18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Nationalization : Petitions ; Statement by Sir Earle Page, M.P.
Petitions in relation to banking in Australia were presented as follows: -
By Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON, from certain electors of South Australia.
By Mr. ANTHONY, from certain electors of the division of Richmond.
Petitions received and read.
- by leave- I thank the House for the opportunity to refute the misrepresentation made by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) on the 19th September. On that occasion the Minister, as reported in Hansard, said - . . there were many occasions on which important legislation was brought before the Parliament that had never even been mentioned during the previous election campaign The first instance I select is connected with this same subjct of banking. There was an election in 1922, and nothing was said about an; alteration of the banking system.
The report proceeds as follows : -
– That is absolutely untrue.
– In 1924, the right honor able member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) introduced a bill, the purpose of which was to place the Commonwealth Bank under the control of a bank board. Not one word had been said about that during the 1922 elections.
– That is an absolute liel I ask for a retraction of that statement, be cause it is absolutely untrue.
Later in his speech the Minister said -
In 1924, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), who was then Treasurer, brought forward a very important piece of legislation dealing with this very subject of banking, when no reference at all had been made to it at the preceding general election in 1922. I repeat that, at the general elections held in 1922, no mention wasmade of that very drastic proposal on the part of the Opposition parties to alter completely the control of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
In my policy speech which was delivered at South Grafton on the 26th October, 1922, and was reported in the press of Australia on the following day, I made the following statement in relation to the Commonwealth Bank : -
Any attempt to remodel and organize our national credit brings into review the present condition of the Commonwealth Bank . . . Without in any way reflecting upon the present management we feel that this institution should now be placed under a Board of Directors upon lines similar to the Bank of England. These directors should be men of the broadest outlook and representative of our industries.Free from all political control, they should be placed in a position to make available the vast . resources of this institution for development of the primary and secondary industries of Australia. A survey of the figures of the Commonwealth Bank in comparison with those of the private banking institution show that in proportion to the holdings of the two, the latter arc making far more effective use of the people’s funds in the way of advances forthe assistance of industry to-day. The assurance of stability of employment “in the cities and towns is dependent upon purchasing power created in the country. That purchasing power can best be secured by making primaryproduction profitable by the re-organization of the Commonweal th Bank with the establishment of a system of co-operative and rural credits, and with a Land Bank as an integral part of its savings bank department.
I then set out the manner in which that shouldbe done. That is a complete refutation of the statement made by the Minister.
– by leave- Nothing that the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has said refutes anything that Isaid in this House last Friday’. When the right honorable gentleman delivered the speech to which he has referred he was the leader of a minority party. The then Prime Minis ter made no reference whatever to an alteration of the banking system of Australia in his policy speech.
Inquiry into Charges by Mr.F. A. Lush : Report.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Land Sales Control Office, Sydney, and Land Sales Control Office of the Treasury, Canberra - Royal Commission on certain Transactions - Report.
I express the thanks of the Government to His Honour, Mr. Justice Kirby, for the ability and distinction with which he carried out his difficult task.
– In view of the findings of the royal commissioner into the land sales transactions, in which Mr. Justice Kirby finds Mr. Lush, Mr. Parry, Mr. Alexander and Mr. Burke guilty of misconduct, what action has the AttorneyGeneral’s Department taken to implement the findings of the royal commissioner?
– I understand that the report has been received and is still in the hands of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Honorable Members. - It has been tabled.
– Well , I now know that much, but I do not think that the Attorney-General has yet considered the report. Therefore, it is not known what action is to be taken to implement it.
– Has the Prime
Minister seen a report appearing in a leading Canadian conservative newspaper, the Ottawa Journal, dealing with the Australian Treasurer’s budget speech? If so, is he pleased to learn from outside this country what small-minded people in Australia fail to recognize, namely, that Australia is in a satisfactory financial position? Will the right honorable gentleman arrange for the full text of the article to be supplied to members of the Opposition, particularly the Leader of the Australian Country party and the Leader of the Opposition, the latter of whom is described in the article as a man “ with a propensity for alarmist language “ ?
– I have not seen the article referred to by the honorable member, but some knowledge of it has come to me. It is like a ray of sunshine on a dull day. I shall arrange to obtain a copy of the article and I shall then decide whether it is suitable literature for distribution to members of the Opposition.
– In recent weeks references have been made by Mr. Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Secretary, to proposals for an Empire economic union. Has the Prime Minister any knowledge of these proposals, and is he in a position to place them before this House?
– I understand that an earlier suggestion by Mr. Bevin was that a Western Europe customs union be established. There was also some talk about an Empire customs union. As a number of representatives of Empire countries have been in the United Kingdom recently it is probable that such a proposal has been discussed, but I can assure the honorable member that nothing official on the subject has reached the Government.
– In view of the difficulty in obtaining supplies of refined sugar in Queensland and portions of New South Wales notwithstanding press statements that large stocks of sugar are held at various refineries, can the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether there is any Government authority which can compel the refineries to release sugar stocks to the general public? If so, will he take steps to release sugar immediately?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– I have been told that information was recently given to age and invalid pensioners to the effect that their pensions would be suspended while they were in hospital. Does the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services know whether any such statement was made? As the rent and other commitments of pensioners must be met. while they are in hospital, and as this recent statement is causing considerable anxiety in some quarters, will the Minister explain just what is the position of a pensioner regarding payments when he is obliged to spend some time in hospital? If pensioners are not adequately protected in this regard, will the Minister ensure that they are afforded the necessary protection?
– I think there must be some mistake about this alleged statement. I do not believe that the facts are as stated, but in case something new has occurred, I shall make inquiries of the Minister for Social Services, and reply further to the honorable member at a later date.
Interjections by Members.
– I desire to ask a question of you, Mr. Speaker. My question is based on my observation of the conduct of debates in the parliaments of Canada and Great Britain, and in the Senate of the United States of America. Standing Order 280 of our House of Representatives places an absolute prohibition, subject to certain very limited exceptions, upon one honorable member interrupting another honorable member who is speaking - a rule which, I gather, I myself broke yesterday. Will you, Mr. Speaker, refer to the Standing Orders Committee the matter of amending our Standing Orders to provide for the adoption of the practice followed in the British and Canadian Houses of Commons whereby a member is allowed to make relevant interpolations, or to ask a question of the member who is addressing the House? The adoption of such a practice would, I suggest, maintain the true purposes of debate.
– I do not propose to bring the matter before the Standing Orders Committee. Every party in this House is represented on that committee, and I suggest to the honorable member that the best course for him to pursue, if he believes that it is really desirable to do as he suggests, would be to persuade the representative of his own party on the Standing Orders Committee to bring the matter forward. At least, if the proposal were sponsored by a party, it would be an indication that there was some solid support for it.
– Can the Minister for
Air say whether it is true, as stated in an article on the front page of the. Melbourne Herald last evening, that the Government is making dollars available for the purchase of American aircraft for government airlines, but is refusing dollars for the purchase of aircraft for Australian National Airways?
– No, it is not true. Because of dollar difficulties, the Government has refused an application by Qantas Empire Airways for permission to purchase additional Constellation aircraft for its London-Sydney service. As for the purchase of Convairs and Constellations, the Government is merely carrying out contracts, entered into for the purchase of these aircraft, which were made before restrictions were placed on dollar purchases. Australian National Airways was given permission to buy two American Skymasters. and to buy American Dakota aircraft, which were available from local sources. There is no truth in the suggestion that discrimination has been exercised against Australian National Airways, and in favour of Trans-Australia Airlines, in regard to the purchase of American aircraft.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Rural Reconstruction Commission, in May, 1945, recommended to him that the Postmaster-General be asked to review the system of payment for installing telephone lines to new country subscribers in order to reduce the cost and make it possible for more farmers to use the telephone service? If so, what action has the Minister taken in this matter? If he has not yet done anything to help farmers to obtain a cheaper telephone service, will he take action to give effect to the commission’s recommendation?
– I recollect that a recommendation along the lines mentioned by the honorable member was made by the Rural Reconstruction Commission. The matter is now under consideration by the Postmaster-General. I shall inquire where the matter stands at the moment and supply the information to the honorable member.
– “Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General indicate whether experiments have yet been carried out in connexion with the provision of a radio-telephone service, and, if so, what has been the result of such experiments, and when may we expect the early provision of such a service for people in the outback?
– I shall ask the Postmaster-General to furnish a full report to the honorable member at the earliest possible moment. I have no doubt that the report will be made available within a week or so. I further assure the honorable member that I am authorized by the Postmaster-General to say that all improvements in telephony, whether in radio or other kinds of telephony, that may be incorporated in the Australian system, will be provided at the earliest possible date.
– Will the Prime Minister table the reports submitted by the honorable members for Martin, Griffith, Hunter, Brisbane, Parkes, Ballar.at Bass, Darling and Newcastle, amd Senators Amour, Large, Grant and Finlay . on their missions .abroad?
– Some of the honorable members and honorable senators mentioned went abroad as members of delegations ; and reports upon the matters with which they were concerned would naturally be made not by them individually hut by .the leaders of the respective delegations. If I remember correctly, the honorable member for Ballarat was h member of the Australian delegation which attended the San Francisco Conference, and the honorable member for Indi also was a member of that delegation. In cases where members were engaged on special personal missions, I shall see what I can do to oblige the honorable member.
– According - to last night’s press the Australian ‘Council of
Trades Unions has asked the Prime Minister to prohibit the use of Dutch troops in the work of loading a vessel with equipment for the Netherlands East Indies, and to take steps to close all Dutch bases in Australia. In view of the Prime Minister’s conversation with the Minister for Supply and Shipping earlier this week on this matter, also reported in the press, will the right honorable gentleman announce to the Parliament what assurances he has given to the Australian Council of Trades Unions in this matter, and whether he has discussed it with the Dutch Minister to Australia? Does the Prime Minister consider that Dutchmen in Australia should be deprived of all rights of citizenship merely in order to satisfy a few extremists?
– I have not yet received any representations from the Australian Council of Trades Unions dealing with any matter reported in the press yesterday.
– Has the right honorable gentleman conferred with the Australian Council of Trades Unions on this matter ?
Mr. -CHIFLEY. - No ; I have not had any discussions with the Australian Council of Trades Unions since I discussed with that body the ‘handling of cargoes on vessels of the HollandAustralian Shipping Line. I have had conversations with the Dutch Minister with -regard to the transport of goods to Indonesia. I am not in a position at the moment to indicate the purport, or results, of those discussions; but I shall endeavour to supply that information to the honorable member later.
Sales to Great Britain - Prices
– In view of the suggestion that the Commonwealth Government may enter into a contract, perhaps a long-term contract, for the sale of wheat to the United Kingdom, will the Minister for ‘Commerce and Agriculture give an undertaking that no commitments for the sale of wheat, which represents the livelihood .of our wheat-growers, will he made without first securing the fullest advice of the Australian Wheat .Board .on all aspects of the proposal, as the sale of substantial parcels of wheat without the full knowledge and advice of the board would represent a complete negation of the purposes for which it was established and render utterly valueless the placing of a majority of growers on the board?
– The honorable member has raised a very debatable matter. The Minister may reply in kind.
– The submission made by the honorable member will be given consideration.
– As the home consumption price of wheat was fixed in November, 1938, at 5s. 2d. a bushel at ports, which is equal to approximately 4s. a bushel at the average country siding, and as rising production costs in the intervening nine years of war and peace have put this price right out of relation to Australian standard values, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture take steps immediately to cause an advance of the home consumption price of this product so that those engaged in the industry may keep their general equipment in order and be able to meet their financial obligations based on current Australian costs? The wheat-growers are aware that a committee has been set up to investigate production costs, but whilst this body is investigating the industry prices continue to rise and wheat-growers are still called upon to accept the “ out of relation “ price.
– The figures given by the honorable member for Wimmera are rather mixed. It is true that the home consumption price of wheat was fixed in 1938 at 5s. 2d. a bushel, but the net return to wheat-growers has not necessarily been an overall price of 5s. 2d. a bushel for all wheat sold.
– I am not talking about export prices.
– But I am. Under this Government 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.b. is the price guaranteed for all wheat, and not only for home consumption wheat, as was the case in 1938 when a government representing the parties now in Opposition held office.
Supply of Coke to South Australia - Coalcliff Colliery
– Following upon a letter which I sent to the Minister for Supply and Shipping some weeks ago with reference to the supply of coke for South Australia, the Minister informed me that additional coal was being allotted so that coke could be manufactured in New South Wales to supply the needs of South Australian industries. As no shipments of coke have been made to South Australia for about five months, and only small amounts are being forwarded to that State by rail, will the honorable gentleman discuss with the Minister for Supply and Shipping the practicability of providing a vessel for the shipment of coke to South Australia so that the requirements of the small engineering works m the State may be met and the manufacture of cast iron pipes for water reticulation be proceeded with as soon as possible ?
– I have some information in my office as to the. shipments of coal and coke to South Australia, but I am not sure whether it covers the exact, point raised by the honorable member. If he will see me in my office later to-day I shall give him what information I have. If that be not sufficient, I shall obtain the necessary information and furnish it to him.
– I understand that an official report has been submitted in connexion with the losses incurred at Coalcliff colliery, concerning which some information has been supplied to me by the Minister for Supply and Shipping. The colliery has lost 48,300 tons of coal and incurred a financial loss on its operation of £108,023 in the three years during which it has been under Commonwealth control. Does the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping consider that that provides a satisfactory illustration of the effects of nationalization on production generally and of its repercussions on the Treasury?
– I refer the honorable member to the complete reply to his question contained in the letter which I sent to him.
-In view of the intense public interest being taken in matters of government finance at the present time, will the Prime Minister give some indication to the House of the progress of the conversion loan now before the public ?
– I hope to be able to make a statement on the subject both in the House and to the press, if not to-day, at least to-morrow.
– In view of the recent conference between the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and Mr. A. C. Foster, chief executive officer of the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board, on the subject of the future of the contract system, I ask the honorable gentleman whether the Commonwealth contract system is likely to be extended beyond this season, and whether, as an alternative to Commonwealth control, the State marketing boards already set up to handle the potato crop have yet indicated their plans for the industry after the coming season?
– It is true that Mr. Foster, of the Tasmanian Potato Marketing Board, recently interviewed me in an endeavour to ascertain the attitude of the Government to the further extension of the potato marketing scheme allied with a guaranteed price. I informed Mr. Foster that the Government had decided to extend the contract system to the coming season, and that before any consideration could be given to a further term, it would be necessary for the respective State marketing boards and the State governments to indicate to the Commonwealth Government their view of the responsibility they are prepared to undertake.
Arrivals from Japan - Retirement of Army Officers.
– Is it true that today, when a number of servicemen arrived in Sydney from Japan, their families were prevented from meeting them on the wharf? If so, I should like to know from the Minister for the Army whether the ban was imposed by the Department of the Army ?
– Duntroon arrived to-day and I understand that an order was issued that families of servicemen on the vessel were not to go on to the wharf until after the customs clearance. The Department of the Army did not issue the order. The wharf was closed by the owners of the vessel, the Melbourne Steamship Company, at the request of the Department of Trade and Customs. Duntroon is not a troopship.
– the Minister for the Army will be aware that approximately 80 officers of the permanent army have been retired under the Government’s interim defence retirement scheme before reaching the retiring age, and that their superannuation, for which they contributed at the increased rate in accordance with the provisions of the Superannuation Act 1947, was reduced after payment had been made for a few weeks. On behalf of many of these officers, a complaint has been made to the Treasury, but they continue to receive a reduced pension because, through no fault of their own, the Government retired them prematurely. Has the Minister discussed this matter with the Treasury? What decision does the Government intend to make regarding these men, who have records of long service both in war and peace ?
– The matter is under consideration at the moment.
Registered Letter Addressed to Prime Minister - Exchange Control
– I have in my possession a registered letter addressed to the Prime Minister and sent to him from Alice Springs by Mr. N. Bell. The Prime Minister refused delivery of the letter. I should like to know from the right honorable gentleman whether it is customary for him to refuse the acceptance of registered mail addressed to him. If it is not, can he tell me why he refused delivery of the letter, which was sent back to the sender ?
– <I do not know all the circumstances referred to ;by the ‘honorable member, but I did hear -that a registered letter came from the post .office and .that the attendant deseed that I should sign .personally for it. As I was presiding over a .Cabinet meeting, I .was no.t disturbed for that purpose, and the letter was taken back. That is all I know about the matter. I will try to find o.ut the details. If I am .available I sign for registered letters myself when necessary, but I understand that her,e ,was some misunderstanding about that letter.
– It is endorsed “ Refused”.
– I understand that that is so, but I will find out what happened.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government intends to introduce a system of examining letters involving (she opening :of mail for the alleged purpose 4of exchange control, particularly having regard to the abuses of censorship which occurred in this country during the ,war?
