor P. E. Nygh of Sydney University, Professor Ronald Sackville of the University of New South Wales, Mr Henry Finlay, senior lecturer in law at Monash University, Melbourne, and barristers Mr Malcolm Broun, Miss Margaret Brewster, Mrs Anna Frenkel, Mrs Kathleen Trevelyan, Miss Helen Knox, Miss Jean Major and solicitor Mrs Kay Loder.
Mr Watson said yesterday: ‘Many of the reforms introduced by the new rules are desirable if properly implemented, but the correct method is by, carefully considered and fully debated amendments to the Matrimonial Causes Act’. in at least two cases, the new rules would bring a result entirely opposite to the humane intentions of Senator Murphy.
By separating the hearing of the divorce from vital matters such as custody, maintenance and settlement of property we revert to the bad old days of trial by ambush and increased litigation, Mr Watson said.
By ruling that there shall be no costs paid by a respondent husband in an undefended dicorce, the impoverished wife in New South Wales who has no income or savings cannot get her case into court.
Up to now such wives have had limited help through the fees suspended system of the New South Wales Divorce Court.
Now even that has gone and there is at present no other form of legal aid available to this large group of women.
The rules would be effective in a non-fault system of divorce, but were quite inappropriate to the present system based on the concept of a matrimonial offence being committed.
The committee urged the Government to further the inquiry 0f the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs into the basic principles of present divorce laws.
After a full inquiry the Government should then introduce a completely reformed Matrimonial Causes Bill.
– In those circumstances it seems to me the more extraordinary that Senator Murphy should have sought to hide behind some technical rule and refused, despite great protestations about open Government and him, to table a document to which he has referred and which, as I have said, he has distorted. I felt that it was my obligation to this Senate to raise these matters this evening.
– I wish to make but a few remarks in relation to this matter because I suggest that it is a matter of some considerable seriousness. There has been on the part of the Opposition a desire to find out, by way of question, a number of matters related to the matrimonial causes rules which were introduced by the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) earlier this year. I think it would be fair to say that so far the answers which we have received have been flippant, evasive, obfuscating of the search for the real truth in relation to these matters. Specious arguments have been put forward. The real questions have not been answered but there has been a repetition of evasiveness and a repetition of explanation unrelated to the questions. Honourable senators will well recall that there have been occasions when for the second and third time during one day’s questioning honourable senators on this side of the chamber have had to ask the same question and ask Senator Murphy whether he will please answer the question, but never could they get an answer to it.
Senator Murphy was prepared to make an allegation in reply to a question of mine in which I stated by way of preface the situation in relation to Tasmania. I suggested that the situation was that far from reducing the cost of divorce the rules introduced by him would increase the cost of divorce. I suggested that rather than speeding up the hearing of divorces the procedure in relation to the divorces of recipients of legal aid was being retarded. The reply I received from Senator Murphy was to the effect that he had no knowledge of the matters that I had raised. He went on to add that I was misleading him and that I was making misstatements. One or other of those things has to be right. Either he has enough knowledge to make that accusation or he was carelessly - in fact, wantonly - making an allegation which he could not substantiate. 1 subsequently handed to Senator Murphy a copy of a letter which I had received from the legal aid committee in Tasmania which stated that as a result of the confusion arising out of the introduction of his rules, all legal aid divorce matters were being deferred.
– Where is that? In Tasmania?
– That was all I said but Senator Murphy accused me of misleading him, and he had a copy of the letter.
– Because I had the advantage of talking to the Attorney-General of Tasmania.
– Senator Murphy may make whatever reply he will, but I simply remind honourable senators that at the time Senator Murphy said that he knew nothing of the matters I had raised and he accused me of misleading him. He has a copy of the letter which was the basis of the statement which I made. I simply go on to add that it is fair to say from what Senator Durack has said that there is a serious case for Senator Murphy to answer. Unless he can give some explanation it appears that he has misled the Senate. He has misled the Senate, firstly, in an answer in which he claimed that the complaint of the Law Graduates Association in New South Wales was related to costs. That was untrue, if the document produced by Senator Durack is the document to which Senator Murphy was making reference. If there is some other explanation we will be anxious to hear it.
