31st Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Condor Laucke) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I present the following petition from 46 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable President and Members of the Senate of the Australian Parliament assembled. The petition of certain citizens respectfully showeth:
Their support for and endorsement of the National Women’s Advisory Council. We call on the Government to continue to maintain the National Advisory Council and increase Federal Government support for its activities.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition from 15 citizens of Australia:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men of having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representatives without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative ‘Advisory Council ‘.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows:
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth objection to the metric system and request the Government to restore the imperial system.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray, by Senator Puplick.
To the Honourable the President and Members of the Senate in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the National Women’s Advisory Council has not been democratically elected by the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is not representative of the women of Australia;
That the National Women’s Advisory Council is a discriminatory and sexist imposition on Australian women as Australian men do not have a National Men’s Advisory Council imposed on them.
Your petitioners therefore pray that the National Women’s Advisory Council be abolished to ensure that Australian women have equal opportunity with Australian men of having issues of concern to them considered, debated and voted on by their Parliamentary representative without intervention and interference by an unrepresentative ‘Advisory Council ‘
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Senators Button, Evans, Dame Margaret Guilfoyle, Hamer, Lewis, MacGibbon, Missen, Primmer and Sheil.
– I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:
That in accordance with section 5 of the Parliament Act 1 974 the Senate approves the following proposals:
1 ) erection of a bus shelter in Kings Avenue;
erection of three lighting masts on the ramps leading to Kings Avenue Bridge.
Senator CARRICK (New South WalesLeader of the Government in the Senate)Pursuant to section 5 of the Parliament Act 1 974 I present proposals for the erection of a bus shelter in Kings Avenue and for the erection of three lighting masts on the ramps leading to Kings Avenue Bridge.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Does the Minister believe that there has been too much debate in this Parliament on the Government’s response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan? If not, can he explain why the Prime Minister said on the PM radio program last Thursday night that there has been too much debate on Afghanistan in this Parliament? If this is so, how much time does he think should be allocated to what the Government’s motion on Afghanistan describes as potentially the greatest threat to international peace and security since 1945?
– The question asks for my belief. In this chamber the Government has provided time for all those who listed themselves to speak on this matter. The debate will continue today and I think it will conclude today. It has given a very effective opportunity for all honourable senators to air their views. I did not hear the Prime Minister on the program mentioned by the honourable senator, so 1 cannot say in what context the Prime Minister may have made such a statement. The views of the Prime Minister and of the Government are utterly clear. They believe that the Russian invasion of Afghanistan was an aggressive threat, not just directed in a defensive way within Afghanistan, but directed to the Middle East, to the oil fields through Iran, and to pressure on the border of Pakistan. The belief that this is a military threat to the peace of the world is shared by the European Parliament and by the United Nations General Assembly. The Government is in good company in its views.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether the Government has considered the report and recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry to examine Commonwealth and State Meat Inspection Systems? Can the Minister advise what procedures will now be followed particularly relating to the negotiations with the States and the industry?
– The report to which the honourable senator refers was tabled only on 27 February of this year. The Government welcomes further industry comment on matters raised in the report. The Prime Minister has sought the views of the State Premiers and of the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth Government will further consider the report and its recommendations in light of the views of the Premiers and the Chief Minister and, indeed, of members and producers in the meat industry. It is expected that when all these decisions have been arrived at, final consultation will produce the answer that all parties are seeking.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I remind the Minister of statements made by himself, the Minister for Trade and Resources, and the Prime Minister in which it is claimed that the Government’s fuel taxing policy is responsible for making the Rundle shale oil project economically viable. I ask the Minister whether it is intended that Rundle oil be priced as new or old oil? If it is to be priced as new oil, can the Minister explain in what way its pricing will differ from the world parity formula for new oil which was introduced, of course, by the previous Government in 1975 and which has been continued by this Government. Was it not the previous Government’s new oil pricing policy- I suppose one could say, it is now a bipartisan policy- which, in fact, has made the Rundle project potentially economic?
– The introduction of synthetic fuels, whether from shale or coal, will occur when either the improvement of technology or the need of the world is such that those fuels can come on stream competitively with the price of oil marketed in the world. The upsurge in prices of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries will be confronted and steadied at that time. It is the knowledge and understanding of import parity pricing that has allowed the venturers to enter the market and take enormous risks involving billions of dollars. They believe that they will be able, considering the lead time ahead and the trend of oil prices, to compete satisfactorily. The co-venturers have acknowledged in their statements, if my recollection is right, that it is the import parity pricing which has brought them into the market. That is the kind of factor that is getting people to look to ethanol and coal liquefaction.
I am delighted that there is some measure of understanding about import parity after Mr Hayden ‘s statement last year regarding gas and other matters, particularly the Gas and Fuel Association. He indicated that petroleum should be marketed at the opportunity price. In principle he was advocating import parity for all petroleum products.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question because I am still not clear as to the Government’s policy on this matter. I asked whether Rundle oil is to be priced as new or old oil. Presumably, the people involved in the Rundle project must have sought from the
Government an answer to that most fundamental of all questions before allowing the project to go ahead. Can the Minister tell the Parliament whether it is to be regarded as new or old oil? If it is to be priced at new oil prices, is it not a fact that exactly the same conditions would have obtained for the development of those resources under the policies of the previous Government?
– I did not answer that question because I thought that no one would have needed the answer. Most people would know that old oil is oil produced before September 1975. 1 would have thought that even the Leader of the Opposition would have known that it is 1980 today. Therefore, considering the lead time for Rundle, oil produced would be new oil.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has he seen reports that the cost of petrol in Britain is likely to rise to 61.3c per litre next month? How does this price compare with that of Australian and overseas prices of petrol?
– The latest figures I have indicate that on 12 February the average price for supergrade petrol in Britain was 57c but I have seen in the Press that the price will rise to 61.2c. In France the price of petrol was 75c, in Italy 73c, in Japan 62c to 66c, in the Netherlands 64c, in West Germany 59c to 63c, in New Zealand 43c, in Australia 33.5c and in the United States of America 30c. Canada has yet to adjust its price upwards. We are providing the third cheapest petrol in the world.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, a member of the Cabinet. Is it true that the Prime Minister, Mr Fraser, made certain statements to two visiting American newspaper executives, Mr William Randolph Hearst and Mr Kingsbury Smith, national editor of the Hearst newspapers, which were published in those American papers on 26 February and reported in the Melbourne Age of 3 March? Did the Prime Minister state or imply to those two gentlemen that he considered any military activity in the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea to come within the meaning of the ANZUS Treaty and that our military cooperation would be, to quote the Prime Minister, absolute? If so, does this mean that he has committed Australia to join the United States in some or any military action in those regions? If the Prime Minister has decided on such a vital and far-reaching re-interpretation of the ANZUS Treaty, why has the Australian Parliament not been informed? Was the Minister at any Cabinet meeting where this re-interpretation of ANZUS was discussed or introduced by the Prime Minister?
– As to the last question, no-one would know better than Senator Chipp that what happens inside Cabinet is not discussed and not responded to in Parliament. The rest of the questions are appropriately ones to which the Prime Minister must respond, if he so desires. I will refer them to him.
– I ask a supplementary question. I am disappointed that Senator Carrick should take so lightly a question containing such a heavy concept. This is not just a point-scoring exercise. This is about a statement in the Melbourne Age that the Prime Minister did reinterpret the ANZUS Treaty to include the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. Will the Minister do better than he did before and ask the Prime Minister to answer those two specific questions and will the Minister report back to the Senate so that the Senate may debate the issue if there is any substance to the story?
-I certainly did not take the question lightly. As to the four questions concerning the Prime Minister, I said that I would direct them to him and seek his response. I will so do. If the Prime Minister gives a response that I can present to the Senate, I shall be very happy to do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Given the localised nature of the economy in most parts of the north-west of Australia, with its reliance on the pastoral industry in general and the beef industry in particular, will the Minister for Primary Industry intervene to reverse the decision of the Australian Meat and Livestock Corporation to halve beef exports from the Kimberleys to the United States of America?
-I note that the question is referable to the north western part of Australia and to the beef industry in particular. I shall seek from the Minister for Primary Industry a comprehensive reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development and Energy. I preface the question by saying that, while travelling through Sydney this morning by taxi, the driver bitterly complained at the increase in the price of liquefied petroleum gas from 7c to 20c a litre within a matter of a few months since he installed a LPG device. The Minister will recall the Government’s exhorting of motorists, particularly users of fleet vehicles, to convert to LPG as an alternative to petroleum. Was not the considerable price differential a significant factor in encouraging the switch to this alternative fuel? Has the attraction of conversion diminished greatly now that LPG is priced at true world parity while crude oil is priced at below world parity? Does the Government intend to permit this price differential to continue? How does the Government justify its present pricing policy to taxi drivers and the other motorists of this nation?
– The Government has invited particularly fleet users, the commercial users of vehicles, to switch to liquefied petroleum gas. There has been a significant price differential between the cost of LPG used in automobiles and the price of petrol. The Prices Justification Tribunal, on which I think the Australian Labor Party places total reliance, set prices recently which have varied the differential somewhat. That is a matter to which the Government is giving consideration. I am surprised that Senator Tate should ask this question because his leader expressed quite clearly the view of the Labor Party when he said: ‘If we want to ensure maximum domestic consumption of LPG then we must ensure that producers obtain a domestic price reasonably related to the export price’. Mr Hayden has indicated that the price of natural gas should be put up. Quite clearly he has repeatedly indicated his view that the opportunity price, that is, the market price, of petroleum products should prevail. On the other hand this Government is seeking to ensure that LPG will remain of significant use for automobiles, and will continue to do so.
– My question, which also is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy, has something to do with the veracity of the Age newspaper. I refer the Minister to the headline on the front page of the Age newspaper today which reads: ‘Bass Strait oil supplies curbed’. I intend to quote a paragraph in which the reporter of one -
– I raise a point of order. The Minister is capable of reading and, unlike Senator Withers, he may have read the Age today. We do not want to know what was published in the Age. If Senator Lewis wants information I suggest that he ask for that information and not tell us what is in the Age newspaper.
- Senator Lewis, you will put your question.
-I shall comply with that, Mr President. I ask the Minister -
– It is not the Illawarra Mercury.
-We do not want the Illawarra Mercury back. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that any interruption to supplies of crude oil from overseas could have an almost immediate impact on Australian refineries? What is the true position of Australian oil supplies over the next three months?
– I have seen the article on the front page of the Age newspaper as, I hope, all honourable senators have. The fact of the matter is that Bass Strait production in February was significantly reduced as a result of the shortage of available coastal shipping to carry the indigenous oil to interstate refineries. The reduced production came about because of a series of matters such as the number of fires at the Shell refinery, the routine maintenance at British Petroleum’s Western Port refinery, the delaying of the coastal tanker Arthur Phillip in dry dock, the metal trades union dispute at Geelong, and maritime union bans on two Australian flag vessels. Immediately prior to the union bans on the Australian vessels being lifted, Esso-BHP was faced with the prospect of reducing output to the level of pipeline deliveries only. However, the producers were able to maintain output at about 70 per cent of capacity and concurrently to complete by 27 February routine maintenance scheduled for March. The Age report about a backlog in maintenance due over the next three months is totally erroneous. No requests have been made to defer statutory maintenance. Bass Strait output is currently running at near full capacity and is limited only by shipping availability. The situation is expected to continue until shipping difficulties are resolved. There may be some delays in shipping next month but these are not expected to be significant. The reference to the reduction in output of 40,000 barrels a day on account of the conversion of an oil pipeline to carry Schnapper gas has little significance this year. I could say a considerable amount more on this subject. Suffice to say that that is the picture on Bass Strait and that on shore until recently, in terms of both crude and product, there was a reasonable supply. I believe that, unless there are diversions arising from industrial disputes, we will be able to deliver a continuous supply of petroleum products to the people of Australia.
– I ask the Minister for National Development and Energy whether he stands by his statement in the Senate last Wednesday when in reference to Mr Hayden and Mr Keating he said:
They advocate export parity pricing which of course would make petroleum much dearer.
If he does stand by that statement, can he explain why the National Farmers Federation, which wants cheaper petroleum, advocates ‘an Australian price for crude oil based on an Australian export price for oil rather than import parity which loads the formula with a freight component’?
– I do not have to stand or fall on Mr Hayden ‘s statements. That is the Labor Party’s dismal result. But if there is any doubt about this and if the Labor Party wants me to do so I will table the full text -
– Caught in a web of lies.
– I beg your pardon.
– I withdraw, Mr President.
– If there is any question of the source I will be happy to have incorporated in Hansard the full text of Mr Hayden ‘s speech to the Australian Gas and Fuel Association last year in which he set out the Labor Party’s policy on petroleum, and essentially gas, which I quoted and from which I did not quote selectively. If there is any question of dispute I would be happy to resolve it. Let me say that that is the source. The quotations are precise. They are Mr Hayden ‘s policies and they are policies which would result in petroleum products having a substantially higher price in Australia than at present. After all, it has been suggested by, I think, Senator Tate- I may be wrong- that the Prices Justification Tribunal uses the export parity price instead of the import parity and that is why liquefied petroleum gas pricing is higher. It is perfectly clear therefore that the pricing at export parity would give a higher price to petroleum products than would import parity.
– I ask the Minister a supplementary question. I remind the Minister that the statement which was being queried was his own statement. He was asked whether he stood by his statement, not by somebody else ‘s. But in view of his having repeated his fundamental error in the last sentence of his reply, I ask: Does he know the difference between import and export parity? Does he know what those terms mean? Since his replies indicate that he does not know what they mean, will he seek a tutorial with a high school economics student instructing him so that he can find out what the difference is?
– Order! Mr Minister, do you wish to reply to that question?
- Mr President, I need no reconciliation to primary schools or kindergartens when I meet those kinds of contributions. The normal understanding is that we would take import parity pricing to mean -
– World pricing plus -
– Order! Senator Walsh, cease interjecting.
– And export parity is world price plus -
– Order! I name you, Senator Walsh. You will not obey my rulings. It happens continuously. Please learn that when I ask you to cease interjecting you have to do so; otherwise there can be no decency of operation of this Senate. All interjections are, as you know, disorderly, but some elucidation of an answer may be, at times, called for. Do you apologise?
– I apologise, Mr President, but we are provoked by the Minister’s continued misstatements of fact.
– I believe that that apology was qualified and that aggravated the offence. I draw your attention to that, Mr President.
- Senator Walsh, I have named you for persistent interjection in disregard of the Chair.
– I apologise, Mr President.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, refers to the proposal that the tar content of cigarettes should appear on all packets and in advertising. Does the Minister agree that the many diseases caused or exacerbated by cigarette smoking are collectively the major preventable health problem in Australia? Is there any doubt that the tar in cigarettes is carcinogenic, and that the more tar in the cigarette the more lethal it is? Will the Minister do all in her power to ensure, that the public is effectively warned of the level of tar in various cigarettes?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEThe report of the Senate Standing Committee on Social Welfare touched on many of the matters that were raised by Senator Hamer. He asked some specific questions. I have information from the Minister for Health which indicates that cigarette smoking certainly causes major preventable health problems in Australia. The material commonly referred to as tar in cigarette smoke is certainly carcinogenic. The evidence is that the lower the tar yield of the cigarette the lower the risk to health. However, it must be pointed out that cigarette usage at any level carries a risk and the only safe approach is to avoid the use of tobacco.
The prevention of health hazards caused by the use of tobacco has a high priority within the Health portfolio. The Department of Health regularly arranges the testing of cigarettes sold in Australia for their tar and nicotine yield. The figures are published by the Department on a handy pocket-sized card and provided to the media, the Australian Cancer Society and other concerned bodies with the aim that the information should be as freely available to the public as is possible.
-I ask the Minister for Social Security: Is it a fact that in the last few weeks the manual of instructions concerning invalid pensions has changed? In what way has it changed? Will these changes result in a decrease in the number of people receiving invalid pensions? What is the basis for this change of interpretation.
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLESome discussion has occurred in the Senate and outside on invalid pension eligibility in recent weeks. I think some misstatements were made. However, I think it ought to be made clear that there are very clear requirements under the Act for eligibility for an invalid pension. The Department has needed to look at the administration of invalid pensions to ensure that the legal requirements of the Act are met. If Senator Grimes wishes to have information on the changes which have been made to the manual I will be very happy to provide it to him. If he has any specific questions arising from that which he wishes to raise with me I will be happy to deal with them. I stress, as I did in answer to a previous question, that there has been no change to the Social Services Act, but it is necessary that in the administration of the Act my Department’s manual and administrative procedures enable adherence to the provisions of the Act.
– My question to the Minister for Social Security concerns the inadequacies of the present Child Care Act, major amendments to which have been proposed for the last two years. When does the Minister intend introducing the new legislation- the Children’s Services Bill- into the Parliament? In particular, will full consideration be given to including in the new provisions of the Act more flexible requirements for the qualifications of staff of child care centres- that is, beyond the present narrow definitions of nurse and teacher- which are able to attract a salary subsidy from the Commonwealth Government?
I expect that the new Children ‘s Services Bill will be introduced in this session of Parliament. I have previously given undertakings that there will be opportunities for organisations and individuals outside the Parliament to comment on the Bill when it is presented. I hope that it will be able to be introduced this session. The Bill will enable us to fund the children’s services programs which have been developed. The present Child Care Act is not suitable for the funding of many of the projects in which we are now engaged and which we support. The new Bill will enable us to continue to develop children ‘s services throughout Australia.
With regard to the qualifications of persons who are supported under the program, I stress that whatever the new Bill does it will still be a requirement of the Department and the Government that appropriate qualifications are held by those persons who are dealing with particular child care projects. These qualifications can vary with the style of projects and in other ways but in no way will the new Bill have as its objective any lowering of standards or qualifications of the people who will be conducting child care services. As I have said, I hope that the Bill will be introduced shortly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. Is it a fact that the Minister’s Press statement of 5 February last said that the Government introduced the petroleum product freight subsidy scheme in 1976? Is it not true that this proposal was first mooted during the 1977 federal election campaign? Is it not a fact that the scheme did not operate until mid- 1 978 after the Parliament had approved of the proposal in the 1978 autumn session? Can the Minister tell the
Senate why his Press statement distorts the date? Is this another example of the misrepresentation of fact practised by this Government?
– There is no distortion of fact. Lest there be a need to give more precise information I will take the question on notice. I will check each of the dates and give a detailed statement to the Senate tomorrow.
-Can the Minister for National Development and Energy inform the Senate of the latest available figures on the cost of a litre of petrol as a proportion of average weekly earnings? Is it a fact, as is claimed in an article in the 1 March issue of the National Times, that the cost of a litre of petrol as a proportion of average weekly earnings has declined significantly over the last 20 years?
– The cost of petrol as a proportion of average weekly earnings has declined significantly over the past 20 years. In 1960 the purchase of one litre of petrol represented approximately 0. 1 8 per cent of average weekly earnings. By December 1979, the latest month for which information is available, this figure had declined to 0.12 per cent of average weekly earnings. The percentages for the intervening years, at 5-yearly intervals, were 0.14 per cent in 1965, 0.13 per cent in 1970 and 0.10 per cent in 1975. As Senator Thomas said, there has been a decline in the proportion of average weekly earnings represented by the cost of a fixed volume of petrol.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs aware that an Australian amateur boxing team recently visited Indonesia and that six tickets were made available to the Australian Embassy in Indonesia but no Embassy official attended any of the seven contests conducted in Indonesia? Is he also aware that on the night of the finals of the boxing Indonesian authorities at the stadium were seeking an Australian representative to present some of the medals but nobody was available? Is he aware that a dinner “ was arranged by the Vice-President of Indonesia, Mr Malik, for the visiting boxers, and that no Australian Embassy official attended the dinner? Is he aware also that when inquiries were made of the Australian Embassy as to why its officials were not available it was stated that Mr Peacock was in the area at the time and the Embassy officials were kept fully occupied in looking after him? Is this a case of this Government holding double standards; that it takes an interest in sport only when it suits it? Also, does the Minister agree that we should be cultivating the friendship of our neighbours and that, as boxing is the major sport of Indonesia, the visit to Indonesia by an Australian team provided a very suitable encouragement to fostering friendship with one of our important neighbours?
– I have no knowledge at all of the circumstances. If the circumstances are as Senator McAuliffe has recited them, they are unfortunate indeed and should not have occurred. I will seek out the background information so that we can establish the facts. There are no double standards in this matter as far as the Government is concerned. The only double standards regarding Indonesia were those contained in Mr Whitlam’s policies in 1975.
-My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and arises from concern over the way in which some fees are charged in hospitals for services rendered to insured patients. I ask: Is a Commonwealth medical rebate payable for services performed by a salaried house officer on behalf of a consultant medical officer? If so, under what circumstances does that apply? Also, can such a rebate be paid in respect of an account issued in the name of the consultant?
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEI understand that the Commonwealth medical benefit may be payable for such services when the salaried house officer is not precluded- for example, by State law- from performing the services on behalf of the consultant and/or the consultant is not precluded from arranging for the salaried house officer to perform services on his behalf. Another factor which would need to be taken into account is whether the consultant actually directed the salaried house officer to perform the services. Further requirements are that the patient was not a hospital patient or registered outpatient of a recognised hospital; that the consultant would have been authorised to charge the patient if he had rendered the service himself; and that the medical expenses were not payable to a recognised hospital. It would also be required that the service was one which would not otherwise be excluded from payment of the Commonwealth medical benefit- for example, health screening, compensation and damage cases.
If not prevented from being paid by other circumstances, the Commonwealth medical benefit can be paid in respect of an account issued in the name of the consultant. However, if a salaried house officer merely contacted a consultant by telephone to seek advice, the service would not normally be regarded as having been performed on behalf of the consultant and would not normally attract the Commonwealth medical benefit. As many factors can enter into individual cases, I suggest that if the honourable senator has a particular case in mind he should refer it to the Minister for Health for a ruling on that case.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. During the Second World War the Chifley Labor Government financed and developed the Glen Davis shale oil deposits to supplement our fuel needs in the war effort. I ask: Why is it essential now to allow foreign companies, such as the Exxon organisation, to develop and exploit the Rundle shale oil deposit? Does the Minister believe that Australians have less ability now to manage their own affairs than they had in the war years? If finance is the Government’s reason for encouraging total overseas ownership of our natural resources, would it not be logical to invest some of the $3,000m or so gathered in petrol tax, instead of giving this country away to foreign interests?
– A small deposit at Glen Davis was developed over a short period and some oil was recovered. Experience showed, as honourable senators will know, that the cost of recovery was so high that any pursuit of it in the subsequent years was abandoned because it was cheaper to obtain petrol than to attempt to refine shale oil. Furthermore, at no stage until now has the magnitude of the task been as it is. We are not looking for a relatively small supply; we are looking for supplies in the region of hundreds of thousands of barrels a day. Towards the end of this decade the aim is to extract 200,000 barrels a day from the Rundle deposit, which would be well on the way to matching what our imports are.
It would be totally wrong to make any inflammatory statement such as ‘total overseas ownership’. To make that kind of statement is to misunderstand the whole of our foreign investment guidelines. There will not be total overseas ownership at all. There will be a 50 per cent partnership by Australian capital in Rundle. Anyone who knows about the development of America and other countries in the twentieth century will know that those countries grew to strength and greatness by the use in partnership of foreign capital and technology. America spent much of the early part of this century knocking its knees together and worrying whether Britain and Germany would take over. But America grew great by seeking that kind of partnership. There is no reason to fear foreign intrusion. In the growth of Australia, under a strong and determined government, foreign capital and foreign technology are welcome in partnership. We will provide effective management for our private enterprise partnership with other countries.
-I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Industry and Commerce to the comments of Qantas Chairman, Sir Lenox Hewitt, during a recent Australian Broadcasting Commission television interview. Will the Minister comment on Sir Lenox’s claim that Qantas runs more flights to Sydney than any other capital city because people want to go to Sydney as their point of entry into Australia? Is it a fact that such statements conflict with evidence from tour organisers and travel agents promoting Australia overseas? Is it also a fact that Qantas devotes most of its advertising abroad to the advertising and marketing of Sydney? What action will be taken to ensure that in future a balanced view of tourist potential will be projected by our leading airline spokesmen and that material distrubuted by Qantas overseas has more national content?
– I did see reports of Sir Lenox Hewitt’s comments. I can only say that either he is a gamer man than I am or he does not sit between equal numbers of Sydney and Melbourne senators as I do. I draw attention to his courage in making the statements that he did. I have made some inquiries about the matter because I thought it was likely that some senator from Victoria would find the comments offensive. My advice is that Sir Lenox ‘s comments that Qantas concentrates its advertising on Sydney simply are not true. Rather, Sir Lenox Hewitt was commenting on the fact that on the basis of Qantas surveys, which are in-flight surveys, most of the visitors to Australia are more aware of Sydney than any other Australian city. I am assured that Qantas does not concentrate its advertising on Sydney and in fact its promotion brochures used overseas show that Qantas promotes every State and territory, and indeed even the national capital. I think I should ask the Minister to get a selection of those brochures from Qantas and submit them to Senator Missen for his examination to bear out the point that I have made. The Government seeks to encourage international airlines to serve gateways other than Sydney. I think that is quite apparent from the history of the last few years. There are now many carriers serving ports other than Sydney. The whole of the Government’s civil aviation policy is aimed at ensuring that international travellers have access to the whole of Australia, and it believes that it is having a considerable amount of success in that. The concerns that motivated Senator Missen ‘s question are therefore misplaced.
– Last Wednesday I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs why the Government was keeping secret the names of delegates-at-large which it had appointed to the national conference to mark the mid-point of the United Nations decade for women. As the conference is to be held on Thursday and Friday of this week, can the Minister yet supply the reason for the secrecy and the list of delegates?
-I have sought further clarification of that question. As time has gone by, I shall seek an answer immediately.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs whether the Minister’s attention has been drawn to an article appearing in today’s Adelaide Advertiser headed: ‘Government won’t curb oil companies’? Does this article refer to a letter from the Prime Minister to Senator Jessop indicating that implementation of the Fife proposals to establish divorcement of the operation of petrol refiners and service station proprietors is impractical and represents a course which the Federal Government is reluctant to follow? Does this indicate that the Government intends to take no further action other than that outlined in the draft Petroleum Retail Marketing Franchise Bill 1980 currently circulating in the community?