– - I ha.ve no knowledge , OI any such proposal. It may ,b.e that certain letters and parcels are used for the purpose of sending .currency put of the .country. As the honorable member knows, the British .Government is now taking very strong steps to place a check on mail matter. I assure the honorable member that nothing of that character will be done before the Government has first given to the matter the most careful consideration. Such a step would be taken only when we suspected that currency was being exported in .parcels or bulky letters. Some gold has been smuggled out of Australia, and it has been necessary to take some action regarding parcels which are carried from this country by aircraft. However, I give to the honorable member my assurance that the action which he mentioned would be taken only when it was essential to protect the revenue .and currency.
– I ask the Prime Minister - 1. Were any advantageous results to Australia’s trade obtained at the recent International ‘Conference on Trade amd Employment at .Geneva? >2. When will .the report .of .the Minister representing Australia at <the ‘conference be presented to Parliament? ‘8. Were -any substantial concessions offered by the United ‘States .of America to Australia, and, if so, what were they ? 4. Does -the Government .expect that if -the United States ,of America has not .yet made .’any worthwhile .concessions -this year there will be any better prospect -pf tariff .concessions next year, which is a United States of America presidential election year? 5. Have final arrangements been made for a British Empire Economic Conference at the (highest level in the immediate future and, if so, will the Government give an opportunity to Parliament to hear and -discuss its policy :before Australia’s representatibes leave to attend the conference’?
– The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction will answer the question.
– In due course there will be laid before .this House the report on the proceedings at Geneva. It will include the report on the .discussions about a charter for the proposed International Trade -Organization and a report; on tariff negotiations. The negotiations have not been completed. It is impossible therefore, at this stage, to give the House any details of the two matters, but, as soon as all the information is available, the report will be submitted to the House.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that large numbers of motor cars, trucks and jeeps are parked at Cannon Hill, Brisbane? What is to be done with these vehicles? Are they to be allowed to deteriorate, or will they bc handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission for sale to the large numbers of people who are anxious to buy them?
– I know the area mentioned by the honorable member very well ; I inspected it six or seven weeks ago. Many of those vehicles are earmarked for disposal, many others have already been sold, ‘and many are being placed in ordnance stores, as the stores are emptied of other equipment, in order to meet post-war requirements. Over 100,000 army vehicles have been made available for disposal during the last twelve months.
– Recently, I visited the Wallangarra Camp, where I sawbetween 4,000 and 5,000 army vehicles which were ready for disposal and were being appraised. I discovered that no private purchaser could buy one of those vehicles, which had to be made available through various motor firms, such as Fords and General Motors-Holdens Limited, from which they had originally been secured. On these vehicles, these firms obtained a further profit plus a consideration of a writing down allowance. I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that more than 100,000 of these vehicles have passed through the hands of these firms for disposal to the public? Will the right honorable gentleman ascertain whether it is possible to make arrangements between the various firms which I have mentioned, so that members of the public may get the advantage of buying direct through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission any of these vehicles?
– This matter has been brought to my notice as the result of complaints from small dealers that the disposal of spare parts in particular, and in some instances motor vehicles, was made through some of the large motor distributing firms. I am now having the matter examined, but I have ascertained from the Minister for Supply and Shipping that there are considerable administrative difficulties in trying to dispose of these vehicles. For instance, many of them require extensive repairs and new parts, and it would not be easy to make the necessary arrangements without setting up a large organization within the Commonwealth Disposals Commission to make the vehicles saleable. Recently, . discussed this matter with the .Business Board in Melbourne, and I shall endeavour to obtain for the honorable member a detailed statement setting out precisely what has been done, and the reasons for the adoption of the practice.
– I direct, a question to the Minister for the Army regarding an unfortunate accident which took place at Puckapunyal Army Camp two_ months ago, as the result of which a school-boy cadet was shot dead. Has any court of inquiry been held? If so, what was its finding? I also ask the Minister who is responsible for carrying out safety measures at cadets’ camps? Does responsibility for supervising the use of live ammunition rest on the officers in charge of such camps or on the officers controlling the school contingents?
– There was an unfortunate accident in which a cadet was shot. An inquiry has been held and the investigating authority has decided that the occurrence was accidental. The accident took place during evening exercises. As the honorable member knows, blank ammunition should have been used but by some means a cadet obtained, a live cartridge. This cartridge was not issued, and the authorities have not been able to discover how it was acquired. The officer responsible for safety measures in such a camp is the camp commandant at the time. I have examined all statements made in connexion with the incident, and I am confident that every precaution was taken to prevent accidents. I can only say that the occurrence was most unfortunate. I offer my condolences to the parents of the boy, and I assure the House that, whilst all possible precautions have been taken in the past, I have asked again that safety measures be intensified so that avoidable accidents will be prevented. When we consider the number of boys who have been trained at cadet’s camps over many years, we must recognize that the accident rate has been remarkably low. This satisfactory state of affairs is undoubtedly due to the care that has been taken by those who are responsible for safety precautions.
– Oan the Treasurer inform me whether it is a fact that on the death of an ex-serviceman who has no wife, parent or foster-parent living, the war gratuity payable to him reverts to the Treasury, notwithstanding that he may have brothers or sisters living? If this is so, will the Treasurer consider amending the War Gratuity Act to provide for the payment of the gratuity in such cases to surviving brothers and sisters ?
– As yet no case has come to my notice where there has not been some surviving relative of the deceased who was eligible to receive the war gratuity. However, I shall make inquiries of the Registrar of War Gratuities to ascertain whether any cases of the kind mentioned by the honorable member have arisen.
Facilities at DARWIN
– I bring to the notice of the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping the inadequate shipping facilities provided at Darwin. I have received a copy of a resolution adopted by the Queensland Country Women’s Association, portion of which is in the following terms: -
That the Darwin Branch of the Queensland Country Women’s Association is very perturbed at the shortage of shipping in this port, particularly in view of the fact that Darwin is almost entirely dependent upon shipping for essential supplies. We cannot accept the explanation offered by the Minister for Shipping that the shortage of shipping is due to (1) wharf stoppages, and (2) slowness of handling.
Since control of privately owned vessels has been resumed by the Government, will the Minister make representations to the Minister for Supply and Shipping to arrange for a regular service to Darwin from the eastern States every four, or, at least, every six weeks?
– I do not know to what the honorable member was referring when he stated that control of privately owned ships has been resumed by the Government. The honorable gentleman should know that there is an acute shortage of shipping throughout the world, and that the Minister for Supply and Shipping cannot conjure vessels out of the air. However, I shall bring the honorable member’s request to the notice of my colleague, and I am sure he will do everything possible to provide adequate shipping for Darwin.
– Representations have been made to me by egg producers’ organizations in Queensland, who complain that since the United Kingdom has imposed a ban on the importation of washed eggs producers in this country have ‘been unjustly treated by an order of the Egg Controller, which directs that these eggs must be sold in Australia at a price at least 3d. a dozen lower than that fixed for unwashed eggs. As it has been customary for washed eggs to be sold in Australia, and as Australia is at. present the only market for them, the producers cannot understand why they should be compelled to accept a price of 3d. a dozen lower than the price for unwashed eggs. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me of the reason for the order which has been issued ?
– It is a fact that the Egg Controller and the Prices Commissioner have ordered that the price paid for washed eggs shall be 3d. a dozen less than the price paid for unwashed eggs. That is due to the fact that the United Kingdom Government has indicated that washed eggs do not keep satisfactorily. If Australia is to protect the interests of its egg producers, and enable a continuance of competition with people who may become very powerful competitors in the future, it is essential that the egg9 which we send overseas shall be of the highest possible standard, even though there is a very great world demand for eggs at the moment. The honorable gentleman has asked me why the lower price should apply to unwashed eggs for local consumption. It must be quite obvious that, if it be essential to preserve the keeping quality of the eggs that are sent overseas, it is likewise essential to preserve the keeping quality of those that are sold in Australia. In addition, the exporting of eggs is thus facilitated, and, what is more important still, the sending of the largest possible quantity of eggs to Great Britain at the present time is substantially promoted. . It is true that, at the initiation of this particular requirement, very strong protests were made, even by some State marketing boards, and, indeed, some State Ministers of Agriculture, particularly one Minister, as well as a large number of egg producers. I remind honorable members that on every occasion when the Commonwealth Government, irrespective of its political complexion, has imposed any standard requirements on exportable products, at the initiation of those requirements the producers and some of their representatives have been clamorous in their objections. That was illustrated by the imposition many years ago of the requirement that no longer should butler factories be allowed to add boric acid to butter.
– Ord er ! I cannot see that there is any connexion between what the Minister is now saying, and the honorable member’s question.
– Very well. There 1 leave the matter.
United Nations Inquiry
– I understand that Mr. Justice Kirby has been appointed as a member of the committee of three, to which has been assigned the task of arbitrating on the Indonesian dispute. I ask the Prime Minister, who is acting for the Minister for External Affairs, whether the Government has a view upon the merits of that dispute, and, if it has, whether that view has been communicated to Mr. Justice Kirby. If it has not a view, are we to understand that Mr. Justice Kirby is to approach the matter entirely uninformed on that aspect of the matter?
– Naturally, Mr. Justice Kirby will not approach the matter uninformed. I am not speaking now of the Government’s view. Every facility will be made available to him in the form of information. The honorable member should, and I know does, understand that the purpose of the investigating body is to ascertain whether some settlement of the dispute can be effected. I assure him that the Government will not attempt to influence what may be regarded as a judicial judgment of His Honour in the matter. There may be some leads or indications which His Honour might desire us to give. If he requests those, any information that can possibly be given will be given to him.
Case of Mr. Lerch
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration in regard to the qualifications of European migrants who wish to come to this country. Some months ago, as the Minister is aware, there came to Australia an Austrian citizen by the name of Lerch, on the ship Johann de Witt. As a result of the totally false statements which were made about this man by a foreign fellow passenger, he, as the Minister knows, was not allowed to land in Australia, and was sent back to Europe. I ask the Minister to state who gave the wrong information about Lerch. I have in my possession papers from the British consulate in Vienna which show that it was wrong. I further ask why no opportunity was given to this potential migrant to prove whether he was innocent or otherwise of the charges that had been laid against him, and why the Minister took no steps to got in touch with the British authorities in Vienna, where he had come from, with a view to proving whether the statements were right or wrong ? Is the Minister aware that, as a result of depositions that were made by the same follow passenger, this man Lerch, upon his return to Europe, was imprisoned in Holland for a number of weeks, and was released only upon the representation of the British field security police in Austria? In view of the fact that many migrants from Germany have been accepted into this country, will the Minister state what is the basis of the discrimination that is practised between those who are accepted and those who are not ?
– I have a very lively recollection of the arrival in Australia of Johann de Witt some months ago. Some questions were asked about it by honorable members in this House, and I was requested to supply the fullest information as to how a man named Lerch could have secured a landing permit and a vise to travel to Australia. I outlined the circumstances of the issue of the landing permit to Mr. Lerch. I said that it had been obtained by misrepresentation, and that Lerch, under existing policy, had no right of entry to Australia. Lerch was not deported from Australia because of cbe statement of a fellow traveller. That statement was to the effect that Lerch had been a S.S. guard at a concentration camp. Lerch admitted - and nobody has since challenged the statement - that he had served in the German navy during the war. He was refused admission to Australia because he had been a member of an enemy force during the war. Germans, and all others with whom we were at war, are still enemy aliens. Wo have not yet ratified one peace treaty with an enemy country, and until we do, all of them will continue to be enemy States. Neither Lerch nor anybody else who fought against Australians is permitted to enter Australia. Whether that policy will be altered, and when, will be decided after the peace treaties with those countries with which we were, and still are, at war, have been ratified. I believe that the opinions which I expressed in this House on that point had the support of 99 per cent, of the Australian people. I do not believe that the majority of the Australian people are anxious that those who fought against Australian forces shall be admitted to Australia in the very near future. The Government as I have said will decide its policy in regard to these matters at a later date. I am not responsible for anything that .happened to Lerch subsequent to his deportation. He left ‘ Australia compulsorily; in fact, he was not permitted to land. If the Dutch authorities took action against him because of certain statements that had been made by a fellow traveller on the way to Australia, that is a matter for which the Dutch authorities themselves must take the responsibility. We supplied no information to the Dutch. We were not interested in Lerch after he had left Australian territorial waters. Many representations have been made to me in respect of Lerch, Bandmann and others. The Government’s policy is clear ; no person who was engaged in the war against Australia has been permitted to enter this country, but certain persons within clearly defined categories have been allowed to come in. I have made it clear from time to time that those categories relate to women and children and to certain other persons, German scientists in particular, who are given certificates of exemption for certain stated periods to enable them to engage in work which will assist the rehabilitation of exservicemen or the development of Australian industries.
Motion (by Mr. CHIFLEY) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for ait act to suspend the tax imposed by the Gold Tax Act 1039.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to implement the decision announced in the Budget Speech that the gold tax would be suspended on and from the 20th September, 1947. The Gold Tax Act 1939 imposes a tax upon gold delivered to the Commonwealth Bank, or to an agent of the bank. The tax so imposed is equal to one-half of the amount by which the proceeds payable by the Commonwealth Bank to the person delivering the gold exceed £9 a fine ounce. The amount payable at present by the bank for gold is £10 15s. 3d. a fine ounce, and the gold tax was thus payable at the rate of 17s. 7Jd. a fine ounce immediately prior to the 20th September, 1947. The tax was imposed in 1939 because, owing to war conditions, gold had risen sharply in price and it was considered by the Government of the day that the gold-mining industry should make a contribution to the revenue required for war purposes out of the higher prices so obtained. The decision to suspend the tax was reached because of the desire to encourage the production of gold as a means of gaining dollars, and thereby alleviating the present financial difficulties in regard to international trade. Rising costs of production in the gold-mining industry were also taken into account in this regard. The bill provides that the suspension shall apply to gold delivered on or after the 20th September, 1947, to the Commonwealth Bank, or to persons to whom delivery of gold is authorized in pursuance of section 32 of the Banking Act 1945. It further provides that the suspension shall operate until such date as may be proclaimed, thus leaving it open to the Government to revive the tax, by proclamation, should it see fit to do so at some future time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That leave he given to bring in a bill for anact to amend the War-time (Company)
Tax Assessment Act 1940-1946.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This short amendment to the War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act has the effect of discontinuing the war-time company tax as from the close of the financial year at the 30th J une last. The last year of company profits which will be subject to the tax is, therefore, the financial year ended the 30th June, 1946, or the accounting period substituted for that year. The War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act was enacted in 1940, and provided that war-time company tax should be levied and paid for all subsequent financial years “ up to and including the financial year next succeeding that in which the present war terminates”. Thus, had the war legally terminated at the cessation of hostilities in August, 1945, the financial year which ended on the 30th June last would have automatically been the last one for which war-time company tax would have been levied.
As part of its general review of taxation, the Government has carefully examined the incidence of this tax, and has found that it contains many aspects which make it inappropriate that it should continue in the period of postwar reconstruction. The tax was necessary as a war-time measure. Where companies became liable to substantial war-time company tax, because of high profits in relationship to capital employed, such profits were generally made possible by business expansion under extraordinary war-time conditions. Apart from the revenue needs of the country, there was every justification for reclaiming a substantial portion of the profits which arose from war-time conditions.
In the post-war period the circumstances which gave rise to these profits will cease. With the return of industry to peace-time production, competition in most fields of production is rapidly being restored. In ordinary peace-time circumstances this tax operates inequitably. It penalizes new industries by preventing the building up of reserves and, consequently, favours old-established industries which have had the opportunity of building reserves in the past. Its abolition should provide a stimulus for new industries. The discontinuance of this tax follows the trend in other countries in regard to similar forms of tax. The United Kingdom repealed its excess profits tax as from December, 1946. Canada, South Africa and New Zealand have also announced the repeal of their excess profits taxes.
The act will continue in operation for the purposes of assessments for the financial years 1940-41 to 1946-47, to enable assessments for those years to be finalized, and also to enable original assessments to be made in the future in respect of those years. It is necessary to preserve the operation of those provisions in the act under which the Board of Referees is constituted, as provision is made in the Income Tax Assessment Act for certain matters arising thereunder to be referred to the Board of Referees for decision. The cost to revenue of the withdrawal of this tax will be approximately £3,500,000 annually.
It has been decided not to make any change for the present in the super tax, which is imposed at the rate of1s. in the £1 on the income in excess of £5,000 of public companies.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the War-time (Company) Tax Act 1940-1941.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be huw read a second time.
This amendment to the War-time (Company) Tax Act is complementary to the amendment to the War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act which I have just introduced into the House. The two acts operate in conjunction in order to impose the war-time company tax. Section 13 of the War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act provides for the ascertainment of an amount upon which war-time company tax is levied and payable. The War-time (Company) Tax Act provides a rate of tax which in each financial year applies to the amount so ascertained. The amendment already proposed to section 13 of the War-time (Company) Tax Assessment Act will result in that section having application up to, aud including, the financial year commencing on the 1st July, 1946. The last year of company profits which are subject to the tax is the year ended the 30th June, 1946, or the accounting period substituted for that year. The amendment proposed by the bill ensures that the tax imposed by the War-time (Company) Tax Act will terminate with assessments for the financial year 1946-47.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 24th September (vide page 185), on motion by Dr. Evatt? -
That the following paper be printed: - Foreign Affairs - Statement by Minister for External Affairs, dated 6th June, 1.947, together with related documents.