Senator Murphy then refused to table the document on the ground that it was a confidential document - a matter between the law graduates and himself and that without their permission it would be improper for him to table it. Again, unless he is referring to some other document, that was untrue. That was a specious, evasive way of getting out of the embarrassing situation in which he found himself, because the document to which Senator Durack has made reference and which now has been incorporated in Hansard is a Press statement, as public as can possibly be. If there is no other document, I simply repeat that there is good reason to believe that the Senate was misled.
– Yes, by Senator Durack.
– I am simply saying that I make no judgment. I raise this question but I pass on very briefly to make a further comment about the question of the new divorce rules and to elaborate upon what I said earlier by way of question when Senator Murphy was. shall I say, sufficiently flippant, firstly, to answer that he did not know anything of what I asked and, secondly, to claim that I was misleading him. The fact is that in Tasmania the average cost of divorce has been approximately $240. Of this amount S30 has been for court filing fees and the remainder for legal costs. To save the Dickensian situation to which the Attorney-General made reference in answer to questions, an elected scale of costs is available and this is normally availed of. It cuts out the necessity for drawing bills of costs and all the sorts of expenses to which he referred. That is a procedure which could have been availed of by the Attorney-General. It was introduced in Tasmania as a result of the efforts of the Chief Justice of Tasmania. He tried to streamline divorce and other areas of administration. This has worked well. It has kept down the cost of divorce in Tasmania.
The situation is that the average divorce is really the average legal proceedings resulting from the breakdown of marriage. It is wrong to call it just divorce if one is talking in detail and with particularity about it. What it is is obtaining a decree nisi and later a decree absolute for dissolution of marriage. Also it is sorting out the problems of custody, access, maintenance, settlement of property and all the other consequences of the breakdown of a marriage and the breakup of a family. The latter matters which I mentioned are by far the most important to the parties from the point of view of dispute and disputation. They are the areas where the parties normally have their real problems and their real fight. This is the part which has now been separated out from the $150 divorce about which the Attorney-General has been speaking. No longer can people in Tasmania say that they can look forward to obtaining a divorce, including all the ancillary matters, for about $240. Rather, the normal thing will be that for $150 they will obtain a decree nisi. There will be a net difference of $60 because once one takes out the $30 fees there is only $210 of what it used to cost. For $60 it is necessary to be able to complete all the other matters in order to do it as cheaply as it was done before. By separating them out extra procedure is involved. The cost of drawing the affidavit is added.
– Is not the $150 the maximum?
– Let us continue with the argument which I was giving. For an extra $60 one has to prepare a separate application. It is not one which can be prepared along with the divorce petition but a separate application. One has to prepare an affidavit and all the other paraphernalia which goes with this. The aspects which were referred to by Senator Durack in the statement which he read about trial by ambush have never been more true. This has introduced the most dastardly aspects of trial by ambush because in a petition a person no longer has to state the facts in support of the grounds.
Any person who is a respondent to a divorce petition can now be grossly misled into not defending and then, as a result, finding himself seriously disadvantaged when it comes to the time to defend the application. Maybe a father who is very fond of his children is involved. He may be anxious that he be granted free access by the court. Alternatively, he may wish to apply for custody. It may be that the wife is petitioning on the grounds of desertion. She does not have to say what the facts are which she is going to tell the court are the basis of the breakdown of the marriage. But it may very well be that she will put into that affidavit a great many matters which would have been violently disputed by the respondent, a great many matters which could have been proved to be wrong, and a great many matters which go to the question of custody. But this is one of these areas where, under the new rules, confusion reigns supreme.