– The Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs informs me that his attention has been drawn to the article referred to by Senator Messner. The Government has not reached a final decision on any aspect of the proposals relating to petrol marketing. In October last year it decided to prepare for public exposure and comment the draft franchise Bill. The Minister has released that Bill for public comment. The Government has asked for comments to be submitted by 3 1 March of this year. The Government also decided last October to defer a decision on both other aspects of the proposals, that is price discrimination and a possible prohibition on direct retailing of petrol by oil companies. The Government decided to request the Trade Practices Commission to conduct a survey into the extent of price discrimination. It is expected that that survey will be completed on 30 May. In the light of the report of the Trade Practices Commission and of public comment on the draft Petroleum Retail Marketing Franchise Bill the Government will then consider the matter and reach a decision on all aspects of the proposal, including the question of divorcement.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he can inform the Senate of the state of negotiations on the nuclear safeguards agreement with Japan and the European Atomic Energy Community. What progress has been made and what issues are outstanding? In particular, where do the negotiations stand on the questions of prior Australian approval for the transfer and reprocessing of uranium and for enrichment beyond 20 per cent of uranium 235? If the Minister is not in a position to answer forthwith, will he see that an answer is obtained at an early date?
– The question requires considerable detail. I shall seek an answer and let Senator McClelland have it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Special Trade Representations. I refer to the forthcoming conference of foreign ministers to be held in Kuala Lumpur between representatives of the Association of South East Asian Nations and those of the European Economic Community. In view of the importance of such a conference and in particular of the presence of the German Foreign Minister at the conference, and in view of Australia’s close interest in both ASEAN and the EEC, and also in light of the Minister’s recent visit, can he say whether Australian representatives will be present at the conference? If not, will observers or consultants be present, or will the Government be submitting representations or other material for consideration?
– It is true that a meeting will be held in Kuala Lumpur to confirm the agreement on economic co-operation between the
European Economic Community and the Association of South East Asian Nations. That agreement was reached in December last year and I understand that it will be signed on 7 March 1 980. It is likely that a joint declaration will emanate from the meeting concerning economic cooperation between the EEC and ASEAN countries. From time to time the European Economic Community carries out a significant number of bilateral arrangements. For instance, it has such discussions and arrangements with Japan and the United States of America.
I note that the honourable senator mentioned that the German Foreign Minister will be present. He is representative of a country of the EEC. I can only say that it is unusual for third parties to be present at consultations. I hasten to add that I believe it is well known to most Australians- certainly to me, having just recently returned from the area- that there is close cooperation and understanding between Australia and the five countries of ASEAN on political and trade matters. There is continual consultation at government, official and industry level. Australia welcomes the close co-operation of the EEC in this area in particular, and in South East Asia in general.
Finally, no efforts have been spared to increase Australia’s communication with this part of the world. Indeed, last year the Prime Minister and President Jenkins, of the European Community, arranged for ministerial consultations to take place between the Community and Australia. The first of those consultations is due to take place in the latter part of April 1 980.
– My question is directed to Senator Durack in his capacity as Attorney-General and Minister representing the Minister for Industrial Relations. I preface my question by referring to a sweeping decision given last Friday by Mr Justice Sweeney in the Federal Court of Australia. In Australian Journalists Association ballots the practice in relation to a single vacancy was to vote one and two. Judge Sweeney ruled that a cross or a tick in a particular square constituted a formal vote. Does this imply that all trade unions will have to change their ballot system? Secondly, in cases where unions utilise the Commonwealth Electoral Office, will the Sweeney declaration supersede the standard practice of voting by figures? Finally, if this applies to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. will it mean henceforth that in national elections the old concept of an informal vote will be dramatically changed?
-Senator Mulvihill has drawn my attention to the decision of Mr Justice Sweeney. The honourable senator sent me a telegram in relation to the matter on which he now seeks an answer. I have not had the opportunity of studying the decision by Mr Justice Sweeney, but obviously it involves some fairly difficult questions of law. I will have the decision examined as quickly as possible. Any answer will have to be given after discussion with the Minister for Industrial Relations. I assure the honourable senator that I will have the matter looked at very quickly and endeavour to get an early answer for him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development and Energy. A recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development survey suggested that there will be a world surplus of uranium until at least 1 990. Bearing in mind the mining development that is taking place in Australia, particularly in the uranium province of the Northern Territory, what is the present situation in regard to Australia’s commitments? What countries have contracted with Australia for the purchase of uranium and what other countries, pending negotiations, are likely to be purchasing uranium from Australia this decade and later? If the report is accurate, is an oversupply of uranium expected or will restraints be introduced to ensure planned and controlled development of uranium and its sale to overseas countries? Can the Minister also advise whether the present price of uranium will increase or decrease with the production of uranium in other places?
– Press reports that there will be a surplus in world uranium production until 1990 overstate the situation as set out in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report on which these Press reports are based. The OECD figures refer to the maximum achievable production capacity, based on known resources, and are not projections of actual production. The OECD figures were available to the recently concluded International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation. On the basis of its supply and demand comparison, which assumed the exploitation of all known uranium resources including those of the Northern Territory, that body concluded that further sources of production which will have to be supported by new discoveries are likely to be needed prior to the year 2000. The INFCE also concluded that, subject to the necessary additional exploration and investment, the industry is likely to be able to meet requirements up to the year 2000. The Government intends to ensure, to the extent that it is able, that as far as Australia is concerned the necessary investment and exploration are undertaken. It is therefore misleading to suggest that there will be a surplus of actual production or to draw the inference that relatively low cost producer countries like Australia that are recognised as politically stable will be adversely affected. Under contracts approved prior to -
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. The Minister is giving a very lengthy reply which amounts to a statement. Apparently it is generally accepted now that a Minister can be given prior notice of a question, but surely the answer ought not be of the length of this answer, especially as the Minister is now embarking on a further area of information which is not necessarily related to the question.
- Mr President, if you look to the length of the answers that I have given today you will see that I have tried very hard indeed to keep within the limit of something like a minute ‘s duration for each reply. I think I have observed that so far with this question. Mr President, if I am asked a question, it is necessary to give the details, and I so intended to do. I would be happy to provide Senator Kilgariff with the details of the remainder of my answer that Senator Georges, because of his total disinterest in this subject, does not desire.
- Mr President, I find that highly insulting. The purpose of my intervention was to assist Question Time. I certainly have an interest in this subject and for the Minister to say what he did in rebuttal is quite incorrect.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development and Energy. I refer to the high hopes held for the Rundle shale oil field and the following statement by the Minister for Trade and Resources:
Because of the Rundle shale oil field, Australia will have sufficient oil for the next 1 ,200 years.
Is the Minister of the opinion that because of this very happy state of affairs we should not jeopardise the health and well-being of the Australian people by participating in the costly exercise of nuclear power generation?
– There is a misunderstanding of what the Minister for Trade and Resources said. When he referred to that figure, he referred to the possible existence of shale, however uneconomic it may be, within the Australian continent. The fact of the matter is that shale may well be there in those kinds of quantities, but it becomes a valuable resource only when it is known that, within the capacity of our technology and within the cost structure that is available to us, it can be a usable resource. At this moment oil shale in Australia has yet to be proved to be a significant usable resource. That is why Rundle is such an imaginative and courageous undertaking- setting out, on a scale never undertaken before, to conduct this enterprise and hoping to do so in competition with the price of petrol. One cannot say that the existence of oil shale in the ground in Australia, with unknown difficulties in relation to its extraction, can be any guarantee that the world will be less energy hungry. One has to say that the world will be very energy hungry for some decades ahead.
– I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Transport to the question asked by Senator Missen in relation to Qantas Airways Ltd and to the answer given by the Minister. Let me say by way of brief preface that I recognise that the Minister when answering that question would have been speaking from a brief in a representative capacity and not expressing his own views. I ask: Is it not a fact that if one conducted in-flight surveys of people travelling on aircraft, the vast majority of whom were travelling to Sydney, one would be likely to find that most of those travellers knew Sydney best? Is it therefore a little unsafe for Sir Lenox Hewitt and Qantas to be basing their assessment of the future development of Australian tourism on such a type of survey? Would it not be better to have regard to the surveys which have been conducted by many organisations, including the Australian Tourist Commission, which indicate that areas such as the Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock and, in some markets, even Tasmania, would command much more attraction to overseas tourists than would Sydney? I therefore ask the Minister: Will he inquire whether Qantas intends steadfastly to refuse to serve or permit others to serve, by charter or other means, areas which have a great potential in new markets but which are regarded by Qantas apparently as irrelevant, for instance Townsville-Singapore, north west Australia-Bali, and Hobart-Christchurch?
– I think there are obvious limitations on the in-flight survey. I think it is worth pointing out that Sir Lenox Hewitt made it clear- certainly in the reports which I saw in the newspaper- that the basis of his comments was the in-flight survey. He was quite frank in indicating why he held the view that he did. As far as that side of the matter is concerned, I have no first-hand knowledge of other survey information which might be available. As 1 indicated in my answer to Senator Missen, the Government has been concerned to ensure that other gateways are served by international airlines. In fact, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane are served by international flights. I will refer other matters raised by the honourable senator to the Minister for Transport so that he can refer them to Qantas for comment. As I have indicated already to Senator Missen, I will seek also some copies of the material which is referred to in the brief which has been provided to me so that honourable senators can see the sort of publicity which is given to other Australian centres in Qantas publicity material.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table a report on observations on practices and procedures in overseas parliaments by the Clerk of the Senate, Mr Bullock. This report has been prepared as a result of Mr Bullock’s overseas visit last year. I commend the report to honourable senators.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– by leave- I move:
I believe this is a matter which the Senate would be interested to considered further. I therefore seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
-At Question Time last Wednesday Senator Douglas McClelland asked whether my attention had been drawn to a statement by the Premier of New South Wales claiming that the Federal Government was allowing the defence dollar to be spent overseas rather than used productively in Australia. He also asked whether I was aware that manufacturers in New South Wales have complained that the Department of Defence has acted in breach of Federal Government guidelines by letting contracts that do not include Australian suppliers. At the time I was not in a position to give a detailed answer but undertook to provide Senator Douglas McClelland with further information at an early opportunity.
The Canberra Times of 25 February reported that the New South Wales Premier has ordered an inquiry into why the State’s industry was not receiving an adequate share of multi-million dollar Australian defence contracts. It is apparent that New South Wales firms have not been discriminated against in the placement of defence contracts. For the information of senators some of the current major defence contracts placed in New South Wales and their values are as follows: construction of the underway replenishment ship at Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard at about $70m; construction of the amphibious heavy lift ship HMAS Tobruk at Carrington Slipway at about $36m; production of high and medium power transportable HF radio terminals at Racal Electronics at about $ 1 5m; development and production of the Barra sonobuoy at AWA; and program refit and weapons update program at Vickers Cockatoo Dockyard at about $20m per annum.
In answer to the second part of Senator Douglas McClelland ‘s question, I am advised that defence contracts over $5,000 are placed with Australian firms by the Department of Administrative Services in accordance with the Commonwealth Government’s purchasing regulations and procedures which ensure equality of opportunity and non discrimination. Our preference is clearly to make our defence equipment in Australia. Where we cannot, the Government has a well defined offsets policy to direct work to Australian firms. This policy is implemented by the Department of Defence as assiduously as the contractual situation allows.
-On 20 February Senator Rocher asked me a question on meat exports to Saudi Arabia and on charter or cargo airlines. On the same day Senator Thomas followed it up with a question. I now have an answer which has been provided to me by the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt). As it is a fairly lengthy answer, I seek leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
I have made enquiries and can confirm that British Cargo Airlines have not stopped operating to Saudi Arabia. The company operated a meat export flight to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on 1 March. I understand that the company informed the Department of Transport in late January that they were cancelling one flight and that they would not supply meat to Saudi Arabia pending changes in the rules concerning the inbound cargoes that they carry. However, following that advice the airline continued to carry Australian meat to another Middle East destination under these rules, operating two flights to Abu Dhabi, and it has since operated the flight mentioned above to Riyadh.
Prior to these events, British Cargo Airlines had informed the Government early in January that it would cease operating meal export flights to the Middle East unless the Government changed its international air freight policy immediately to implement freight option D of the ICAP report. Under that option charter airlines could carr)’ consignments as small as 500 kgs and could also carry consolidated freight. Effectively, that option would give non-scheduled airlines access to the entire inbound freight market. This would affect existing services:
Scheduled airlines provide important regular services to Australia’s major markets, and carry the bulk of Australia’s air freight, including meat. Any liberalisation of our freight charter policy would divert freight from scheduled airlines, reducing their revenues and requiring compensatory increases in passenger fares. In accordance with the bilateral air services agreements Australia has with other countries, any increases required in fare levels would need to be agreed by the other countries concerned.
There is much unused cargo capacity on scheduled airlines, particularly to the Middle East.
At present there appears to be a shortage of meat products available for shipment, and the scheduled airlines have recently experienced large cancellations of space that had been booked by meat exporters.
In these circumstances, it is inappropriate to rush any changes in freight charter policy. Proper consideration of the matter should await the result of careful examination of the complex issues involved. The Government has such an urgent examination under way and will be dealing with the issue during March.
-On 27 February, Senator Lewis asked me a question relating to the proposed construction of an eight-storey building for Telecom Australia in Perth. I now have an answer provided by the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Staley). I seek leave to have it incorporated in the Hansard.
The document read as follows-
asked: ‘Did Telecom, the authority, discuss this proposal with the Minister before a decision was made to erect the building?’
There were no specific discussions between Telecom and the Minister for Post and Telecommunications in relation to this project. It is a normal course, however, for Telecom to seek the approval of the Minister before letting contracts of this nature (the Telecommunications Act 1975 requires the Commission to seek the approval of the Minister for contracts with a value in excess of $500,000;. The Minister gave approval for the contract in question in December 1 979.
By way of further general information, I am able to advise the Senate that the proposed building is intended to permit Telecom to centralise the bulk of its head office administrative activities in one location. At present, staff are located in a number of buildings in the Perth central business district and the savings in time in the movement of correspondence and personnel are expected to be significant. A funder saving will occur from the removal of the need for the duplication of facilities such as Conference Rooms, Libraries, staff amenities and other common areas.
It is not expected that the concentration of clerical/administrative staff in the one location will generate problems of the nature which have occurred in the Redfern Mail Exchange in Sydney or lead to particular problems from the point of view of Defence.
For all the reasons given above, it is considered that the Telecommunications Commission’s decision to locate its State Head Office Administration in one building is supportable.
-On 27 February Senator Teague asked me as Minister representing the Minister for Post and Telecommunications a question about the Australian telecommunications satellite and Australian industry participation. I have a lengthy reply and I ask for leave to have it incorporated in the Hansard.
The document read as follows-
The Minister for Post and Telecommunications and the Minister for Productivity have provided the following answer to the Honourable Senator’s question:
I ) The Minister for Post and Telecommunications in his announcement of 18 October 1979 advised that it is the Government’s wish that private industry be fully involved in the planning activities carried out by the Satellite Project Office, and that in any agreement for the supply of a communications satellite system, the Government expects the maximum practicable participation of Australian industry, particularly with respect to the design, supply, installation and testing of the earth segment.
Initial discussions have been held with some representatives of industry to initiate consultative arrangements and other actions directed to meeting the Government’s objectives.
Agreement in principle has been obtained to participation by the Satellite Project Office in relevant industry consultative forums and tentative plans have been set for special briefing sessions with industry.
The attention of potential suppliers was drawn to the fact that maximisation of Australian content would be sought through the Government’s purchasing preference and offsets policies. Under the terms of the offsets policy, it is required that suppliers of overseas manufactured equipment provide offset orders for Australian industry equalling 30 per cent of the cost of the imported element. This work should preferably be directly related to the equipment being purchased and be of such significance as to impact to advantage on the Australian industry base.
By these and other means it is intended to obtain the maximum practicable understanding of and participation by industry in the overall planning process.
-I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
-In the Melbourne Age of 29 February 1980 there appears a report dealing with the debate on the Human Rights Commission Bill which, after analysing Senator Missen’s strong criticisms of the Bill, goes on to say:
He is not the only critic of the commission. Senator Puplick, Mr Cotter, Senator Sheil, and Senator Walters say the commission is not needed.
Honourable senators will be aware that this entirely misrepresents my position on the legislation in question. I do not take the view that the Commission is not needed. Far from it, I believe it is absolutely needed. I share Senator Missen’s criticism that far from being unnecessary the Commission should have been considerably more effective and powerful, its role should have been extended to allow it to look into abuses at a State level and the legislation should have provided for effective remedies and redress in the courts.
I accept the assurances of the journalist whose by-line appears, David Broadbent, that the story he sent off linked me with Senator Missen’s criticisms and not the other way round. I hope that this personal explanation will also spare my colleagues Senator Walters and Senator Sheil from the necessity to show how they have been misrepresented by having my name linked with theirs in this matter.
-by leave- I present the report of the Commonwealth of Australia Branch Delegation to the 25th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association held at Wellington, New Zealand, in November-December 1979.
Motion (by Senator Wriedt)- by leaveagreed to:
That Senator Ryan be granted leave of absence for one month on account of ill health.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Acts Interpretation Amendment Bill 1 980.
Amendments Incorporation Amendment Bill 1980.
Statutory Rules Publication Amendment Bill 1980.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Ordered that the Bill may be taken through all its stages without delay.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle) read a first time. (Quorum formed).
(3.49)- I move:
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
Leave not granted.
Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLEIn July 1977 the Government decided there should be an independent inquiry into the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission’s operations and capital works program. The inquiry was carried out jointly by Mr J. B. Reid, Chairman of James Hardie Asbestos Ltd and a director of Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd, and Sir Gustav Nossal, C.B.E., Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and Professor of Medical Biology at the University of Melbourne. The report of the inquiry was tabled in the Senate in May 1 978.
The Bill now before the Senate reflects the Government’s general acceptance of the report’s recommendations. It is proposed that the amendments will come into effect on 1 July 1 980.
The Bill contains a number of amendments to the present act which were recommended by the inquiry. The principal amendments will have the effect of:
I draw the attention of honourable senators to clause 10 of the Bill which sets out the new functions of the Commission. A major change in the Commission’s functions is the removal of the restriction that the Commission may produce, or undertake research into, only biological products.
The Reid /Nossal report recommends the removal of the biological restriction for a number of reasons. They include the lack of scientific precision in classification of products as either biological or non-biological. This is due to recent major advances in molecular biology permitting the production of some biological products by non-biological means. The production of hormones is an example of this process. In addition, there are many biological and non-biological products which have very similar therapeutic goals, and CSL should have the freedom to produce the most effective product. CSL does not have this freedom at present.
While some biological products, such as penicillins and vaccines, are most beneficial and cost effective medical tools, the production of biologicals represents the less profitable segment of pharmaceutical manufacturing. The Government accepts the view that CSL should be empowered to enter into the commercial production of certain prescribed non-biological products. This will also allow CSL to keep abreast of developments in molecular biology.
Clause 10 of the Bill also authorises CSL to produce, buy, import, supply, sell or export any prescribed pharmaceutical product. Clause 3 defines ‘pharmaceutical product’ as one for therapeutic use and ‘therapeutic use’ is given the same meaning as it has in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1966. 1 should emphasise that CSL will not be free to produce any therapeutic products. The Bill provides that “CSL can engage in commercial activities only in relation to a pharmaceutical product that is prescribed in regulations made under the Act which are of course disallowable by the Parliament, or a product which comes within a class of pharmaceutical products so prescribed.
The national interest functions of the Commission are those functions it carries out at the direction of the Minister. For example, the Minister may determine that the Commission undertake research aimed at developing a particular vaccine, or that it maintain a reserve production capacity or hold reserve stocks of a particular product for use in a national emergency. The present Act limits reimbursement of the costs incurred by the Commission in conducting national interest activities to the extent of the Commission’s overall financial loss in any particular year.
In recent years, CSL has made a net trading profit on its commercial activities which has been used partly to offset the cost of national interest activities paid to CSL through the Budget. This arrangement disadvantages CSL in the highly competitive market situation, because the net effect is to require the Commission’s commercial activities to have, as a first charge, the cost of national interest activities.
The new arrangements, as provided in clause 24 of the Bill, will mean additional expenditure in the short term, but the longer term benefits are considerable. As the costs of national interest activities will be met by the Commonwealth, CSL will not be required to allocate costs arising from its national interest activities against its commercial activities. Consequently, it is envisaged that there will result greater profitability by CSL in its commercial activities, and therefore greater return on capital to the Government; lower pressure for price increases for pharmaceuticals; increased prospects for export growth and thus greater profitability, and lower costs overall through higher volume throughput from export growth. At this stage it is not possible to estimate the benefit in monetary terms of these advantages’. This would not begin to accrue until at least the year after the introduction of the new arrangements.
Under clause 10, the Commission’s functions include the operation as a reference centre where so determined by the minister. The present arrangement whereby the Laboratories operate as a World Health Organisation reference centre for blood grouping, influenza and brucellosis should continue. However, whereas at present CSL meets the operating costs of this activity from its commercial operations, this Bill will provide for the Commonwealth to meet this cost, or the cost of such other reference centres as are determined.
In allowing for an increase in the membership of the Commission, the Government is acting on the Reid-Nossal Report’s recommendations. At present the number of commissioners is fixed at four, excluding the director. The inquiry considered that the Commission should have available to it a wider range of management, technical and research advice, and therefore recommended that the provision relating to the constitution of the Commission be amended to enable the appointment of up to eight commissioners, in addition to the Director. The Bill also includes a number of provisions designed to assist in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of CSL. These include provisions relating to the financial aspects of the Commission’s operations, to procedures for audit and keeping of accounts, to the remuneration of the director and other commissioners and provisions enabling the appointment of an acting director where necessary, and relating to appointments of staff of the Commission. Finally, I reiterate that the government, in putting forward the measures contained in this Bill, is seeking to implement the recommendations of the independent inquiry into the CSL Commission’s operations and capital works program. In doing so the Government is acting in the belief that there is a continuing need for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, and for this important national asset to be as efficient, progressive and innovative as possible. I commend this Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Grimes) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28 February, on motion by Senator Carrick:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Upon which Senator Durack had moved by way of amendment:
At the end of motion add- and the Senate-
condemns the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union as a gross violation of the United Nations Charter and of Afghanistan’s non-aligned status; as involving acts of aggression and tyranny; as having a critically destabilising effect on the region; and as potentially the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945;
notes that a significant majority of world opinion, including Islamic opinion, has viewed the invasion with grave concern-as expressed in resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on 14 January 1980 and at the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers on 29 January 1980;
calls for the immediate unconditional and total withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in order to enable that country to regain its sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and nonaligned status; and to permit its people to determine their own form of government free from external intervention, oppression, coercion or other constraint;
with a view to the furtherance of the aforementioned objectives, urges all independent-minded nations to take action separately or in concert to register with the Government and people of the Soviet Union, their abhorrence of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan: and
urges the provision of humanitarian relief assistance to alleviate the hardships of the Afghanistan refugees in co-ordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and calls for the attainment of conditions necessary to permit the voluntary return to their homes of the Afghan refugees-
And upon which Senator Button had moved by way of amendment to the proposed amendment:
) At end of the proposed amendment, add:
– Last Thursday, in a very brief introduction to my remarks in this debate, I mentioned the need for the Australian Government to commence taking new initiatives in respect of the Afghanistan issue because members of the Opposition and many other people considered that the debate surrounding the boycott of the Olympic Games was somewhat of a farce. While the Government is acting as it is in respect of major exports to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and while the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and people like him are able to export very valuable cargoes of wool and important minerals to the Soviet Union it is meaningless to argue that an effective boycott of the Olympic Games is the one action which will matter in supporting world opinion against the actions taken by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
I made it clear, as did other Labor members of the Opposition that almost universally members of the Australian Labor Party and the labour movement generally- that is, members of the trade union movement- condemned what the Soviet Union has done. There might be some exceptions, but certainly all Labor members of this Parliament and certainly members of almost all the unions affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions have taken the view, as have other sensible people, that the occupation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union should be condemned. In condemning the Soviet Union, to some extent we have looked at the reasons for our doing so, which have been mentioned in the Prime Minister’s speech. On Thursday I drew attention to matters which were glossed over by Government senators. I drew particular attention to the following reference by the Prime Minister at page 8 of his prepared speech:
The existence of the Soviet Union is a fact we have to live with. What these policies must do is to make it clear to the Soviet Union that if it persists in its occupation of Afghanistan or engages in any other expansionist moves the costs will be prohibitive.
But the Prime Minister made it clear that there should be no intention to humiliate or to outlaw the Soviet Union. Despite the great amount of propaganda which has surrounded this issue as a result of the election campaign of the President of the United States of America, it is clear that the United States Government is prepared quietly, almost secretly, to continue its conventional talks with the Soviet Union. At midday today a Press announcement was made which reinforces the view I have put forward. In the background information provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs we find reference to continuing talks between the Soviet Union and the United States. We know that the whole position has been coloured by President Carter’s attempt to gain a clear majority over Senator Kennedy. That was latched on to by our Prime Minister, who seemed to think that the important role he played in Lusaka somehow could be copied if he got behind the American President. But the matter is not as simple as that. Everybody will recall that since this debate commenced there have been a lot of questions regarding whether the Government has taken the advice of its experts, of the professionals. We now know that the assessment from the Office of National Assessments was considered not to be the one upon which the Government should base its attitude. That fact has been revealed in the Press. The Prime Minister dismissed that assessment by saying: ‘They are a complacent lot’. We know that a former American ambassador to the Soviet Union, Mr Kennan, has pointed out that great hysteria has been developing within the United States which was damaging to any logical debate on the situation of Russian intervention in Afghanistan. That remark should be repeated. In the Age of 1 4 February 1 980 Mr Kennan wrote:
A war atmosphere has been created. Discussions in Washington have been dominated by talks of American military responses- of the acquisition of bases and facilities, of the creation of a rapid-deployment force, of the cultivation of military ties with other countries all along Russia ‘s sensitive southern border.
We know today that Mr MacKellar has rebutted the proposition advanced by the Pentagon that the Australian Government should take part with US forces in a rapid deployment force. Fortunately the Australian position has been clarified. That sort of creation of doubt about the expertise, knowledge and professionalism of Mr
Carter and his advisers has been criticised by none other than our ambassador, Mr Parkinson. In a statement released by Laurie Oakes, Mr Parkinson made exactly the point that I am making, that there is some doubt within the American community as to whether the advice that President Carter has given in relation to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is correct. People are now saying that instead of talking about a boycott of the Olympics we should be trying to follow the Indian and Albanian proposition that if we cannot succeed in getting a neutralised zone there should be non-aligned discussion.
Even though it is very difficult to interpret the Soviet Union’s major statements, it is clear to me that there is room in Mr Brezhnev’s recent pronouncements to indicate that some discussion should take place. That was the basis of the Socialist International point of view. The Prime Minister and the Government generally have applauded the value of Willy Brandt’s defence of the western point of view and the attitude that he has taken in the past. Willy Brandt is a famous man. He was not just protesting against the occupation; he was proposing that the super powers and nations generally should take up where they left off and at some time or other reassess what had gone wrong. It is true to say that what has gone wrong with the Soviet position is not only its great concern regarding Western arrangements in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but also about the United States Congress holding up the strategic arms limitations talks. But at sometime or other those talks will commence. Australia should be aware of that.