– The initiation of this debate by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) affords honorable members an opportunity - of which we have too few - to discuss foreign affairs, a subject which means more to this country now than at any time in its history. We are to-day taking our place in the councils of the nations, and claiming an equal place with the Mother Country, and with the other dominions of the British Commonwealth of Nations. If we are to take our place among the nations we must understand the problems which confront the world and ourselves. In passing, let me pay a tribute to those who represent Australia in various part9 of the world, and who employ themselves in collecting for the Department of External Affairs the information contained in the voluminous report presented to us by the Minister. I cannot say that I agree with the policy of the Government in some parts of the world. In fact, I bitterly oppose it, but it is necessary that we, as a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, should take an active interest in foreign affairs, and play our part in them. Up to the present, Great Britain has borne almost the total burden associated with the maintenance of the British Commonwealth, but Great Britain has now advised the dominions that it can no longer be responsible for maintaining all the armed forces necessary to ensure the -security of that Commonwealth. That is a hint to us that we must be prepared to play our part, and to bear our share of the cost.
Speaking in this debate last night, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said that the representative of Russia, in delivering a tirade against the United States of America and Great Britain at the meeting of the United Nations Assembly recently, was moved by the fear that those two countries were “ ganging up “ against Russia for war. It is a curious thing that the honorable member for Parkes, like the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) and some other members of the Government, should be always prepared to make excuses for Soviet Russia against the interests of the Empire and the United States of America. For my part, I prefer to give credence to the statements of British Ministers rather than to those of Russian representatives to whom members of this Government seem always willing to lend a ready ear. Quite recently a British Minister, speaking at the seat of verbal warfare which is being waged in ‘.he United Nations Assembly, declared that the propaganda statements of Russian representatives were dished up for the benefit of their own people. I prefer to agree with the British point of view. But it is curious that Russian statements are swallowed by spokesmen of the Labour party in this country’ and expounded by supposedly responsible members of thi9 Government. The Minister for Defence almost apologized for Russia’s disagreement with the request of the United States of America that all nations should disclose their secrets as a basis for the abolition of the atomic bomb. The United States of America simply proposed a showdown on the part of all nations, including Russia, on this matter; and the British Minister to Russia declared that Great Britain would make even greater concessions provided Russia made a full disclosure of its activities in respect of the development of secret war weapons. The United States of America simply proposed that if there was to be any showdown at all, there should be a show-down on the part of all nations, including Russia. But, of course, the Russian representative at the United Nations rejected that proposal. Is it not strange, therefore, that the Minister for Defence can so easily find an excuse ‘for Russia’s rejection of that proposal? It is curious that spokesmen of the Labour party in Australia never fail to find some defence of Russia’s actions and claims, and those of Russia’s satellites, the Communists, in whatever role they may appear. We have had convincing proof of the deceit practised by dictators even prior to the recent war. We recall how the late Mr. Chamberlain returned from Munich with an agreement whereby Hitler undertook to refrain from further aggression. But for how long was that promise honoured by Hitler? We know that while Molotov was negotiating with a British military delegation in Moscow a treaty of peace between Great Britain and Russia he signed a peace and friendship agreement for ten years with Hitler. Similar deceit has been practised by other dictators. While the Japanese envoy was in Washington actually negotiating a peace treaty with the United States of America Tojo gave the order for the attack on Pearl Harbour. Yet, to-day, we find honorable members opposite applauding men who are practising similar deceit. Under Russia’s tenyear agreement with Germany, Stalin and Molotov agreed to supply war materials to Hitler. Russia actually supplied such material to Germany in the early stages of the war, and much of it was used against the allies. We know that Stalin’s satellites wormed themselves into the very heart of France, with the result that France quickly collapsed and conditions arose under which Great Britain found it impossible to go to that country’s assistance. The dictators practised deceit after deceit. Consequently, it was not surprising that Germany attacked Russia, which was then obliged to fight Hitler in its own defence. However, whilst the Russians did very little fighting outside their own country Russia has made, and has had satisfied, the most unreasonable demands. Although Russia made no contribution in the fight against the Italian navy, it claimed, and obtained, one-third of the Italian fleet. Of course, we welcomed Russia’s entry into the war against Germany; but to-day we are paying too great a cost for that advantage, particularly when we remember that Russia came into the war solely because it was attacked by Germany. The other allies have now allowed Russia to take control of a great portion of Europe, a right to which Russia was never entitled. We are beginning to realize that in spite of the other great achievements of the Allied leaders, they have yielded too much to Russia, which has had its eyes skinned to make the greatest possible gains for itself. Consequently, Russia has made much greater gains than it is entitled to. It has taken control of more than half of Poland, and has overrun the whole of the Baltic States, whilst most of the Balkan countries and Austria are under its influence. To-day Russia has drawn down an iron curtain, shutting off these countries from western Europe. The rest of the world is not permitted to know what is actually happening behind that curtain. That is one of the great problems which now confront the United Nations, and is giving rise to serious concern on the part of Great Britain, France and the United States, who are simply asking that some vestige of investigation be permitted with a view to ascertaining what is happening behind the iron curtain. Only in to-day’s press we read of the murder of Petkov, the leader of the peasant party in Bulgaria, who has been hanged following an unfair trial despite protests by Great Britain and the United Stales of America. Authoritative spokesmen in other countries declare that the hanging of Petkov was nothing but the murder of a patriot at the whim of Russia in order to subdue all sections of the Bulgarian people. We also learn that the last two free newspapers in Bulgaria have just been suppressed, with the result that to-day in that country the Communists, who are responsible for the death of Petkov, will not allow to be published any newspaper which is opposed to them. Petkov was the leader of the democratic Small-holders party, and he was simply done to death despite protests from Great Britain, France and the United States against the unfairness of bis trial. To-day Russia dominates nearly all of the Balkan States, and it is to those satellites that Russian spokesmen speak through the United Nations. We know “that Polish leaders who have been induced to visit Moscow have either been murdered or are now imprisoned east of the Ural mountains. Similar crimes have marked Russia’s domination of Latvia and other Baltic countries. Russia has been enabled to do all this because the other three great powers, believing that they must adhere to democratic ideals, gave Russia democratic freedom of action. Russia has attacked and continues to attack Greece through adjoining satellite countries, but the United Nations has been powerless to act because of the veto applied by Molotov and his friends. Honorable members opposite make excuses for Russia’s actions while the rights of the democracies are being whittled away. Russia has dismembered Finland and is seeking by penetration or, when that means cannot be adopted, by active encouragement of Communist elements within other countries, gradually to dominate those countries. By the use of trained cut-throats and anarchists, it is agitating the people of Egypt, Palestine, Persia, Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Burma, Manchuria and Indo-China, which have not yet been grasped within its claws. In all of those countries the agents of Soviet Russia have been responsible for political disturbances and bloodshed. In the course of his speech last night, the Minister for Defence apologized for the policy of the Russians and submitted reasons why the Soviet Government, with its tyrannical agents in all countries of the world, and in this country, too, may be pardoned for endeavouring to convert us to its way of thinking. The honorable gentleman was too ready to find excuses instead of upholding the interests of this country, the Empire and the democratic system of government. We know that the Labour caucus supports the Communist Indonesians, and that the Waterside Workers Federation, a Communist organization, has dominated the foreign policy of the Government only because of the presence in the Cabinet of Ministers of the calibre of the Minister for Defence. The agents of Soviet Russia, for whom so many excuses were made by Government supporters, theived valuable war secrets from Canadian officials in an attempt to gain the means of overcoming the defences of that country. We are all aware that many Communists were banished from the United States of America for unAmerican activities. The Communists in Australia, who are no less persistent in their efforts on behalf of Soviet Russia, seek to control the waterfront, the whole system of transport and our trade organizations. Unfortunately, they have gone further and have infiltrated the Government of this country, dominating our foreign policy in East Asia. The Minister has claimed that Russia’s actions could be condoned because it feared Great Britain and the United States of America. I remind him that Russia has never been assailed by British troops since the Crimean War, about 90 years ago, and there is little likelihood that it will be attacked .again. Australia is being attacked to-day, however, not by the armed forces of Soviet Russia, but by its traitorous agents, who seek to overthrow democratic institutions in a country which gives them freedom of speech and opportunity to spread their pernicious doctrines far and wide. We should adopt a firm internal policy to deal with these people. We should either send them to the foreign countries whose ideologies they have adopted or put them in a .place in this country where they can do us no harm. Until we do that we shall never be safe from these traitors who use their basher gangs to beat up newspapermen whose reports do. not. please them. Even a member of Parliament, speaking in a public place ia- not safe from their attacks. What is Russia doing with its trust in the satellite countries over which it has dominion? We. have illustrations of the harshness of Russia’s policy in Bulgaria and other countries behind the iron curtain. Tibor Eckhardt, the small-holders’ leader in Hungary, is already in exile in the United States because he was accused, by the Communist deputy leader Revai, of forming a right wing bloc with a view to the formation of something approaching a democratic government. Tibor Eckhardt had to flee for his life. It is a great pity that some of his colleagues did not get away with him. The protests of the Australian Government and the Government of the United States of America made no difference to the determination of the Soviet Government to pursue its policy in the satellite countries. During the election campaign in Hungary in August last, election frauds failed to reduce the right wing parties. The independent leader then said that the mere fact that a man may go unmolested to the polls does not mean that the election is clean and free. In Rumania, with the full encouragement of Russia, all liberal and peasant members of the Government were expelled. A British report on Rumania states that the Communists, urged by Russia, demanded nationalization of all industry and the application of a collective system of farming. The same condition of affairs prevails in Bulgaria. Only recently the United States of America expressed the deepest concern at the complete disregard by the Bulgarian Communist Government of the spirit and letter of the Yalta Agreement and the peace treaty. Under the Yalta and Cairo agreements, Russia secured the lands, ports and railways of Bulgaria, and by subsequent seizures was able to dominate the country. We should view in clear perspective the actions of Soviet Russia in the countries under its control. Whilst we believe that international agreements should be honoured, we believe, too, that if such agreements are not honoured by the Russians, there is no reason why we should honour them and give to the Russians those things which to-day are hard to part with and which would be better left under our own control. Of the leaders who served Russia’s interests, Tito is, probably the most ravenous. A hostile Communist State, has been built up by him and there has been no. attempt to disguise the enmity that exists. British warships have been mined. Tito’s hordes have overrun Trieste and terrorized the people of Northern Italy. Communists from Albania and Bulgaria have invaded Greece. On the one side we have Soviet Russia determined that Greece shall become a Communist State so that Russia can have the use of its ports and on the other, the United States of America, insisting that the Greek people shall remain free. These two great powers are opposing each other in the United Nations. America is seeking to expose the unconstitutional methods that are being adopted by Russia, but Russia is forestalling discussion by using the veto. It is hard to see how the democratic nations can continue much longer to suffer the accusation of warmongering made by the country which is the world’s greatest warmonger; the accusation of aggression by the country which is the only aggressor, and the accusation of peace-breaking by the country which is the only threat to a peace-seeking world. These unscrupulous people are using all the tactics employed by Hitler and we must defend ourselves as best we can. It is difficult to foresee the outcome of the present meetings of the United Nations. Russia has shattered the hopes of the democracies and of the millions of people throughout the world who are longing and praying for peace. In the United Nations the Soviet sees a means to further its own ends, and I am afraid that the longer the United Nations exists the greater will be the losses of the democracies. Admittedly, if the United Nations ceases to exist there will not be peace, hut it is true also that any peace achieved through the United Nations can only be on Russia’s terms, and the longer the democratic nations endure Russia’s domination of international councils the less will be their chances of defending themselves against the ever-strengthening Soviet. Great Britain has told the United Nations, in effect, that if proposals such as those submitted by the Balkans Commission cannot be implemented the democracies might as well pack up and leave, and prepare for any eventuality rather than have their hands further tied by retaining membership of this organization. The democratic nations have been prepared to co-operate with Russia to the fullest, and io inform the Russians fully of what is being done, hut all that they have received in return is abuse.
The aspect of Australia’s foreign policy with which I disagree most is that relating to Indonesia. In years gone by, the Dutch have been a friendly nation - Great Britain’s nearest ally, separated from its shores by a narrow strip of water. The Indonesian people are our nearest- neighbours and were governed well by the Dutch for more than 300 years. The Dutch introduced a system of education, established towns, and built up trade. and commerce. They are a peaceloving people, but during the war they fell, and Indonesia, like many other countries, was overrun by the Japanese. Then arose in Indonesia a new leader, Soekarno, who conferred upon himself the title of “Dr.”, no doubt to create the impression of greater learning. He wore a fez and this action was interpreted to mean that he intended to embark upon a religious war. But he was always a wicked scoundrel and never a true leader. He had no party and was never elected by the Indonesian people as leader. He was the puppet of the Japanese and his appointment was blessed by the Japanese Emperor. Soekarno urged the Indonesians to support the Japanese, who were then in occupation in Java. He issued a decree declaring war on Great Britain and America. Yet, this is the individual whom the Government of this country has decided to assist. Soekarno and his fellow Communists throughout the world pleaded with the United Nations to stop the police action taken by the Dutch to restore order in Java - action that was no different to police action that we hoped would be taken in this country to prevent Thornton’s Communists or any other violent faction creating a revolution aimed at the overthrow of lawful administration. Soekarno gathered around himself a band of revolutionaries, and Communists, who indulged in robbery and plunder; they murdered Dutch citizens and other white and. Chinese people, and destroyed institutions established by the Dutch over generations.
When this state of affairs was at its worst, the Dutch took police action to restore order. They re-opened schools and restored civilization to two-thirds of the country. Protests were made by Russia, Indonesia, India, and the waterside workers of Australia, who asked that the whole question he referred to the United Nations. Great Britain and the United States of America were asked to mediate in the matter, but they both refused. At this time the Prime Minister of, this country visited Mackay in Queensland and there he was visited by the leader of the waterside Communists a-t a secret conference. When the Communist left, his only statement was that he had not discussed the waterside hold-up with the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said nothing, but within a few days he was back in Canberra, and the Government, we found was submitting the Indonesian trouble to the United Nations. Within a few more days he submitted to Cabinet his proposal to seize and close down the private banks of Australia. When Mr. E. McConnell was speaking in Sydney, and claiming that there was only one man who knew what was intended a Communist made the only interjection. “We knew ! “ I do not know how we can add up these things, but I do know that that was the last conference between the Prime Minister and the Communist, and that within a few days both those determinations had been made. The Brisbane press published, an article reporting that trade unions affiliated with the Queensland Trades and Labour Council had passed a resolution that condemned the Dutch for “ aggression and treacherous military action “, for “ forcing war on the Indonesian republic “, and for “ menacing the peace and security of the Pacific countries “. It called on “ the Federal Government to extend its authority at the United Nations to demand the United Nations’ intervention to force a peaceful solution and the withdrawal of Dutch troops”. It congratulated the Communist watersiders and sent congratulations to the Communist Dutch unionists. The Australian Council of Trades Unions asked that the Commonwealth Government submit the situation in Indonesia to the United Nations.
– Order !
The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) negatived -
That the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) be granted an extension of time.
– The foreign policy of the Government consists of meddling and muddling. It meddles in everybody else’s business, and it muddles its own. It has poked its nose into Greece, Egypt, Palestine, Arabia, and Indonesia. It puts itself forward as the conscience of the world. It seizes every opportunity to sit in judgment on the conduct of other nations. It plays the policeman abroad and it acts the fool where the real interests of Australia are at stake. The Government has no settled foreign policy. One day its spokesmen are supporting the cause of the Russian empire and the next day they are taunting the Russian bear, while the two great military powers of the world - and there are only two to-day - are manoeuvring for the position that they want to be in. What for - in readiness for the next great war? And while they are doing that, this Government allows its representatives to indulge in amateur theatricals. The result has been that we have lost friends all over the world, and lost them far more rapidly than we gained them. Foreign policy demands that there shall be a clear vision and intelligent anticipation, and the Government has neither. How many members of the present Cabinet understand what the Government’s foreign policy is ? ‘Has any attempt been made to weigh the possible consequences of commitments that are made blindly? How many Ministers have even read the statement that was tabled in this House by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) ? I say to the House and the country that there is only one possible basis of a foreign policy for this country, and that is the security of the Commonwealth of Australia. Everything in our foreign policy should be directed towards that objective. I admit that we are concerned with the pursuit of world peace. We are very much concerned with that. But we are not concerned with the pursuit of world fame for the many representatives that we have wandering around the world to-day. World peace is being jeopardized by the antics of the organization known as the United Nations. I say that deliberately after very careful thought. “The United Nations” and “ Uno “ are glibly cast around this chamber and mentioned in the newspapers. Despite its high ideals it must be already written down as a calamitous failure. It has become the cockpit of chauvinism. Its bickerings, its petty jealousies and the constant clash of the would-be dominating personalities and nations have kept the cauldron not simmering but boiling. From that there can be but one end - war. The League of Nations was the inspiration of high-souled pacificists, idealists and gentlemen. Idealists like . Woodrow Wilson and Briand persuaded realists like Clemenceau that the peace of the world could be organized and that world disarmament could be achieved. That belief lasted for about twelve years. The first test of that high-minded organization was in China. The league failed. The second test was in Abyssinia. The league failed again. From then on the second world war was inevitable.