The other day a lawyer said to me: ‘The clock of law reform has been turned back 20 years’. We are all anxious to see divorce law reform proceed. There is no question that the Opposition supports the principles enunciated by Senator Murphy. What we criticise is the demonstrably inefficient way in which he has set about this matter. Accuracies have been pointed out from time to time and we have been accused of nit picking. The whole thing is that in this rush, tear, ‘instant Goughie approach to legislation and government we find that we are not getting what Senator Murphy wants and what we want. We are getting something which in fact turns the clock back 20 years.
– I take it that everyone has finished on this topic?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Poke) - Nobody else rose so I am calling you.
– Senator Durack has complained about the fact that I said that, in general, I had not received any representation from the Sydney University Law Graduates Association. He said that that was incorrect. I said that in general the answer was no. I notice that when the honourable senator spoke about the representations he tabled not some submission or representations but a Press statement. I tell him now, in order to clear his mind, that I received a letter dated 20th February 1973 from Professor Nygh. It simply stated:
On behalf of the Family Law Committee of the Sydney Law Graduates Association I enclose herewith a copy of a Press statement which will be issued to the Press on Thursday in the name of the Committee.
I think I received that letter after the Thursday. I do not regard the sending to me of a Press statement as a representation or a submission. I say further to Senator Durack that I spoke to Professor Nygh following receipt of that document. 1 assure Senator Durack that the question of costs had loomed very large, according to my information, in the discussions of the Family Law Committee. On that same subject matter a letter was sent to the ‘Australian’ newspaper by Jean Malor who is the famous editor of the ‘Australian Digest’ and a number of other extremely important documents in the legal world. I have a copy of that letter which is dated 25th February 1973. It is addressed to the editor of the ‘Australian’ in which the Press statement appeared and it reads:
1 reject the statement in the headline of the Australian’ last Friday that the divorce laws are a failure. I am of opinion that the amended rules must be tried out in practice for a reasonable time before their success or failure can be judiged.
I am a member of the Family Law Committee of the Sydney University Law Graduates Association. Last year, after some months of close consideration by the Committee of the pressing need for divorce law reform, a long and strong written submission was made to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. The Matrimonial Causes legislation should be amended.
Unfortunately I was not present at the meeting of the Family Law Committee at which the criticism, as reported in the ‘Australian’ last Friday, was expressed of the new amendments of the rules. Had 1 been present I would have dissociated myself from that criticism.
In considering the amendments to my mind the emphasis should be on the desirability of the reforms introduced. Practice and procedural matters can be dealt with by rules without awaiting amendment of the Act. The new rules as drafted are in my opinion within the scope of the provision in the Act which gives power to the Governor-General to make rules for or in relation to the practice and procedure of the courts having jurisdiction under the Matrimonial Causes Act.
The report in your paper contained specific criticisms.
I doubt whether the ‘bad old days of trial by ambush and increased litigation’ ever existed. If they did, the reference is to the days before 1961 when divorce was regulated by State legislation. In my opinion no such hazards are inherent in the practice under the amended rules under a very different Commonwealth Act.
I agree that no person should, through poverty, be denied access to the divorce court. If that occurs, adequate provision should be made for legal aid.
I indicated earlier that I had received a number of commendatory letters. Early in January or late December I had announced in some detail, which announcement was spread throughout Australia, what was intended to be done about the divorce rules and on 10th January the Law Institute of Victoria wrote to me in these terms:
The Law Institute of Victoria welcomes your proposals for amendment of procedure in the divorce jurisdiction as reported in the daily press which correspond with this Institute’s recommendations to the Senate Standing Committee. The Institute hopes that in due course you will introduce amending legislation to give effect to the Institute’s other recommendations to the Committee including, in particular, its recommendations in relation to the grounds for divorce.
The Divorce Law Reform Association, which represents those who have been sufficiently concerned to set up their own organisations in order to achieve some changes in the rules which Senator Greenwood and his predecessors were showing no inclination to make, has written to me too on several occasions and has indicated that it will write to its 1S00 members in New South Wales asking them to support the new rules. Similar communications have been received from divorce law reform associations in other States. Members of those Associations have written to the media to defend the new rules. They have said:
We believe that the new rules are the minimum prerequisites to set the stage when the Act is to be discussed in the House, so that adequate and progressive changes may eventuate.