I believe the advice from the professionals. The Office of National Assessments has put this information to the Government and the Government has chosen not to follow it because the Prime Minister somehow or for some reason believes that the only effective action one can take is to boycott the Olympic Games. What happens after the Olympic Games? Our own athletes of course want to go to the Games. In the long run it would seem to me that there would be no stopping them. Some people will stay away. Generally speaking, what will the Government do when the Games are over? Does the Government think that in the arena of the Olympic Games a great political and international debate will take place? It is arguable as to whether a protest within Moscow would be effective. Both Senator Georges and I, who have visited the Soviet Union, have been asked questions on this matter and we have always taken an independent line. The Government should respect that independent line, lt is true, as the media have stated, that there are some restrictions placed on people within the Soviet Union. 1 believe that a news report today regarding Afghanistan shows that Russia is prepared to communicate with the Americans.
Honourable senators will remember that Rumania some weeks ago talked about the need to consider a neutral zone. That idea was instantly supported by the US President and the British Government, and it was floated amongst a number of their friendly neighbours to see to what extent it might be a purposeful debate. I am not sure of the Russian reaction and whether they are interested or not, but we know that Mrs Gandhi and the Government of Albania have had talks with the Soviet Union about a nonaligned Afghanistan. Of course the area is very complex and it is not as simple as proposing an Olympic ban. The area is something like Vietnam. One country is dependent upon the other. One cannot propose a solution for Afghanistan without reconciling the interests- of the Soviet Union, Iran, Pakistan and to some extent China.
It will be a very complex thing to set out to provide a vehicle for international discussion, as it was during the Vietnam war when Laos and Cambodia were involved in a necessary settlement. It would be more fruitful for the Government to talk about carrying out those initiatives, to talk to India and to the countries that are nearest Afghanistan which do not want to be too greatly disturbed by a servile attitude of the Australian Government. On the one hand the Australian Government is anxious to get completely alongside the United States but on the other hand it is looking properly at the experts in the area and trying to assume a role within the Asian area which will indicate that Australia is not tied to America ‘s apron strings and that it is prepared to work within the Association of South East Asian Nations countries to pursue a role which is, if not unaligned, certainly not servile to a major power.
That is the background as the Australian Labor Party sees it. Not only have people such as Lawrie Oakes and McKennan talked about this hysteria that has taken place in America, but also in Australia recently Dr Robert O’Neill, who is a specialist in the subject and who is presently the head of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University- he was an intelligence officer in Vietnam in 1 967- said this:
A mad element has entered the strategic debate in Australia in the past two weeks. It is typified by calls Tor the reintroduction of national service, for the purging of intelligence staffs and defence analysts and for the immediate acquisition of equipment to deal with a Russian threat to Western Australia. Australia’s role in the Western alliance is not a spectacular one, nor can it be. We do not need to distort existing defence plans to be able to perform our task. What we must do is to implement them.
Then he went on to add his criticism of previous governments not providing the funds for defence as had been promised. So we have a situation where not only the socialist movement throughout the world including the Labor Party in Australia but also most of the intelligence sources of most Western countries would like to see some solution. They do not see the solution as being simply a protest about the Olympics. They see rather the necessity for setting a platform to get the Soviet Union and the United States and other people concerned talking again about the important things. The intelligence base of the Government’s policies has been debated along the lines that I have mentioned, and it has been queried. On the other side of the Senate, Senator Sim and Senator Knight created something like the same sort of atmosphere and they gave the same sort of interpretation about which I am speaking. Their considerations were quite different from those which the Government seems to be hanging on to. This is certainly so in the debates in the other place and to some extent this applies to the debates in this place. We should ask ourselves what will be more worthwhile? Will it be a situation where we will let the athletes decide the question as to whether they will go to the Games, because it is clear that many of them will leave Australia? They should not be impeded by the Government. We should decide whether we will accept the expert advice of the professionals who are employed by the Parliament and by the Government and see to what extent we can start to support new moves. I believe the move that was mentioned last week has been rejected by the ruling group in Afghanistan. The neutrality zone might be difficult to achieve. But at least the matter could be discussed. I am sure that if we could confer with India and other nations, including the British Government, we could find that we would be able to support some new moves. Having done that, having decided that option, we should speak about it. The Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser), instead of wasting his time talking about a boycott and refuting the claims of the unions and the Labor Party that his wool is going to the Soviet Union, should take up the issue about which I have spoken.
One of the things that the debate has done, I suppose, has been to reactivate the general discussion in relation to defence in this country. Before I conclude, I make one point. The sorts of things that we on this side have been talking about- myself in particular, and those of us comprising the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence- relate to the need for Australia to develop an industrial capacity which will stand us, and the peace loving people of the world, in good stead in case of either a minor or major conflict. I draw to the attention of the Senate, as did Senator Kilgariff in a small way, the recommendations which were made in the two reports submitted, by that Committee. Senator Hamer, our colleague on the other side of the chamber, was the chairman of a committee in 1 977, and I was his deputy, which drew attention to these matters. At that time not much notice was taken of its recommendations. A report was put before the Government. An answer was requested from the Government, but it took a long time before the Government agreed that a response would be given to reports within six months. I suppose the only result which has come from that report has been an awareness in industry generally. This report has been supported by two recent meetings of people in industry. 1 refer to the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures and the metal industries group which met the Prime Minister and other Ministers last week. For many months the Victorian group has been advocating that there should be a new deal in relation to defence equipment with participation or co-partnership by Australian industry. In a general way we know that our defence industries in Australia have been allowed to run down. But there is a passing interest in some areas. I certainly acknowledge what has been done with regard to the replenishment vessel which has been approved. Based upon an agreement with the trade unions, which were asked for their views and support for the program, this vessel is to be built in Australia.
I should like to refer to the rejection of the proposals for ship building at the Newcastle and Whyalla shipyards, which Senator Hamer will well remember. I think we commenced our inquiries in 1977. We proposed that there should be a package deal worked out with the trade unions. That suggestion was rejected. We had evidence from the unions. They later responded to the New South Wales Government in the way that I have indicated in relation to more recent vessel production. I think that at this stage that project ought to be re-examined to see to what extent our shipbuilding capacity within
Australia, and in particular in my State of South Australia, might be given a new birth, with a new attitude being adopted by the Government. It is true that this matter has reactivated discussion and the Prime Minister has said a number of favourable things. But I am dubious as to whether the comments made in his statement will ever be carried out. At page 1 7 of the document given to us, the Prime Minister said:
There will need to be increased civilian manpower not only in defence but also in our Government factories and dockyards.
It is likely that in the purchases which will be made in the future, the policies of the Government and its supporting departmental officers, will be similar to those adopted by the groups which went overseas previously. In almost all cases, with the exception of some civilian aviation work, not sufficient co-production policies were demanded from the supplier country. That situation should be changed. In relation to the equipment we are buying we should insist that there should be active participation by Australian industry. Where possible we should be required to make a part of the vehicle, a part of the aircraft or a part of the vessel. If this does not occur it is true that our capacity will decline. The evidence given to the Committee about which I am speaking, and to the second Committee which was chaired by Mr Katter, from all industry groups was almost the same. In particular, the electronic group said unanimously that it was getting a decreasing amount of work in its area.
Over the years defence statements have said something about the need to keep a minimum capacity in the country. That statement has been repeated year after year. The defence programs which are supposed to have been expanded are largely old programs brought up to date. But it is clear from any sort of evidence that this is the position. If we talk to employers, to industry, to the Government Aircraft Factories, or to the Hawker Siddeley company, we find that they tell us the same thing, namely, that if we do not shake ourselves up, we will lose that necessary expertise. What better defence is there for this country than having people able to not only make these things but also design them. Senator Hamer will know- he has had more expert opinions on these matters than I have- that naval surveyors are almost extinct in Australia. That is what I remembered of the evidence. Many of the specialised people have left Australia. We would be hard put if we had to do these things in a hurry.
I summarise my views on the matter. We should quickly get away from this nonsense about boycotting the Moscow Olympic Games. We should be considering practical moves internationally and by agreement with friendly countries. That is the way to do things. We should be trying to open doors to see that the position created by the Russian occupation of Afghanistan is not extended. We should also be trying to ensure that, if the United States takes up the options to continue those talks which were disbanded because of the threat to world peace, we support those talks where we can. Having done that, we should then ensure that we have a new look at the importance of Australia’s capacity to produce material for defence otherwise we will lose this expertise. If we do not do this we will be subject to interruptions if there are incidents, and minor or major wars, and the country could well be isolated. That seems to me to be the commonsense position.
I know that the debate has carried on for a long time in the Parliament and in the Senate. But it is true that the debate will continue outside. The Australian Government and the Australian people will get a lot further in this matter if they start to talk along the lines suggested by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place who said that he was prepared to sit around a table and work out what might be a bipartisan policy in relation to this matter. That offer has been rejected. There was no attempt to take up the offer. But it is not too late for us in the Senate to argue that the Government should take new and more effective initiatives than those which I have mentioned.
-This has been a long debate, which 1 suppose is justified because of the subject matter. But we do not seem to be any nearer to reaching a conclusion on the key element in this debate. What was the Soviet motive for invading Afghanistan? Some Opposition members seem to have put themselves forward as half-hearted apologists for the Soviet’s action, arguing that its motive was purely defensive. In the House of Representatives one honourable member went so far as to say that it was not an invasion at all; it was merely a Soviet presence in Afghanistan. I think that is a piece of extraordinary sophistry. I think we must accept that the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is permanent. It is there to stay. President Brezhnev, quoted in a left-wing document called Survey had this to say about the issue:
The only task set to the Soviet contingents is to assist the Afghans in repulsing the aggression from outside. They will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan once the causes that made the Afghan leadership request their introduction disappear.
The first one of those causes to disappear was President Amin himself, the man who invited the Soviet forces into Afghanistan. He was executed by the Soviet forces on the day of the invasion. The announcement of the coup was made by a Soviet radio station posing as Radio Kabul. A curious notion was circulated which even some members of this chamber seem to have picked up- that this invasion was forced on President Brezhnev by the hard-line group in the Politburo. This was an obvious piece of KGB disinformation. Historically this invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is in the great tradition of the Russian Empire and followed on by the Soviet Union. Its expansion has been continuous; its stay in occupied countries certain. The Soviet Union is the last great colonial empire. We are all aware of its expansion in Eastern Europe, before, during and after the Second World War. However, not everyone is aware of the recent nature of its colonial conquests in Asia.
The Soviet Union consists of 15 republics. Three of them are Slavic- Russia, the Ukraine and Byelorussia. The remainder are in no way racially related to the Slavs. The Ukraine itself was conquered by the Russians between 1739 and 1793; the Caucusus area, from 1774 onwards; and in Azerbaijan the conquest was completed in 1 8 1 3; in Georgia and Armenia the conquest was not competed until 1878. East Asia as far as the Pacific was occupied by the Russians in 1875. The area we are talking about now, South West Asia, the area east of the Caspian Sea and bordering on Iran, Afghanistan and China, was conquered between 1864 and 1886. Famous towns were occupied by the RussiansTashkent in 1865, Bokhara in 1866 and Samarkand- I remind honourable senators of The Golden Road to Samarkand by Flecker- in 1868. These colonial conquests are all of recent origin and are contemporary with the other European colonial conquests of the same period. They have continued. Sakhalin, an island north of Japan, was conquered in 1945 and now we have Afghanistan conquered by Russia in 1979. The Russians will not hold Afghanistan without a struggle. The Afghans, without doubt, are some of the fiercest and most rebellious fighters in the world. But the record of the Russians in supressing and dominating people of quality similar to the Afghans is impressive. The Russians have been prepared to use their power ruthlessly and I regret to say that their ruthlessness has been effective.
– What did Kipling say about the Afghans as fighters?
– I think he made some rude remarks about what you should do with a rifle if you are wounded on a battlefield and the Afghan women are after you. It think it was excellent advice. The conquest of Afghanistan- as I said before Senator Baume reminded me of an interesting poem on the subject- will not be easy. The first recorded conqueror was Alexander the Great. It has been a cross-roads of war, a cockpit of war, ever since. I have no doubt that the Soviet conquest of Afghanistan will ultimately, after a bloody war, be effective and permanent. There is also no doubt that the Soviet leaders grossly miscalculated the position. For instance, they appeared to think that Barbrak Karmal, the president-elect whom they kept under their own hand and who came in with the Russian invading forces, would be able to unite the Afghan people. In fact half of the Afghan army of 90,000 has melted away and joined the rebels. As I said, it will be a long and bloody struggle. Nevertheless we must recognise that we cannot effectively help the Afghans. They are, as an independent people, doomed to Russian sovereignty.
Like other peoples dominated by the Russians, they would be free if they could be. One saw how much people desire their freedom from Soviet rule in the Second World War when the Germans overran large areas of Russia. The Ukrainians, the people of the Baltic states, clearly wished to be free and would have fought for their freedom if it had not been for the unbelievable cruelty and stupidity of the German gestapo. These people wanted no part of the Soviet Union, but they had no chance to opt for freedom while they remained part of that Union. One can see examples in the satellite states of the Soviet Union. Hungary fought for its freedom in 1956. Something may have come of that if, unfortunately, at the same time the British and French had not been involved in an escapade in Suez. Czechoslovakia fought for its freedom against the Russians and lost in 1968.
The record of the Soviet Union in suppressing freedom is unsurpassed. It is not a thing of which the Soviets should be particularly proud because the people they are ruling, suppressing and dominating are quite separate from the Slavic Russians. They are as different from them, for instance, as the Algerian colonial people were from the French or the Pakistanis were from the British. They are of quite different racial stock and those territories, by any sensible standards, are colonial territories that, in the current trend of world opinion, should be decolonised. Some people argue that they are citizens of the Soviet Union, for what it is worth, but the Algerians were citizens of France and that did not make Algeria any less a colonial territory. I believe it is to the lasting disgrace of the United Nations Committee of Twenty-four on Decolonisation that it has not tackled this great, remaining colonial problem- the people who are socially, culturally and politically enslaved by the Slavic Russians. This is the great task and it is one which the propaganda of the West has not yet effectively tackled. The Soviet Union is the great example around the world of the only remaining imperial colonial power.
In the apologies for the action of the Soviet Union it was alleged that its action was defensive because it had Moslem people within its boundary- and that is so- and that they were being upset- I think that was the expression used- by what was going on beyond the Soviet boundary. Therefore it seemed to be argued that the Soviet Union was justified in some way in invading those countries to avoid its citizens being upset. It has not been very successful, as I think the outrage of the Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference at the Soviet action clearly revealed. Nevertheless there is no doubt that the Russians have a great problem with their 35 million Moslem minority.
There are many ways in which this problem can be solved. One which world opinion and the opinion of this chamber should not accept is that they can solve it by invading free, independent countries. They should set their own house in order, not distract attention from the troubles inside their own house by invading other countries. The 1970 Russian census- the results of the most recent one have not been announced- showed that in Central Asia and the Caucasus there are 35 million Moslems, and they are increasing in number substantially faster than the people of Russia itself- the Slavs of Russia, the Ukraine and Byelorussia. The level of rural unemployment in these Moslem areas is massive, but this problem gives them no right to invade another country.
The reason for the unemployment is that the Soviet economy is in a state of disastrous collapse, as is inevitable for any country that endeavours to run its economy by detailed central direction. Trying to run an economy by detailed central direction is about as sensible as trying to improve the operation of someone ‘s brain by hitting it with a hammer. Nevertheless, the fact that the Soviet economy is in a state of disastrous collapse and inefficiency does not justify the Russians solving their problem by invading another country on the pretext that there are disturbances, disorders, in that country and that to avoid their people being in some way affected by those disorders they are entitled to invade and occupy it.
Let us look at the situation in the other countries on the Soviet Union’s borders. Korea is a potential trouble spot if ever there was one. China is in a state of endemic dispute with Russia, Pakistan has very serious problems, Turkey has problems. Beyond the boundaries of the satellite countries of Russia there is Yugoslavia, and beyond it again there is Albania. Is the Soviet Union to be justified by people here as defensively occupying these countries because they are in a state of some disorder? Can anyone honestly say that is a proper action by a sovereign country? There are real problems in Yugoslavia with the likelihood of President Tito’s death in a very short period. Yugoslavia, being the only country that has managed, once being inside the Soviet orbit, to take itself out again, is therefore an object of particular hatred to the Soviet Union. Tito, when he goes, will leave behind him a very uncertain situation.
What is planned for Yugoslavia is that there be what is called a rotating leadership and an eight-man state presidency. It may work. Some of the Yugoslavs think it will. It is not yet clear which of the three main contenders for leadership- -Doronjski, Ljubicic or Bakaric- will come through as the leader. At the very least, there is a severe danger of problems arising in Yugoslavia. Are these problems going to be used as a justification for Soviet intervention? We in the West must make it crystal clear that this sort of intervention is totally unacceptable. That is why, although we cannot save Afghanistan, the Western world must make it quite clear that further behaviour of this nature by the Soviet Union will be resisted by all the means in our power, otherwise the expansion of the Soviet empire and the colonial empire will go on and on and on.
What can we do? The first thing we can do is take military measures. I do not think we should pretend to ourselves that military measures taken by Australia would have any significant effect on the Soviet Union. I therefore applaud the wisdom of the decisions that the Government has made in the defence field and the fact that we have not allowed ourselves to be distorted in our strategic thinking by events in Afghanistan. Our strategic situation remains the same. What has arisen is the danger of conflicts occurring round the world. This action by the Soviet Union has raised the temperature, raised the flashpoint, round the world. Therefore it is important that our defensive measures should be increased, but they should be increased along the lines we have been working out. We should not have an abrupt change because of events there. For that reason, I am delighted that the Government has kept its head and taken measures which are increasing our level of defence without changing our strategy.
One option which has been put quite strongly by some, and which I am very glad to see has been rejected, is that we should go back to some form of conscription. Conscription has been used twice in this country in peacetime. In the 1 950s it was used mainly by the Army, although people were conscripted into the Navy and Air Force for brief periods of training. In the case of the Army it was for three months. The effect of that training was that it would have reduced the time taken to form divisions in the field from, say, a year to about nine months. But the penalty that was paid for that- this type of training was of no value to the Navy or the Air Force- was that the whole Regular Army was devoted to training the national servicemen. The Army, as a consequence of this type of training, had no immediately available output. What we want from our Regular Army, as we will get from the reorganisation that has just been announced, is more effective, readily available forces. National service for a long term requirement would disrupt and destroy the ability of the Regular Army to be effective immediately. For that reason, I think that any attempt at mass conscription and training for military service would be a strong detriment to our military preparedness. Some people have argued that military training is valuable because it teaches discipline, mops up unemployment, and arguments such as that. I will not deal with those matters. They are not relative to any defence issue. They are social issues. I have severe doubts as to whether they are appropriate or would be effective.
The second way in which conscription has been used is the method used in the 1960s in order to increase the size of the Army so that it could meet its commitments in Vietnam and Malaysia. It was calculated then- I do not dispute the calculations- that the Army, to meet those requirements, needed to consist of about 45,000 men. It could not recruit by voluntary recruiting, given the conditions it was prepared to offer, more than about 32,000. In order to meet the urgent requirement the Government called up about 13,000 national servicemen by selective ballot to meet the short term immediate requirement. That is not the present requirement. Although the Services experience difficulties in getting some of the type of people they want, in general they can recruit the men they want. Incidentally, what we should be doing at the moment is not increasing our manpower rapidly, we have a far more important need for long term sophisticated capital equipment. Now is the time when we should be acquiring that equipment and that, I am glad to say, is being done.
Although we cannot make any great impact on the Soviet Union by our defence preparations, our readiness to respond to the threat is important in the free world. Of course, far more important is what the United States does. What has the United States done? The United States has made a declaration- the so-called Carter doctrinethat it will regard a threat to the Middle East oil fields as being a threat to the interests of the United States. Incidentally, it would also be a great threat to the interests of Japan, Western Europe and Australia. The United States has said that it will defend these interests with any appropriate means. I think it would be quite clear to anyone who looks at the strategic situation that the Americans would have enormous difficulties- in fact it would be a strategic impossibility- in bringing conventional forces into that area in strength sufficient to stop an all out Soviet attack on the Middle East. I do not say such an attack is imminent, but it certainly would be a possibility if the Americans were not ready to respond. Therefore it is important that the Americans make it quite clear- and we support them in it- that any attack on the Middle East oil fields by the Soviet Union, which would destroy the economies of the free world, would be resisted by all the military force of the Western world. We must accept the consequences of that. If we are prepared to accept the consequences, that attack will not happen. If we are not prepared to accept the consequences, if we are ambivalent, if we argue and if we cast doubts, it may happen. That would be an unmitigated disaster for the whole world. What we are living on is what Winston Churchill described as a balance of terror. While that balance is effective the world is stable. Once one casts doubts about the resolution of the Western world- perhaps we will not do it, maybe it is too difficult, maybe it is too dangerous- all may well be lost. This is the great task of the whole Western world- to show unity and resolution. We can play a small but significant part in that unity and resolution.
What do we have other than military preparations? Trade boycotts have been suggested. Senator Bishop was talking about them. If we were to have trade boycotts a number of effects would flow. Firstly, they would have to have an impact on the Soviet Union. There is no point in having a trade boycott which has no impact on the Soviets. All that would be doing would be cutting off our nose and not even spiting our face, or their face. A boycott that has no effect would not do any good. In a free trading world unilateral boycotts have effect only if the supply can be controlled. For instance, I thought the United States was very unwise to put a boycott on certain supplies of grain because it did not control the world supply. What the Americans forewent was taken up by the Argentinians and others. The effect on the Soviet Union was negligible. In fact, people in the Soviet Union might even have died laughing about it. It did the Soviet Union no harm at all. Boycotts of that nature are absurd and should be avoided at all costs.
What must be looked for in a possible boycott are a relatively small number of strategic materials that have no possibility of replacement. Areas of technology which the Soviet Union cannot get from other places must also be looked at. Regrettably- Senator Bishop was talking about this earlier in a different vein- there has been a decline in our capacity in certain defence related fields. Australia has no contribution in these areas. The United States has and so does western Europe. It is important that we should concentrate our trade boycotts in the areas where they will have impact. They are limited to high technology and the relatively small number of strategic materials that have no possible replacements. That is a task to which, regrettably, Australia cannot contribute; it is one for western Europe and for the United States. I am delighted to see that the United States is taking action in that way. I can only regret that despite the strong feelings of the European Parliament, so far the member states of the European Economic Community have not yet taken action to make these types of boycotts effective. They could be effective. They could hurt the Soviet Union, hurt it in its economy, and its economy is the most vulnerable part of its society. One can hold down dissidents with the KGB, police forces and terror, but one cannot make the economy work effectively by those methods. If we wish to show that this type of behaviour is unacceptable, that there will be consequences that the Soviet Union will not like, we must boycott it in the areas that hurt it. That can be done, but to make it effective requires unity of purpose from both the United States and the European Economic Community.
The third area where we might convince the USSR that this type of behaviour is not acceptable is in the area of propaganda, public relations and community opinion. The key issue in that area is the Olympic Games. The Olympics have been built up by the Soviet Union as being of major importance in its acceptance in the international community. This chamber has heard before what the Government in the Soviet Union said in its Handbook for Party Activists in November last year, but I think it is worth reading again. This is the view of the Soviet Union on the importance of the Olympic Games. The handbook states:
The decision to give the honored right to hold the Olympic Games in the capital of the world’s first socialist State has become a convincing testimony to the general recognition of the historical importance and the correctness of the foreign political course of our country, of the enormous services of the Soviet Union in the struggle for peace, its contribution to the international Olympic movement and to the development of physical culture and sports.
More than ever before in its 80-year history, the Olympic Games have turned into an event of great social and political significance and actively exert an influence on all aspects of the life of society, lt is clear that international relations, the disposition of political and class forces in the world arena and the presence in the world of two opposing systemscapitalism, which has outlived its day, and socialism which is growing and becoming stronger with each day- leave their imprint on the Olympic Games as a large-scale social phenomenon.
So much for politics and sport not being mixed. In fact, the Olympic Games have been in a state of rapid decline for many years. The ideals of Baron Coubertin for a meeting of amateur sportsmen who should race with no thought of financial gain have long disappeared. At the 1896 Olympics in Athens there were 245 sportsmen- there were no sportswomen, I am sorry to say- competing in 42 events. Since then the Games have ballooned into an enormous propaganda exposition. They have declined almost to the point of being a farce, in less than 80 years. It took 1,000 years for the original Olympic Games to go through this cycle. The first Olympic Games started in 776 BC. One event was held, a 200-metre foot race. But over the years the Games developed into a great athletic event with considerable religious significance. Incidentally, wars were suspended for the duration of the Games. But as they went on, like our present Olympics, they deteriorated and finished at a stage where instead of being races for sportsmen they were fights between slaves and wild beasts. The Games were eventually abolished in 393 AD, about 1,000 years after they started, by the Emperor Theodosius I who regarded them as pagan rituals.
This same degeneration I think has been evident in our Olympic Games. They have become centres of professionalism. The Games have been used for political point scoring on all sides and for political propaganda. At Lake Placid recently there were present more representatives of the Press than competitors. Each city that stages the Games is trying to be one up, both in size and scale and in the use being made of them, on the city that staged them before. The staging of the Games in their present form is out of control. If they are to survive they have to be brought under control. The obviously sensible suggestion is that they be held at one permanent site. The Greek Government has offered about 1 ,200 acres near Olympia which would become an international place and not the property of one country to make what propaganda it can out of the event. It would be an international place where these events could be held every four years. I think it is necessary now to opt for that solution because it seems to be most unlikely, in the light of recent events, that it will be possible to stage the next Olympic Games in 1984 in Los Angeles. We must make a decision now and the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has expressed his willingness to support the concept of the Olympic Games being held in Greece. If the Games are to survive, some clear step such as that is obviously necessary.
But this brings us back to the present Olympic Games. Whether the Opposition likes it or not, whether it is wise or not- I think it is wise- the decision on whether to go to the Olympic Games is now one which is intensely political. The appearance by any athlete from any country will be taken and used by the Soviet Union as indicative of support for its political position. I think it is a wise decision to opt out of the Games. But whether it is wise or not, one must face the fact that if athletes from Western countries now appear in Moscow they will be used as and believed by the Soviet Union to be indicative of support for the Soviet political position and that, I believe, is a quite unacceptable situation. What we must now do as a people, as a group of nations, is to show the unity and resolution of the free countries of this world in the face of Soviet expansion and Soviet threats. Unless we show this unity and resolution the prospects of peace in our time are grim. This unity and this resolution are the tasks of us all- on both sides of the chamber, throughout this country and throughout the Western world.