The United Nations did not even spring from the faith that inspired the founders of the League of Nations. Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin were all realists who believed in the doctrine of power politics. The secret agreements made at Yalta and Moscow provide proof of the words I have uttered. Those men were even then looking forward to the future balance of power and the possibilities of another struggle for world domination. The defects of the United Nations result from the failure of those leaders to achieve a basis for future peace while their countries were still allied. In such a course of action lay the only hope of guaranteeing peace. The veto was bred by suspicion and. fear. There was no real attempt to create an atmosphere of security for the future. Never at any time have the major powers shown any desire to surrender any of their strength. They have dominated the new organization right from the start. The small nations have no real place in it because they do not count. In t.hp early days the League of Nations had almost a judicial atmosphere. That has never appeared in the United Nations. Right from the outset, that organization has been a hotbed of power diplomacy. The Russian Empire is fully conscious of the almost unlimited possibilities for its imperialist expansion both in Europe and in Asia. Stalin has taken over the Hitler blue-prints. He is following the same principles of economic nationalism and imperialistic bullying. Russia, therefore, has . no intention of helping to make the United Nations a successful organization. It is using the United Nations as a means of fomenting trouble amongst the other nations. It is following the Hitler technique in that regard.
Contrast the position tb-day with that of the early days of the League of Nations. Although Russia and the United States of America never joined the League of Nations, the league was still able to secure the consent of all nations, including Russia, Germany, Italy and Japan, to the Kellogg Pact of August, 1928. In (hat document the nations all solemnly announced that they would denounce war. War was to be outlawed except for defence purposes. Even that solemn pledge proved to be worthless. World War II. was just another example of the worthlessness of such pledges. The United Nations is only two years old, already it has been shattered by failure after failure. The Russians have been rougher and tougher in Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania and Yugoslavia than even Hitler was in Austria, Czechoslovakia and the other countries that he mopped up before he marched on Poland after entering into an agreement with Stalin. Outbursts like that of Vyshinsky are carefully planned by the political bureau in Moscow for propaganda purposes. There is no way of restraining such outbursts, short of war. Vyshinsky knows that and acts accordingly. Russia is suspicious of the Marshall plan. It does not believe that it is an attempt to feed starving Europe. Russia believes that the Marshall plan is an attempt to organize a military alliance against the Soviet. That is why Vyshinsky was instructed to attack the United States foreign policy in New
York. Vyshinsky was trying to drive a wedge into the American people by inciting the American Communists to support Russia against the United States Government.
What good purpose can be served by such gatherings? The Russians have no intention of co-operating with the other nations. Their purpose is to destroy all attempts to achieve unity among the nations. The only possibility of any settlement of differences would seem to lie in direct discussions between the Big Three on a similar basis to the Moscow and Yalta conferences. Why, then, persevere with such a costly futility as the United Nations? Why should we in Australia meddle in the affairs of Europe, Asia and North America unless they have a direct bearing on the security of this country? What good purpose will be served by our representatives rushing in to prod the Russian bear? If this Government wants to do a real job, let it first tackle the Communist problem within Australia. The Government has issued a pamphlet accusing the Communists of trying to sabotage our defences. If this Government has evidence to support those charges, it should not be writing pamphlets. It should deal with those responsible in the same way as the Canadian Government dealt with those traitors whom it found operating within the Dominion of Canada. That was where our foreign policy should start. Security begins at home, and while traitors are allowed freedom to carry out their treachery under the. eyes of the Government and the people this country will never be secure.
It is not only in connexion with Russia that we seem to be running into trouble at the United Nations. We are now told that we have lost the friendship of Holland, Belgium and several other countries with which we have come into conflict in. the United Nations. As it is at present, Australians will be expected to lay down their lives in order to settle some tin-pot squabble between two South American republics.
Then there is the problem of representation. This Government has voices in almost every country. In London we have Mr. Beasley; in Ottawa, Mr. Forde; in Washington, Mr. Makin; in Ceylon, Mr. Frost; and in Cairo, Mr. Breen. Perhaps they all speak with the same voice as the Minister for External Affairs, and perhaps they do not. But, at least, they have the advantage of having at one time been Ministers, or supporters of this Government. However, at the United Nations, we never know who will speak for Australia. For a time Mr. Makin was our voice, and then, at intervals, we had the Minister for External Affairs himself. At other times we were surprised to hear about the doings of Colonel Hodgson, and I am told that nowhere is greater surprise expressed than in the Department of External Affairs, of which he was secretary, prior to being “ kicked upstairs” by his appointment as Australian Minister to France. Then, for a time, Mr. Hasluck was Australia’s voice. Now he has returned to Australia to tell us that this Government and this country have a larrikin policy. I do not know what he means by that.
– The honorable member can make a fair guess.
– Perhaps the Government might explain, but I do know that when the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) was in NW York last year he received nearly three lines in the New York Times. On the same day, the name of Mr. Hasluck, the spokesman for Australia, and his statement, were spread across the front page of that newspaper. Most Americans, no doubt, believe that Colonel Hodgson and Mr. Hasluck are very important political figures in this country, because they have been permitted to speak in the name of Australia. At other times, Mrs. Jessie Street, Mr. Ernest Thornton and many distinguished private members of this Parliament, have acted as the voice of Australia on some organ of the United Nations. There appears to be a reckless irresponsibility about the way in which we choose our representatives. They go abroad and apparently they say and do what they like. In most instances they have never reported to this Parliament on their missions. I wish this Parliament would take international affairs seriously. I wish the Government would take them seriously, and place the Parliament above the Executive, thus making it the supreme power in Australia in international affairs. I say this deliberately after very careful consideration - Australia’s spokesmen in external affairs should be either the Prime Minister of Australia or the Minister for External Affairs, and whichever of them speaks for Australia should be held responsible to this Parliament for what he says. The Parliament should be consulted before policy is formulated, not afterwards. Steps should be taken to ensure that, in future, honorable members are kept informed of developments abroad as speedily as possible - that is all they ask. As things now are - I must be careful what I say - some diplomatic nonentity could involve this country with other countries by an irresponsible statement or action that in no way represented the policy of the Government, the Parliament, or the nation.
We should review immediately our attitude towards the United Nations, and all its satellites and off-shoots. Already we have the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the International Belief Organization, the World Food and Agriculture Organization, the Human Rights Organization, the Atomic Energy Commission, the International Trade Organization, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the International Labour organization, besides a string of subsidiary organizations. All these call for contributions. They also call for costly delegations. They require the appointment of accredited representatives authorized to speak in the name of our country - Australia. The position is being reached rapidly where this country can no longer afford such costly luxuries. We are pouring millions of pounds yearly down the United Nations’ sink, and all that comes out is a stream of fantastic theories, or a call for further monetary contributions. Wc have been giving a lot of people expensive tours abroad. We are helping to maintain huge tax-free bureaucracies, but- what are we achieving? We are loading our budget down with millions of pounds for loans and gifts to other countries. How long are we going to afford that policy? Can we afford it now?
On present performances, the world would be much safer without the United Nations than with it. I make that statement because it is my firm conviction. The United Nations merely provides a battle-ground for the talking war, and that sort of war has a habit of finishing up as a shooting war. We should be better off without such an organization. The United Nations has made no real progress towards reconciling outstanding differences. It is constantly dividing the nations into rival groups. The position appears to deteriorate still further at each meeting. What good is being served by the nations bandying words with one another. Once we concede the point that no progress has been made towards world agreement, then the sooner we eliminate one of the biggest causes of friction the better it will be for the world. Britain is already giving a lead. It has said that it can no longer afford to keep armies throughout the world to maintain peace.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) put -
That the honorable member forReid (Mr. Lang) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mb. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. T. Sheehy.)
Majority . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Ever since I have been a fellow member of this House with the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), I have realized that his views are not my views. I have therefore sought the opportunity to follow him in debate, so that I might, if I could, put him right and teach him the error of his ways. On this occasion, I happen to be in the unfortunate position of finding that his views are very much my views also. My views do not go as far as his in many ways, but on two points particularly we are, I might say, almost brothers. His description of the Government’s policy as that of meddlers abroad and muddlers at home was the best that could be applied shortly. I propose to have something more to say about that in the course of my remarks. I also agree entirely with what he said about the form of our representation abroad, and the undoubted extravagances which it causes. But when he talked about the Yalta agreement, and the advantages or disadvantages of the United Nations, I began to part company with him. It is true that the Yalta agreement was a bad agreement. It gave, it seemed to me, a great many unnecessary advantages and concessions to Russia. But the honorable member quite overlooked the fact that when the Yalta agreement was made the situation was very different from what it was a few years, and even a few months, later. At the time of the making of the Yalta agreement we were still at war with Germany, and the prospects were that the war with Japan would continue for quite a long time. In order to try to shorten that war, *it seemed to me to be necessary that Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt should make such concessions as were necessary to bring Russia into the conflict. Fortunately, the war with Japan collapsed after Russia had been a participant in it for only three days. Had it continued, as it well might, for a year or more, perhaps some material advantages might have been gained from the concessions that had been made at Yalta. When the honorable member for Reid said that President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill wished to obtain the balance of power and to achieve world domination, he was completely wide of the mark, because what they were out for was the ending of the war with Japan. The honorable member then went on to demolish the United Nations with all his oratory and elocution. I say to him and to the House that in my opinion the one hope of the world is in some international organization like the United Nations. It is perfectly true that the relations between the great powers are deteriorating and that the prestige of the United Nations is declining. But that does not alter the fact that Australia and other members of the British Commonwealth, as well as 50 other countries, stand to gain a great deal more by making the United Nations a. success than by causing it to fall in ruins. That is a. point on which I differ from the honorable member for Reid.
I now turn to some of the remarks of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who made what seemed to rae to be a very thoughtful speech. His statement of certain facts in the present world situation represented very closely the situation as it actually exists to-day. He pointed out - and this seems to me to be of great importance - that the world situation after the war of 1914-18 was vastly different from what it is to-day. At that time, the main factor was the position of the Allies. The allied and .associated powers were then dominant in the world. The central powers had collapsed. Russia had gone completely into an eclipse. Over the whole of the continent of Europe, and even over the world, there hud been very little destruction of material wealth. The present situation is entirely the reverse of that. Russia has emerged as the dominant power of Europe and Asia, and almost of the world, with the exception of the United States of America. We have seen the very deep exhaustion of the western democracies of Europe. The United States of America came out of the last war strengthened, as it did after the war of 1914-18. It became the greatest productive nation in the world, and the one with the greatest influence throughout the world as a whole. Finally - and this is of ‘ very great importance - Europe to-day is broken, and is almost completely in ruins. The existing state of affairs, and particularly the condition of Europe, calls for co-operation among, and not antagonisms between, the nations. The majority of nations, I believe, are prepared to co-operate within limits. The one nation which should co-operate, and which could contribute a great deal to the world in the form of assistance, not only materially but also’ psychologically, is Russia.
I had not intended to refer to Russia, because other honorable members, particularly the honorable member for Reid, had already said a great deal about that country. However, I was so astonished at the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser), and also by the less explicit statements of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), that I am impelled to do so. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro took the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and other Opposition members to task; he said that by their speeches they had done great disservice to the cause of peace. The implication was that they had done so because they had exposed Russian policy. The honorable member went on to say that Russia’s policy was dictated by fear and was entirely defensive, that other nations were “ ganging up “ against Russia. His remarks took my mind back about ten years. Honorable members will recall that the apologists for Germany in those days used exactly the same language as is now used about Russia; they talked of encirclement, of the treatment of Germany by the victorious nations after the war of 1914-18, and of Germany’s internal economic problems being the outcome of the failure of other nations to co-operate with it. Finally, they said, as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro said last night about Russia, that if the other nations were to work in with Germany that nation would play the game. We now know something about the effect of a policy of appeasement, and I hope that no such policy will be followed with Russia, a country which is failing to co-operate with other nations and, indeed, is doing its utmost to antagonize countries which are opposed to its policy. There is a good deal of truth in the statement that Russia’s policy is dictated by defensive considerations; but a policy which is defensive when viewed from Russia’s stand-point becomes offensive when viewed from ;the stand-point of other nations which suffer from it. I recall the occupation by Russia for defensive purposes of certain Baltic States - Lithuania, Latvia, and Esthonia. Russia merely walked in and seized whole countries. I wonder what the people of those countries thought of such action. What can be said of Russia’s policy in regard to Greece? It is part of Russia’s defensive policy to extend its control into the Mediterranean sphere. Greece has been attacked hy Communist bands from Bulgaria, Albania, and Yugoslavia- bands, for the most part, armed and trained, or at least guided, by Russians. There has been no real revolution in Russia, notwithstanding all the talk about a Bolshevist revolution in 1917. Russia to-day is not different from the Russia of 100 years ago ; its policy is still that of Ivan the Terrible. I doubt that any country has ever had a revolution. It is not true to say that there has been a revolution in any British country and, similarly, there has never been a revolution in Germany or Russia. We find the same ambitions, the same expansionist ideas, and the same form of government - government of the masses of the people by a small elite section. That is as true of Russia to-day as in the days of the Czars.
The fundamental view held by Russian Communists is that communism and capitalism cannot co-exist in the world, and that sooner or later there must be a showdown between the two ideologies. The Russian policy is, therefore, to impose communism on the countries under its control, and in other countries outside its direct influence to create conditions which, in the event of war, will make the people favorable to Russia. The warning to the democratic nations to-day is clear. The Russian programme is carried out in two ways - first, by the compulsory acceptance of communism, in countries controlled by Russian troops, such as Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria. and, secondly, by a policy of infiltration of communist ideology in countries outside the orbit of Russia’s influence. That policy is applied to British Empire countries, including Australia. Some nations are subjected to both influences - force, and propaganda to spread communist ideas. That is the position in which Greece and Persia find themselves to-day. It may be true of Turkey also. There are many factors in favour of Russia. One of them is that Russia has certain definite objectives and an absolute singleness of purpose. Its tactics may vary, but the objective is the same. If Russia can achieve its objective without force, so much the better; but, if not, Russia is content to wait for a soft spot to reveal itself. It generally happens that, in due course, a soft spot is found. Most important of all, there is unity of command in Russia. Any order, from Stalin is carried out faithfully in every sphere of activity. No democratic country can claim the same unity of purpose. In the recent war Russia gained practically all its objectives - immense spheres of influence, in the west, south, and southwest of Russia proper, as well as in the Far East, partly as the result of the Yalta agreement, and partly as the outcome of Russia’s occupation of large areas. Take Japan as an example. Many years before the recent war Russia’s frontiers had been pushed back a long way from Japan’s; now we see Russia aiming two spearheads almost directly at the heart of Japan. One of these is directed through the Port Arthur peninsula and Dairen, and the other through the Kurile
Islands, which extend to within a few miles of the northernmost island of Japan. In addition,. Russia has arrogated to itself a strong strategic position in Korea, a position which it is now in the .process of consolidating. It is obvious, therefore, that Russia has obtained the position for which it was fighting. Contrast Russia’s present situation with that confronting the western democracies. We have gained nothing beyond victory; all that we are to receive is to be decided by the peace treaties - and what conditions will be attached to the treaties no one knows. The western democracies have lost their trade and are without military power. In addition, most of them are beset by labour difficulties and social unrest. Russia, on the other hand, has all the things which we lack. It has an adequate labour reservoir and ample natural resources. During the recent war much of Russia’s obsolete industry was modernized, and vast quantities of capital goods were sent to Russia by the United States of America and the United Kingdom for the prosecution of the war. But over and above all these advantages - and this is a factor which is of enormous importance in the world to-day - Russia possesses the strongest army in the world. That army comprises a large number of divisions which are still mobilized; and like all armies, the Russian Army wields tremendous influence and has a most farreaching effect on the policies of countries adjacent to Russia.
There is, of course, another side to the picture which I am painting, and it is one which does not present such a gloomy appearance. I refer to the internal economic weakness of Russia to-day because of the devastation of huge areas of Russia during the recent war. Because of that weakness, I think that the immediate objective of Russian policy to-day must be to maintain peace to enable them to reconstruct their country. For that reason, Ido not apprehend any immediate move of an offensive character being made by Russia. However, the facts which I mentioned earlier cannot be overlooked; Russia must go forward, and it is determined to employ every means to further its progress. The people of Russia are steeped in the gospel and teachings of Marx and view the world’s future in the light of those doctrines.