I wish you all success in bringing about changes to the Act in keeping with modern thinking.
Not only were those communications sent to me.
This afternoon a happy event occurred when I met representatives of the legal profession of the Australian Capital Territory in my office. They came to talk to me about a number of matters, one being the new divorce rules. I said: ‘What do you think of the new divorce rules?’ They said: ‘They are marvellous’. I said: ‘Can I quote you?’ They said: Yes, you can’. Further, the Law Council of
Australia which represents the legal profession came to see me several weeks ago, and this was published in the Press. I regret that the Bar was not represented, though the solicitors were, for the Law Council of Australia represents both solicitors and barristers. Their representatives expressed themselves as being generally favourable to the changes which had been made in the rules.
– I trust that I will; my information is that I will. Next, may I refer to the document which Senator Durack referred to and which has been published - the Hansard report of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. This document includes a statement by Mr Justice Selby, the Chief Judge in Divorce in New South Wales who, when speaking generally about the rules, spoke about delays. He said:
But I think that is also largely due to the cumbersome nature of the rules.
He was referring to the previous rules.
– What is the date of that document?
– It is dated 8th June 1 972. The statement goes on:
I think the rules need to be very, very well raked over and cleaned up and tidied up. I think they are so cumbersome, and the procedure is so cumbersome, that they themselves breed delay. . . .
I would like to see them torn up and rewritten.
I put to him:
That is the feeling in the legal profession also, is it not, that these rules have added to the costs and delays and so forth over the years?
I thinkthat is the general feeling.
He said that he thought it would be an excellent idea that the rules be amended and come in some formal way before Parliament. He also said:
Mr Hughes, when he was Attorney General, had one such conference. I think nothing came of it as far as I know except a lot of paper, but I think it could be an excellent idea.
Senator Rae said, in some passionate way, what a dreadful thing it is to separate the proceedings for dissolution and the ancillary proceedings for property or custody. Indeed in the Press statement which was issued it was stated that in at least 2 aspects the rules would achieve a result entirely opposed to what a man as humane as Senator Murphy obviously intended. I do not disagree with that description of me. The point is that the objection was that by separating the hearing of the divorce from vital matters, such as custody, maintenance and settlement of property, we would revert to the bad old days of ‘trial by ambush’ and increase litigation. That is an important matter. Senator Rae referred to it and has taken the view that what has been done in respect of the change in the rules is an error. Let me refer to the basis, and some of the opinions, upon which this has been done. It is reasonable that one should turn to what was formally put before the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs.
– Are you going to quote from a private document again?
– As far as I am aware there are no private documents. I heard what Senator Durack said. I can do no more than say that these documents are published by order of the Senate to the whole world. Some of them are published in the newspapers and have been quoted around Australia. I see no reason why a document which has been published by order of this Senate is not able to be quoted from by me. The senator may be aware of some prohibition of which I am not aware, but I see no reason why I am not able to quote from a document published by order of this Senate. On 8th June 1972 Mr Justice Selby said:
There is much in the general scheme of the Act and Rules which adds to the costs.
He went on to deal with some of these and said:
I am convinced that great expense would be avoided by a reversion to the superseded State practice whereby the suit is heard and disposed of (except where the principal relief is contested and contested ancillary matters dealt with at a later stage).
He also said:
With the great volume of divorce litigation in New South Wales it is seldom practicable to hear and determine all contested issues in a case at one time. 1 am satisfied that a reversion to the procedure I have indicated would lead to the creation of a state of mind in the parties whereby, once they were divorced, they would be much more ready and willing to settle their outstanding differences.
He said that where they have to be heard together a number of unfortunate results flow from these decisions.