– It had not been my original intention to enter the debate, not because I considered it to be an unimportant debate; quite the opposite. This debate is of extreme importance but it had occurred to me that the Opposition’s position had been clearly put by my colleagues and because of this, as I mentioned, it had not been my original intention to enter the debate. My colleagues have put our case clearly but I have been prompted to enter the debate by the distortions and half truths that have emanated from some Government members in this chamber and in the other place. In the debate on Afghanistan and the Olympic Games situation, not only here in Australia but overseas as well, three important events must be examined. The first one of course is the invasion of Afghanistan. This invasion is to be deplored. It should receive and it has received strong condemnation. We in the Opposition have made it abundantly clear that we strongly condemn the invasion.
There has been far too much aggression during this twentieth century. In my own lifetime I have lived through World War II. I can remember at that stage being a pupil at school and how some of my mates at school did not see their fathers come home from the war. Later on in my lifetime I lived through the conflict in Korea and then later on still the conflict in Vietnam. Of course there were other belligerent acts which preceded these, World War I being by far the greatest. Even besides these there have been countless other belligerent skirmishes during this century. There has been far too much aggression. We have reached the stage now when man ‘s capacity to take the life of his fellows has reached proportions that our forebears would not even have thought of. Humanity now really has the power to blow itself off this world. So it is incumbent upon us all, especially those of us who represent people from all over Australia, to help keep a peaceful world. It is incumbent upon us to head off any potential conflict that there may be in the world. Therefore the Soviet aggression in Afghanistan is to be condemned. It is necessary for us as a nation to express our opposition and to express our disgust at what has happened there.
Two more events must be brought into focus. These events are of special relevance to the way in which the world-wide debate on the Afghanistan situation is proceeding. We must remember that President Carter in the United States is fighting for his political survival. He is at the moment going through a series of primaries for his presidential election. Carter has very serious domestic problems that he must face. He has inflation and he has unemployment. These two issues are very important in the primaries that are at present being held and also for the ones that are forthcoming. It is natural for President Carter to clutch at the Afghanistan situation to divert public attention from the problems that he has at home. In an attempt to portray himself as a world statesman, Carter has naturally concentrated on the Soviet aggression and the possible
Olympic boycott as a godsent political crutch. I do not say that the Soviet aggression is something which we should put to one side. I mentioned earlier that we in the Australian Labor Party condemn it and we have made it plain that we condemn it in the strongest terms. But of course it is something that President Carter has clutched because of the very situation that he is in.
The other event is of course the election which must be held in Australia this year. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, like President Carter, has serious domestic problems- problems he would like the electors of Australia to forget. We in the Labor Party have no intention of letting the electors of Australia forget these problems that confront us under the Fraser Government. Certainly Mr Fraser has tried to create a smokescreen to cover these domestic problems. There is, however, every indication that the people of Australia are seeing through the efforts of Mr Fraser to divert attention from his failures on the domestic front. What are these domestic problems that we have? We have hundreds of thousands of people who are out of work. Only last week the Commonwealth Employment Service figures showed that 470,000 people are out of work If we add to that figure the thousands of people who wish to work but who do not register it can be seen that over half a million people in Australia are unemployed. Is Mr Fraser aware that out in the community there are young men and young women who are desperate for a job, any kind of a job.
Over the recess period I had the opportunity of employing a young person for only a few days for a special project. I let the local Commonwealth Employment Service Office know when I had this vacancy. It sent to me a young man who had not had a job for six months. This young man had gone through normal schooling. He had done everything right that he possibly could. He had been on the books of the CES for six months. When he came to me he had been looking for work all that time. I was sorry that I could not employ him longer. On his second day working for me, he said to me: ‘My word, it is good to be back in work’. It brought home to me the futility facing these young people who are looking for work in our community but who cannot find it. What is Mr Fraser doing to provide them with jobs he promised them when he made his infamous bid for office in 1975? I venture to say that with this number of unemployed in the community he is doing virtually nothing at this stage.
We all wonder how this Government intends to honour its pledge to lower inflation and interest rates. Now both are soaring again due to the complete economic incompetence of this Government. It is no wonder that Mr Fraser welcomed the chance to fight on a different front. It is no wonder that he clutched on to the Afghanistan situation and told our young people that they should not go to Russia to compete in the Olympic Games. Mr Fraser should be under no illusions about the strength of feeling of the Australian people towards the domestic issues about which I spoke. I refer to a poll that was recently published in the 24 February to 1 March 1980 issue of the National Times. One of the questions of the poll was:
In your opinion, which is the more important political issue at the moment?
The categories on which people made decisions were these: Defence management, unemployment and inflation and the relative abilities of Mr Hayden and Mr Fraser. Some 15 per cent said that defence management was the most important issue; 79 per cent said that unemployment and inflation were the most important issues; and 4 per cent opted for the relative abilities of Mr Fraser and Mr Hayden.
– How big was the sample?
-I think the sample covered 35 1 persons. Senator Baume knows as well as I that with a sample of 351 respondents the standard error can be rather large. With some 79 per cent of the respondents saying that unemployment and inflation are the most important issues, even with a fairly large standard error we can quite readily understand that a vast majority of people in the Australian community view those two issues as being important ones for the political management of the Australian economy. It is also illuminating to examine in the same poll the figures in relation to the Olympic Games. The question was as follows:
There has been discussion about the American Government refusing athletes permission to compete at the Olympic Games. Just supposing this occurs, do you believe the Australian Government should prevent our athletes from competing also, or not?
Some 32 per cent of the poll sample said that the Australian Government should prevent athletes from competing; 63 per cent said that the athletes should not be prevented from competing. Five per cent opted to have no opinion. Even accounting for the standard error that might occur with a poll of this nature, a two to one majority says that the Government should not prevent our athletes from competing in the Olympic Games. Therefore, we can accept that at the moment the majority of the people of Australia are saying that the Government is wrong in its attempt to stop our athletes from going to the Olympic Games.
I fail to understand a government which tells our young men and women that they must take the biggest sacrifice of their lives and not go to the Olympic Games, while, at the same time, the Government is not employing any trade measures against the USSR. It is interesting to speculate what young athletes would feel about Mr Fraser’s personal trade with the USSR. Will Mr Fraser make a personal sacrifice similar to that which he demands of our athletes? Not at all. Of course, that is in keeping with his past behaviour. I took the opportunity to have a look at the excerpt in the Parliamentary Handbook of the Commonwealth of Australia about Mr Fraser. I noticed that one of his ministerial appointments was Minister for the Army from 26 January 1966 to 28 February 1968.
– How old was he then? Tell us about his military career.
-The Parliamentary Handbook shows that he was 35 years old when he took up his position as Minister for the Army on 26 January 1966. At 35 years of age Mr Fraser would have been eligible to be in the defence forces of Australia. But did he volunteer for service then? No, of course he did not. But did he support his Government’s conscription of Australian youth to fight and to die overseas? Of course he did. Mr Fraser supported that policy but he did not volunteer himself. Later on he became Minister for Defence. He held that portfolio from 12 November 1969 to 8 March 1971. Again he was in charge of an area where he was supporting conscription of Australian youth but he did not volunteer for service himself.
His present behaviour is all too much a reminder of what happened before. He exhorts others to make the sacrifices but he conveniently sidesteps the possibility of personal sacrifice. In the present case he still makes money by dealing with those who are hosting the Olympic Games that we are supposed to boycott. Mr Fraser has advocated continued trading with the USSR. This is a clear indication of his lack of genuine concern about an Olympic boycott. Under these circumstances the young people of Australia will not accept his Olympic exhortations. Neither will millions of decent people throughout Australia.
It is clear that the Prime Minister of the nation is terribly selective in his concern about aggression and civil liberties. What did Mr Fraser do about the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in December 1975? A bloody invasion in our door way led to no emotional outburst by Mr Fraser similar to the outburst that we recently had. Did he object to Indonesian presence in Australia when Indonesia’s Davis Cup team played in Hobart in January 1976? No election was then staring him in the face. What sporting sanctions did Mr Fraser impose on Pakistan for the coldly calculated and crude murder of Mr Bhutto? He imposed none. At present our cricketers are playing in that very country.
That brings us to the relationship between sport and politics. It is not a new debate. In 1970 there was a particularly heated debate in Australia about the impending visits of the Springboks. Perhaps some honourable senators on the other side have forgotten some aspects of that debate. Let me just remind them of what their then leader and Prime Minister Mr Gorton, had to say on the issue of the connection between politics and sport. It is interesting to remind ourselves of these remarks and compare them with what Mr Fraser is saying nowadays. On 2 June 1 970 Mr Gorton, in part, stated:
I think it would be a retrograde step if governments- this Government or any government in Australia- were to intervene in this matter and to say that they would not permit sporting fixtures to take place because they did not like the colour of some particular government abroad or because they did not like the policies that some particular governments followed.
I do not suggest that the issue that we are debating at the moment- the invasion of Afghanistan- is similar. In the case of the Springboks, politics was directly involved, but Mr Gorton ‘s remarks do point out the inconsistency that we see on the other side of the chamber. This inconsistency is borne out of political opportunism just as is the Prime Minister’s call for our athletes to give up their years and years of training merely because an election is due this year.
The Afghanistan invasion was a serious threat to peace-loving people throughout the world. Both sides of the Parliament have expressed their outrage. The Labor Party, however, accepts the advice that was given to Mr Fraser by the Australian Office of National Assessments about the implications of the Afghanistan invasion. Neither the Labor Party nor the Office of National Assessments can agree with Mr Fraser ‘s stated belief that this is politically the gravest threat to international peace and security since 1945. The course that Mr Fraser has been steering on this matter suggests that the gravest threat to international peace and security could be Mr Fraser himself.
-Mr Deputy President- (Quorum formed). The
Senate is debating a ministerial statement on Australia’s assessment of and response to the invasion of Afghanistan and the amendment moved by the Attorney-General, Senator Durack. I totally support that amendment. I do not support the further amendment moved by Senator Button. We are debating the concern that has been expressed not only by the Government of this nation but also by all my colleagues on this side of the chamber and many other prominent Australians at the blatant invasion of Afghanistan, a nation in its own right. It is alleged that the Government of that country made a plea to the Soviet Union for help because it was having some problems. The leader of that Government which allegedly called for the help of the Soviet Union was not democratically elected. He came to power through a coup. This shows very clearly that the Government and its leader support the Soviet Union and the communist philosophy. But many of the Afghan people do not support that philosophy. They are very concerned about where their Government is leading them. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the problems in that nation originally occurred.
All thinking people of the free world should express concern on this issue. They should do even more than that. I have been listening to this debate. In my opinion, more honourable senators have contributed to this debate than any other debate that has taken place since I have been a member of this chamber. Many other honourable senators have a view on this matter but have chosen not to speak in the debate. What I want to say perhaps can be best summed up by an article that appeared in the Australian on Monday, 25 February 1980. It was headed: There are no medals for the dead’. I do not know whether this article has been read widely by people in Australia. If it has not I believe that it should have been. Perhaps Opposition senators should have studied it more closely than they have. During this debate I have listened to many of the speakers on the other side of the chamber. It is unfortunate that they have chosen to speak only partially on the issue itself. Most of their time has been taken up by denigrating the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) who I believe has adopted a very sensible and sound line on the issue. I agree totally with his support for the President of the United States.
During this debate the Opposition has also taken time to denigrate the President of the United States instead of dealing with the main issue before the chamber. I believe that this is grossly unfair. I recently visited the United States and spoke to many people. Almost everyone was in accord with the actions of the President of the United States, particularly in relation to the boycott of the Olympic Games that were to be held- I use that term rather than the words ‘are to be held’- in the Soviet Union. I believe that this is one way in which we can get through, not to the Government of the Soviet Union or its leaders but to the ordinary people who are not having any say in running their country at the moment because of the communist philosophy and the way in which the Communist Government runs that country. The article to which I referred is one of the most sound, sensible and concise summaries of the proposed boycott of the Olympic Games that has been put out by anyone so far. I will read the article into Hansard. I intend to comment on a number of points in the article during this debate. The article is headed There are no medals for the dead ‘. It starts thus:
Australian society is dividing dangerously into two camps- each standing on the edge of its own precipice created by an ever-widening division of opinion - (Quorum formed). I was interrupted by the lone voice of Senator McLaren on the Opposition benches calling for a quorum. He was supported by only two other members on the Opposition benches in this very important debate. While the quorum was being called no Opposition senators came into the chamber. I will continue reading the article from the Australian. It stated:
The division must be closed so that all Australians stand on common ground.
That is what I would have hoped for during this debate. The article continued:
Regrettably and wrongly, the debate has turned into an us versus them ‘ conflict, as though one side is trying to prevent our athletes from competing for reasons which are entirely bloody-minded and cynically political while the other side is trying to ensure our athletes go to Moscow so time spent in training is not wasted.
I interrupt my reading of the article to indicate that I have every sympathy and I know that all my colleagues on this side of the chamber have every sympathy for the youth and for the notsoyoung of this country who wish to compete in the Olympic Games. We would like to see them go to other countries to compete in the Olympic Games, but we believe that for them to do so under the present circumstances would not be in the best interests of not only this country but also the whole free world, as this article points out. I intend to point that out, as many of my colleagues have done so already in this debate. The article continues:
This is not what it’s all about. It is not about athletes winning medals. There are no medals for the dead in Kabul, only bullet holes in the chests of those who are fighting for their freedom, as our story today reports. There is no peace in Afghanistan, although many would like to pretend there is. There is anger and brave opposition and a call for support which we cannot ignore.
I believe that when the Australian talks about we ‘ it is talking not just only of Australia but of the whole free world. The article goes on to state:
A boycott of the Moscow Olympics is all about stopping the Soviet Union-
I stress the words ‘ stopping the Soviet Union ‘- from continuing its calculated policy of expansionism aimed at world dominance.
Surely that is what it is all about; that is what Russia is all about and that is what the communists are all about. I am prepared to kick the communmist can at any time because I believe that it needs to be kicked right up into the air. Everybody should know more about it. The article continues:
A boycott of the Moscow Olympics is all about getting a message to the Russian people that the world abhors the Soviet Union’s denial of human rights to dissidents within its borders and its subjugation of free people and nations- in particular, Afghanistan. A boycott of the Moscow Olympics is all about Andrei Sakharov, about the tens of thousands of Russian Jews who want freedom but may not journey to it and about the unknown multitude of political prisoners denied ordinary civil liberties within the Soviet Union.
That is what it is all about. That is the kind of fact which honourable senators on the Opposition benches do not seem to grasp and understand. The article goes on:
Most of all, a boycott of the Moscow Olympics is about preventing World War III.
I agree with that. The article continues:
With hindsight, it is apparent that a boycott of the 1 936 Berlin Olympics might well have changed the course of history. A Germany still not entirely convinced of the rightness of Hitler’s policies and wary of where he was taking it was, without doubt, strongly persuaded by the world’s attendance at the 1936 Games that those policies were acceptable to the world. No stronger evidence could possible have been placed in Hitler’s hands. The nazi propaganda machine made sure this was the message the Germans received- the the takeover of Europe, the pogroms and the mass murders proceeded with awful inevitability to World War II.
– Did the Opposition ever answer that point in any of its members’ speeches?
– I am glad that Senator Baume brought that to my attention. To my knowledge they have not answered that question because it is unanswerable. They know that they have no answer to it. The article goes on:
Can anybody seriously believe the Soviet leadership will not make the same use of the world’s attendance at the Moscow Games? Can the leaders of the Olympic movement who doggedly stick to the line that sport has nothing to do with politics really believe their athletes in Moscow will not be presented to the Russian people as living evidence of international support for the Kremlin and its policies?
The Opposition would have us believe that the Olympic Games have nothing to do with that. I believe that the Olympic Games have everything to do with it. The article continues:
It must be realised the Soviet leadership is desperately in need of a boost. Communism, as it was and as it is still practised by the leaders in the Kremlin, has run its course. It is collapsing economically (after 60 years the USSR is still inefficient and far from being self-sufficient) and morally (as dissidents like Sakharov demonstrate). Yet the Soviet Union today is militarily strong- as strong, comparatively, as it will ever be: superior in conventional forces and at least equal in nuclear power. This is its crucial time. The push for world domination must go forward now … or never.
Debate in Australia has become confused over the issue of exports of wool, wheat and rutile to the USSR. There is hypocrisy apparent in this and the Government has handled the matter badly. But political ineptness- or avarice or whatever it might be- should not be allowed to conceal the fact that a ban on all Australian exports to the USSR would go unnoticed by the Russian people. Indeed, a world ban on trade with Russia would have no immediate impact. But a boycott of the Games will have an immediate, sledgehammer propaganda effect.
I totally agree with that point which was made in the Australian. A number of aspects need to be looked at when considering a boycott, particularly a boycott of the sale or supply of foodstuff to any nation. In the first place, I as a humanitarian believe that it would be totally wrong to starve the people of the USSR. It would be wrong to withhold supplies of wheat, sugar or whatever in this kind of situation. Secondly, what effect would such action have? One of the effects which I believe it would have would be to give the propaganda machinery of the Soviet Union the opportunity to say to the Soviet people: There you are, the people of the free world will not sell food to us and you are hungry. They will not sell wool to us and you are cold. You are hungry and cold because of those nasty people of the free world ‘. That is the kind of propaganda machinery which would go into operation straight away. The little people of the Soviet Union- the people who are not members of the power group of the USSR- would not know that it was propaganda.
But a boycott of the Olympics is something which the propaganda machine could not hide from the people of the Soviet Union. When the Games are held and only people from those pans of the world which do not support the boycott compete with the USSR athletes, the little people of the USSR will start to ask: ‘Where are the Americans? Where are the British? Where are the Canadians? Where are the Australians? Where are the athletes of all the other countries of the free world? Why are they not competing? Why are they not coming to our country to compete in the Olympic Games?’ That is something which the people of the power group in the USSR will not be able to explain to its people. I believe that it is important that the boycott goes on.
I return to the matter of the invasion of Afghanistan. It can be called nothing other than an invasion; it was an invasion of force. The Russians entered Afghanistan with guns blazing. People are being killed day after day while Opposition senators twiddle their thumbs and piously say: ‘We are concerned’, but when we ask them to do something positive about it they denigrate the Prime Minister and other leaders of the free world. What is happening in Afghanistan is not new; it is something which has been feared by the people of Afghanistan for many years. One has only to read the book Caravans, written by one of the world’s very notable authors, James Michener, to realise that. If honourable senators were to read that book they would find that the people in Afghanistan and the British were concerned about that many years ago. They knew that this would happen, that the communist forces would go through there. As stated by many of my colleagues, if we, the people of the free world, do not make our protest now Russia will continue with its expansionist policies. It will move down through Iran and that general area, where the main oil supplies of the world are located. It will take over those countries and the free world will be held to ransom. Perhaps then the Soviet Union will not need to carry on with the kind of invasion which it undertook in Afghanistan.
As I said earlier, many words on this issue have been spoken in this chamber. Many honourable senators have spoken on the issue. Many other honourable senators have a view but have not seen fit to speak in this debate. I feel that the people of the free world must band together to show the Russian people and particularly the leaders of the Soviet Union that we are not going to stand by and allow this to continue to happen, that we will continue to protest in this way, which is a peaceful way without threats or any kind of violence, to demonstrate our feelings. I have every sympathy in the world for those young people whom the Government is asking not to participate in these particular Olympic Games. Let us hope that what can be done is not only a boycott of the Olympic Games in Russia but also the arrangement of an alternative site so that our athletes will have the opportunity to compete in the world forum, to win gold and silver medals.
Let us not allow this to go on in the Soviet Union because we will be only lending support and credence to what that country is doing and has done in many other countries, such as in its takeovers of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland. East Germany and the Baltic States. So it goes on now to Afghanistan. If we of the free world are going to be silent about the Russian intervention, who knows what country will be next? I support Australia’s assessment and response and the ministerial statement as well ar the amendment moved by Senator Durack.
– It has been said that in times of international tension and war, truth is usually the first casualty. Every government is run by liars, including this one. 1 am quoting I. F. Stone, who says:
Nothing they say should be believed. The second casualty could be access to various sources of information: an essential factor in sorting fart from fiction, information from disinformation.
It is my intention to try to pick out some of the outlandish propaganda statements that have been made by members of the Government over this matter, particularly after the posturing that has been going on by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in an effort to divert attention from the very serious economic plight of this country with inflation again rampant, with unemployment increasing and with balance of trade payments in a very precarious position. Most cynical of all is that this whole posturing of the Prime Minister is directed towards the coming election in Australia. He hurried off to his confrere in the United States, who also is suffering from pre-election jitters because of the very ineffectual government that he has provided for the United States of America.
Between those lonely petunias in the onion patch of world affairs, they were able to conjure up the idea that the Russians are coming they are, they are. That is a new form of the same old propaganda rubbish that has been poured out over the years about the red arrows from China, the cordon sanitaire and the containment theory, and all these other shibboleths that have been pushed out to keep people misinformed, uninformed and fearful. If one wants a response, one must appeal to the least informed people in the community. Fear is the dominating factor in the psychology of people who have perhaps not had the opportunity of reading and of experiencing anything wider than their own parochial interests. This appeal to fear and to the most primitive emotions is the stock-in-trade of the conservatives. I am sorry to have to say that the greatest gains that this Government has made electorally have been amongst the people who are the least informed in the community.
It is perhaps a reflection on our whole education system that this is so. Unfortunately the people who think and read will give firm and sound opinions on these matters, and the ones that the fear campaign appeals to are the ones who have done least reading or least thinking. It is tactically easier to panic the electorate than to appeal to reason. 1 must put on record my very strong objection to this insinuation that has been made by Government members generally in both Houses, that the members of the Opposition are traitors. Honourable senators can take a certain amount of political gibing in heated exchanges and the like, but one finds people coming up in the Government ranks, people who first of all have never done anything at all in the defence of their country, towards the leadership of the political parties. One finds people who have been associated with fascist organisations even to the stage that in the last week -
– Who used that word?
– Whom are you talking about?
– I am talking about last Friday in the Court in Sydney The article I am reading states:
Thirteen Croatians arrested in a forest clearing near Eden in 1978 had a common interest to overthrow the Yugoslav Government.
Here we have people being trained in Australia as paramilitary forces and being aided and abetted by members on that side of the Parliament; and they have been all along. The way that the then Senator Murphy was condemned for going into the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation to get this information and the way that these people were protected by the Government is absolutely scandalous. These same people can stand up in the Parliament and talk about traitors on this side of the House when we know very well that they have in their innermost hearts and minds the same outlook, principles and political philosophy as the worst style Italian and German fascists who ever operated in Europe, both pre-war and during the last world war.
– Who used the word ‘traitor’ from this side of the House?
-Hodgman, the so-called honourable member for Denison. During the debate last week he said: ‘I am going to come straight out and call you traitors’. This is in Hansard, but Senator Townley would not ever read anything. He is amongst that category who read nothing, learn nothing and remember nothing.
– And who particularly on this side had supported the Croatian activities?
-I would like to quote from Hansard of 28 February in which Senator Lajovic says:
Also it is unjust, when we refer to Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy.
– We will get this out in the open now.
– I am sure you would not back this up. Perhaps I should make a little quotation at this stage. I shall quote from the publication Challenge of January 1980. The front page is headed: ‘Liberals’ Nazi Collaborators’. An extract from page 15 of the article reads:
It must also be remembered that in joining the Axis, Yugoslavia was not forced to place any soldiers on the front. Then, a short time after signing, we committed a great stupidity, what stupidity- sin and crime: we spat in the face of the great Germany and in this instant we dug our grave.
That is a quotation from the publication Challenge. In Walker’s report two brothers were mentioned, the brothers Lajovic, and Fabian Lovkovic. The report states:
Fabian Lovkovic is the editor of Spremnost and a member of the Kingsgrove branch of the Liberal Party. Spremnost and another paper, Hrvatski Tjednik, have been described as mouthpieces for the two Ustasha sections in Australia. Ustasha was responsible for mass killings in Croatia during the Second World War. ASIO documents released by Senator Murphy in 1973 make it clear that these papers continue to support the principles of Ustasha and eulogise people who have been held responsible for war crimes.
The Brothers Lajovic are mentioned in the Yugoslav book Sixth Column Terrorists under the section ‘ War Criminals as Journalists’. One of those brothers is Senator Milivoj Mishra Lajovic, Liberal from NSW. Challenge has seen a transcript of the Senator’s father’s trial for war crimes. Milivoj Lajovic Snr, a factory owner, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for manufacturing bombs for the Nazi occupiers. In his defence Lajovic Snr attempted to blame his sons for his predicament.
In an interview with a suburban paper, The Leichhardt Local in 1 975, Senator-to-be Lajovic said he fought with the Royalists in a four way battle between the occupiers (Italian and German), the communists and democrats, the rightwing Ustasha, and the Royalists. This conflicts with accepted history that the Ustasha and the occupiers were on the same side, and that the Royalists were part of the ‘Liberation Front’ along with the communists and democrats.
In August 1978 Spremnost carried a report of a function at a house with the name ‘General Vjekoslav Luburic’. The gathering was to raise funds for the illegal Croatian Embassy in Canberra.
General Vjekoslav Luburic was a leading officer of the Black Legion ‘, a unit which committed atrocities in Croatia. Luburic was also Commandant of Jesenovic Concentration
Camp where he ordered the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Gypsies and Serbs.
Gathered at this house named after an infamous mass murderer were Lyenko Urbanchich -
– He was an endorsed Liberal, wasn’t he?
– Yes, he was an endorsed Liberal, and but for the Minister for National Development and Energy, Senator Carrick, he would still be an endorsed Liberal Party candidate. The report continues:
Fabian Lovkovic David Clarke, Geoffrey Ferrow, Mario Despoja and an unknown person. The five named are all members of the Liberal Party. Despoja is second in command of Spremnost. Ferrow will be familiar to ex-Sydney University students as a prominent Liberal.
The Liberals are now acutely embarrassed by this information. They are not embarrassed by the information as such, they could have obtained that at any time over the past twenty years, but they chose not to. But what they are embarrassed about is the public disclosure. In the cold war period of the early fifties the Menzies government allowed large numbers of East Europeans who had declared antiCommunist views to come to Australia. This was done without full scrutiny of their wartime activities. Consequently, many Nazi collaborators were welcomed by a government insanely preoccupied with ‘communists under the bed’.