Turning to the role which I believe Australia should adopt, I think that we should bear three things in mind. Our paramount policy ought to be to maintain the United Nations and, if we can, to strengthen it. Of course, whether that is possible under present conditions I do not know; but it is, at all events, something towards which we should strive. As a corollary to that policy our aim should be to strengthen the British Empire and the ties binding its members. In saying that, I realize that I am only repeating what I, and many others, have pointed out previously. We, in Australia, amount to nothing in ourselves; but as part of the large aggregation of peoples comprising the British Commonwealth we can command the attention of world powers. Therefore, it seems to me that our role to-day should be to endeavour to prevent any further deterioration in the relations between the great powers. Small powers like Ecquador, Liberia or Guatemala do not matter greatly in the determination of world politics, and the efforts of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) to champion the rights of these small nations do not, in world affairs, amount to a row of beans. What does matter is the policy agreed upon by the great powers; and we, as a small nation, can serve our own interests best by seeking to lubricate the machinery of international diplomacy. Australia possesses certain important advantages, lt has quite a lot of goodwill abroad - .although, perhaps, not quite as much as it used to have. As a nation we are, of course, homogeneous. We have no grudges against other nations, nor have they against us. But the really important thing is that Australia occupies a geographical position in the Pacific different from other members of the British Commonwealth. Those are our main advantages, and we should make the most of them.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) referred, in the course of his speech last night, to a statement made by Mr. Paul Hasluck. That gentleman recently delivered a most interesting address, in which he sought to indicate where we were heading in international diplomacy. During that address he made some valuable comments based on the first-hand knowledge and experience he acquired of these matters ‘abroad. ‘He said that two things were needed; the exercise of more skill by our diplomatic representatives abroad, and greater clarity of thought by those occupying responsible positions abroad. Parenthetically, I think that greater clarity of thought is required of those occupying responsible positions in Australia. Mr. Hasluck went on to say that Australian diplomatic representatives are in the habit of obtruding their views on matters which do not directly concern Australia. As honorable members know from their political experience, it is not always necessary to talk to make one’s point - in fact, one of the words of advice given to me when I entered this Parliament was that it was better not to talk too often. That maxim, I think, applies with even greater force in the conduct of diplomatic affairs, ft must be admitted, however, that the voice raised loudest and most frequently in discussions abroad has been that of Australia’s representatives. It would appear that the foreign policy of the Government is simply an echo of its internal policy; in other words, it believes that the constant use of a loud voice is the best method to employ. Members of the Government believe that a good press relations officer can “ put a great many things over “ an unsuspecting public. The application of that policy overseas has, I think, been one of the most notable features of our diplomatic activity. It has been particularly noticeable in diplomatic discussions which have taken place in the United States of America. I think that the Government should discard that policy. I do not put myself forward as being an authority on international affairs, but I have had considerable experience and have acquired some knowledge of these matters. I have found that those who exert the most powerful influence and accomplish most are not usually the aggressive ones. Representatives who have a “ way with them “ and exert themselves to facilitate the despatch of business usually attain a great deal more than those who employ a lond, raucous voice and bang the tableevery time they speak. Another matter of some importance, and one which was mentioned by the honorable member for Reid and others, is the selection of persons to transact business, other than diplomatic business, abroad on behalf of this country. I intend that the remarks I am about to make should apply to all who go abroad representing this country, whether as members of this House or as officials. The Government has been most unfortunate in the selection of personnel for a number of it3 missions overseas. I emphasize this because I believe that the Government knows to what I refer, although I do not intend to mention names because that would be invidious. However, from correspondence which I have received from friends abroad it is clear that many of our representatives have been lacking in character, in behaviour - and some of them, I am afraid, in intelligence. The selection of such people does a great disservice to this country. Not many of our representatives who go abroad succeed in catching the public eye, but when they do it is of vital importance to this country that they should make a favorable impression. The importance of this country’s prestige abroad is not sufficiently realized, and I cannot emphasize too strongly that we should select only the best to represent us overseas. That should not present any insurmountable difficulty because we have a great many Australians of ability. The other matter I wish to mention concerns clarity of thought in respect of our foreign policy. Clarity of thought involves the skill required to “put over “ our ideas, and also the “ what “ we ought to “ put over “. We must know as a country what our foreign policy is to be. We must know what we want, and where we want to go. Foreign policy cannot be built up by the Minister for External Affairs or by the Government or the Parliament alone ; it has two essentials : First, it must come out of the convictions, or the instincts, of th’e people as a whole. That is why Great Britain over the years has followed a foreign policy which has not varied or wobbled from one side to the other. That is because the British people as a result of experience have been forced to adopt a foreign policy in keeping with, their character and necessities. We have been unfortunate in this country. We have for so long been under the shelter of the British fleet that we have only recently come to know that there is such a thing at all as foreign policy - only during the last war - and, then, our people as a whole have no settled convictions a9 to what way our foreign policy should go. But they must be taught. The Government should try to awaken the people to the importance of the way in which our foreign relations are conducted and get them to realize what we must do as a nation ; because if our foreign policy is to be worth anything at all it must spring not from one man, or half a dozen men, but from the hearts of the people themselves. Secondly, we must have a wellinstructed and experienced Department of External Affairs. I am glad to be able to say that I believe we have such a department. I have been impressed with the quality of the people in the department to-day, but that department will not be really useful unless the advice it gives is very carefully considered by all who have to deal with our foreign relations. It is useless for experts to put up advice unless it is going to carry great weight with the Government itself. In Great Britain the Foreign Affairs Department has been accused for many years of running the foreign policy of Great Britain. That is not so. In the end, the policy has always depended on the views of the Minister of the day ; but none the less the department has carried on a continuity of views and piled up considerable experience, and, therefore, any advice and opinions it gives must be viewed with great respect. That is done in Great Britain.
Reverting to what I said earlier about the need for clarity of thought in these matters, I shall illustrate how we lack clarity of thought particularly in respect of our attitude towards the Netherlands East Indies. I do not propose at the moment to go into the merits of the case, or to examine whether the Indonesian Republican Government is good or bad. All T want to point out now is the way in which, as a country, we have adopted the policy we are pursuing. It is well-known, of course, that for two and a half years we have been extremely partisan in our actions. We have supported the Indonesians, and have done a good deal to injure and annoy the Dutch. Why have we done that ? I am convinced that somewhere in the archives, or perhaps in the minds of the people in the Foreign Affairs Department, is a mass of information which should be available to the peopleas a whole, or at least to the Government. The Government has given no sign at all that it has that information. In fact, our policy has been settled and carried out by a handful of people on the wharfs. T wo and a half years ago a ban was placed on the shipment of goods to the Netherlands East Indies. That policy was started for us by a movement on the part of the waterside workers. It wa3 followed by ‘ further action with regard to the refitting of Dutch ships and later a complete ban on Dutch ships. That policy was later endorsed by the Australian Council of Trades Unions thus cutting off all our commerce and injuring the Dutch as well as our-1 selves and all concerned in trade with the Netherlands East Indies. What is thai policy founded on? One might say that the controllers of these unions are Communists and that their policy follows the pattern of that of certain unions in other countries. I do not take up that point at this juncture. The point I make is that whether the action is dictated by Communists, or anybody else, it is dictated by emotion and not by reason, and no country can evolve a sane foreign policy by working on the emotions. That applies to every problem which confronts us in life. Yet, when the opportunity is given to these trade unions to hear both sides of a case they refuse. What took place at the recent trade union congress in Melbourne? Dr. Usman, the Indonesian Republican representative, was allowed to deliver a speech, but the same opportunity was denied to the Dutch representative; and when a Mr. Carroll, who knew something about the position in the Netherlands East Indies, put forward his views he was howled down and afterwards went in danger of personal injury. That is not the way to find out the facts on which to found any policy, much less a country’s foreign policy. But that is typical of how some of our policies are being founded to-d ay. Let us get, down to the facts of each situation, and decide from those facts what is the right policy. “What I have said is typical of what, we are doing in respect of not only Indonesia hut also what our representatives are doing abroad. They seem to be moved more by emotion than by facts. So far as our foreign policy goes to-day we seem to be drifting somewhat aimlessly. Therefore, I hope that something will be done to get some clarity of thought in our foreign policy and some common sense in our methods of impressing it upon other nations.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. BRENNAN (Batman) [6.20).- This debate arises out of the motion by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), that the paper containing the statement which he presented to the House on the 6th June be printed. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) eulogized the work of the External Affairs Department. At least, I so understood it.
Mi-. Ry au. - I did not say that of the bead of the department.
– I can endorse that glowing eulogium and even carry it to the ministerial head of the Department of External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), because f believe that the right honorable gentleman has distinguished himself, especially in the field of international affairs. He has delivered a number of addresses which I believe were admirable in their concept and in the matter which they disclosed. I do not believe, therefore, that any exception can be taken to the right honorable gentleman, who stepped down from a very high position in the judiciary to assume office as AttorneyGeneral in the Labour Government and responsibility for Australia’s external affairs policy. I cannot see how any honorable member in the Opposition ranks can hold an opinion of the right honorable gentleman different from my own. The honorable member for Flinders said that his eulogistic remarks did not extend to the ministerial head of the Department of External Affairs. As I understood him, however, he deprecated the views of the Minister rather than the manner in which the right honorable gentleman had carried out his duties. The ministerial head of the Department of External Affairs is a very distinguished head of a very distinguished department and as such the glowing eulogium of the department which was uttered by the honorable member for Flinders should- be extended to him.
The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. “White) and the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) made a somewhat violent attack upon the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser).
– I spoke before the honorable member for Eden-Monaro addressed the chamber.
– The attack was also extended to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who, like the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, made a very interesting contribution to this debate.
– The honorable member is mistaken. My speech preceded those of both the honorable members to whom he has referred.
– I venture to point out that the honorable member for Warringah made several speeches by way of interjection during the speeches of the honorable members to whom I have referred. I have referred to the speeches delivered by the honorable members for Fremantle and Eden-Monaro as noteworthy contributions to the debate. I should perhaps include the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), because his contribution to the debate was equally interesting. The honorable members for Warringah and Balaclava seemed to think that an attack upon Russia should be made, and that such an attack is equivalent to an attack on Communists in this country. I have nothing to say in favour of Communists in this country and I have no compunction in appearing to criticize the conduct of Russia in certain circumstances, especially in the circumstance that it was undoubtedly allied with Germany in an attack on European civilization and upon Great Britain. I am something of an anti-militarist and a pacifist. I am strongly opposed to the most military nation, namely, Germany, which, until it was defeated in World War II., was the greatest and apparently the most invincible military power in the world. We must be moderate in our attitude towards Russia. Russia is a great power. At long last, though I fear, too late, it made a stand against Germany. But Russia appears in a much more unfavorable light in regard to Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and even Finland. The attack on America and Great Britain by Vyshinsky was deplorable and is to be deeply deprecated. That was the final card played by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White). However, I rose to take part in this debate because I think that the part played by the Victorian Labour party, particularly, against the Communists is to be highly commended. The Australian Communists have no loyalty to Australia, to Great Britain, or even to themselves. The Labour party is the only party that has taken any definite action against them. Certainly the Liberals -have played no part. I recall that on one occasion, speaking on international affairs, my remarks were directed to proving that the second preferences of supporters of what is known now as the Liberal party were given to the Communists. I condemn the Communists not only because they are without loyalty, but also because they are antiChristian. Although I cannot pretend to be a great exponent of Christianity, I do claim to have some loyalty to it. The world to-day is deeply troubled. The honorable member for Flinders thought fit to speak of Indonesia. I have nothing to say about Indonesia, because I believe that the time has gone by when we should endeavour to excuse men seeking to participate in their own government. The Dutch have something for which to excuse themselves in that the Indonesians have not been represented on various governmental authorities. I heard the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) which, like most of the right honorable gentleman’s speeches, was admirable. In saying that, I am being more generous than the honorable member for Flinders, who would concede nothing to the ministerial head of the Department of External Affairs. I repeat that the Labour party is the only political party in this Parliament that has taken action against the Communists. This action has been taken both in the federal body and in the local instrumentalities. In that respect, I direct a criticism at the honorable member for Warringah.
– I came into this debate because I wanted to say something about the Communists, whom I regard as inimical to the Labour party, and because I was pleased with the speech of the honorable member for Warringah, in whom I thought I detected a change of heart. The Communists are or are reputed to be anti-Christian and that is enough for. me. I believe that the Labour party is the only party working against them. They are not loyal to Australia or Great Britain. There must be a show-down against them. Unless we drive them out of the trade unions that they are at present, predominant in, it will be fatal to the Australian Labour party. I speak in those terms because I think the Communists are to be condemned.
.- I am pleased to have heard the final words of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) about his attitude towards infiltration of the trade- unions of Australia by Communists; but the Government must be judged on its actions towards the Communists, of which two are outstanding. First, although, as Prime Minister, the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) imposed a ban on Communist activity, the Labour party, when it took office, lifted it. The second action is of more recent date and it concerns our attitude towards the so-called Republic of Indonesia. In the last few weeks we have witnessed an official ban placed by the Government on the refuelling of Dutch aircraft in this country. The Australian Council of Trades Unions, because of its control of the trades unions, was instrumental in the imposition of the ban in the interests of the Communistic Indonesians. My heart, -and., I think, the heart of every loyal Australian, were cheered by the message from Mr. Fallon, of the Australian Workers Union, that there was a line from a point west of Charleville in the south, to Mackay in the north, beyond which the Australian Workers Union was in control and that its members would be pleased to refuel the Dutch aircraft. The Indonesians are people that bashed Australian prisoners of the Japanese and cooperated with the Japanese as quislings during the war.
I raise my voice, not against Russia, but against the whole ideology and practice of communism. About 100 years ago Macaulay, in one of his essays, stated the way the great bulk of the British people felt, although they have temporarily been misled into returning a socialist government. He wrote: -
It is not by . . . the omniscient and omnipotent State, but by the prudence and energy of the people, that England has hitherto been carried forward in civilization; and it is to the same prudence and the same energy
Chat we now look with comfort and good hope. Our rulers will beet promote the improvement of the nation by strictly confining themselves to their own legitimate duties, byleaving capital to find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price, industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and folly their natural punishment, by maintaining peace, by defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and by observing strict economy in every department of the State. Let the Government do this: the people will assuredly do the rest.
My feeling about the Communists is that I entirely oppose their idea of creating a servile State of which every member is a mere number instead of a free man or woman. The student of world affairs to-day is amazed to see Great Britain, which, with the other members of the British Empire, won the war, because it stood alone for a year against the Hun. fighting for its existence in peacetime. All the traditions and ideals for which on its own behalf for centuries and on behalf of the rest of civilization since the onslaught of Napoleon 150 years ago Great Britain has stood are at stake. The British Empire in its various sections is in the front line against the attack on the ideals of western civilization. In the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Pacific, we are fighting to stem the rising tide o’f communism. Almost every day the world is being presented with faits accomplis by Russia. Poland, in the cause of whose freedom we took up arms against Germany, is under the heel of the Soviet, as is Czechoslovakia, one of the great States that emerged from the 1914-18 war. At meetings of organizations associated with the United Nations the attitude of Czechoslovakia’s delegatesis, “I believe in that, but I must vote with Russia “. Greece, in the cause of whose freedom the Australian divisionswere imperilled, is torn with civil strife inspired by Russian propaganda. TheBalkan States are inflamed. Persia, Turkey, China and India are all the subject of Russian propaganda attack. Yet the Australian Government lets the Communist Australian Council of Trades Unions direct both Austraiian foreign policy and the level and volume of internal production. Once the Australian Council of Trades Unions issues’ its ukase the Government lets its hands drop. Russia, by the use of the veto and its refusal to co-operate in Europe, is preventing the United Nations from functioning satisfactorily. It is delaying a peace treaty with German, which is long overdue. Within seven’ months of the Armistice of 1918 the Versailles Treaty had been signed, but about two and a half years have elapsed since fighting ceased in Europe in the second . Great War without a peace treaty with Germany even in sight. Russia finds that, by delaying the conclusion of the peace treaty, it is able to fish profitably in troubled waters. Almost every week it adds to its catch of satellite States.
Australia, with its population of 7,000,000 persons, thousands of miles away from Soviet Russia, can do little to influence events in Europe. However, we can do a great deal more than we have been doing inside the Commonwealth to fight the menace of communism. For instance, we can stop the Communists from holding up production. Nothing can create greater dissatisfaction than is caused by commodity shortages. Widespread discontent owing to the scarcity of houses and all sorts of goods needed by the community is directly attributable to the influence of this foreign ideology which dominates the trade unions. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) has said that he is opposed to communism. I wish to heaven that he could persuade his brethren in the Labour party to take stern and rigorous action against the Communists ! Australia can do much to help the Mother Country at this time. We can produce more food for export so that the standard of health of the British people and their general economic position may be improved. We must help the United Kingdom to regain its former prestige so that it will not be classed as a second-rate power, as Professor Laski described it when the Labour party came into power there after the war. The salvation of the world is dependent upon the British Empire taking the place in the community of nations to which its territories, population, resources, traditions, and skills entitle it. There can be no salvation for the world without a combination of the resources of the British Commonwealth and the United States of America for the purpose of building up production and thus lifting standards of living in all countries. We cannot ease discontent merely by restricting imports and imposing other controls. The only way to extricate ourselves from the present state of worldwide muddle is to enable the peoples of the world to produce more food, clothes and houses. The best way to strike a blow at Russian influence is to build up a common foreign policy for the British Empire and the United States of America which will convince the Russians themselves that it will be profitable to be friendly towards us. The basic objective of any true Australian foreign policy must be obvious to everybody who loves this country. It should be security for Australia. That must be the supreme consideration. We can achieve security only if we eliminate the Communist poison from our system and co-operate fully with the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Having accomplished that task, we must then set out to secure the closest possible alliance with the United States of America. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that the future well-being of the world does not lie in formal associations, in world charters, or in -written documents. It lies in deeds which are tangible expressions of goodwill. We can do more to bring peace and content to the world by using our abundance to feed the starving peoples of other nations than by any other measures. Starvation causes discontent, which .breeds communism, thus enabling that extraordinary ideology of servility to extend its sphere of influence. By increasing our production in order to assist other nations, we shall not only help to destroy communism but also create a bond of gratitude and common interest with those nations. This will be of far greater value than any formal international organization.