He also said:
A vicious circle is formed for the longer the hearing of a defended suit is delayed, the greater the number of interlocutory matters which are likely to arise.
In other words there are all sorts of proceedings during the intervening period which add to the costs, the delays and so forth. He was then questioned on these remarks. He said: . . , it comes back also to a point I made here: That is the least of the contest between parties - divorce or no divorce. The real fight is over custody, money, the BHP shares, the house or car or whatever it is; that is what they fight about, that is what they really get steamed up about. You cannot make an honest, just, fair decision without knowing a great deal about the married life on those things.
Senator James McClelland then asked Mr Justice Selby:
But is this not one of the things that causes prolonged hearings? In fact the 2 parties are in court at arms length lighting about who slapped whom on such and such a day, or who slept with somebody else, whereas what they are really arguing about -the real contest between them - is who is to get the family house or who is to get the BHP shares. Do you not think it would be a good idea if the 2 issues could be rigorously separated? The first thing that has to be decided by the court is whether in fact the marriage should be dissolved, and the other things come next.
Mr Justice Selby said:
I have suggested precisely that.
He went on to say:
Not only that. I have suggested we go back to the Slate practice of allowing the divorce to go through and then hearing the ancillary matters; because, as I have said very often, once they cease to be husband and wife - when that is over - there is much more chance of reaching agreement. But the Aci says the court, as far as possible, shall hear them all together. It sounds very good and it sounds common sense, but 1 do not think it works.
What was done under these rules was to make this possible. It could not be made mandatory. The issues could not be separated rigorously as the judge thought they should be, but it was made optional. There is other support in these rules for the course which was taken. I have here material from another learned judge suggesting exactly the same aspect. He has said that this is established on the English system. I will not quote the learned judge verbatim but I will quote him in substance. He said that the real merit of what is contained in the English system is not this change in the grounds of divorce; the real change was thought, by some anyway, to rest rather in the postponement of the determination of ancillary matters for a reasonable period than in the adoption of a uniform ground of divorce, namely, breakdown of marriage. Here are 2 extremely experienced judges saying-
– Who said that?
- Mr Justice Jenkyn. Here are 2 extremely able judges saying that those proceedings ought to be separated. I have also information sent directly to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department by the Deputy Registrar of one of the State courts. He states in part:
After 10 years operation I think it can bc fairly said that two innovations, as far as New South Wales is concerned, made by the Commonwealth Act have been responsible in increasing cost to litigants and to the State. These two factors are:
The form of pleading introduced, particularly the pleading of all issues in the one petition.
This is what Senator Rae was suggesting -
I trust that when Senator Wright nods his head he is agreeing with what 1 am putting.
– No, not at all. I am just listening to you.
– Thank you, Senator Wright. At least I do not notice any disapprobation in your nods of approval. That weighty evidence was put before the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. There is other material that was not put before the Senate Committee. There is other material, equally weighty, which was available to me but which was not put before the Senate Committee, to support the other propositions which were put into the rules. But then we hear this nit picking about the drafting of the rules and someone comes along with a Press report of a statement by the family law graduates. The various bodies are entitled to their opinion. The family law graduates have an opinion and the opinion has been expressed.
– There is no reason why it should be ignored.
– I regret that Senator Durack apparently failed to read the evidence which was presented to the Committee. I regret also that Senator Rae, who has spoken in this debate and criticised what has been done, failed to inform his own mind so that he could inform the Senate. Whatever views were put forward by one body, there was a powerful body of evidence which was not put before the proper body delegated by the Senate to inquire into these matters. That evidence supported the rules that were made by me.
– That body has not had the opportunity to report.
– That body has made an interim report and at least one recommendation in the report has been carried into effect.
– Which one?