They will probably sacrifice a few members and claim they have cleansed themselves. But the facts remain. They have admitted and encouraged people who support the wartime fascist regimes, and there is nothing in Liberal history to suggest they will do otherwise in the future. After all their founding father was a vocal admirer of Hitler, right up to the beginning of the Second World War.
The documents have been forwarded by Walker to the Fraser government for appropriate action. However, it is unlikely that the Liberals will follow the lead of the U.S. Attorney-General Civilatti and begin deportation proceedings against Nazi collaborators.
– That tells us a lot.
– That indicates the sincerity of Government members who have the confounded cheek, the hide, the temerity to say to honourable senators on this side of the Senate that we are traitors. But of course it is quite easy for them to say that. They rely on the fact that people have other responsibilities and duties in the community. They intend to put history aside and they are described as having short memories. Perhaps as we get on in years our faculty to recall minor details does decline. But it takes a lot to eradicate the thoughts from one ‘s mind when one is there when the whips are cracking, when the call comes, and when one stands with one ‘s country to defend oneself. But the wheel turns sufficiently long enough for those who have never done anything in wartime. Every time there has been a crisis in this country, the Government which is represented by people on the other side get into their funk holes. They run away. The Liberal Party has never been in government during wartime. In the First World War it ran away. In the Second World War it was said that Robert Gordon Menzies would have been a great general if the war had not broken out and spoilt his career. He was a good volunteer in the reserves.
– A brilliant military career came to an abrupt end with the outbreak of war.
– That is a completely accurate description. Then the Labor Government, we traitors, were called upon to govern. We had to ask the workers of this country to put their every effort into winning the war in the form of production, in sending their sons to all parts of the Pacific, to the European and Mediterranean theatres of war and to the Middle East.
– And Malaya.
– Yes, and Malaya. They returned and went back into civilian life, and what happened? Out of the woodwork, out of the funkholes came the great saviours, the ones who said, ‘Right-oh, we have seen you over the rough road, over the landmine areas. Now we are in open country. We are the only ones capable of running this country’. Then, of course, the propaganda machine comes out. This bears out what I began to say, that in times of international tension and war, truth is the first casualty. Every government is run by liars. The past masters of propaganda are operating in this country today. It is difficult to get accurate reports.
The other day I quoted from a London Times observer who was standing in Kabul, Afghanistan, listening to the Voice of America. The Voice of America was saying that in Kabul there is blood, smoke and fire; the place is in chaos; the hordes from the north are streaming into Kabul. He said that he thought that he would have a look and see where all this action was taking place; that he had to report back to his headquarters. He looked out from the roof of the hotel in Kabul and the only soldier he could see was an Afghan soldier, armed with a Russian rifle, sitting in a restaurant having a cup of coffee. He wanted to know why the propaganda machine was blatantly lying to the people here who want to be informed of this very difficult international situation.
I have very strong views about the invasion of one country by another. No one has any right at any time to invade another country. The right of sovereignty is inviolate. There is no shadow of doubt about that principle. This principle is violated continuously by super powers in particular. The British have done it for hundreds of years. When Britain was mistress of the seas they showed the gunboat and in they went. They often sent in their missionaries with the word of God in their hands. The story goes that the missionaries would say: ‘Everyone lower your eyes and think what a sinner you are’. By the time they lifted their eyes from the ground they had a Bible in their hands and the British had their land. That was the soft method of colonisation, but there was always the big stick behind the back, just in case. There were very few carrots. That was one phase of colonisation but let us consider more recent times. To my mind the exploitation of the United Nations in Korea was one of the great crimes of our time. That organisation had the potential to deliver mankind from his stupidity, from thinking anything could be gained from war. A generation is growing up which does not know anything about the horrors of war, the futility of war, the stench of war, the wickedness of war and the negativism of war. That great organisation was discredited and degraded by having to become involved in a war of containment in Korea.
Then came the big lie- our invitation to intervene in Vietnam. I refer to the story of the reoccupation of Vietnam by the French who had no claim there whatever. The French went out of the war backwards. Senator Lajovic spoke about the early days of the war, the lineups and treaties. Of course, everyone was running around trying to cover up and those involved were past masters at the art of cross and double-cross. Pacts were made by countries in Europe, but the French could not run fast enough when the guns started booming. After the war the French crept into Vietnam through the back door and got well and truly belted up at Dien Bien Phu. All the lessons of history should have revealed the stupidity of us getting involved with the United States of America in trying to beat those great Vietnamese people who fought for their motherland. You cannot beat people who are fighting for their bread and butter and their own soil. A nation gets its soul from the people and the soil; that is where their blood is; and that is where their seed is. You cannot beat these people with arms. You can only beat them by using the nuclear bomb and that will beat everyone. None of us will escape the nuclear bomb; there is no way out.
At the present time mankind is facing a crisis. The orthodox wars, the normal wars, the brushfire wars and what is going on at the moment in Afghanistan are chicken feed compared with the devastation, the annihilation, that confronts man if he does not use more initiative. Mr Fraser was reported as saying: ‘Detente is dead ‘.
It is hard to describe the meaning of many ambiguous words. The abstract terms in our language seem to have been developed for lawyers. Honourable senators know the saying: How can you believe him when you know that he has been a lawyer all his life ‘. This seems to be the situation regarding our language. We can find ambiguity in the use of many abstract words such as detente and appeasement. Of course honourable senators will find ambiguity in the use of these words because their use is associated with human understanding and mutual trust. The only way men survived when they came down out of the trees was by having a bit of mutual trust with the fellows who lived alongside them in the tribes. This is still the nature of life today, in the nuclear era, when we have no alternative to detente, no alternative to treaties and no alternative to talks on the limitation of strategic arms. I want to refer to the propaganda being fed to us at the present time in the speech of the Prime Minister. I would like to have had extra time in order to go through it and pick out -
– Will you table that paper please?
– I will give the honourable senator a copy of it. If honourable senators examine the Prime Minister’s speech they will find that it is full of wordy, windy verbosity. There is nothing of substance in it. His statement does not mean anything. It reminds me of the gnat scratching the elephant. It is the statement of a pompous self seeker who is striving to parade on the world stage, trying to be something he is not. He has been described as being ‘the richest and the meanest’. Possibly he is the richest in wealth but he is the meanest in spirit because he is conning the Australian people into something that is false. One of the greatest problems facing the world today is personified by the problem in the north of Ireland- that terrible, bitter, bigoted problem of religious people killing one another for the sake of God, or whoever it is.
– The same God.
– The same God. We have seen this happen before. The Germans said: Gott ist mit uns’. God is with us, they said. We said: ‘Dieu et mon droit’. God and my right.
– He is on our side.
– Yes, that is right. That is all right until people start fighting like they are in the north of Ireland. This Muslim thing, this Islam, is a threat to the world. If there were tens and tens of millions of people who believed that our God was the greatest and who would kill somebody who did not believe in our God, or who would get surgeons to cut off arms if a person did something wrong according to this rubbish that is pushed out- and it is all rubbish -
– Is that why Afghanistan was invaded?
– Yes, of course. It is nothing more than that. The Soviet Union is fearful of Islam because that is the only way that the Soviet Union can be invaded- from within. We could never beat the Soviet Union by force of arms. We could do so only by using the nuclear bomb and I hope that God will not allow that to happen.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
-Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was making a plea to the Government to reconsider its hard-line, hard-nosed attitude towards this grave international crisis in the hope that the people of Australia will be able to see the situation in its proper perspective and that we can avoid the consequences of confrontation that could be disastrous to all mankind. I am tempted to recall to mind that part of the speech of the Prime Minister on Australia’s assessment of and response to the situation in Afghanistan, as delivered on Tuesday, 19 February, when he said:
The firm, measured tone of President Carter’s State of the Union message, and the joint declaration issued by President Giscard and Chancellor Schmidt, have done much to restore the credibility of that resolve.
He was speaking of the resolution of the European countries to stand firm. He continued:
We must now build on this foundation. The resolve expressed must be translated into effective policies by all of us.
It is important that there be clarity about the aims of those policies.
The next two sentences are important. He said:
Their purpose should not be to outlaw or humiliate the Soviet Union. The existence of the Soviet Union is a fact of life we have to live with.
Any one who heard some of the speeches made by Government members would think that the barriers had been erected and that there would be only one outcome as a result of this confrontation, and that was the pressing of buttons or involvement in some other form of warfare.
– But the Prime Minister’s statement is moderate and reasonable, isn ‘t it?
Senate O’BYRNE- The Prime Minister’s statement was not moderate or reasonable. The Prime Minister went off into the distance for the purpose of grandstanding, and events have caught up with him. He has had to retract his statement and come back to the field of reality.
As he has said, the existence of the Soviet Union is a fact of life we have to live with. I am trying to apply reason to this argument. The Prime Minister should have taken a different attitude when the Office of National Assessments gave him advice about Afghanistan. I will continue my speech and have a little discussion with Senator Lewis about it afterwards. The Prime Minister said:
What these policies must do is to make it clear to the Soviet Union that if it persists in its occupation of Afghanistan or engages in any other expansionist moves the costs to the Soviet Union will be prohibitive. They must make it clear that as far as detente is concerned, the Soviet Union cannot both have its cake and eat it; it cannot enjoy the benefits while ignoring the responsibilities . . .
The policies will be successful insofar as they signal these messages clearly and unambiguously to the Soviet Union so that there can be no basis for miscalculation or confusion on its part. Far from breaking off communications, we must improve them.
– Do you agree that the words he used were fair, moderate and reasonable?
– By the tone of this debate it can be seen that there has been no effort on the part of Government members, including the honourable senator who is interjecting, to try to improve the situation. They refer all the time to the Soviet Union as ‘the enemy’. If you want to pick a fight, and if you want to carry it through, you have to call on all the -
– Order! The honourable senator will address his remarks to the Chair.
– I apologise to you, Mr President. I must address you. The Prime Minister went on to say:
Far from breaking off communications, we must improve them. It has to be said that in the recent past the signals sent by the West have not always been clear and consistent.
At this stage I would like to refer to an article in the Australian of 22 February. At page 6, John Palmer, reporting from Rome, said:
Russia has indirectly signalled its interest in the plan for the neutralisation of Afghanistan, which was discussed in Rome this week by foreign ministers of the EEC. The United States Secretary of State, Mr Vance, will support the plan if it leads to an urgent withdrawal and an end to Soviet political control.
Further on this article states:
Italian Government officials say President Ceausescu would not have endorsed the idea of a neutral Afghanistan if he did not have reason to believe it would interest the Soviet Union.
In a report that has come from the Socialist International Party Leaders Conference in Vienna on 5 and 6 February it is stated:
The policy of detente and the search for harmonisation of differing interests, which was begun more than a decade ago, has led to significant results which are noticeable in the everyday lives of many people, although this process is restricted mainly to Europe and world powers. It is in the interest not only of one side but to the benefit of all concerned that the tensions of East and West must be reduced and that co-operation be extended. This process of detente has greatly deteriorated. This has clearly been demonstrated in new developments in the field of medium range nuclear weapons.
It goes on to state: lt appears that the world is in danger of arming itself to death. It is indispensable that concentrated efforts are made to limit intercontinental as well as medium range nuclear weapons in quantity and quality so as to achieve an equilibrium on a lower level.
I have before me an article headed ‘ Unravelling Soviet Rhetoric’. It was written by James Reston in Washington. The article reads: ‘President Brezhnev has just made another of those interminable and impenetrable communist speeches that illustrate once more the puzzle of negotiating with the Soviet leaders’. He quoted the Soviet leader as having said:
I want to state very definitely: we will be ready to commence the withdrawal of our troops as soon as all forms of interference directed against the government and people of Afghanistan are fully terminated. Let the United States together with the neighbours of Afghanistan guarantee this, and then the need for Soviet military assistance will cease to exist.
The natural thing is for us to say that we do not believe that, that we cannot believe anything they say, that we are in confrontation, that detente is dead and that we cannot negotiate at all with these people.
– Who is ‘we ‘?
– The Government. We on this side of the Parliament cannot do anything because we have not got the numbers. We would have policies which are entirely different from yours if we were in government. The Government’s policy is a disgrace. It is just as much a failure as it was in regard to Vietnam, as it has been on every occasion when the Government has embarked on exercises overseas. The Government has failed miserably. It has led Australian youths to their death for nothing. The world has gained nothing from our warlike activities over the years when honourable senators opposite have been in charge of our foreign policy. Our foreign policy has been absolutely negative. I was at the United Nations in 1971. I was reported to our mission there because I applauded when the vote went in favour of the entry of China into the United Nations.
– You are a hypocrite.
– Order ! Senator Kilgariff, you must not use the word ‘hypocrite’. Please withdraw it.
– I withdraw, sir.
– He would be an expert on hypocrites. He lives with them.
– He would be an absolute expert. Cop that one. brother. Give that to Lasseter for his last ride to Alice Springs. I return to James Reston. He said:
One view in Washington is that the Soviet ‘peace offensive’ which former US Secretary of State, Dr Henry Kissinger, and Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee have been predicting, has begun, but in a very tentative way.
He goes on to say:
But they also see in this speech the possibility- no more than that- of a compromise worth exploring. After all, the main policy objective in Washington is to keep Soviet power from encroaching on the oil fields around the Persian Gulf and avoid another and more dangerous confrontation and expensive arms race with the Soviet Union. Accordingly, without assuming too much about Mr Brezhnev’s speech one way or another, the administration is now moving quietly through private channels to find out what it means.
They are doing that but what are we doing? We are bristling, provoking and making all these negative statements which are not improving the situation at all. This is a dangerous situation, as has been pointed out by so many people. James Reston went on to say:
Maybe it means nothing, but there are still a lot of people around here who remember that last critical confrontation between Washington and Moscow over the Cuban missile crisis. President Khrushchev sent President Kennedy two quite different messages one weekend. The first proposed an acceptable compromise in Cuba- Moscow would withdraw the missiles if Washington promised not to invade that island- and the second proposed withdrawal of US power from Turkey, which alarmed the allies and was unacceptable . . .
Mr Kennedy, after a stormy debate among his advisers, simply decided to accept the first positive Khrushchev proposal and ignore the second, and the crisis was settled on that basis.
- Mr President, I raise a point of order. The honourable senator is reading his speech.
– There is no point of order.
– I am quite in order in quoting from an article on this very subject that is before the Senate. This article by Mr James Reston appeared in the Canberra Times on 27 February 1 980. He concludes by saying:
There has been some talk about that last crisis around here in the last few days. Nobody is suggesting that the two cases are identical, but most of Mr Carter’s foreign policy advisers think he should look at the positive, if vague, suggestions in the Brezhnev speech as a means of bringing the Afghan crisis to an end.
I am asking this Government and this Senate to take a broader view of the whole world situation. The rival philosophies, the conflict and the basic nature of man will lead to conflict unless there is reason. The posturing of this Government is hostile to any area of compromise. The Prime Minister of a country at the opposite end of the earth went to other parts of the world in a special publicity seeking aircraft and aspired to be a world leader when many people, probably the majority of people in the world, would not have heard of Australia, let alone of Fraser. Yet he aspires to this great leadership that will solve all the world’s problems. He went around the world, not with compromise or with diplomacy but with a big stick. When our Foreign Minister, Mr Peacock, was in Indonesia they said that he was walking tall with a short stick. This is what our Prime Minister is doing. He makes a very ugly impression because of this posturing. His posturing makes it worse, makes it seem more cynical and makes it appear to be a sicker situation. We must realise that so much of this has as its objective the stirring up of people for another khaki election, a red-under-the-bed election or some such thing, to divert the minds of the people away from the basic issues in Australia which are so pressing and which have everyone worried.
The Government talks about reducing taxes. Every promise it has made, including this one about leading Australia into a war, has been broken. Every petrol station in Australia is a tax collector. The Government has the hide to compare Australia’s petrol prices per litre. Even the metric system has been used as a means of imposing on the working people, the ordinary average people of Australia. Petrol is now $1.65 a gallon. All this talk about litres and the use of the metric system is only a device to pull the wool over people’s eyes. The Government should ask taxi drivers what they think about Government policy. That is only another of the broken promises and one of the things that this Government is trying to do to deflect people’s minds away from what is really going on in Australia. It is trying to do this by the posturing and grandstanding of this man, the Prime Minister. He is doing what his predecessors have done. The late Harold Holt said: ‘All the way with LBJ’. What happened? LBJ was driven into the grave. The red arrows, the Petrov case and all these other gimmicks have been used in the past to fool the Australian people, and here we are going through the same monotonous routine again for political purposes.
– Not so successfully.
– Not so successfully. Members of the Government are only a bunch of amateurs at the game compared with their illustrious former leader who was a past-master at fooling the people all the time. This Government is fooling people only part of the time. Having had a few words to say about Afghanistan, I will have a few more to say about the futility and stupidity of the proposed boycott of the Olympic Games. I would go so far as to say that Australia has prostituted its position as a civilised democracy in the eyes of the world by leading this campaign against the presence of our sportsmen in Moscow. Not one scintilla of gain is to be achieved by preventing sportsmen from meeting anywhere. Good sportsmen could give this Government such a lesson in decency, in all the qualities of manhood, of competition and of openness. The Government would not know the first thing about sportsmanship. It reminds me of that old motto of the English public school: Fairly though your foe be mastered, anyway just beat the bastard. This is the attitude that the Government takes. It does not care how it beats us as long as it wins. This is just scoring a miserable point.
– Is that all it is? Don’t worry about people dying in Afghanistan or anywhere else.
– Order! Senator Lewis will kindly cease interjecting. Senator O ‘Byrne has the call.
-I may have to ask that the expletive be deleted but it would spoil the rhyme. I do not know what else I could say to rhyme with ‘mastered’. But on the matter of sport and competition, the spirit of the Olympic Games has been directed for so long to elevate man away from his basic animal state. It is important that athletes can meet and forget politics, race, religion and the sexual differences, where women can take their place with great credit among men. The men fortunately do not have to take people like women politicians to the Olympic Games possibly because agreement would never be reached. One of the greatest symbols of sexism one can find is the honourable senator opposite. She is anti-woman because she has made the grade with the men and she does not want other women to catch up with her. However, that is another story.
For the sake of the future of sport, for the sake of the future of the Olympic Games and the incentives for the youth of the world to direct their energies, their intellect and idealism towards something international, something above nationalism, something above parochialism, the Olympic Games fulfils that great ideal. I think we are being very small-minded. The Government’s policy will fail miserably. The Australian youth will find a way around the obstruction of this Government. They will be represented in the international field of sport. They will not be frustrated by this Government. Not only that, but most nations will go on regardless of the negative policy of this Government and despite this Government perhaps we will find that the world can go on without sabre rattling, without provocation and even the worst crises, including the one in Afghanistan, can be overcome by goodwill towards one another.
As far as we on this side are concerned detente is not dead. We must persevere with detente. The alternative is the destruction of the earth, its fabric and all that live on it. That is a very terrifying alternative. I believe we have to use every effort that we possibly can to overcome this crisis rather than exacerbate it as the Government seems to be doing by its policy at the present time.
– In accordance with Standing Order 364 1 move:
That there be laid on the table the two documents from which Senator O’Byrne quoted.
I think one was a newspaper entitled Challenge. He also quoted from another document during his speech.
– The question is that the motion be agreed to.
- Mr President, if you accept it as a motion I will oppose it because the honourable senator is quite agreeable to tabling the documents.
– There is a motion before the Chair which I must put, unless Senator O’Byrne by leave of the Senate would like to table the documents.
– I seek leave to lay the documents on the table.
– If Senator O’Byrne is going to table the documents, I seek leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion- by leave- withdrawn.
– Thank you. Is leave granted for the tabling of the documents? There is no objection.
– I table an extract from the newspaper Challenge and an extract from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of 1 March.
That the amendment (Senator Button’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (Senator Du rack’s) agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Debate resumed from 27 February, on motion by Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition will not be opposing the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill although it will be moving an amendment to the motion for the second reading. I shall do that in a few minutes. The fact that this Bill has appeared demonstrates the accuracy of the Opposition’s position in 1978 when it argued, as it has consistently argued since, that the Atomic Energy Act of 1 953 was an inappropriate piece of legislation to carry the commercial mining of uranium in Australia. The Government at that time refused to acknowledge the accuracy of that assessment. As a consequence it was forced three times during 1978 to amend the inappropriate vehicle on which it chose to carry the commercial mining of uranium. It was forced to amend the Act again twice last year. We now have a further amendment before Parliament to the Atomic Energy Act.
I understand that Senator Hamer will be moving an amendment to clause 6 of the Bill, the purpose of which will be to require the Minister to invoke the defence powers by way of regulation instead of, as the Bill proposes, simply by publication in the Government Gazette. The Opposition will be supporting that amendment. We believe that the Parliament should not abdicate any more of its responsibilities to scrutinise the actions of government. If Senator Hamer ‘s amendment as proposed is carried the Parliament will have a greater control over the Executive than it would have under the original legislation.
The main functions of the Bill before us are, firstly, to restrict the Commonwealth’s previously absolute power over the States in the area of uranium mining except when the Commonwealth chooses to assert those powers for purely defence reasons. The rationale for that amendment, of course, is that given the fact that the States normally have control over mining activities within their borders it is inappropriate that the Commonwealth should have asserted power over this one area- uranium mining- unless the defence powers were invoked. This, of course, demonstrates the error in the Government’s original decision to use this highly inappropriate Atomic Energy Act, which is now 27 years old and which was sponsored more by the Cold War and McCarthyism than it was by any rational consideration of the type of control which should be exercised over commercial uranium mining. The Government has been forced to recognise the deficiencies of the Act which it chose in that instance.
The second objective of the Bill we are debating is to modify or remove some of the draconian penal provisions contained in the original Atomic Energy Act. Those penal provisions also were a product of the hysteria so prevalent at the time when the original Act was passed in 1953 in the aftermath of McCarthyism and during the period of the Cold War. Some evidence of the Government’s continuing failure to properly come to grips with this matter is revealed in the second reading speech of Mr Newman, the then Minister for National Development, who stated:
The review of the penal provisions is currently under way.
In particular, sections 44, 45 and 46 of the original Act will still stand even after this Bill is passed. Those sections contain draconian provisions which are equally obnoxious to the provisions under sections 54 and 58 which will be deleted from the parent Act after this Bill is enacted. Equally objectionable sections are still in the legislation. At this stage on behalf of the Opposition I move:
-Is the motion seconded?
– I second the motion.
– That motion encapsulates the Opposition’s attitude to this Bill. The reassertion of our consistent position is now substantially or tacitly acknowledged by the Government as being correct. The Atomic Energy Act is an inappropriate vehicle to carry the commercial mining of uranium. The present position of the Atomic Energy Commission which is expected to be a participant in the nuclear industry at least to the extent of providing isotopes and radioactive material for medicine is incompatible with the other responsibility of the Commission, that is, to act as a regulatory supervisory body. I wish to draw attention to one other statement in the Minister’s second reading speech and to speculate, rather boldly perhaps, about future consequences. The Minister said:
There is, however, no change in the Government’s policy that uranium mining in the Northern Territory, other than the Ranger Project, should be authorised under Northern Territory legislation.
The context in which that sentence appears is that in which the Minister states that the Northern Territory is excluded from what is actually written into this Bill. But the Minister is saying that because of the legislation the Northern Territory will be treated in the same way as the States, in a mandatory fashion. I h.ave grave doubts about whether the Commonwealth Government will honour the assurance given by the Minister in the sentence which I have quoted. I have grave doubts for this reason: There is little doubt that the Government of the Northern Territory will change before the end of this year. A Labor government will be elected which will not permit the development of any further uranium mining in the Northern Territory, at least in the immediate future. In particular, the decisive political force in the Northern Territory very soon will be, if it is not already, the Aboriginal vote. The Aborigines are likely to be opposed to most of the proposed further uranium mining prospects. Because of the numbers of Aborigines in the Northern Territory, it is a more than reasonable expectation that there will be continuing hostility to uranium mining in the Northern Territory and that that hostility will be translated into effective political action- that is, it will control the policies of the government of the Territory.
Any party which fails to recognise that opposition is unlikely to gain office. That, I predict, will happen before the end of this year. After that has happened, assuming that there is a commercial market for the output of new Australian uranium mines, which is a doubtful proposition, and assuming that the Fraser Government is still in office- another doubtful proposition- I am very sceptical, to say the least, whether the Government will honour the undertaking given in the Minister’s second reading speech.
I want to make some final comments on the power sharing arrangements between the Commonwealth and the State governments in this area. I express my personal alarm at the damage that could flow from the unrestrained actions of some State Premiers. I refer in particular to the policy of constructing a nuclear reactor in Western Australia at some time during the 1 980s to which the Premier of Western Australia says he is firmly committed. Leaving aside completely the environmental problems associated with nuclear power and the weapons proliferation problem, the proposition to construct a nuclear reactor in Western Australia is absurd on several grounds. Firstly, nuclear generated electricity anywhere in Australia will almost certainly be a dearer source of electricity than thermal generated electricity even if the coal has to be taken from the eastern States to the west. Secondly, to get reasonable economies of scale, a power station generating 500 megawatts or more would be required. The existing generating capacity of the State Electricity Commission in Western Australia is about 1,300 megawatts. In other words, the policy to which Sir Charles Court is committed entails producing about 30 per cent of the State’s electricity in one nuclear reactor. Leaving aside the possibility of a major reactor failure or a catastrophic accident, from time to time reactors must be shut down for purely routine maintenance. This draws attention to the fact that during these routine maintenance periods 30 per cent of the State’s electricity generating capacity will be withdrawn from service. I am sure that no consideration has been given to the purely technical problems which that entails by the Government of Western Australia or the man who leads it who demonstrates more and more convincingly that he has lost touch with reality.
The third point is, of course, cost. The West Australian newspaper of 15 December last reported that Andrew Mensaros, the Western Australian Minister for Fuel and Energy, was waxing lyrical about the enrichment of Yeelirrie uranium within Western Australia both for export and to fuel Western Australia’s nuclear power plant by the mid-1990s. Implicit in that statement is a circular argument. To procure the enormous amounts of electricity which would be required for a uranium enrichment plant, we would have to build a nuclear reactor to supply the electricity to enrich the uranium to power the nuclear reactor. My main point is that in the same issue of the West Australian, a few pages later, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) was quoted as telling San Francisco businessmen the following:
Ample coal deposits (in Australia) mean that nuclear generated electricity will not be economic or necessary . . . Our uranium therefore will be wholly exported . . . Our low cost coal deposits ensure electricity can be delivered to big users in Australia at rates about half those in the United States and may be only a fifth of those in Japan.