Consider the strength of the British Empire. It does not derive from formal charters. The only thing of that nature that exists within the Empire is the Statute of Westminster, which many regard as a blemish upon our constitution. The Empire flourished long without it. Australia was the last member of the British Commonwealth of Nations to subscribe to the Statute of Westminster, but it did not lag behind the other dominions in springing to the side of Great Britain when it went to war in the cause of justice and freedom. Written treaties do not help us at all. Lawyers may draw up the strongest contract in the world, but, without goodwill, that contract will not keep the parties together. Our foreign policy should be designed to encourage the fullest and most rapid development of our resources for the purpose of increasing production, so that we may combine with the rest of the Empire and with the United States of America in helping the world as a whole. Prosperity and peace will not be achieved by means of quotas and restrictions. Increased production will lead to higher standards of living in all countries. Consider what can be done by increasing the prosperity of India alone. The Empire has a population of over 530,000,000 persons, of which, India holds 300,000,000. If the national income of the Empire could be increased by £2 per capita per annum, an additional volume of purchasing power of considerably over £1,000,000,000 per annum would be released in the world. A similar improvement in China would produce an equal effect on world trade. If prosperity could bc promoted in this way throughout the world, Russia would no longer feel the urge to lay hands upon other countries. It would cease to worry about territorial aggrandizement, and our labours would be rewarded by the spread of peace and content. Therefore, I say that the way to achieve a permanent peace is to encourage rapid and full development of the resources of the British Empire. If, at the same time, we can stimulate economic development in Russia, that nation will have such a big job handling its own enormous resources that it will not be able to worry about i he affairs of other nations. The most peaceful nation during the last 150 years has been the United States of America. Americans have been so busy making the best possible use of the resources of their own huge continent that they have not been able to go on filibustering expeditions to smash other nations. Instead of arguing about the right of veto within the United Nations organization, we should be encouraging Russia to develop its own huge territories by pushing on with the development of our own. Argument at international conferences against the veto is of no more use to us than bumping our heads against a brick wall. It creates only ill-will and inflames public opinion all over the world. Only tay adopting practical measures can we achieve beneficial results. Chasing willo’thewisps at international conferences, at enormous expense to the public purse, serves no good purpose. Consider the resources of Russia and of the British Empire. There need be no competition between them because of the enormous resources of each. They can each develop their own resources properly and help one another at the same time.
The contemptuous attitude of this Government towards the Parliament in relation to foreign affairs amazes me, even after 28 years of parliamentary experience. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has established a practice of making a lengthy statement on international affairs to the Parliament during the closing hours of a sessional period. Such statements usually take an hour or two to read, and honorable members must study them for at least four or five hours in order to understand them completely. They are flung before us, and we are not given an opportunity to debate them for several months. In the meantime they become out of date. For instance, since the Minister tabled the statement which we are now discussing, many things have happened in the international sphere. The Minister rushed away to Japan, no doubt to discuss the framing of a peace treaty. However, the ultimate effect of his visit was the sudden dismissal of Mr. Macmahon Ball, who was not only Australia’s representative, but also the representative of the British Commonwealth of Nations in Japan. He left, and not the slightest reason or excuse was offered for his disappearance from the scene. His actions in the past, apparently, were responsible for his dismissal. He carried out the instructions of the Minister for External Affairs to pin-prick the United States of America, and when the Australian Government, possibly on the advice of the Prime’ Minister (Mr. Chifley), found it necessary to assuage America’s feelings, Mr. Macmahon Ball had to go.
At Canberra recently, representatives of Great Britain and the Dominions assembled for a preliminary discussion of the Peace Treaty with Japan. Extraordinary precautions were taken to preserve secrecy. But surely the Parliament and the people of Australia were entitled to know, before the conference, the views that its representatives would express. Before the conference assembled, this Parliament should have been summoned to discuss the kind of peace which we considered the Allies should make with Japan. For the last two years, I have been endeavouring without success to secure information about ‘ this matter. Brief reports of this conference appeared in the press, and immediately the conference adjourned, the Minister for External Affairs dashed off to attend a meeting of the United Nations in New York. Then the representative of Australia at the United Nations, who for two years has spoken stoutly to various nations on all sorts of subjects, suddenly threw in his job. When he returned to Australia, he explained that he was unable to remain in his position because it appeared to him that the foreign policy of Australia was to “ throw a stone at every bright light that shone in the street “. That is the present position.
Meanwhile, the economic position of Great Britain has become desperate. Surely, one of the first matters that the
Government should have asked the Parliament to consider when it re-assembled last week was a statement about the plight of Great Britain. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) who has been abroad, should have reported to the Parliament on his mission to the International Conference on Trade and Employment at Geneva. He should not leave us completely in the dark. If we read American, French or British newspapers, we come across numbers of statements about various .subjects which are being discussed at the Geneva Conference. It is only in Australia that we are left in complete ignorance. We are compelled to learn what we can about Australia’s foreign policy from Australian and overseas newspapers, and gossip in the lobbies. That is not the way in which the foreign policy of this country should be developed. In my view, the foreign policy of Australia, like the policy of the British Empire, should be a continuous and traditional one. No other policy can offer adequate security to us. There is a sufficient number of level-headed men in all the political parties represented in this Parliament to get together and lay down our foreign policy. The British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, continued the foreign policy of his predecessors, and every one knew where Great Britain stood. We in Australia should be able to tell the world exactly where we stand on Empire policy and foreign policy generally.
One of the gravest features of the present crisis in Great Britain is the defeatist attitude that has been developed regarding it. This attitude prescribes that the only way out of the economic “ mess “ is to cut down in all directions. As a medical practitioner, I know that if I had a sick patient who had been almost starving and I reduced his diet progressively, he would soon die. I agree with the former British Minister for Food, Lord Woolton, who declared that the British Government would have shown the highest degree of statesmanship if, before asking the people to buckle down to the strenuous tasks of increasing the production of goods for export, it had allowed them an adequate diet for a period of six months after the war ended. The additional bill for food would not have greatly increased Great Britain’s external indebtedness. Australia, if it had maintained its own production, could have given to the people of Great Britain large quantities of food, and they would have been able, as the result of increased stamina and improved morale, to stand up to their tasks, and increase production. In addition, their lot would have been made much happier. Eight years have elapsed since the people of Great Britain began to face the rigors of war, which included heavy food rationing. Surely, it is time that they had a “ let-up “ from the privations which they are now suffering. Our job should be to encourage by every possible means the production of food which the British people so urgently require. We all know that if we try to make men do more than they are physically capable of doing, they will soon break down. But if we give them a task that is within their ability, they will keep going.
I now propose to compare the resources of the British Empire with those of Russia. Russian propagandists endeavour to give the impression, as Professor Laski did, that the British Empire is “ on the way out “. What is the real position? I have here the official atlas of the Russian Government, printed in English. Do honorable members know what appears on the first page? The atlas points out that Russia is the second biggest land mass under one political government in the world, and that the biggest political land mass is the British Empire. According to this publication, the area of Russia is approximately 8,500,000 square miles, and the area of the British Empire is 14,500,000 square miles. Even with the exclusion of India which has an area of 1,500,000 square miles, the British Empire is approximately 4,000,000 square miles larger than the land mass of Russia. One-fifth of the area of Russia is situated within the Arctic circle, and one-quarter of its area is desert. Only a comparatively small part of the Dominion of Canada is situated in the Arctic circle’ and the area of desert in the larger British Empire is about the same as in Russia. In other words, a large part of the British Empire is situated in the temperate, tropical and sub-tropical zones and its resources are almost unique. Many of these resources or products are peculiar to the British Empire, and are eagerly sought by every other country. The sale of the products of those areas could provide the British Empire with the “ hard “ currency that is so urgently needed at the present time, if we increased their production. In the present circumstances, we must integrate an Empire economic council for the purposes of developing these resources. When we study history, we find that a strong Britain is essential to the safety and trade of the world. More than one-half of our total production is sold to Great Britain. The United States of America also has a large market in the United Kingdom. Indeed, the British market has always been the great safety valve of the producers of the world. When an expansion of trade is urgently required, it is fantastic to have on the one hand a conference at Geneva to reduce tariffs and, on the other hand, decisions to impose additional import cuts and quotas. The two policies are quite incompatible.
I have some interesting figures which reveal the trade activities of Great Britain for the five years before the outbreak of World War II. The remainder of the Empire sold to Great Britain, on an average, £260,000,000 worth of products a year, and bought from Great Britain £144,000,000 worth of goods a year. Those figures do not take into account the trade of Great Britain with India and Eire, which sold to Great Britain £S5,000,000 worth of goods and purchased £67,000,000 worth of goods annually. At the same time; Great Britain was the greatest open market for the surpluses of all countries, and thereby provided a safety valve for the producers of the world. For that reason, the United States of America and the British dominions have a duty to themselves to strengthen Great Britain as a trading nation. The Empire is still the world’s greatest producer of many indispensable raw materials and equipment. It is the major producer and the greatest exporter of wool, tin, rubber, lead, zinc, wine, gold, diamonds, aluminium, asbestos, mica, nickel, flax, jute, hides and skins, tools, machinery and chemicals. Acceleration of the production of those commodities would steadily increase Great Britain’s convertible international currency.
In 1937 Great Britain was the world’s greatest producer, per head of population, of coal, cotton and woollen fabrics, soap and leather footwear. In production of steel, electric power and cement it shared, on a basis of production per head of population, the highest places with the United States of America and Germany. The rapid development of those industries in the past has depended, as will their expansion in the future, on the encouragement of personal initiative and the imposition of low taxes. Furthermore, there must be an absolute minimum of interference by way of governmental restrictions.
Another remarkable thing about Empire production, and something which has characterized it throughout its history, is that that production is made available to the whole world. By contrast, the production of Russia during the last 25 years has been available only to the people of Russia. For a better understanding of this important matter, I commend to the consideration of honorable members the following figures for the year 1937 showing the comparative production per head of population of certain vital commodities by the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Russia : -
On examining that tabulation, one realizes that there is ample opportunity for Russian development and that Russia must possess immense potentialities, without having to worry about other countries. Furthermore, there is no doubt that
Russia, if it pursued a different policy, would receive every assistance from other countries in developing its economic strength. All that Russia requires for its development is to concentrate on the expansion of its own economy, leaving the rest of the world to do the same. Undoubtedly Russia could best advance its interests by co-operation with the British Empire and the United States of America, and it is equally obvious that the United States of America could assist Australia, and indeed the whole of the underdeveloped parts of the Empire, in the development of our resources. I emphasize the immense potentialities of Russia. In the sphere of power reserves Russia possesses great advantages over the rest of the world, as is shown in the following table : - [n addition, Russia has greater available resources of iron ore, manganese ore, potassium, salt and timber than any other country, and is rich in coal and phosphates. Having regard to those facts, I suggest that our foreign policy should cease to concern itself with the exercise of a “ veto “ and other procedural controversies, and should not concern itself over-much with press publicity. What we should seek to achieve is co-operation and planned development of the world’s resources, because that is something which would prove of the greatest benefit to Russia, Great Britain, the United States of America, Australia and, indeed, of the whole world. Instead of employing our ingenuity to create diplomatic obstacles and promote new international formal relationships we should set aside a period for concentration on development along the lines I have indicated. If the nations of the world did that, many of the problems besetting them now would solve themselves because we should create and distribute sufficient goods to enable the peoples of all countries to live in peace and contentment.
.- This debate has been in progress for some time and it is evident that honorable members opposite have seized upon every opportunity which has presented itself for the exploitation of their two propagandist points. They are continually beating the air in regard to the Indonesian dispute, and it is obvious that they are not seeking genuinely to discuss Australia’s foreign policy in regard to Russia, but are discussing the strategy which they suggest Australia should employ against Russia.
The remarks of members of the Opposition in regard to the Indonesian dispute would lead people to believe that there is either some’ merit in the case for the Dutch people, or that there is no merit whatever in the Australian Government’s intervention in the dispute, and that that intervention will prove inimical to the interests of this country. However, when we consider the real position in Indonesia, I think that the people of Australia will be satisfied that what their Government has done has been in the best interest of Australia. It would be foolish for any one to disregard the fact that there is in existence in Indonesia a strong movement for independence. A similar movement is discernible in the Philippines, and has led the United States of America to grant the Filipinos their independence. The United Kingdom has taken a similar course in regard to the peoples of India, and the Government of France, which formerly governed a large portion of Indo-China, has recognized the national aspirations of the Vietnamese by granting them their independence. Is it then a wrong inference, having regard to what has happened since the end of the war in at least three countries with which Australia has the closest connexion - two of them situated in the Pacific sphere - to infer that the natives of the Indonesian islands would also want their independence? I leave aside the action of one or two individuals who may have collaborated with our enemies during the war, and take regard only of the natural feeling which must exist amongst the native peoples of those islands. I say that only the Dutch have failed to grant real independence to the natives under their control. It is an unfortunate thing that the report made by Group Captain Eaton, the Australian Consul-General at Dilli, which was endorsed by the French Consul, who assisted in its preparation, and counter-signed by other consuls, has not been tabled so a3 to show the true position. The report stated that at the time of Group Captain Eaton’s visit to Jogjakarta he saw there 60 Japanese prisoners, and two Dutch internees who were in hospital, and were being properly cared for. The report stated that law and order was being maintained and that there was no sign of Communist influence, but that, on the other hand, there was enthusiastic support for the republic. If the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) were to table this report I am convinced that it would put an end to the discourse on the correctness or otherwise of our intervention in Indonesia. In reply to the suggestion made by honorable members opposite, that Australia’s action has incurred the enmity of the Dutch people, I point out that at the recent election for the presidency of the United Nations the Dutch representative cast his vote for the Australian candidate, the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). Had there been any hard feeling in that connexion. I am sure that it would have been shown when that opportunity occurred.
Let us see what kind of merit there has been so far in the dispute in Indonesia. It will be remembered that these islands were visited by at least two celebrated English gentlemen - Sir Archibald Clark Kerr, now Lord Inverchapel, and Lord Killearn. Lord Killearn is a man whose word can pass unquestioned. He reported to the British Government that Sutan Sjahrir and Dr. Soekarno, who had been condemned on the ground of collaboration, were not the kind of people they had been painted in the propaganda outpourings of the Dutch. Thi3 applies also to other people who take up the cudgels on behalf of that kind of policy; for example, certain members of the Opposition. What happened in regard to Indonesia actually was this : Certain conferences took place early in this year. In March, an agreement which has been called the Cheribon agreement was signed. That agreement provided that the Dutch would withdraw their troops from Indonesia. Notwithstanding that they had entered into a solemn covenant, the Dutch continued to increase the number of their troops in these islands. If Great Britain, having given its word that British troops would be withdrawn from India by a certain date, not only had failed to keep its word in that regard but also had actually abandoned its promise by increasing the number of its troops in that country, then perhaps Opposition members might have been permitted to say that its action was reprehensible. I have not heard any of those gentlemen say that the action of the Dutch was reprehensible. I am not holding any brief whatever for the Indonesian people, or for Communists. I detest Communists, and consider that their policies are fallacious. At the same time, I say to honorable gentlemen opposite that they cannot ignore facts. Merely to beat the air with propaganda outpourings or slobberings, by referring to a matter in which there is no real merit, and by saying that the Government is dominated in the matter by a group or coterie of waterside workers or some other section of industrialists, is so much humbug. This point has been laboured in the Parliament by Opposition members. We who sit on this side of the House are sick to death of hearing references to Indonesia which are uninformed, or are made with a reckless disregard for truth.
I turn now to what has been said by certain Opposition members in regard to Russia. I do not know very much about such things. I do not, for example, know as much as the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). If I lived to be 1.00 years of age, I could not hope to know as much as he considers that he knows.
– What the honorable member knows he oan tell to the Chair. He must not invite interjections.