– The abolition of discretion statements. The honourable senator did not even have the decency to point out that that precise recommendation had been put into effect. The nub of the issue is the question of costs. There was plenty of evidence to suggest that a severe limitation on costs was warranted. It is important to consider what was said by Senator Rae about the cost of divorce in Tasmania. It is reasonable to say that even before the amendment to the rules the costs in that State seemed to be within the realm of reason. My understanding is that they were within the realm of reason in Western Australia also. However, the plain fact is that when citizens in New South Wales were being forced, through the operation of a system in that State, to pay sums like $600, $800 and even $2,000 for simple proceedings it was time to intervene and to insist on a severe limitation on costs. If Senator Rae is not aware that a racket was being perpetrated by a small number of persons in New South Wales it is time that he acquainted himself with the facts.
Why did he think divorce law reform associations have been springing up in New South Wales and in other parts of the country? When the citizens of the community have to organise themselves and start to campaign and organise, and are able to attract thousands of people to their meetings to complain about scandals in the law, it is incumbent on those who are responsible for the administration of the law to do something about it. I do not think Senator Rae can find any comfort in the fact that his own Party was in office over a number of years while these costs increased heavily under the rules made under the Commonwealth Act, and that they were subjected to increasing criticism by judges and persons who were very experienced in this field and who regarded this as a source of cost, indignity and delay. During this time members of the public were groaning under the burden imposed on them by the rules and by the pernicious operation of them by some persons. In this situation it was time that action was taken. I am pleased that the community generally approves the action that was taken. I repeat to the Senate that if, instead of pursuing this campaign of defending the indefensible, honourable senators want to offer some constructive proposals to improve the divorce rules further in order to make divorce simpler, cheaper and more dignified, I will welcome those proposals. I inform the Senate that I propose to proceed as soon as possible to introduce legislation in order that the Act may be reformed to conform with those principles.
– Mr President, under standing order 346 I request that Senator Murphy be ordered to table the letters from which he quoted so that those honourable senators who were not able to find out by interjection the dates of the letters may ascertain when they were written and whether they were written before or after people had a chance to study the rules.
– What letters are you talking about?
– The letters to which you referred.
– I told you the dates. I received a letter from the law graduates on 20th February.
– Just table them.
– I am not going to table them
– Order! I am not going to be instructed by any honourable senator. A point of order has been taken by Senator Rae. and I am going to consider the matter.
– Mr President, perhaps I could assist-
– Do you wish to intervene on the point of order and the quotation of the standing order? On a point of order Senator Rae has quoted standing order 364, which states:
A Document quoted from by a senator not a Minister of the Crown . . .
Standing order 363 is the effective one. It states:
A Document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to be of a confidential nature, or such as should more properly be obtained by Address may be called for and made a public Document.
So the option is with Senator Murphy.
– I do not propose to table the letters. I read out the dates on the documents. One of the documents, from which I read a portion, contains something which might reasonably be regarded as confidential.
I do not propose to table that. The date of that letter is 6th March 1973. I thought that I had indicated the dates of the other letters.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.22 p.m.
The following answers to questions were cir culated:
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Senator MURPHY - The Prime Minister has supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 28th February 1973, Senator Townley asked me a question as Minister representing the Prime Minister concerning employment of relatives by hon ourable members, honourable senators and Ministers in secretarial or other positions capable of being held by members of the Public Service and also concerning the use of Commonwealth cars for private purposes by Ministers in their own States. The Prime Minister has now supplied the following information for answer to the honourable senator’s question.
An appointment to a member’s or Minister’s personal staff is a matter for the Minister or member concerned. I have noted that 2 Ministers and at least one other office-holder in the present Parliament have employed relatives on their personal staffs.
Ministers are entitled to unrestricted use of official cars, as was the case under the previous Government.
– Senator Greenwood asked me a question without notice on 1st March (Hansard, page 87) about the presence of Australian forces in Singapore. This matter was discussed fully in the other place during the debate on the motion of censure on 1st March and I refer the honourable senator to the statements made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence during that debate. (Hansard, House of Representatives, pages 129-130 and pages 115-119.)
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 March 1973, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1973/19730308_senate_28_s55/>.