At the margin, electricity in Japan is supplied from nuclear reactors. What Mr Anthony was implicitly saying was that the cost of nuclear generated electricity in Japan could be as high as five times the price of thermal generated electricity in Australia. Yet Sir Charles Court is committed, so he says, to the construction of a nuclear power station which will produce electricity at about five times the cost of thermal generated electricity in Australia. The worst is probably yet to come. If he is allowed to, Sir Charles Court will also offer an electricity price sufficiently low to attract an aluminium refinery into Western Australia. That means, of course, that the rate must be competitive at least with the rates offered in New South Wales, Victoria and perhaps Queensland. The electricity in those States would be generated from coal at a very much lower cost. Perhaps there is some fear that it may even be supplied to aluminium refineries in the eastern States at below the cost of cheap coal generated electricity. Sir Charles Court will try to equal those cheap thermal generated rates with nuclear generated electricity which, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, is likely to be about five times as expensive to produce. All Western Australians should be greatly alarmed at the proposition put up by the Premier for purely economic reasons without bothering to consider the other substantial objections and reservations about uranium mining which exist.
-The Opposition’s amendment is of a piece with the whole of the Opposition’s attitude to the development of uranium mining in this country. One can see that it has put forward possibly a sensible way of dealing with the development of atomic energy in this country in the future. This is only one of the possible ways of dealing with that development. But the Opposition ‘s motives are not to facilitate the development of uranium mining in this country. We have to see that the Atomic Energy Act, which I think the Government accepts was designed in its original form to apply entirely to uranium in its defence aspect, is not at all appropriate for dealing with uranium mining for commercial purposes. It is agreed that the Act requires substantial amendment to make it appropriate for that purpose.
The relatively minor Bill which is before us seeks to remove some of the draconian penalties contained in the original Act. I should have thought that the Opposition would welcome the removal of those penalties. The amendments contained in the Bill do not go as far as I think all of us would have liked to have seen, but the redrafting of the Act to make it better, perhaps the introduction of new legislation, takes time.
– How long do you need to repeal the application of half a dozen provisions?
– I must say that I am disappointed that it has taken as long as it has to do this. Nevertheless, what is before us represents a step forward, an advance, an improvement. What the Opposition would have us do is not to make that improvement, which clearly is absurd. For that reason, I entirely reject the amendment moved by the Opposition. Whether the Opposition ‘s suggested structure for atomic energy developments in this country is appropriate is a matter for debate. There is a recent report from the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council on some of these aspects. It is now being considered by the Government. When it has been so considered proposals will be put before us. Then we will be able to see how that Council’s recommendations compare with the alternatives, one of which has been put up by the Opposition. But at the moment it is merely a red herring to consider alternative methods of handling this matter. What we should be concentrating on is what is before us, which quite clearly is an appropriatenot a complete, but an appropriate- amendment to the principal Act to make it more suitable to the use of uranium mining in the commercial field. For that reason, I entirely support the Bill.
However, I have one worry or objection, which Senator Walsh mentioned. I did not know that he had seen the terms of my proposed amendment. I am worried about clause 6 of the Bill, which seeks to repeal the provision under which any activities of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission are subject to the rather draconian provisions of the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947. Honourable senators may not be aware of the provisions of that 1947 Act, but they are worth looking at. Under section 4 of that Act, anyone who, without reasonable cause or excuse, goes in for boycotts, publishes any declaration of a boycott, by speech or writing advocates or encourages the prevention, hindrance or obstruction of the carrying out of an approved defence project, or by violence or threat of violence to person or property or by any other unlawful means prevents, hinders or obstructs, or endeavours to prevent, hinder or obstruct, the carrying out of an approved defence project, shall be guilty of an offence. The penalties for the offence can range up to 12 months imprisonment.
I do not think that any honourable senator would argue that those sorts of penalties are appropriate for commercial undertakings. Nevertheless, there may be activities of the Atomic Energy Commission in the defence field to which those penalties may be appropriate. I entirely accept that the Government is entitled to invoke those provisions where appropriate. But the invocation by the Government of those provisions must be subject to parliamentary disallowance. Therefore, I propose at the Committee stage to move an amendment to clause 6 of the Bill to provide that, when the Government invokes the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act in respect of particular activities of the Atomic Energy Commission, invocation of that Act will be subject to disallowance by this Parliament. I shall move accordingly at the Committee stage of this Bill. Other than that, I support the thrust of the Bill. No honourable senators would argue that it is a complete answer to the problem, but it represents a substantial step forward. The Opposition’s amendment would prevent that step forward being taken.
– The Australian Democrats support the amendments contained in the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill 1980, although I would not go so far as to say, as Senator Hamer did, that they represent a substantial improvement. They will remove just a few of the thoroughly undemocratic and autocratic legal umbrellas which the Government has elected to erect and to maintain over the nuclear industry. The Government has elected to do so for reasons of its own, about which we do not hear very often.
– They do not necessarily remove anything.
– I hear an honourable senator protesting at the view that the amended Act will still contain outrageous powers. I believe that Part IV of the Atomic Energy Act is iniquitous throughout its whole length. Clause 50 of that Part states:
Where a person is found committing an offence against section 44, 45, 46, 48 or 49 -
They are all very broad umbrella clauses which can be applied in an emergency to publicity or even to a valid citizen protest against nuclear energy- or is reasonably suspected of having committed or of having attempted to commit such an offence, a constable may, without warrant -
Sub-clause (2) of that clause gives wide powers over the seizure of objects, documents and the like. I notice that that clause contains a curious, rather quaint concession to human rights, something which is a little comical in this day and age. A female, although she may have surrendered all her other human rights, as the Act puts it, ‘shall not be searched under this section except by a female ‘. I think that that makes the point that the Bill which we have before us does not go very far in assisting the cause of human rights or the genuine, reasonable rights of Australians in this area.
What do we have? We have a thoroughly dangerous, uneconomic and misrepresented industry which, as the months and years go by, is revealed for what it is, a terrible danger to the human race. Recently the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) said that those who oppose nuclear power would have us all going back to swinging in trees like apes. In fact, it is those who propose that we should continue with nuclear power who most certainly will have us back in the trees swinging like apes, reverting to the Dark Age which was perpetrated on this planet for perhaps two half lives of PU239, that is, 50,000 years, by the misuse of that dangerous substance. I believe that I should justify that statement as not being my view alone. I shall quote a statement I believe to be valid. I think some honourable senators will be aware of it. The statement appeared in the Canberra Times last week- in fact, on 27 February- and was reported to have been made by Sir Mark Oliphant, who is a very highly respected figure in this area. In fact, he was one of our most eminent scientists in the development of the nuclear industry. He was reported as having said:
The newspaper report continues:
In the hands of the unscrupulous or the power hungry, and even of criminals inside a country these weapons could become the trigger of large scale nuclear war with all its consequences, ‘he said.
Sir Mark said there was no secret of nuclear weapon manufacture and every nation that had made and tested a weapon had succeeded first time.
That is what we are leading the world into. There again, one might ask: Is Sir Mark’s view a reasonable one? Perhaps he is a prejudiced person. Therefore, I will test it a little further as the implications of this matter are so serious. After all, we are considering in this Bill not so much just the proposed amendments it contains but also Senator Walsh’s amendment, which goes a great deal further and recommends a complete recasting of our attitude towards atomic energy. We in the Australian Democrats approve of that point of view and we will support that amendment. I go back to the question of the reason for this. Is it reasonable for us to be taking the attitude we- have towards nuclear power? I will go to a report from the Age of 26 February which honourable senators may have seen. It describes a two-year international study of the development of nuclear power conducted by the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation Group. I believe this is internationally regarded as by far the most authoritative statement on the matter. That study group has concluded: there is no hope of preventing a rapid increase of weapons usable’ plutonium.
The final reports of the study, presented here today to representatives of more than SO nations attending the International Nuclear Fuel-Cycle Evaluation- INFCE- forecast a seven-fold jump in the amount of plutonium produced by nuclear . . . plants- to a total of about 500 tonnesbetween now and the end of the 1 980s.
I quote again from this report:
About 10 kilograms of ‘commercial-grade ‘plutonium -
I repeat ‘commercial-grade’ because there are those who come back and say that commercialgrade reactor fuel cannot be used for bombs. This is the statement:
About 10 kilograms of ‘commercial-grade’ plutonium would be needed to manufacture an atomic weapon, according to the INFCE Study.
We could not have it more authoritative than that. It goes on:
Plutonium that will have been turned out by nuclear power plants as part of their burned-up fuel by the end of this decade will thus be enough for more than 45,000 bombs.
It is worth speculating briefly on the nature of these bombs. They will not be good bombs, if indeed any nuclear bomb can be called a good bomb. Some, however, are worse than others. It is a fact that bombs made by smaller countries, those with insufficient technology, are notorious for a very high rate of nuclear fallout. This is a scientific fact. Even a relatively local war that existed in which a number of these bombs were used could create a fallout situation around the world. Countries like our own, which never suspected what was happening, could have a cloak of fallout which we never expected and against which we have no redress. Once that fallout is there it is a form of pollution which will last more or less forever. To cloak an industry and a branch of science which is contributing so massively to this kind of problem I believe is not only stupid but also very dangerous.
Australia basically is a free society. We have no place surely for those who want to bully and push around citizens by perverting the law to the financial benefit of the one industry. I think that is really the matter which we have to come to grips with here. This is protection of a private industry. This is an industry like any other except it seems to have a special mandate to push around citizens, to see that they are pushed around and to pervert our own processes of law and order, to use our own police forces in a perverted effort to prevent what their normal function ought to be, to protect among other things the ordinary rights of citizens. Hence there is this continuing desire in the Act to prevent certain matters from reaching the healthy light of day in investigation.
At this stage I would like to go to a more local point referring to some of my own constituents, the people of the shire of Sutherland in Sydney’s southern outskirts. There suburban growth, especially in the Engadine district, has grown to the extent to which settled areas are now relatively close to the Lucas Heights reactor. The action groups in Sutherland are quite worried about the dangers of contamination and especially long-lived radiation hazards. I think this is something else that the Government will have to look at very soon within the terms of this Act. I suggest to the Government that it is now quite inappropriate for an establishment containing a relatively large nuclear reactor to be located at Lucas Heights. I think the Government should take action as soon as possible on that matter. I am not all reassured by reports that I have had back from people in those action groups who have told me that they have had meetings with officers of the Atomic Energy Commission who have brought forward the suggestion, ‘We were here first, therefore nothing should be done’. Residential development certainly came later. I suggest that that has not the slightest bearing on the subject of risk to Australian citizens except that it does indicate something of a lack of foresight on the part of those who did not realise what Sydney’s southern urban growth might have been before they located the Atomic Energy Commission establishment at Lucas Heights
The Atomic Energy Commission has made it quite clear that the existing reactor is close to the end of its useful life. We have had warnings of that. The Government has had warnings and doubts have been expressed publicly about the safety of that reactor if it is allowed to go on functioning into the indefinite future. Undue delay on a replacement reactor, if we are going to have one for isotope use, would be demonstrably irresponsible on the part of the Government, especially since, as time goes by, the housing development will continue to come closer and closer to the reactor’s area and will increase in density. Citizens of Sutherland will have increasing reasons to fear contamination of water supplies and air and danger to themselves and to their children. The shutdown of the present reactor is in itself surely something of a problem which has not to my mind been publicised or considered very much. Even though one takes the fuel rods out of a reactor, an enormous mass of highly radioactive material remains radioactive at the very least for 50,000 years.
Even at that stage two half lives of PU239, which is a major contaminant to be found there, will only be reduced to a quarter of the present radioactivity. If the new reactor is to be built, the Australian Democrats say that it must not be built at Lucas Heights, simply because to build another reactor on that site, or close to it, would only be to compound the present problem, to double it at least and to create even more hazards into the not too distant future. We have to consider the time scales over which these contaminated areas have to be held. Alternatively the old reactor could be dismantled, but that would be at enormous cost and it would produce an immediate storage problem for large quantities of radioactive materials. In other words we have all the familiar problems of any involvement with nuclear power. I am prepared to agree that isotopes are useful and valid in society but at least I think we should get this one right. We do not have huge quantities of nuclear material to store. We have to face the problem of removing or shutting down one reactor fairly soon. I would think that we have to come to grips with that problem as soon as we can. If the old reactor is to remain in position with all of its faults there is the need to recognise that the structure will remain dangerously radioactive for very long time scales.
I think that there is a case to be made for independent monitoring of that whole area probably from now onwards. I think it should have been done in the past. The local council, in this case Sutherland shire, is the responsible authority. We suggest that it should carry out this function independently of the Atomic Energy Commission because it is an inherently mad principle that that Commission, protected as it is by the ridiculous Bill that the Government allows to continue, cannot possibly be a proper monitor or one that can be trusted. If the Government has said through what is contained in this Bill that it is not going to allow any honesty, any real release of information within this whole area of nuclear power, anybody who tries to find out or who carries out any of these normal investigatory functions, perhaps in the interests of citizens or themselves is subject to these draconian provisions which are still in the Act. Why does the Government not do something about that? Why do we get this hypocritical nonsense we are having fed to us with this Bill? That is the reason why, among other things, that we support the Labor amendment, because we believe that to give all these powers to the Atomic Energy Commission is to create an area which is not safe and which is also horribly inefficient. I will go on with that matter a little more in a moment.
What then should we do? I think we will have to answer one point. If a new reactor were to be built some distance away, what would we do with the present infrastructure of Lucas Heights? The answer I think is perfectly simple. We have need in this country for a proper energy authority, for an authority which deals with other forms of power, safe forms of power, many of which are under discussion in this Parliament. Every day everyone is interested in energy. I think it is probable that the infrastructure of Lucas Heights could be used a lot better for that sort of thing. We have computer scientists, statisticians and a wide range of people who, I am assured by the officers working at Lucas Heights because of the relative rundown in the nuclear program, do not have enough to do. They are being wasted and so is very much of the infrastructure at that place. I think it would be possible for us to locate an energy authority concerned with safe renewable means of energy development at Lucas Heights. These nuclear aspects could be realistically seen in the future as no more than a limited isotope facility, and they could then be located around the new small reactor to be erected at some site very remote from areas of settlement and likely to remain so. I think, with all respect to plans for Lucas Heights, we should stop our people there from fiddling around with what I believe are supposed to be classified areas of enrichment with centrifuges and things of that nature. This work has been done in other parts of the world. It is not necessary to do it again here. I do not think that that is the sort of area in which we should be wasting money and involving ourselves when there are other things on which we could be spending money which would solve our energy problems a lot more quickly and safely.
One particular point which I want to raise is this: I think it is a good point and it is relevant to this Bill because it shows how ludicrous some of the consequences in maintaining the present set-up can be. When one visits Lucas Heights one goes through a public relations effort- I know because I went through this myself- by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which is making a fairly concerted sort of attack on coal as an energy source. There is a great visual display. Perhaps I should not say that as I have not been there over the last few days, but it was there quite recently. We have the ludicrous situation in which one public authority which is supposed to be in the energy field is spending public money in attacking some other form of energy which is under development elsewhere in this nation. I understand too that these regular information briefings at Lucas Heights would say, as I know from my own experience, that potentially dangerous amounts of chemical are being released as a result of using coal as a fuel. As described to me, these chemicals include arsenic, thallium and indeed uranium. It was not until I spoke to another reputable scientific authority, which is quite beyond reproach, that it was put to me that what the Commission does not say is that it is standard practice for major consumers to effectively remove something like 98 per cent of these chemicals through the use of electrostatic precipitators. The coal goes into the major fire power stations which are the principal users of coal as we know, in a finely powdered form. This results in a fine fly ash as a residue. This fly ash certainly does contain the dangerous minerals described by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. However, the vast majority of these residues is trapped by the precipitator and held under water in an ash pond and eventually put back as mine fill or otherwise effectively isolated from the environment.
– Are you saying that it should not become part of an overall energy authority?
– No, I am not saying just that it should become that. I am saying that one should be located there. I have been informed by these responsible scientists that figures as low as half of one per cent of those used by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission actually get through to the air. But I put that aside. I think that is a bad thing. It is a bad use of public money that one authority of this sort should be extending itself to take such a partisan and protagonist view in an area of controversy. It is even worse that it should continue to do that in the sure knowledge that if there is a crunch situation there is a law which is as draconic, as unfair and as undemocratic as that which continues in this ridiculous Act which we are forced to criticise once or twice a year or every time it comes up, simply because it is so ridiculous, so undemocratic, and it ought to be changed.
The Australian Democrats urge the Government to please stop the sort of ineffectual meddling with this Act that these amendments represent. It asks: What are these amendments? Are they supposed to be a sort of bone thrown under the table for people like us to chew on and to say: Thank you, Sir’? It is not that at all. It is hardly worth our while wasting our time on these amendments. We need to look harder at this Act. The whole question of energy research and facilities for that research also need to be looked at harder, and the sooner it is done the better it will be for everybody concerned. Certainly the Australian Democrats say that changes should be made- very comprehensive changes- before any planning whatsoever begins for a new reactor.
-The Opposition is very gratified to have had the support of Senator Mason on behalf of the Australian Democrats, because the Opposition, like the Australian Democrats, is tiring of the Senate chamber being faced every five or six months -
– Are you a small party too?
– We do not tire to the extent of going home early before a crucial vote, but we are tiring of every five or six months being presented in this chamber with amendments to an Act which is revealed constantly as being totally inadequate as a legislative framework for the exploitation of Australia’s uranium reserves for, as we are told, peaceful purposes and for commercial profit. As we know, the Atomic Energy Act was drafted in the 1950s mainly to deal with the Rum Jungle deposits when the uranium produced from those deposits was needed for the nuclear weapons program of our allies. The Act bears all the hallmarks of that particular period and is totally inappropriate as a framework for carrying out for commercial gain and for peaceful purposes the exploitation of Australia’s uranium resources now being envisaged and actually occurring.
The Opposition, the Australian Democrats included, and to his credit, Senator Missen, have said time and time again in this chamber in the 1 8 months that I have been here that it is the case that this Act is a real threat to civil liberties in this nation. We have been ridiculed every time. But this Atomic Energy Amendment Bill 1980 vindicates that particular stand. I remember that on 15 March last year at Burnie I was engaged in a debate with the then Minister for Environment, Housing and Community Development, Mr Ray Groom, on this very topic. Such was the tension and drama associated with this debate at Burnie that Commonwealth Police had been summoned to stand in the corridors in order to prevent the unrest and turmoil which it was thought that this debate would generate. In fact it was conducted in a gentlemanly fashion. But during that debate Mr Groom said- it is recorded in Australia’s leading regional daily the Advocate- that there was no risk to civil liberties in Australia involved in this legislation.
This Bill vindicates our constant opposition and rejection of the piecemeal approach to the amendment as exemplified by this Bill at the end of a long list of many such amending Bills. I am pleased to see that Mr Groom’s complacency and denigration of those who said that civil liberties were threatened by this Act is now revealed as nothing more than a lazy political attitude to the whole question.
I should like to look at the Bill itself. It really has two major functions. The first is to ensure that where authority to mine a prescribed substance on behalf of or in association with the Commonwealth is to take place, then the consent of the State in which the mining is to take place is required unless and only if the Commonwealth is engaged in that venture for defence purposes. I find that very strange. I cannot really understand why this attempt to circumscribe the power of the Commonwealth to authorise mining on its behalf or in conjunction with others in an untrammelled or unfettered way is limited to cases where the defence power is involved as the only- I emphasise only- justification for authorising the exploitation of a resource. As I say, in every other case the consent of the State concerned will be required. The effect of the Bill then is to make a decision to exploit a reserve of uranium whether now under this Government’s policies or later, even under a Labor government, if at some future date waste disposal and proliferation problems are acceptably dealt with.
Here we find a situation where a Commonwealth government is prevented from exploiting a resource by or on behalf of the Australian people unless it obtains the consent of the State concerned. It can be frustrated, it can be fettered, it can be trammelled by the petty parochial policies which may emerge in any State due perhaps to that State’s lack of vision, its lack of comprehension of a national project and, even more dangerously and perhaps more predictably, simply because of a contrary political attitude to the national government, whichever government it may be. I see no reason why the Commonwealth Government’s participation in the development of such an important and critical resource, ought to be dependent upon a State government’s consent, which, as I say, for all sorts of reasons, may wish to frustrate a legitimate national interest in this area. After all, the Commonwealth’s specific reason for being engaged in the development of a uranium project may not even be simply that it is acting on behalf of the Australian people by way of commercial enterprise for peaceful purposes.
The Commonwealth also has very real obligations in the field of foreign relations and international commerce. It may well be thought desirable for the Commonwealth, as a sole venturer or in participation with others, to engage in the exploitation of such a resource in order to gain understanding and to get the information that inevitably is available only to persons involved in the exploitation and the entrepreneurial side of dealing with a particular industry. Our nuclear non-proliferation commitments may well be served by Australia’s participation in such a venture unhindered by the need to get State consent. I think that if Australia is engaged in trading internationally, in placing these sorts of materials into world commerce, then it might be a good thing for the Government to participate in such a project in order that it may gain the experience and understanding which comes only from participation as a venturer in such an industry.
One is not surprised that the Commonwealth Government has not taken its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty seriously enough to give itself that opportunity of gaining such experience, quite apart from State consent. One recalls that it was pointed out in the debate in the Senate in November 1978 that the Commonwealth had failed to give itself the power to revoke absolutely an authority to mine, even though the Bill then being discussed was presented in the guise of assimilating the powers of the Commonwealth in this area to those commonly found in State or Northern Territory mining laws or ordinances. Honourable senators will remember that the Government did not give itself the power to bring about the absolute forfeiture, at the instance of the Government, of a lease to develop a uranium mining project. As Senator Button so eloquently pointed out at the time, this was no doubt deliberately left in such a situation by the Government in order to prevent a future Labor Government from revoking an authority to mine, for example, on the ground that waste disposal problems had not been sufficiently well addressed by current technology or that nuclear non-proliferation safeguards were proving insufficient. The decision of the Government then flew in the face of the advice of the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry, known colloquially as the Fox Report. Recommendation No. 6 of that Report explicitly requested the Government to give itself the power. It states:
That was in the context of talking about the dangers of international movement of such materials and the fact that this might unintentionally contribute to the hazards of nuclear warfare. The Government disabled itself from giving itself yet another means of fulfilling its obligations to the international community in regard to nuclear non-proliferation. I come back to the point I was making. I believe that the Commonwealth ought to be able to engage in a project such as this in order to gain the experience, the insights and the understanding of the industry that can only come from being involved. It should not be dependent for that insight on the say so or consent of a State government.
The same lack of strength in dealing with the waste disposal problem is revealed, I believe, in the answers that Senator Carrick gave to me at Question Time only last week. I brought to Senator Carrick ‘s attention the statement by President Carter. I quote from the presidential speech to Congress requesting funds for the development, over a period of some 1 5 years- it is expected to be completed in the mid 1990s- of a suitable program of depositories for nuclear waste. During that speech President Carter said:
For more than 30 years, radioactive wastes have been generated by programs for national defense, by the commercial nuclear power program, and by a variety of medical, industrial and research activities. Yet past governmental efforts to manage radioactive wastes have not been technically adequate.
So Presidential authority is given to the view which has been put forcibly by honourable senators on this side of the chamber- I include the Australian Democrats- that at the moment there is no technically adequate means of dealing with highly toxic radioactive wastes. President Carter called for a program to be founded by Congress in order to enable sites for fullscale repositories to be selected by 1985 and for them to be operational by the mid 1990s. In answer to my question on this matter, Senator Carrick slid away from the purport of the question. He said that he believed, as I believe, that the expertise is available now to make an assessment of current technology and engineering answers to the question. My point was that the current assessment which can be made- the capacity is there to make the assessment- reveals that current technology is utterly inadequate. Hence the call by President Carter for the pouring in of millions of dollars from the public treasury of the United States of America to aid the contributions from private industry so that a solution may be found.
I may appear to be wandering from the terms of the Bill but I make the point that it is not only for defence purposes that the Commonwealth may want to join in, either as a sole venturer or in participation with others, in the exploitation of this critical energy resource. It may also want to do so in order to fulfil its obligations to the international community under the nuclear nonproliferation treaties, or in order to put itself in a position where, as a real participant in the industry, it can come to a full understanding of the current state of waste disposal techonology and engineering solutions that may be proposed. I believe it is ludicrous that an Australian Government, which represents the sovereign will of the federating peoples of this nation, should have its policies fettered, frustrated or hindered by what may be a parochial attitude by a particular State government which does not comprehend the national vision or program that may be involved in the exploitation of this resource.
I come to the aspect of the Bill which deals with civil liberties and return to the point I made earlier- that this Bill represents yet another tinkering with what is fundamentally a quite inappropriate legislative framework for the exploitation of a resource for peaceful purposes and for commercial profit. The Bill deals with sections 54 and 58 of the current Act. I say, with all the generosity I can muster, that it is good to see that sections 54 and 58 will be repealed totally and utterly. Section 54 has been on the statute book year after year, despite the Opposition constantly pointing out that it is a section which should never appear in the statute books of any democratic country. Section 54 states:
No action lies against the Commonwealth, a State, the Commission, a constable or a peace officer in respect of an arrest, apprehension, detention, search, seizure or act in pursuance of or for the purposes of this Part, but, if the Governor-General is satisfied that an arrest, apprehension, detention, search, seizure or act was made or done without reasonable cause, he may award reasonable compensation in respect of it.
The effect of this section is to grant immunity in advance. Commonwealth police officers, constables or peace officers, knowing of the existence of this provision, are assured of immunity. They can carry out illegal detention, search or seizure of property. This granting of immunity in advance from any legal repercussions resulting from that illegal dealing with a citizen or his property is akin to what was happening under the Smith regime in Rhodesia, where the security forces knew they could carry out actions against the general population of Rhodesia without risk of criminal sanction. The result of section 54 is obvious; a situation can be created whereby, with political connivance on the part of the Minister, so-called police, security or peace forces can enter homes, seize property, search, detain and arrest without any risk of being called before the courts to explain their actions and of being punished for them. It is very gratifying to see that at least in this one respect, though too late and too isolated, the Opposition’s plea for the repeal of this section has been heeded.
– Has it operated?
– It has not, as 1 understand, been brought into operation, This is really what is so undemocratic about it. It hovers in the air. It is constantly available to a government and to the police or security forces. It enables a government to move, suppress, intimidate and harass citizens at its whim. It can be brought into operation at any time. That will not be possible if this Bill becomes law tonight, and that is something for which we should be grateful. As I say, it is too late and too isolated. It should be part of a comprehensive Bill to deal with the many such sections in the current Act.
I turn to the modification of section 60. 1 regret that I was unavoidably absent from the chamber when Senator Hamer made his contribution on this section. When I read this Bill, I felt that was no improvement at all- in fact, that it was more dangerous than the current section. I will describe section 60 in a moment. The general point I am making- I believe my point is in harmony with what Senator Hamer had to say- is that at least at present section 60 purports by way of parliamentary decision, by way of the elected representatives’ decision, to apply the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act to activities undertaken by the Atomic Energy Commission.