– I have listened patiently, and without interruption, to statements in regard to what should be done in connexion with an overall strategy, by means of which Australia could be dovetailed in with other countries in a line up against the Soviet Union. I have not heard those gentlemen who are so loud in their clamourings an that regard make any reference to the threat to the peace of the world that is caused by the existence of a Fascist regime in Spain under General Franco or in Argentina under Colonel Peron. It would, perhaps, be fitting at least, if we are to believe that Oppositionists are sincere, that they should make reference to the possibility that all such threats might involve the peace of the world. It is rather unfortunate that only one-half of the truth is spoken in these matters. Honorablemembers opposite complain that they are not given the opportunity of discussing certain matters relating to foreign affairs. Yet the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), instead ofdirecting the attention of the House to the views that he holds in regard to foreign affairs- if he has any - gave us a well-padded and well-tabulated exposition of the productivecapacity and the economic potential of ‘Great Britain and the Soviet Union, all of which we could quite easily have got from a simple investigation in the Parliamentary Library.
There are some matters which I consider are withinthe ambitof the statementof the Minister for External Affairs, and Which warrant the attention of the House. In that connexion, let me say that the arguments of the Opposition have been devoted principally to Indonesia and Russia. It is true thatthe Leader ofthe Opposition (Mr. Menzies) had a complaint to make about the retirement tor resignation, for the fifth or sixth time, of a public servant, and introduced that particular subject-matter into the debate; but by and large, I doubt whether any Opposition member has made a real attempt to deal with some of the matters that are contained in the statement of the Minister. Without reading the index to the statement, I shall mention one or two matters which appear to warrant some attention. For example, a special portion of the statement is devoted to the work ofthe United Nations, which includes disarmament, Military Staff Committee, atomic energy, theBalkans Commission, Governorof Trieste, the Trusteeship Council,and various other agencies and organizations which have been established under the United Nations.There isalso some mentionof theGermanand
Austrian peace settlements, and of what is to happen to Italian colonies. Coming closer to home, there is quite a good deal concerning the Pacific and South-East Asia, particularly the preparations for a peace settlement with Japan. The statement deals also with the role of the Far Eastern Commission, reparations, and the situation inChina, India and Antarctica. None of the matters dealt with in this statement have been discussedby honorable members opposite. They profess tobelieve that the Minister for External Affairs is solely responsible for Australia’s policy in international affairs, but I remind them that the statement was a Cabinet submission. Every Minister would have had an opportunity to express his views regarding it. These are not new things. They are in conformity with the well-established principle of Cabinet responsibility. These complaints are so insincere they can be treated as being entirely frivolous.
In the time at my disposal I cannot hope to deal with all the matters covered by the statement,but as Australia is within the Pacific sphere, and is a permanent member of the Security Council, it is worthwhile considering conditions in China. When thinking ofChina, it is well to remember that the Chinese, being Orientals, havean entirely different conception of political morality from that of western nations. Having visitedChina, I speak with some little authority when I say that in its present condition - I drawattention to that qualifying phrase-China is unfitted to be a permanent member of the Security Council. I say that because not only is there internecine strife within its borders, butalso becausethere is no stable government in the country. Certainlyhere is no democraticgovernment in China.Bolstered up with the strength of private armies, the Soong and Kung families, of which Dr. T. V. Soong and GeneralChiang Kai-Shekare the principal heads, are exercising a ruthless dictatorship in the areas under their control. Those areas comprise most ofChina, withthe exception ofthenorthern portion, which is allegedly under the control ofCommunist armies. I didnotmake exhaustive inquiries, and I did not visit northern
China, but from people who know conditions there I learned that the revolt, or civil war, in China, is more in the nature of a peasant revolution than a Communist revolution, in the sense in which we understand the latter term. However, that does not restrain Opposition members from claiming that the conditions in China are part of an overall Communist plan of a most sinister kind. I found that in China there was no real attempt to end the civil war because the existence of war conditions gave to the private families which control China bargaining power wherewith to obtain gold from the United States of America, or any other country to which they might sell their vote on the Security Council. That may sound bad, but I emphasize that what is done in China is done by the Soongs or the Kungs. Honorable members will recall that Chiang Kai-Shek married a Miss Soong. On more than one occasion China has used pressure on the United States of America to obtain a large amount of foreign currency in order to cope with alleged onslaughts of the Communists. In effect, China said to the United States of America, “ If you do not give us 500,000,000 dollars from your import-export bank, we will turn red ‘ “.
Honorable members know of the efforts made by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, General Marshall, to reconcile the differences between the Communist army and the armies of the Kuomintang in order to get a united China. It is strange that a country so divided as China should be a member of the United Nations Security Committee. Before .China sought admission to the United Nations it should first of all have put its own house in order. I put aside for the moment such considerations as whether the United Nations should accept any country as a member unless it can show to the satisfaction of other members that it is a democratic country. I repeat that, in its present state, China is not fitted to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. After General Marshall left China he was appointed hy President Truman to his present position of Secretary for Foreign. Affairs in the United States of America, which is the most important position in that country, apart from that of the President himself. General Marshall was trained as a military man, but what claims he has to being a diplomat I have found it impossible to discern. He has announced a plan to save Europe, but no one besides himself knows the details of the plan. It is true that, as a first instalment of his plan, he has sent certain quantities of arms and munitions into Greece and Turkey. “We are told that, in its present crisis, Great Britain should be given first preference by Australia, but how can we in this country decide what ought to be done if we do not know what . assistance the United States of America is prepared to render to Britain ? I do not refer to the assistance which the United States of America could give, but to the help that is likely to be given. Once we know that, we can determine what we in this country can do to help Britain. The world knows that there is a Marshall plan, but no one outside the United States of America knows its details. From my own observations I do not agree with the announcement of any plan unless at the same time details of it are given, and also a statement as to how it will be implemented. I am not prepared to accept the Marshall plan as a Heaven-sent solution of the problems confronting the world merely because it originated with General Marshall in the United States of America. Members of the Opposition ought to examine these plans, which have an important bearing on Australia’s position in regard to world affairs. Even though the Marshall plan is designed to assist Europe no one can deny that its implementation must have important economic and political repercussions in Australia. The contributions of honorable members opposite to this debate have not increased the sum of knowledge in this House on the subject of foreign affairs. They have discussed principally a few matters which can be described as matters of prejudice, of political pandering, which really do not come within the ambit of foreign affairs. The work performed by the Minister for External Affairs has been extremely meritorious, not only because of his prodigious labours, as Mr. Hasluck described them, but also because, when he assumed office, Australia had no foreign policy at all, and it was the duty of the present Government to enunciate one. Cn place of a foreign policy, there was, in the past, merely an acceptance without question by previous governments of such portions’ of policy as were handed to this country by Whitehall. I hope that before the end of this session the House will have an opportunity to debate- a further statement by the Minister for External Affairs. Government supporters, at any rate, are appreciative of opportunities of this kind to express their views without restriction of any kind.
.- A debate on foreign affairs in connexion with a paper tabled three months ago by a Minister who is not now here to listen to criticism, and who certainly will not be here for some time to come, is of necessity not the best opportunity to discuss this subject. However, some things must be said. For my part, I do not propose to engage in fulminations against Russia. A lot has been said about that - a lot with which I agree. My own attitude may be summed up in this: I believe that Russia is governed at present by a blood-thirsty tyranny which follows a way of life entirely foreign to our way of life. Until the rulers of Russia accept certain principles it is idle for us to have much dealing with them. Those principles were admirably stated by Mr. Hector McNeil in the criticism delivered before the United Nations Council two days ago. He was preaching the doctrine of tolerance in foreign affairs, and he said -
No nation has a monopoly of truth. No nation is omniscient or omnipotent, and no nation can expect to have all its views accepted by all other nations.
The moral was that as the Soviet Government was not prepared to accept any one of those principles, therefore it was impossible for us, who have been brought up to cherish democratic principles, to have any productive dealings with Russia. That is my summing up of the Soviet and of our relations with it.
I was interested, as other honorable members on this side of the House have been, to observe the change of heart which has occurred almost imperceptibly among members of the Labour party. Nearly all of them, during my short twelve months of parliamentary life, have enthusiastically praised Russia and its policy. There were only a few exceptions. But yesterday and to-day I have heard many honorable members admit, somewhat reluctantly, that Russia is a danger to the peace of the world, and is pursuing a policy which is dangerous to other nations. lt was delicious to hear the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) admit - the words being almost dragged from him - that Russia was wrong. I have heard him in the past say very much the opposite. My own impression is that honorable members on the other side of the House have fallen out of love, but like so many people who fall out of love, there are still smouldering deep down in their hearts some embers, and it would not take much to fan them into flame again.
I would be loath to embark, like the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), on a sea of ignorance, and to discuss what ought to be the policy of other countries. Let us turn to Australia, and consider what ought to be our attitude to external affairs, and what our relations should be with other countries. I believe, and I am supported in this by nearly every writer on foreign affairs of any substance and importance whom 1 have read, that, of all political activities in which a people engage, that of foreign relations is the most important, because, in the ultimate, it is the conduct of foreign affairs which determines the survival of a nation. Therefore, it is the most im.portant of all subjects which this Parliament can discuss. It is for that reason, although it is not a very appropriate occasion, that I rise to make some small contribution to this debate. Upon this subject, therefore, we think that it is not only our right but also our duty to criticize the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and his conduct of our foreign relations. I wish that the Minister were .here. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) has said, one is a little handicapped because the Minister is not here; but the truth as we see it must be said. There has been on the part of honorable members opposite during the last two days a most extraordinary outburst of what I call f awning adulation of the right honorable gentleman. I could” ha>ve understood it if criticism were offered here and there, and a meed- of praise were- offered occasionally; but, invariably, there has been- nothing but a blurting’ forth of unbridled- praise of what the Minister has done. That has- not the ring, of truth about- it, and it- will not convince honorable members or the people of this- country.
– The honorable member will; not convince me.
Mfr. BE’A-LE. - I, certainly, shall not convince the’ honorable member, because he- has. the kind of mind which is incapable of being’ convinced of anything whatsoever. 1> heard the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Eraser), to whose speeches I sometimes- listen with respect and1 appreciation, and-‘ similarly the honorable member- fbr. Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and other honorable’ members opposite, one after the other, utter nothing but a long’ outburst of adulation of the- Minister.. I heard the Minister for Defence - il cannot, say the same about my reception: of his speeches from time to time - also engage in fulsome praise of the Minister for External. Affairs,, as if he were a sort of archangel who- could not do - anything wrong, andi everything he did had the touchstone of genius and accuracy about it. One would be led. to believe from what honorable members opposite have said that the Minister is perfect in every respect. Although I. believe that he has- a lively appreciation ‘of His own virtues, I do not believe that the right honorable gentleman himself would be prepared to say that about himself.
– I disagree with the honorable member.
– That may be. Then,, we heard’ the hypocritical, and insincere pretence that: in foreign, affairs- the- right, honorable gentleman, had not only the authority of all who sit. behind him, but had laid all his. plans before them,, and they knew everything, that waa- going on. from, time to time. Their speeches prove not. only that’ they do not know what is going on from time to time, but- also that they do not know what is going on now.
Our specific criticisms of the right honorable gentleman had better be stated. They are these: First; it should be said to honorable members, and to the people that the- Minister has made the Department of External Affairs his own. precious creature. That is wrong; No derpartment should be- the creature of any Minister-; but’ by one method-; or another,, he has made this- department his own peculiar creature, obedient’ to his will. There are- some in the department whofawn upon him, and’ some who secretly chafe against him. Every honorable member knows that. There is an undercurrent of grave dissatisfaction with the way the Minister seeks to’ make this department obedient, not’ to- the nation’s will but to his own will ; and if proof of. that- fact is, needed it is provided in what Mr,. Paul. Hasluck and’ Mr. Macmahon. Ball have said and. in what others- have privately, said. There is no place in. Australia, for a. government department which does not exercise some of its. own, wisdom and: judgment, and does- nothing but what the whim and wish of the Minister - says.it should do. Our-first charge is that the department is, a1 creature of a. particular Minister. Our second charge isthat, the Minister has- consistently refused to take the Parliament into: his confidence. Upon the high plane of international affairs, than which there is nomore important in Australia, he has refused to take- anybody else into his confidence or to seek guidance from any one else. “We have offered our cooperation again and’ again.. In these great matters,. affecting the future of Australia,, and, indeed,, its existence, we must go beyond party politics. An- all-party committee should be appointed to consider foreign relations. We have made that offer, from time to time,. but the Minister, ham brushed it aside. We make that charge. It is further evidence of the selfaggrandizement which the. Minister isseeking to secure in this all-important matter. Our third charge is with respect to’ the- noisy and aggressive qualities of our representation overseas. It has been described’ in various ways-. The honorable member for- Parkes quite- inadvertently used the proper- phrase when hesaid that Australia had never before had such) a clamant voice in foreign affairs. When I, asked, by way of. interjection,. “ Do you. think it is a good thing to havea clamant voice?”, the honorable member. for Parkes replied, “ I will deal with that later “, but he did not do so. It is not necessary for Australia or any other country to have a clamant voice in international affairs. We should have a powerful and effective voice; but merely making a lot of noise is not going to get Australia anywhere at all. As Mr. Paul Hasluck, who has been quoted in this debate, has said, there is a quality of larrikinism about our foreign policy. It is difficult for us to pass judgment on this matter unless we read the foreign press, because what is published in the Australian press is given out and organized by the Minister’s press relations officers at whatever centre he happens to be at the moment. But when we read the foreign press, as I have read it, we sometimes see caustic comment on our representative overseas. But Mr. Paul Hasluck did not mince words. He said that there is a disposition in Australian foreign policy to throw stones at the street lights just because they are bright; that we believe in thumping the table and roaring and making a noise. As the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has said, the real quality of a nation’s representatives is not to be judged by the amount of noise they make but by their character and prestige. A reasonable and tolerant point of view, and not merely making a lot of noise, will win such representatives favour in the eyes of persons overseas. When the honorable member for Flinders put that point of view, the honorable member for Parkes interjected, “ that is rather pukka “. That interjection illustrates clearly the difference between our point of view .and that of honorable members opposite.
– What does it mean?
– I suppose that it was meant to refer to a sort of meretricious imitation of an over-polite person. It is not a question of whether Australia is pukka, but . whether Australia is represented overseas by persons who are dignified, honest and straightforward, and who, by their personality and character, win the respect of people with whom they have to deal. Fourthly, there is the querulous quality of the protests we make about this and that. Even in the press of Australia, which puts the matter in the best possible way from Australia’s point of view - and I assure honorable members that the foreign press, particularly the American press, is not always so kind - there is revealed to us a querulous and petty quality in the protests which we make. That point may be illustrated with respect to the question of the veto. To most Australians it is a matter for dissatisfaction that the veto exists, but to most realistic Australians, if they think about it for a moment, it is obvious that there would be no relations with Russia, in any “United Nations organization, but for the veto, which had to be accepted as Russia’s price. It seems that we have long abandoned realism in dealing with things we cannot help. Fifthly, there is the violent and vulgar publicity stunting with which we go on in our foreign affairs. Reading the press one would almost imagine that no other person was present at the United Nations than the Minister for External Affairs - that o’f the 50 nations the sole representative present was the Australian Minister. This attitude bolsters our national vanity. Let us keep this thing in proper vision. Does it not really make people with a bit of restraint, dignity and good taste wonder about Australians and what sort of people they are? In the long run, although this may give us a short-term notoriety it does us no good and does not enhance our national dignity. It is what the Americans call “ bally-hoo “, and I have never known “ bally-hoo “ that does anything else but rebound on the people who give utterance to it. I noticed in yesterdays press that the Minister has had himself nominated for’ no less than eleven committees. The press has commented that he is now a “ Pooh Bah “, because it is obvious that no man can serve on eleven committees. A “ Pooh Bah”, as anybody who has read The Mikado knows, is a man who has appointed himself to all sorts of posts. In the English-speaking world the term is one of ridicule and contempt. Even if the right honorable gentleman can survive that ridicule and contempt, it is not a good thing for the nation he represents. For years we have seen his preoccupation with different forms and procedures, whether a thing should be done this way or that - : not with the substance of matters of the United Nations but with mere procedural matters. We have seen his preoccupation not with realities but with technicalities, not accepting facts as they are and doing the best he can, but making a lot of noise and getting a lot of publicity about technical and legal procedures. Instead of accepting realities and lining up with our real friends, he has too often preferred to make unreal friends.
Finally, there is the attitude of the Minister and the Government on the question of Indonesia. The Dutch are the de jure rulers in Indonesia. They have been there for some 350 years. Australia is making itself the laughing stock of the world by the attitude it has adopted on this question, not only the attitude of the Government in sticking its nose into something that does not directly concern it, or only concerns it to its vast disaster, but also the Government’s failure to take strong action against outside bodies which are presuming to dictate our foreign policy in this matter. I do not wish to labour something which has been fully discussed in this chamber. The honorable member for Watson, in very unconvincing words, suggested that we have some right to intervene in Indonesia, using the parallel of India and the Philippines. Is the honorable member so mounted on the platform of ignorance that .he dares to suggest that Australia has the right to stick its nose into the affairs of the Philippines and the United States of America, or into India and offer mediation between Great Britain and the Dominion of India? Australia would best be served by putting its own house in order and turning to its real friends, rather than by trying to gain a little meretricious notoriety and publicity which, in the long run, must bring it to disaster.
– The common man is important.
– I agree that the common man is important, but the common man in Australia is most important to me and I believe that he will best be served by Australia looking after its own affairs.