– To all actions?
– To all actions undertaken by the Commission. But that is by decision of the elected representatives. It is standing in an Act of Parliament. This amendment places in the hands of the Executive, in the hands of the responsible Minister, an untrammelled, unfettered power to apply the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act to any activity, venture or action of the Commission which he selects. In other words, it allows the draconian provisions of that Act to be brought to apply to an aspect of the Atomic Energy Commission’s work, such as the exploitation of uranium resources, by simple decision of the Minister. What is section 60, which is in no way to be repealed by this Bill? Section 60 has the effect of bringing into operation a set of laws which have the effect of making it an offence for a person to boycott the project, even by withdrawal of labour. If a person withdraws his labour it could be interpreted as a boycott of the project- it would be a boycott of the projectand as such it would carry the possibility of a penalty under the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act.
We have a situation in which an Act which has a completely different milieu as its original justification could be applied by a government to a situation in which a venture is being exploited for peaceful purposes and for commercial gain. In a situation in which labour is withdrawn- after all, we are not a slave society; we are not required by the government to work; one can still withdraw one’s labour in advocating some particular industrial grievance- and that withdrawal occurs in a way which can be interpreted as being a boycott of labour under the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act, the sorts of penalties which I will describe in a moment can be brought to bear. But any sort of protest, any bringing to public notice of a desire that the project be hindered in any way, can bring into effect the penalties under this Act, so that even marching in a street or circulating a pamphlet with the purpose of ensuring that the timetable set by the Government for the exploitation of a resource is held up or hindered may lead one to be convicted. What is worse is that the offence can be prosecuted either summarily or upon indictment. The conclusion, depending on whether it is prosecuted summarily or upon indictment, can involve quite different penalties, namely, liability to a fine of $1,000 or six month’s imprisonment if the offence is prosecuted summarily or liability to a fine of $10,000 or 12 month’s imprisonment if the offence is prosecuted upon indictment. So a quite extraordinary and undue discretion is vested in the Attorney-General to decide on what basis a particular prosecution under the Approved Defence Projects Protection Act may take place.
The whole point is- I agree with Senator Missen- that whilst these provisions have not yet been brought into effect- they are not in operation- they are potentially available to a government. The fact that we on this side of politics are presently able, without fear, to advocate a timetable for the development of these projects at variance with that of the Government is not a right that we are exercising as citizens in this democracy; it is a privilege that we are allowed for the time being, at the whim of the Government. This privilege could be swept away at any time under this Bill by decision of the AttorneyGeneral, if he is the responsible Minister, that the approved Defence Projects Protection Act does apply to a particular mining project, say the Ranger Uranium project. Not only does he have the discretion to apply the Act to any project he wishes, but also he has the further discretion to prosecute in either way, with dire consequences for the person concerned. We on this side of the
House say, as I believe any true democrat would say, that any Australian citizen ought to be free to dissent peacefully, non-violently, from any announced project of this Government. The failure of the Government in this Bill to sweep away completely section 60 in its application to the commercial exploitation of uranium is an indictment of the Government.
I come to the amendment proposed by the Opposition. The amendment, quite simply, is that the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted because the Senate is of the opinion that the Act is totally inappropriate as a legislative basis for nuclear research and development and for commercial activities. This point has been made time and time again by the Labor Party, and I was pleased to hear it supported by the Australian Democrats in this evening’s debate. The Opposition is saying that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission ought to be completely reconstructed in a way which will prevent any semblance or possibility of conflict of interest. The entrepreneurial activities, the safeguarding activities, the basic research activities ought to be carried out by independent authorities, that is, authorities independent of one another. We say that a regulatory authority dealing with health, safety, security safeguards and non-proliferation activities ought to be set up, as has been proposed and done in the United States and in many comparable countries. It ought to be beyond reproach. The regulatory authority should not be involved in the entrepreneurial side of atomic energy development, such as the sale or production of isotopes. In relation to the latter, a commercial operation ought to be set up with all the powers necessary for the commercial production and marketing of such things as radio isotopes. Of course, a nuclear science authority ought to be set up in order to perform that basic research which is so essential to enable Australian governments of fair and good will to come to a proper assessment of the current state of nuclear technology.
These proposals are put forward in a constructive way, as has been the Opposition’s approach to all questions dealing with atomic energy. I know that this has not been said by any speakers on the other side of the chamber, but it has been said at times by those involved, particularly with the uranium producers’ lobby, that the Labor Party has been utterly destructive in its attitude to the exploitation of this critical energy source. That is not so. We would simply wish that the Government would come to the same understanding as is the understanding of the great majority of the Australian population, that the exploitation of this resource needs to be conducted within a framework which ensures that, as those materials circulate around the world, none are diverted to purposes or to powers, particularly unstable political powers, which may bring about the final destruction of the planet on which we live. Secondly, this exploitation has to be conducted with a real commitment to finding- as President Carter is pleading with the Congress to fund- solutions to the problem of waste disposal. Those solutions are not yet to be found. It would be good to hear from the Minister in his reply an expression of the realisation that that is indeed the case, as judged by the authority perhaps best placed in the world to judge- with the greatest experience both commercially and from the defence industries available to it, namely, the President of the United States. In the normal course of events this Government should agree with that assessement by the President of the United States. We should hear that from the Minister concerned. For those reasons I fully support the amendment moved by the Opposition and commend it to the Senate:
-When one hears the debate tonight one must say that it is very much of the curate’s egg: Some very good comments have been made by honourable senators on the other side of the chamber and some incredibly bad comments have been made in relation to the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill. It would appear that the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democrats would like the Bill, on the whole, to go through. Of course, one realises that if the Opposition’s amendment were to be carried, that is just what would not happen. In fact, these partial amendments which are in this Bill, are useful, even if they do not go to the extent that some honourable senators would like them to go, would disappear and would not become part of the law. I think we have all agreed on the law. I think we have all agreed tonight that the clauses ought to be removed. We are all very happy to go home to their funeral, yet their funeral would not take place if the amendment moved by the Opposition is carried tonight. It is all right for honourable senators opposite to say: ‘Yes, there is a different system to be used’. I agree with them. I think we should go a fairly extensive way in changing the system and not using the Atomic Energy Act in the way recommended originally by Mr Justice Fox. Nonetheless, the amendment tonight will achieve no purpose in that way.
In the course of the speech made by Senator Walsh he said that the Government was forced to recognise the deficiencies under which the Act has been operating. That is not a correct situation. The Government has not been forced to acknowledge anything. The Government has acknowledged that the Act certainly has deficiencies. It acknowledged this even when it brought the Act into operation a couple of years ago. In fact, it realised that there was a need for investigation. In the second reading speech the following words appear:
In relation to the security provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, the Government’s policy that penal provisions which were largely enacted for defence purposes would not be applied to ordinary commercial undertakings, was made clear in the debate on the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill (No. 1 ) 1978. In line with that policy the Government has decided to examine further the penal provisions of Part IV of the Act, having regard to their potential application to ordinary commercial undertakings, to restrict their operation in accordance with Government policy. The review of the penal provisions is currently underway. In the meantime, however, it has been decided that several amendments could be made to the penal provisions.
I think- and some of my colleagues are quite ready to say- that we are sorry that that review has not been completed and that we do not have before us a complete examination of the matter and a Bill which covers quite a number of other aspects, some of which I will refer to tonight. Nonetheless, it is quite wrong to say that the Government has been forced into a situation. Clearly the Government recognised the need for a review, and it recognised this at the time the debate took place two years ago. In the course of that debate questions were raised and Senator Carrick in reply said:
Now that particular aspects of the Atomic Energy Act may be used, it is a good time to reflect and amend if necessary.
That was said in response to criticisms that I and other honourable senators had made in respect of that issue.
In the course of this debate we have heard also a speech by Senator Tate. If I may say so, I thought it was one of his less convincing performances in this chamber. He told us that he was tired of the Act and its inadequacies and that he regarded it as totally inappropriate. I agree with him. But he went on to couple me in the criticisms which he and others are making and to say that we are ridiculed every time we criticise this Act. He can kindly count me out. I am not aware of being ridiculed or even replied to in regard to the criticism of this Act. If the honourable senator suffered that fate, I am sorry to hear that. But certainly it has not been my view that the Government or others who are concerned with this matter, have ridiculed the criticisms that have been made against it.
He went on to be- I think this is one of the very interesting aspects of his speech, and one wonders where the Labor Opposition stands in this matter- very critical of the loss of the option which the Federal Government would have to get experience of operating without State consent. He said that the Federal Government ought to be able to engage and not be dependent on the say so and consent of a State government. That statement, I am sure, contains words which will be very interesting to the State governments. Of course, one of the important provisions in this Bill is that the consent of the State governments must be obtained. Mr Keating, who resides in the House of Representatives, and I understand- the Minister for National Development and Energy (Senator Carrick) will correct me if I am wrong- is the grand panjandrum of the Labor Party on questions of energy and matters of that son, and speaks no doubt with some authority, said at page 356 of Hansard, 26 February 1980, talking of the purpose of the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill (No. 2) and about the difficulties created in 1978:
At that time the Government introduced changes to give the Commonwealth very wide scope to control the mining of uranium and other prescribed substances, as well as operations connected with uranium mining, without regard to the wishes of the States. This amendment led to confusion concerning the Commonwealth’s ability to authorise the mining of uranium.
Under the legislation it may have been possible for the Commonwealth to authorise to undertake uranium mining in a State even if this was contrary to State policy, and even though the exploitation of mineral resources is principally a State matter. The Government is seeking now to clarify the difficulties created by this change. At last it has recognised that there may be a Commonwealth-State conflict over such a matter. In amending this Bill the Government makes it clear that the Commonwealth authority to mine uranium will be subject to the consent of the State concerned unless authority is given for the purposes only of the defence of the Commonwealth.
He went on to say that the Opposition was not opposed to this amendment. I would have thought that that was a very clear indication that the Opposition was, in fact, welcoming this change. No, Senator Tate shakes his head. He apparently is able to correct us and to tell us that is Mr Keating ‘s view. What is the position? Is Mr Keating confusing the Australian people and the electors or is Senator Tate confusing them?
– It just shows that we have a freedom to be independent, freedom to dissent from the party line.
– I can understand why Senator Evans wants to come to the rescue of a colleague. That is very very kind of him. Perhaps both Mr Keating and Senator Tate are not telling the complete story. Clearly one cannot reconcile the two statements in the House of Representatives with what Senator Tate said tonight- his desire that the option should remain that the Commonwealth is able to override the States in this area. I just say that it is very mysterious and I am sure that the States will note that mysterious clash.
Finally in regard to the remarks of Senator Tate, I must refer to the interesting ideas he has about section 60 of the Atomic Energy Act. This section is the one in respect of which Senator Hamer is to move an amendment, which amendment I am very delighted to see and I shall certainly have much pleasure in supporting. But let us realise that when Senator Tate said that the present Act is somehow not too bad and the amendment makes it worse he went on to say that under the present Act it is subject to the will of the elected representatives. But what does the present Act say? Section 60 of the Act states:
The Approved Defence Projects Protection Act 1947 applies to and in relation to all works carried out by or on behalf of the Commission as if those works were approved defence projects within the meaning of that Act.
Where do we as representatives of the people come into this at all? I know we passed that Act in 1953- we did not pass it but somebody passed it in 1953. What is the control which the representatives of the people have over this? There is no control. At least the amending Bill which the Government has introduced does affect the position insofar as each particular decision must be taken. The Government had provided that all that had to be done was to have it gazetted. As Senator Hamer has pointed out, that is a quite inadequate provision. It is highly desirable that if a decision is made to apply these very significant and I think somewhat intimidating provisions of the Act, it ought to be a matter which comes before this chamber and in the other place where there is power to disallow if it is thought to be unsuitable; where it retains with us, the people’s representatives, an opportunity of disallowance. That is the amendment which Senator Hamer is to move to this Bill. I notice that in the House of Representatives there was not any Committee debate, but that is not particularly unusual as we know. At least it will be something which this chamber as the House of review has considered and has taken a step in affording the desirable protection which Parliament gives over these matters.
For some time I have been concerned with the Act, as I was in 1978 when I spoke at great length about certain weaknesses which I found in both the Environment Protection (Nuclear Codes) Bill at that time and also the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill. One thing that did particularly concern me and still concerns me is the fact that there was a decision to use the Atomic Energy Act. I refer of course to the statements by Mr Justice Fox in the Ranger inquiry when he said:
An alternative for Ranger left open by the Land Rights Act is an authority to mine under the Atomic Energy Act 1953. We strongly recommend against the use of that Act for the grant of an authority to Ranger to mine uranium. There are a number of different reasons for our recommendation.
And of course he set them out. Further on he said:
Although the Commonwealth is a participant, the project is to be, as we understand, an ordinary commercial one.
In any event, the section is inappropriate for a venture such as is planned, and which has to be subject to strong environmental controls, determined upon and maintained independently of the co-venturers.
Certainly there are difficulties which this Bill throws up because certain of the inappropriate sections are to be deleted, in particular sections 54 and 58. Section 54 states that there is no action against the Commonwealth, which Senator Tate referred to and I think it is highly desirable. I do not know whether the section has ever been used or has in fact ever stopped anyone from taking action, but that is not the point. It is not, Senator Tate, sufficient to say it is too late to do anything. That seems a very curious expression. It is not too late if nothing has happened. Certainly it is better to do it now than to have injustices later on. Likewise, section 58 of the Act, which indeed is a most curious one, states:
A person who does an act preparatory to the commission of an offence against this Part is guilty of that offence.
We are going a long way when such a vague offence is created as it is under that section. Senator Mason rather lovingly dwelt on section 50 of the Act and was critical of its application to a commercial operation but one could also have drawn his attention to sections 47, 55 and 62. I mention section 47 because I hope the continuing review will very quickly take into account provisions such as those in this section and consider how on earth they should be applying to commercial operations. Section 47 sets out the provisions on proof of intent on prosecution and amongst other things says:
One worries about provisions like the ‘known character of a person’ being sufficient to prove such offences. Section 55 likewise is another of those sections that certainly call for very early consideration in the review of this Act. If the Act is going to stay at all certainly some very heavy surgery must be done. Section 55 deals with restricted areas. It enables the Minister by notice to declare certain areas in or near areas where prescribed substances exist and people can be refused entry and so forth. Of course this may have very considerable effects on people ‘s rights and people’s use of land. There would appear to be very little way in which this is under any control whatsoever. I think that is a dangerously wide section. Section 62- and I do not say that these are in any way exclusive- contains a provision for the opportunity for courts to have hearings in camera which again I think must be scrutinised very carefully in relation to the subject.
I know these matters are under review by the Government because I asked a question on this subject on 22 August 1979. I referred the Attorney-General (Senator Durack) then to the undertakings which Senator Carrick had given and in reply Senator Durack said:
The Government has considered the need to introduce further amendments to that Act.
That is the Atomic Energy Amendment Act. Senator Durack continued:
I should say that in relation to the security provisions of the Act the Government ‘s policy that penal provisions which were largely enacted for defence purposes would not be applied to ordinary commercial undertakings was made clear in that debate. However, in line with the policy, the Government has decided to examine the penal provisions of Part IV of the. Act, having regard to their potential application to ordinary commercial undertakings.
So there is an assurance that the Government did not intend that it should apply commercially and I think it is wrong that the provisions should remain on the statute book. I think it ought to be so tailored that it does not cause harm in a commercial situation. I merely say in regard to this matter that I welcome the amendments. I recognise that they do not go very far. I am disappointed, of course, that a wider examination has not been made already. Surely we ought to pass these amendments tonight. It is important that the areas involved be cleared up. If one accepts Mr Keating rather than Senator Tate and accepts what else has been said tonight it is unquestionably desirable that these reforms pass into law. With these matters and also the highly desirable amendment of which Senator Hamer has given notice in mind, I support the Bill with pleasure.
-In rising to support the amendment moved by Senator Walsh to the Atomic Energy Amendment Bill 1980 I take up the cudgels on behalf of my comrade, Senator Tate. Senator Missen took him to task for being in opposition to the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), the Opposition spokesman on energy and resources in the House of Representatives. I point out that neither the honourable member nor anybody on this side of the chamber is opposed to clarification of the problem between the Commonwealth and the States in those two areas as laid out in the amendment put forward by the Government. Senator Tate was at pains to point out that the Bill is still far too narrow a base for Commonwealth action. There is no opposition between Senator Tate and the honourable member for Blaxland. There is perfect understanding between the two.
The only area that needs clarification is Senator Missen ‘s opinion of what the Bill can do. I am astonished that Senator Missen, who usually has a very deep understanding of these problems, can blandly acknowledge that two years ago the Government recognised that the Atomic Energy Act was not the ideal vehicle under which uranium should be mined and that the Government understood that the penalties that were contained in the Bill should not be applicable to commercial mining. It is all very well to say that the Government has no intention of using those penalties, but we are not all that sure that this Government knows how to keep its word or its promise and that it will not turn around next week and use every one of the penalties that is set out in the Bill. It is all very well to say that the Government is not forced to amend the Act. We say that the Government had no right to use the Act in the first place. It was against the very best of advice that the Government used the Atomic Energy Act as a vehicle to mine uranium.
As Senator Tate said, we stand up in the Senate year after year, and say: ‘ We told you so ‘. We told the Government when it first undertook to mine uranium that the Atomic Energy Act was not suitable for the purpose. We have stood up every year since and said so. What is more, the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry said so strongly. We have raised the matter and reiterated our views every year. It will not hurt to say them all over again. The Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry, when looking at the use of the Atomic Energy Act 1953, stated:
We strongly recommend against the use of that Act.
It will be seen . . . that the section gives power to carry on operations only if they are ‘on behalf of the Commonwealth’. It must be doubtful, to say the least, whether the proposed operations could fairly be said to be carried on on behalf of the Commonwealth. Although the Commonwealth is a participant, the project is to be, as we understand, an ordinary commercial one.
The Government cannot hide behind the fact that it did not understand or realise what was said. Why do we have this legislation? The report went on to state:
In any event, the section is inappropriate for a venture such as is planned, and which has to be subject to strong environmental controls, determined upon and maintained independently of the co-venturers.
Yet one of the co-venturers was acting as a body that could use the Act against people who did not altogether agree with the venture. As I say, the Ranger Inquiry did not agree with the matter. It continued:
It seems to us that s. 41 is a special power which was enacted at a time when the need to secure Australian uranium for use by Great Britain and the United States of America in nuclear weapons was uppermost in the minds of those concerned. If its use is to be continued in a situation where peaceful uses only are in mind and commercial profit is intended, the changed rationale should be recognised. The power, if it can be applied in the circumstances, should not be used simply because it exists and may appear convenient.
One of the things that worries the Opposition is that the power may be used because it exists. It may appear convenient to use the power. So what have we? We have a lazy government which was not prepared to legislate properly in this matter and which used an Act that just happened to be there. The report goes on:
A strong body of evidence demonstrates a widespread lack of confidence in the Atomic Energy Commission as the final arbiter of standards for the proposed mining operations, and as monitor of them. This is in part because it is proposed that the Commission be actively engaged as entrepreneur, and in part because one of its ordinary roles is the promotion of uranium mining and nuclear development generally.
Finally, the report states:
We see no reason why the scientific and technical expertise of the Commission should not be used in helping to fix standards and establishing monitoring procedures, and no reason why particular scientists and technicians should not be engaged in those activities . . . The central difficulty for present purposes is that they belong to an organisation whose function is not simply one of research; it is also an active commercial and political force in the promotion of nuclear development and the mining of uranium.
We are still in exactly the same position. It is not just the Opposition or the Ranger Uranium Inquiry that is saying that; the National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council also proposed a change in the circumstances in which we mine uranium. A newspaper article on the subject stated that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission should be required to undertake more non-nuclear research activities if the Government accepts the recommendations of the report brought down by the
National Energy Research, Development and Demonstration Council. The Council proposed a complete overhaul of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and a consequent reduction of its autonomy. That, of course, is the subject of the amendment which has been moved by Senator Walsh. What has always worried us is that the Atomic Energy Commission is Caesar hearing complaints against Caesar. The report of that National Energy Research Council went on to say:
That the Commission diversify into non-nuclear activities.
That its organisation be overhauled and its activities subject to overview and direction by an advisory body.
That its nuclear regulatory functions be hived off and vested in a separate body which would license and regulate power reactors instead of the Commission wearing both hats.
We would like to see the mining of uranium come out from underneath this Act altogether and a separate body be set up to look to the circumstances of mining uranium in this country, if indeed it needs anything other than the ordinary provisions made for mining any other mineral in this country.
Why should uranium have such special treatment all over the world and here in Australia? We were told that, because of the circumstances that existed in the Cold War and because uranium was the sort of material from which, quite bluntly, bombs could be made, the mining of uranium had to come under the umbrella of an Act that was born in those Cold War days. Now this Government is insistent that our uranium will not be used to produce bombs and nuclear weapons; that its only use will be power. If its only use is power- this Government is quite convinced that the provisions that it has applied will ensure that the only use of uranium will be in power- why utilise this Act which has these extraordinary provisions? Why not have a clean sweep? Why not take uranium out from under this Act entirely? We should not have to wait for two or three years to have the Act reviewed and to have certain provisions looked at. I venture to suggest that everybody is aware of these provisions and that they do not have to be reviewed at any great length. Either those provisions or uranium matters could be removed from the Act.
We do not have these sorts of provisions for the mining of coal, bauxite or oil. We have them only for uranium. When one enters into the mining of uranium in Australia, one’s civil rights are lost. They can be wiped out at the whim of a Minister. The Act prevents comment, protest and the right to strike. Last week Government supporters wept crocodile tears about people in other parts of the world losing civil rights. It would be a good idea if they set their house in order and considered that in mining certain commodities in Australia people have no civil rights whatsoever. I would like to see a few crocodile tears wept on behalf of the people who are mining uranium in the Northern Territory at the moment.
Certain amendments are being made to the Atomic Energy Act. Government speakers admit that they have still not solved the problem and that other amendments are necessary. There are still sections of the Act under which workers can be fined $1,000 or $10,000. They can be imprisoned for 6 months or 12 months for obstructing or hindering the project being carried on at Ranger. A strike or other industrial action there can, at the whim of a Minister, be called an obstruction. It is all very well for people to tell us that the Government would not use those sections of the Act. What possible right has the Government to expect us to believe that it would not, at a whim, use those provisions of the Act? Would workers on the Ranger site strike? One has only to look at the circumstances in which they work. A report in a Northern Territory newspaper in May of last year stated:
A contingent of Nabarlek construction workers, who flew into Darwin yesterday for an arbitration hearing on conditions in the uranium province, were eager to air their complaints outside the hearing.
They complained they had become virtual ‘prisoners’ of their employers because of the conditions and restrictions they were being forced to endure.
That was partly because they were subject to the Atomic Energy Act. The report continued:
Many have threatened to pack up and fly back home if the outcome of the current arbitration hearing on their log of claims is not met with a favourable response.
For many, work in the uranium province was the only alternative to retrenchment followed by almost certain unemployment and queuing for the dole check.
We know very well that this Government is not averse to forcing people to work in certain areas in which they do not particularly want to work because they feel that they are dangerous. We know that the Government is not averse to having a long queue of unemployed people waiting at the gate. That is the best way to make workers put up with any sort of conditions. I will continue with the sorts of problems that workers in the Ranger area have to put up with. The report further stated:
The men complain of a bad dust problem, of an unreliable power supply and inadequate facilities for the number of people at the construction camp.
The men are working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and they say they have no social life . . . Pay rates are lower than they are in the towns.
One electrician, who is earning S5.20 an hour at Nabarlek, could earn up to S7 in a town where conditions were far better.
That would depend, of course, on whether he could get a job in the town. I suspect that that was why he was working at Nabarlek. The report continued:
The men are not permitted to leave the site compound, and must carry identification tickets with their photo attached.
One said publicity given to the effects of uranium had stirred up an uncertainty about what the future held. ‘This is not coal or sand or something like that, ‘ he said.
How right he was. The report stated further:
We don’t know what effect this is going to have on our health in another 20 years or so. ‘
I suspect that if it has any sort of effect on his health in 20 years or so this Government will take no responsibility for it whatsoever; neither will the company for whom he works. The report continued:
About 30 per cent of the workers are men with families in other centres.
They said the unrealistic conditions of employment have been drawn up by Queensland Mines Limited in consultation with the Northern Land Council.
Under the Act as it exists, if any of those men continue to object to their conditions they can be dealt with. The Government could have dealt with them under the Act at the time of those complaints. It did not choose to do so but there is absolutely no guarantee that this Government will not in the future apply the provisions of the Act to people who object to working in those circumstances. The Government tends to pooh pooh the danger that working in uranium mines is a radiation risk. Not long ago the Federated Miscellaneous Workers Union of Australia prepared a report on working conditions in uranium mining. A newspaper article about that report stated:
Workers and management at Australia ‘s major uranium mines have an astonishingly nonchalant attitude to all procedures to safeguard health in this relatively unknown and hazardous industry . . . Although his report concluded that it was unlikely that any employee at Nabarlek had received dangerous radiation doses he found that at the Ranger Uranium mines site at Jabiru the lack of concern or knowledge of the hazards of radiation constituted a real potential danger.
Under this Act if organisers of unions consistently spoke to the workers in the uranium mines and finally convinced them that there was a problem, they could be removed from the site and dealt with under its harsh provisions. It has been accepted all over the world that radiation is a real risk to the health of workers. Despite that, it is obvious that the Government is not insisting that the firms which mine uranium point out the dangers and take action on them. It is obvious that while we continue to mine uranium, under this Act anybody who consistently points out the dangers can be dealt with. The newspaper article continued:
But it noted that the radiation segment of the induction course was not highly regarded by most employees. All induction courses had been held in Darwin . . . It is understood that none of the radiation staff were involved in the induction courses . . . The general impression gained was that ‘the induction courses were not regarded by employees as being particularly useful. Most of the adjectives used are unprintable’.
Several workers said that they had been told that further instructions would be given on site. Apart from information about the wearing of TLD badges (Thermoluminescent Detector- a personal radiation dose detector usually worn on the hip), further instructions did not eventuate . . Only signs written in English were observed during the investigation. Of the 5 1 men employed by one contractor, 34 had surnames suggesting that they were born outside Australia or had parents born overseas. At least two of these workers were thought not to be able to read or write in English.
So much for the provisions that are supposed to prevail in the area! So much for a government that is supposed to be concerned about safeguarding workers in this industry! What worries the Opposition, many people in Australia and many people in the trade union movement is that if unions send organisers to point out the dangers to people and to suggest that they move out of the area and stop putting themselves at risk, those organisers can be dealt with under the Act. The Government has been saying for three years that the Act may not be appropriate but it has not yet found time to amend it properly. The article continued:
Yet three years ago, when we went through that great parcel of uranium legislation, we were assured by the Government that it would keep the most stringent control over uranium mining, that it would ensure that the most stringent safety levels were upheld by the contractors in this area of uranium mining. Here we are in 1 980 still with reports of workers being put at risk and still with an Act which can deal in the harshest manner with anybody who points out the dangers and who might go on and get men to walk away from jobs which present those sorts of dangers. My final quotation from the article is as follows: . . the Northern Territory ALP Opposition spokesman on Mining, Bob Collins, wrote to the union following a number of visits he made to the Nabarlek site during the development of the deposit.
Referring to the Parliament in Darwin, the report continued:
He recently told Parliament: “Some of the things I saw at Nabarlek concerned me greatly, particularly the attitude of the workers to the problem of radiation and safety on the site and the way in which very basic safety procedures were being ignored”.
For what reason are we endangering Australian trade unionists, people who are concerned in the area, people who may be dealt with under this atrocious Act? All those people and all of that section of Australian life are being put in danger, and for what reason? It is for one contract which has been written since 1 972. Only one contract for uranium has been written since 1972 and that was with South Korea. The Minister assured me that South Korea had signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty so we had nothing to fear. But in September 1978 South Korea was showing off its home-made missiles at army day celebrations. Its local newspaper editorialised thus:
There is no gain saying that modern wars are decided by guided missiles. All we have to do to turn them into a new weapon is to put nuclear warheads on the missiles we have . . .
Our missile capacity has exceeded that of North Korea. However, we are still in a stage of initial development, when we compare them to the multihead missiles and other weapons produced by world powers.
Our remaining task is to continue to develop our weapons system in both quality and quantity.
Those words were published in a country which this Government assures us is a non-proliferation country when it comes to nuclear weapons. It is a country to which this Government assures us we can export our uranium with a clear conscience. It has signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it is hell-bent on using our uranium to provide nuclear missiles for its army. The only contract for uranium we have signed since 1972 is with that country, despite the fact that we have poured extraordinary amounts of money into that area, money which could have provided jobs for the unemployed in Australia in a lot of other areas of industry. The Government has flirted with other parts of the world which are not even as stable as South Korea, and South Korea does not have a record for being the most stable country in the world.
In the current problem with Afghanistan, countries such as Pakistan have been encouraged by this Government to defend themselves, so the Government says. This Government and the Government of Jimmy Carter have encouraged the Pakistanis to join them in attempts, they say, to contain the Soviet Union in Pakistan. Pakistan has a leader who seems set to defy the nuclear ban, yet Pakistan is a country to which this Government contemplated selling our uranium. Let us face it, with all the money which to this point in time has gone into the mining of uranium in Australia, people will become pretty desperate for customers if the only customer we have on the horizon at the moment is South Korea. Certainly there is no evidence that other countries are beating a path to our door demanding our uranium. I quote from an article concerning General Zia of Pakistan, which reads:
Pakistan hoped by next April-
That is, April this year- to test a thermonuclear device in defiance of attempts by nuclear powers to prevent the spread of the weapon . . .
Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper said the device Pakistan’s leader General Zia Ul-Haq hoped to explode ‘will not be a deliverable hydrogen bomb but the distinction is academic’.
The only countries which are looking for our uranium are countries like Pakistan which have all sorts of reasons for wanting to produce nuclear devices. Mr President, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– I inform the Senate that I have received a letter from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Carrick) requesting that Senator Lewis be discharged from further attendance on the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations and nominating Senator Rocher to be a member of the Committee.
Motion (by Senator Carrick)- by leaveagreed to:
That Senator Lewis be discharged from further attendance on the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations and that Senator Rocher, having been duly nominated in accordance with Standing Order 36aa, be appointed a member of the Committee.
Motion (by Senator Carrick) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Earlier today Senator O’Byrne implied in a speech made in the Senate that I had been associated with the nazis in Yugoslavia during World War II. I state unequivocally and without qualification that all of those allegations and imputations are in every respect absolutely false and without any basis in fact. I am confident that I will be fully vindicated and my good name will be entirely cleared by the courts of New South Wales when legal action I am taking against the Sydney Daily Telegraph on the basis of a story that newspaper published on that allegation has been finalised.
– Earlier today I had occasion to raise a matter, a report on which appeared in the newspaper Challenge Number 22 of January 1980, in which grievous allegations were made against one of our colleagues. So that the matter can be thoroughly examined, I think that the whole text of that report should be printed in Hansard. The document has been tabled. If I fail in my attempt to be granted leave of the Senate to have a copy of it incorporated in Hansard, I shall place it on the record by reading it. But first of all, I seek leave of the Senate to have the whole text of the article incorporated in Hansard.
– Is that the article which was tabled, Mr President?
– Yes, it is the article which was tabled.
– An action has been taken. It is now the property of the Senate as a tabled document.
– But it has not been recorded in Hansard. Mr President, I seek leave to have the article to which I referred, appearing at pages 1, 14 and 15 of the Challenge publication, incorporated in Hansard.
The document read as follows-
LIBERALS’ NAZI COLLABORATORS
Many times over the last two decades people have questioned the relationship between the Liberal Party and organisations and individuals accused of collaborating with the Nazis in occupied Europe.
The best known of these organisations is the Ustasha, the Croatian Nationalist organisation, whose members have been responsible for bombing Yugoslav premises in Sydney and Melbourne, and for training terrorists for the ‘liberation’ of Croatia. Liberal Party parliamentarians have often attended functions organised by Croatian Nationalist groups which are clearly fronts for the Ustasha organisations. Photographs published in Croatian papers often have these Liberal MP’s posed under the flag of the quisling Croatian government and/or photographs of the quisling leader Ante Pavelic.
Ustasha activities went unchecked in this country until the Labor government was elected. Then Attorney-General Lionel Murphy (now a High Court judge) raided ASIO headquarters in March 1973 because he believed that ASIO was withholding information on the Ustasha and other antiYugoslav organisations. Documents obtained by Murphy and subsequently tabled in Parliament disprove the Liberals’ oft-repeated claims that the Ustasha didn’t exist or was of no significance.
Of more topical concern is the activities of individuals from parts of Yugoslavia other than Croatia. Allegations about the wartime activities of a number of individuals have periodically surfaced. Many of these individuals are members of the Liberal Party. Because the claims were never adequately substantiated they were generally dismissed as smears. Often the individuals would avoid the allegations by pointing out that they were not Croatians. (This was effective partly because of Australia’s racist generalisations which make all Croatians fascists, and all other Yugoslavs OK). As well the Liberals, their media supporters, and their governments did not wish to pursue the matter.
But this great cover-up has finally blown up in the face of the Liberal Party. In particular the wartime activities of Lyenko Urbanchich have been exposed. Urbanchich, until his recent suspension, was chairman of the now defunct NSW Liberal ‘s Ethnic Council. Other Liberals are also subject to scrutiny.
Urbanchich ‘s undoing came as a result of two pressures. First was the gradual collection of information on him over the years, particularly in recent years, by people who are concerned about the growth of fascist organisations in this country. The second source of pressure came from within the Liberal Party itself. Urbanchich is associated with an extreme right-wing, fundamentalist faction within the Party. As long as this group was a small minority they were acceptable. In fact the Liberal Party set up its Ethnic Council in order to accomodate part of this faction, and Urbanchich became its chairman and frequent public spokesman. However the extremist faction continued to grow, and to remain as uncompromising as ever.
URBANCHICH- COLLABORATOR TO LIBERAL
Some people in the Liberal Party realised that, for their own survival, the extremists had to be cut down to size. Part of this campaign was acquiescence or encouragement to moves to subject Urbanchich to public scrutiny.
Ever since Urbanchich became chairman of the Ethnic Council questions have been asked about his wartime activities. The exposure finally erupted into substantial allegations on 27 August on the ABC’s Broadband program. This program described the nature of the Slovenian Home Guard with which Urbanchich was associated.
Since then questions have been asked in NSW Parliament. NSW Attorney-General Frank Walker ordered an investigation and presented the findings to the NSW Parliament in November. The Liberal Party has also begun a belated investigation. The remainder of this report is mostly from Walker’s findings.
But first a little history. Early in 1941 the then Yugoslav Government signed a pact with Germany and Italy. In march 1941 Yugoslav army officers staged a coup against the pro-Axis government. In April 1941 Germany and Italy invaded Yugoslavia. Some areas were occupied and administered by the Germans, some by the Italians. Slovenia, from where Urbanchich originates, was occupied by the Italians. In late 1943, the Italian Fascist Government collapsed and the Germans took over the areas administered by the Italians. During the German/Italian occupations, quisling governments and military organisations were established.
The charges against Urbanchich arc that he was a member of the Slovenian Homeguard (National Guard) which collaborated with the German occupiers. As a member of the Homeguard he worked as a journalist in its Information Department and was a regular contributor to the Sovenian newspaper Jutro. His articles in that paper are described as pro-Nazi and anti-Jew.
Urbanchich admits to being a member of the Slovenian Homeguard and to being a journalist. However his recollection of the role of the Homeguard and of his role as a journalist differ from those of his accusers.
On 24 August 1979. Urbanchich was quoted in the Sydney Daily Telegraph as having said: I fought against the Germans during the war … an organisation which I belonged to, the Slovenian National Guard, fought with Mihailovich ‘s partisans- we helped Jews escape the Germans … I was a contributor to Jutro and wrote antiNazi articles.
In an article in Slovenski Obzornik v Australiji (Slovenian Horizons in Australia) in 1975. Urbanchich admits to volunteering for the Slovenian Homeguard in October 1943. He speaks favourably, almost affectionately of the Homeguard leader General Rupnik. He details his own leading role in organising a battalion. He further claims that the Information Department, for which he worked, resisted the propaganda and censorship of the Nazi occupiers.
Walker’s reputable sources
However, the material presented to Parliament by Frank Walker has a different interpretation. On the nature of the Slovenian Homeguard, Walker’s diverse sources all agree that it was a collaborator army. At the time of Urbanchich ‘s enlistment, the Germans had just taken over the Slovenian administration from the Italians and had reorganised the Homeguard under General Rupnik. Walker also tabled a number of Urbanchich ‘s wartime journalistic efforts. These can only be described as vile pro-Nazi, anti-Jew. antidemocratic diatribes.
Walker in compiling his report consulted an impressive array of people and sources, a few of whom could be described as sympathetic to the Yugoslav government. Urbanchich ‘s oft-repeated claim that the communists are behind the campaign to get him ring hollow when confronted with Walker’s and Broadband’s list of sources.
Among those consulted by Walker were Simon Wiesenthal, the veteran pursuer of war criminals, Graham de Vahl Davis and Robert Goot of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the producers of Broadband, the Israeli Embassy, and Dr Bill Richards, an acknowledged expert in this area. He also consulted a number of histories of the period. As well he consulted with the Yugoslav and British authorities which hold war crimes records.
Broadband in its program consulted two US Intelligence Officers who worked with the ‘Liberation Front’ in Slovenia. They were Colonel Franklin Lindsay who later became a senior CIA officer, and Captain John Blatnik who later spent 28 years as a US Congressman. Both described Rupnik ‘s forces as collaborators.
Homeguard for whom?
Frank Walker quotes from books by Robert Lee Wolff (formerly a US Intelligence Officer, now History Professor at Harvard University). Stephen Clissold (formerly a British Intelligence Officer in Yugoslavia, and later a History Lecturer at London University) and Jozo Tomasevich (History Professor at San Francisco University). Wolff describes Rupnik as an Axis Slovene Puppet and writes of his collaboration with both the Italians and the Germans.
Clissold writes: Against the partisans, on the German side in Slovenia, were ranged the troops of the Slovenian Quisling. General Rupnik. the so-called Village or White Guards . . . (which) . . . had been dealt a crushing blow at the collapse of Italy, but the armies had been rallied into the German-approved consolidation Dumobran.
Tomasevich writes: After the Germans took control of most of the Slovene territory following the Italian collapse, the Slovene anti-Communist forces that earlier collapsed with the Italians started to collaborate with the Germans. These forces, now called the Slovene Demobrans, were in time built up to a strength of over ten thousand men; amply provided with arms and supplies, they were put under the command of General Rupnik and used by the Germans in their operations against the Partisans until the final days of the War.
At the end of the War, Urbanchich ‘s leader General Rupnik was captured by the British. After investigation, the British, with unqualified US approval, gave Rupnik to the Yugoslav authorities. Rupnik was tried and executed as a war criminal.
From Yugoslav sources comes a copy of the oath taken by Homeguard members, an oath Urbanchich presumably also made: I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful, courageous and that I will obey my superiors, that I will fight in the common fight with the German Armed Forces under the command of the Fuhrer, SS Troops and Police and fight against the bandits and against communism and its allies. That I will fulfil my duties faithfully for my Slovenian country as a part of free Europe. For this fight I am prepared to sacrifice my own life so help me God.
Walker also tabled numerous photographs showing SS Officers and Homeguard troops together, and taking the Nazi salute.
Urbanchich, the ‘journalist’
The evidence against Urbanchich personally is from his own wartime writings from a number of journals. Urbanchich has claimed in relation to documents earlier that they had been doctored to discredit him. To avoid this accusation Walker obtained his copies from the British Library, and the Libraries of Columbia, Florida and Illinois Universities, all in the US. Originals were obtained through neutral Stockholm shortly after their publication in Slovenia and prior to the Nazi defeat.
Translations of the documents, as with all documents in the case, were made by the NSW Premier’s Department Translators and Interpreter’s Office. In an article entitled One way only- the way of General Rupnik’ Urbanchich writes:
That is the truth, about all the vile intentions of the chosen people, the 15 million Israeli race, roaming the world. Rarely is one of their number a tradesman, labourer or farmer. Further, it is an everyday and common fact that these people are dealers in arms, owners of the film industry and people who have in their hands practically the whole world press ‘.
It must also be remembered that in joining the Axis, Yugoslavia was not forced to place any soldiers on the front ( Referring to the 1 94 1 Pact ). Then, a short time after signing, we committed a great stupidity, what stupiditysin and crime: we spat in the face of the great Germany and in this instant we dug our grave (Referring to the March 1941 coup). The latter is a greater crime than the spitting in the face.
The developments in Serbia, at first, went according to the Jewish-Masonic- that is Communist plans … A time of many innocent hostages and internments, again in accordance with the plans of the Jewish-Masonry, and the Communist Party . . . Many young people who . . . fulfilled their national and state duties, were lured into the hills by the red agitators; again - for the benefit of the international communism led by the Jews ‘.
. . we again have to say something about those “chosen people” who unjustly reap pity, amongst many, for their persecutions. We mean thereby the Jews, who for their supremacy, created for themselves two different instruments for aiming at the same goal: Communism and Freemasonry’.
And finally: . . we Slovenes then also felt on our own skins the cynicism of the Jewish-led Anglo-Americans, as they bombed our peaceful residential quarters, this time as a reward to our Anglophiles’.
The documents from which the above quotes come are violently anti-Tito and anti-Communist. They were published during the German occupation. And they have been collected and stored by reputable organisations, lt is hardly likely that they were or could have been forged.
More Liberals named
Also mentioned in Walker’s report was Vladimir Menart, the brothers Lajovic and Fabian Lovkovic
Menart is a member of the Liberal’s Ethnic Council. He stood for chairman of the Ethnic Council after Urbanchich was suspended. He appears in a photograph which accompanied Urbanchich ‘s 1975 article on the Homeguard. Menart is the flag bearer in a photo of a Homeguard battalion marching through Ljubljana. Menart is also named in a recent Yugoslav book, Sixth Column Terrorists in a section entitled ‘ War Criminals as Journalists. ‘
Fabian Lovkovic is the editor of Spremnost and a member of the Kingsgrove branch of the Liberal Party. Spremnost and another paper. Hrvatski Tjednik, have been described as mouthpieces for the two Ustasha sections in Australia. Ustasha was responsible for mass killings in Croatia during the Second World War. ASIO documents released by Senator Murphy in 1 973 make it clear that these papers continue to support the principles of Ustasha and eulogise people who have been held responsible for war crimes.
The Brothers Lajovic are mentioned in the Yugoslav book Sixth Column Terrorists under the section ‘War Criminals as Journalists’. One of those brothers is Senator Milivoj Mishra Lajovic. Liberal from NSW Challenge has seen a transcript of the Senator’s father’s trial for war crimes. Milivoj Lajovic Snr, a factory owner, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for manufacturing bombs for the Nazi occupiers. In his defence Lajovic Snr attempted to blame his sons for his predicament.
In an interview with a suburban paper, The Leichhardt Local in 1 975, Senator-to-be Lajovic said he fought with the Royalists in a four way battle between the occupiers (Italian and German), the communists and democrats, the rightwing Ustasha, and the Royalists. This conflicts with accepted history that the Ustasha and the occupiers were on the same side, and that the Royalists were part of the ‘ Liberalisation Front’ along with the communists and democrats.
In August 1 978 Spremnost carried a report of a function at a house with the name ‘General Vjekoslav Luburic’. The gathering was to raise funds for the illegal Croation Embassy in Canberra.
General Vjekoslav Luburic was a leading officer of the Black Legion ‘, a unit which committed atrocities in Croatia. Luburic was also Commandant of Jesenovic Concentration Camp where he ordered the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Gypsies and Serbs.
Gathered at this house named after an infamous mass murderer were Lyenko Urbanchich, Fabian Lovkovic David Clarke, Geoffrey Ferrow Mario Despoja and an unknown person. The five named are all members of the Liberal Party. Despoja is second in command of Spremnost. Ferrow will be familiar to ex-Sydney University students as a prominent Liberal.
The Liberals are now acutely embarrassed by this information. They are not embarrassed by the information as such, they could have obtained that at any time over the past twenty years, but they chose not to. But what they are embarrassed about is the public disclosure. In the cold war period of the early fifties the Menzies government allowed large numbers of East Europeans who had declared antiCommunist views to come to Australia. This was done without full scrutiny of their wartime activities. Consequently many Nazi collaborators were welcomed by a government insanely preoccupied with ‘communists under the bed ‘.
They will probably sacrifice a few members and claim they have cleansed themselves. But the facts remain. They have admitted and encouraged people who support the wartime fascist regimes, and there is nothing in Liberal history to suggest they will do otherwise in the future. After all their founding father was a vocal admirer of Hitler, right up to the beginning of the Second World War.
The documents have been forwarded by Walker to the Fraser government for appropriate action. However, it is unlikely that the Liberals will follow the lead of the U.S. Attorney-General Civilatti and begin deportation proceedings against Nazi collaborators.
Don Marcian Les Carr
– I want to speak on this matter. Senator Lajovic has pointed to the serious accusation which has been made against him as a member of this Senate. It is an accusation that should not go unchallenged if there is an opportunity to exonerate the senator from false accusations. If, on the other hand, there is truth in the accusations, I do not think any of us would be parties to associating with a nazi collaborator in the Second World War, someone who has been associated with the Ustasha movement.
– I raise a point of order. I have no wish to interrupt Senator Cavanagh but I draw your attention, Mr President, to the fact that Senator Lajovic has informed honourable senators that this matter is an action that he has sought to initiate before the courts of New South Wales. It may very well be that the substance of what is said here could be sub judice, and I simply remind honourable senators of that situation.
– I would at no time desire to infringe the sub judice rule but I think that there is a higher court than the courts of New South Wales. I think that we should make every opportunity available to the senator to exonerate himself from the charge that has been made. I point out that the publication accuses him of collaboration, and accuses his father of making bombs for the Germans. It also accuses his father of blaming the two brothers, one of whom is now publishing a fascist newspaper in Australia while the other one is a member of the Senate. Therefore if we can exonerate the senator through a higher court I think we should take every chance to do so. The questions are clear. It is claimed in a newspaper article that the facts are recorded in the report from the Attorney-General of New South Wales, which has been given to Mr Fraser. Surely the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) could make that document available so that we could see whether it is substantiated by the inquiry.
– That was from the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr Walker.
– It was from the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr Walker. The report of his inquiry was given to the Prime Minister. Whether the statement is true or not I do not know, but we should seek the truth. To exonerate one of the members of his political party who is installed in the Senate the Prime Minister should make that report available if there is no truth in the allegation that Senator Lajovic ‘s name is mentioned in that report. If it is mentioned, I suppose it is justification for concealing it. The other point is that it is all mentioned in the Yugoslav book Sixth Column Terrorists under the section ‘War Criminals as Journalists ‘.
– I raise a point of order. This has gone far beyond what could be regarded as even stretching the reasonable tolerance of this chamber. What is happening is a denigration of a man under parliamentary privilege when the matter is sub judice and should not be pursued.
– What do you want to do, suppress it? You are a fascist yourself.
– You cannot say that, Senator O’Byrne, as well you know.
– He goes through all the actions. I withdraw.
– A very unqualified withdrawal, Mr President. May I say that Senator O’Byrne would do well to remember who it was who issued a stop writ along with four other Labor members from Tasmania when they were in a little bit of trouble about a double position, but had not bothered to proceed with the action that they started five or six years ago. Let us remember some stop writs and who it was who talked about them. In this chamber one of our honourable senators is entitled to reasonable protection from the misuse of parliamentary privilege. I would suggest that this has gone too far at this stage. Already we have had quotation after quotation put into the Hansard for what is clearly one purpose only, and that is further to give privilege and opportunity to the publication of the matter which is already the subject of a defamation action.
– On the point of order, I agree with everything that Senator Rae has said. 1 think the honourable senator is entitled to the protection of the privilege of the Parliament. I am trying to make a case for some immediate action to try to clear his name of the accusation that has been made.
– Don ‘t be a humbug.
– I do not link my argument with something that happened six years ago in Tasmania. I do not know what that has to do with clearing a senator’s name on this occasion. The matter has been mentioned in a book, and I believe that the book should be examined, along with the report of the New South Wales Attorney-General. If a senator has been defamed, perhaps in all sincerity, by someone reading from a well-circulated newspaper article, it is a matter for the Privileges Committee to consider. I ask you to consider this matter, Mr President, to see whether it is one that should go to the Privileges Committee in order to give Senator Lajovic an opportunity to clear himself of the accusations that have been made or whether the Committee would be working against action Senator Lajovic may have taken in the New South Wales Supreme Court. Whilst I believe that the Privileges Committee of the Senate should be a higher authority than the New South Wales Supreme Court, I believe that some of the facts should be considered. I am suggesting that you look at the matter, Mr President, for the purpose of ascertaining whether such an accusation should go to the Privileges Committee. Senator Lajovic has said that he resents the fact that he has been accused of this. It is wrong, and we should give him every opportunity to clear his name of the accusation.
– Order! I point out to the honourable senator that it is not for me to rule on matters of privilege. That is for the Senate to determine.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented, pursuant to statute:
Crimes (Biological Weapons) Act- RegulationsStatutory Rules 1980 No. 32.
Defence Act- Determination- 1 980- No. I -Submarine Service Allowance.
Defence Amendment Act- Interim DeterminationStatutory Rules 1980 No. 30.
Navigation Act- Report by the Minister for Transport regarding the exercise of the power of the Governor-General under section 422A during 1979, dated 20 February 1 980.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act- Ordinances 1980-
No. 2- Flammable Liquids (Amendment).
Student Assistance Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980 No. 29.
Trade Practices Act- Regulations- Statutory Rules 1980 No. 31.
Senate adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services, upon notice, on 29 August 1979:
1 ) Has the Cameron Offices building in the Australian Capital Territory leaked since occupation; if so:
– The Minister for Administrative Services has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 9 October 1 979:
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: (1), (2), (4) and (5) Hospital Corporation Australia Pty Ltd has foreign investment approval to purchase and /or construct the following private hospitals in Australia:
Hospital Affiliates of Australia Pty Ltd has foreign investment approval to purchase or construct the following private hospitals in Australia:
American Medical International (Aust) Pty Ltd has foreign investment approval to purchase the following private hospitals in Australia:
The above answers have been provided by the Department of the Treasury.
It must be acknowledged that the Commonwealth does not have statutory power to prevent the construction of additional private beds in the States, or to make directions as to where any such beds ought to be located. These are matters that are the responsibility of the States. The honourable senator will note that none of the new hospitals to be built ls located in any inner or close-to-inner metropolitan capitals where, without other considerations as to teaching or specialist hospitals, there could be considered to be excessive bedtopopulation provisions. My Department would take the view that, State-by-State, there is excess bed provision and utilization of hospital beds. It also acknowledges that there is a mal-distribution of beds due to movements of population in metropolitan capitals and the opening up of new areas of population in non-metropolitan areas. To the extent that the above proposed hospitals assist in correcting the above situations and influence the States to adjust their public hospitals, the proposals will be beneficial to the Australian communities to be served.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Capital Territory, upon notice, on 16 October 1979:
– The Minister for the Capital Territory has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
I am informed by my Department that:
1 ) Government rental housing in Canberra is available for allocation on a priority basis only to Ministers.
Four: Rt Hon. J. D. Anthony, 1964, $18,910; Rt Hon. I. Sinclair, 1966, $17,500; Hon. P. J. Nixon, 1970, $31,950; Hon. R. Cotton, 1971, $1 1,500.
It is assumed that the reference to category (2) in this question is a reference to question (2). On this basis the answer is:
(i) Nil; (ii) 2 and (iii) Nil.
Of the two properties sold on the open market one was purchased for $17,500 in 1966 and sold for $49,000 in 1976; the other was purchased for $ 1 1 ,500 in 1971 and sold for $32,000 in 1977.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 14 November 1979:
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Science and the Environment, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:
– The Minister for Science and the Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice, on 20 February 1980:
Has the Queensland Government asked the Minister for Primary Industry or his Department to take any action to prevent the importation of strawberries in any form during the past two years; if so, what was the request and what, if any. action was taken by the Commonwealth Government as a result of it.
– The Minister for Primary Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator ‘s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice, on 19 February 1980:
Has any evaluation been made of the use of highway fusee warning signals under Australian conditions: if so, what were the conclusions drawn from that evaluation; if not, will the Minister arrange to have such an evaluation made.
– The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
No authoritative evaluation has been made of fusee devices for highway warning purposes. However, representatives of State and Commonwealth departments concerned with examining road rules have considered the devices, and decided not to include their use in a model traffic code. Individual States may, of course, permit such devices as they see fit. The decision to reject use of these devices was based on the limited use to which they could be put, having regard to their pyrotechnic nature, and environmental conditions such as bush and fuel fire risk.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 March 1980, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1980/19800304_senate_31_s84/>.