We should awaken to three or four important principles. The first is that the United Nations has failed and will fail so long as the Soviet Union continues to adopt the attitude it has adopted up to date. I know its point of view; I know it is not only a question of one nation rattling the sabre and seeking to make war on another. That is part of the truth; but another part of the truth is that Russia is caught in the. web of its own propaganda. If you feed people on untruths long enough you will finally be brought to the position at which you are unable to tell them the truth. Behind the iron curtain the Russian people have been so fed for years. The Soviet Government for too many years has told its people that the hand of every man outside of Russia is against it. Like other Asiatic peoples, the Russians fear the rest of the world. Why 180,000,000 people in one of the largest and richest countries in the world, set in a wonderful strategic position, should fear the rest of the world, I do not know except that this fear is a Frankenstein monster which has been created by their own propaganda. We are faced with the fact that, so long as Russia and its rulers continue to act in that way, the United Nations organization will be a failure.
The second point I suggest is that this nation of ours of 7,500,000 people in the South Seas, lonely and virtually alone, must do something about itself. We cannot afford to play around and send our representatives abroad to make a lot of noise and strut the stage as we have done in the past. We must wake up and do something realistic and practical. The first practical step we must take is to look after our own defences. I do not pretend that 7,500,000 people can be self -defensive and self -complete against a hostile world, but we can at least make a beginning, and we shall have no respect from the rest of the world unless we make that beginning. It is of no use saying that we shall seek this ally or that unless we are prepared to make gigantic sacrifices.
Having taken the first step, we must turn to our friends, to the people to whom we would naturally turn. Having set our own house in order, we are entitled and obliged to turn to those to whom we would normally look for defence. The people to whom we normally and inevitably must look for defence are the peoples of Great Britain and of the British Commonwealth. It is pitiful that we should go on with all this posing and at the same time not take the one inevitable step we must take for our own salvation. I remind honorable members that in the British Isles there are still 50,000,000 of the most realistic, determined and courageous people on the face of the earth. Reference has been -made to what Professor Laski has said of the English people; but time will tell. We may gain a fair impression of what lies ahead by reading history, both recent and long past; and history indicates that notwithstanding present disadvantages, the English race, with its traditions and courage, is not finished but will shortly arise again to its rightful place in the world. Our place is alongside the British people. Great Britain still has great colonies and still enjoys prestige and respect in the eyes of the world. There are still powerful dominions of which the Commonwealth of Australia is, or at least should be, one. Australia, after setting its own house in order should stand resolutely beside Great Britain and the other countries of the Empire.
Our next step should be to prepare a plan. We should not just drift from day to day. Our representatives should not go to peace conferences merely to make a lot of noise and blather. A co-ordinated plan .must he prepared embracing all matters affecting the Empire. In that plan it may be necessary to provide for some sacrifices of our own point of view. Australian cannot continue to attend conferences with their British colleagues and say, “ We want this, and we want that, and if we do not get it, we shall not play “. We must be prepared to give away something in order that complete agreement may be reached on major issues. That is another criticism that I have to offer of the foreign affairs policy of this Government. In too many instances Australia has not been prepared to play unless given its own way on everything.
Another point that I wish to make is that Australia, in common with other members of the British Empire, should have done with appeasement. I never knew appeasement to succeed in any field. History shows how futile it was with the Nazis and others. It will be just as unsuccessful with Russia or with any nation that is on the march for power and is thirsty for world domination. We must, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, be prepared to say, “ Thus far and no farther In the international field we, as a unit of the British Empire, must exercise restraint and tolerance because, as the British Minister of State, Mr. Hector McNeil has said, nobody has a monopoly of all the virtues; there are always two points of view. At all costs we must have unity. Finally, I remind honorable members that these things that we are now enduring as a Commonwealth, have been endured before. We have had setbacks in past years. In 1847, Emerson wrote these words of England -
I see her not dispirited, not weak, but well remembering that she lias seen dark days before - indeed, with a kind of instinct that she sees a little better in a cloudy day, and that, in storm of battle mid calamity, she has a secret vigour and a pulse like a cannon.
If we in this country remember that, and aline ourselves with these people, our salvation will be assured.
.- The ministerial statement that we are now debating ha9 given the Opposition another chance to indulge in an attack upon the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has been particularly caustic. It is a peculiar thing that when members of the Government party rise to defend their ministerial colleague, they are criticized by the Opposition for allegedly bestowing unmerited praise on a man who has come to be recognized as a world figure. I gather from the remarks of legal gentlemen like the honorable member for Parramatta that there is some jealousy amongst them of the prestige of the Minister for External Affairs. But not only supporters of the Government praise the efforts of the Minister for External Affairs; at the conclusion of the Empire conference held in Canberra in August to discuss the Japanese peace settlement, tributes were paid by the .representatives of several nations to the work that the right honorable gentleman has done and is doing in the interests of world peace. The Minister has won acclaim in the American press for his activities in world affairs. In fact, newspapers in practically every country, including Australia have recognized the ability of this outstanding statesman. We on this side of the chamber would be recreant to our trust if we did not defend the man who at least has given this country a foreign policy - something that was entirely lacking during the regime of governments formed by the parties now in opposition. We are told by the honorable member for Parramatta that Australia is strutting the stage in international affairs; that we should do something practical, and that Australia has no right to make demands upon other nations. But have we not already made practical sacrifices? Thousands of Australian citizens laid down their lives in the two world wars that were fought for liberty and freedom. Australia stood fast and remained true to the ideals for which the Empire stood when the crisis arose and this country was called upon to take part in these two great struggles. Does the honorable member for Parramatta not think that these sacrifices entitle any Australian government, regardless of its political colour, to demand that this country shall have some say in the peace settlements? I agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that there should be an Empire plan. It is reasonable to expect that the British Commonwealth should be united on the major issues with which it is confronted to-day, but by no means should we sink our identity and place Australia’s interests after those of other nations. I stand first for the advancement of the Australian people and Australia’s interests. Our primary responsibility is to ensure economic and social security for the citizens of this country. When that has been accomplished, we can look around and decide how we may best assist other countries to reach that same high standard of development. There is no reason why Australian interests should be sacrificed just because a course which may ultimately be detrimental to our welfare is favoured by other nations.
I pass now to the criticism that was levelled at the United Nations by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). The honorable member said that although this . organization had been in existence for only two years it had already proved a calamitous failure, and that the bickering evident to-day in its deliberations must inevitably lead to war. I do not pretend that the United Nations is ideally constituted, but at this stage, I am not prepared to admit that it has failed. At least it is an attempt by the nations of the world to find some basis for an enduring peace in the years to come. The United Nations may not be going according to the plan or the ideals behind its establishment but that does not signify that it is a failure. It is significant that, although the United Nations was criticized as a failure by the honorable member for Reid, no alternative proposition was made. His alternative to the United Nations’ organization is anarchy. The honorable member for Reid also said that we could not afford to subsidize the subsidiary committees within the structure of the United Nations. He criticized the various committees set up, their cost, the representatives of Australia sent to them and general matters associated with the administration of the United Nations. He said that the Australian nation could not afford the luxury of taking part in international deliberations associated with efforts to maintain peace in the world, but is it not better to make a small contribution of money towards an organization like the United Nations in an effort to maintain peace than to spend the enormous amount of money tha t -it would be necessary to spend should efforts to maintain peace fail and war break out again? The United Nations budget for the year 1946 was only 21,500,000 United States dollars compared with the huge sum of 186,000,000,000 United States dollars that it cost all the countries involved in the war to wage it ‘for twelve months. The cost of our representation in the United Nations last year was £50,000 and our contribution to the organization was £160.000, whereas the cost to Australia in 1943-44 of fighting the war was £544,000,000. So honorable members will appreciate that it is worth while paying out a small sum in an effort to maintain peace and thereby save the loss of lives, suffering, and the high expenditure of money in a Avar. The honorable member for Reid also criticized the representatives of Australia abroad. He said that anybody spoke for the Government and that all did what they liked ; but I assure the honorable member and the House generally that before statements are made on behalf of the Government on Australian foreign policy, they have to have the endorsement of either the Prime Minister or the Minister for External Affairs, and that there is no loose administration in that respect. The honorable member’s arguments on that matter are entirely based on supposition. His speech was the old isolationist speech : “ Stay out of everything and don’t worry but look after ourselves 1” When one considers that Australia is only 72 hours by air away from the heart of the Empire, and that tremendous advances have been made mechanically, particularly in air travel, and in the field of invention, one must realize that we must change our outlook and be prepared to play a practical part in organizations set up to see if peace cannot be preserved.
The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) is generally passive in criticism, but to-day he passed what I think is possibly the worst slur that could be passed on Australia’s representatives abroad by saying that many were lacking in behaviour and intelligence. I suppose that, in common with other honorable gentlemen opposite, he wants men wearing “ the old school tie “ back on the scene. Does the honorable gentleman criticize men of the calibre of Mr. Makin, our Ambassador in the United States of America, Mr. Forde, our High Commissioner in Canada, and Mr. Beasley, our High Commissioner in the United Kingdom ? It will be acknowledged that, as I know from experience, they are a credit to this nation and are doing a grand job and are no doubt much better than the representatives appointed to similar positions when the parties opposite were in power. The honorable member’s statements do not do him credit and will not do credit to Australia if they become known outside the country. The honorable member also said the foreign policy of the United Kingdom was in keeping with the character and interests of that country, but that Australia had fallen into a groove and that our foreign policy went for nothing. I remind the honorable gentleman that before the Labour party came to power in Australia and the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) was appointed Minister for External Affairs, Australia had no foreign policy. Previous anti-Labour Australian governments blindly followed any line put up to them .by British interests. I am not averse to following Britain, but when its policy conflicts with Australian interests we should have sufficient courage to propound our own policy, and I endorse our Government’s attitude in that respect, because it is pleasing to know that we have in power a party prepared, regardless of any criticism, to put Australian policy into effect when we know that it is in the interests of the Australian people.
I leave the subject to say a few words about Europe and the part that we may play in helping its re-establishment. Honorable members on both sides are aware that Great Britain is facing a grave crisis that demands that immediate assistance be given to it by every one interested in the survival of Great Britain and the British Empire. We are doing a tremendous job in that way, but, owing to the terms of the loan by the United States of America to Great Britain, the quantity of certain goods that Great Britain might otherwise have imported from Australia is limited. The British people must have the food and other necessaries of life that are essential to their re-establishing themselves. What I regard as a possibility is long-term credit assistance that would at least enable the Government of the United Kingdom to make less stringent the conditions under which the British people live so that they may be able to put all their effort into their industrial revival.
So far as Italy and Germany are concerned, I agree with what the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) said about Germany last night. From the point of view of morality and justice, the nations that have suffered in Europe must receive a measure of rehabilitation. During my recent visit overseas I saw a part of Northern Italy and also passed through France and I witnessed at first-hand the poverty in those countries. As honorable members realize, the rehabilitation of these nations is essential to the maintenance of peace in the world. The success of any programme of reconstruction is largely dependent upon the quantity of capital goods and the amount of money that the United States of America is prepared to pour into those countries. Europe to-day is sadly in need’ of capital goods. . Industries which must be reestablished if prosperity is to return to the continent cannot be re-started without them. Many millions of people in Europe are living under conditions by comparison with which the depression experienced in Australia years ago would seem to he an era of prosperity. The more one sees of those conditions, the more clearly does one realize the magnitude of the task confronting international organizations such as the United Nations. In my view, the power to accomplish this task is controlled largely by the United State& of America, with its tremendous reserve of wealth and its great productive capacity. I realize that the rehabilitation of the countries of Europe is not without risk. The United Nations organization must seek a means of reconstructing the European nations without endangering continued peace and stability. Australia has a moral obligation to assist in this undertaking. I do not lose sight of the fact that the first duty of this Parliament is to the people of Australia. We must ensure that Australians are provided not only with the necessaries of life but also with a fair standard of comfort. However, we are morally obliged to help the nations of Europe, where both victor and vanquished are suffering from ills which will be very difficult to remedy.
The Government’9 foreign policy is in the best interests’ of the nation. In spite of what honorable members opposite have said, this Parliament has had more opportunities to discuss international affairs than were ever granted to previous parliaments. The Minister for External Affairs regularly presents statements which contain extensive notes of events all over the world and decisions made by the United Nations. No honorable member is entitled to quibble about the opportunities given to him to speak on international affairs. The part played by Australia in the international sphere under this Government will bring great credit to the nation and will enhance its prestige at home and abroad.
.- The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) is a member of that happy band of pilgrims composed of members of the Labour party and their dependants who have set off under the auspices of this Government, and at the taxpayers’ expense, to survey the world scene. As I listened to the honorable gentleman’s speech, I recalled to mind an election slogan which was used to harrass me when I took the platform as a United Australia party candidate over twelve years ago. That slogan was, “ Join the United Australia party and see the world “. Progress is said to be associated with the passage of time. I do not agree with that, although I admit that situations do change.
– I rise to a point of order. As a member of this Parliament who has ‘ been overseas, I take exception to the statement by the honorable member for Fawkner that we went abroad as tourists, with our dependants, at the expense of the taxpayers. It is absolutely incorrect, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– There is no point of order.
– I am sorry that the honorable member is so sensitive on this point. Perhaps he was not so fortunate as some o.f his Labour party colleagues, who were able to vary the slogan that I mentioned so that, for them, it was a case of “ Join the Labour party and let the family see the world “. However, all good things come to those who wait, and no doubt, if the honorable member is fortunate enough, and “ butters up “ .the Minister sufficiently, he will gain other advantages in the future. Although the Government has spent a great deal of money in the process of sending representatives abroad, I do not begrudge the expenditure, because any method of giving Government supporters a more realistic outlook on events in other parts of the world and a better knowledge of their responsibilities, is well worth while.
The honorable member for Martin is an affable fellow, .and I do not suppose that he has an enemy in this House, but I am certain that even his best friends, having listened to him to-night, must have hoped inwardly that we may get better value for our money from other supporters of the Government who have been sent overseas.
The recent expansion of Australia’s activities in the field of international affairs has been remarkable. It is almost 21 years since the Balfour memorandum expressed the relationship which existed at that time between Great Britain and the other member nations of the British Empire. The Dominions were all declared to be autonomous communities, equal in status, owing a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth. I stress the phrase “ equal in status “, because it was recognized then that equality of status did not necessarily carry with it equality of function. It was recognized that then, and no doubt for many years thereafter, the major role in international affairs would be played by the Government of Great Britain. Progress from equality of status towards equality of function was not particularly rapid. However, in the last few years, our bustling, busy, peripatetic, energetic Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has altered all that. Iri the circumstances, I think it proper that I should survey briefly the events of the last few years.
In 1940, Australia’s representation overseas was meagre. I do not suggest that it was ineffective, or that the Commonwealth’s voice in the councils of the world was unimportant, because any member of a partnership, however junior, is able to exercise influence by working within the partnership and by means of the strength of the partnership. Australia, as a partner in the great British Commonwealth of Nations, therefore, was able to bring its influence to bear upon the British Government and the governments of the other dominions, with the result that its point of view was conveyed to the councils of the world. Thus, Australia had an effective voice’ in international affairs. It is true that the cost was not great in terms of money and that the nation was not represented by a great number of men overseas. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth’s point of view was not without significance and the nation enjoyed a certain prestige. That prestige, I believe, was due primarily to the outstanding qualities of the few men who did go abroad on behalf of the nation and also to the splendid qualities of the fighting men who were our best ambassadors during World War I. During the last few years, we have seen this Government aspiring nearer to equality of function with Great Britain, as an extension of the equality of status that was emphasized in the Balfour memorandum.
To express it in concrete terms, I direct the attention of the House to certain facts. By February, 1940, Australia had no independent diplomatic or consular representation abroad, apart from our High Commissioner in London. We had a liaison officer attached to the Foreign Office and a counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington. That representation was not considerable, I concede, and perhaps it was not sufficient for our needs, but no one can complain that during the last two or three years we have not hurried to make up for lost time. I have not got the latest figures at my finger-tips, but I point out that towards the end of last year, we had in existence in seventeen countries permanent establishments for consular and diplomatic representation, a commission established with the United Nations, and representation provided in Japan, Germany, Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies to meet the special needs of the post-war period. In addition to that, Australia is represented on at least 21 international organizations and agencies. So we have gone a long way towards that “ equality of function “ which the Minister for External Affairs has mentioned from time to time in his public addresses. I am not so greatly impressed by the progress which we have made, nor indeed with the cost ; and perhaps while I am mentioning these matters, I should make some reference to the cost. Even in this year, when the Government presents a budget of £400,000,000, cost is something which the people of this country do not wish to have wholly disregarded. In 1939, when we had this slender but not utterly ineffective representation abroad, the cost of the Department of External Affairs was £39,000. Five years later, it had grown to £257,000 and the figure in the budget for the current financial year is £1,S45,000. Therefore, I suggest to the honorable member for Martin that if we are to justify this enormous increase of cost, we expect a few more dividends, a little richer in content and -quality, than we have had to-night.
However, it is not the fact that we have increased our representation abroad, or that it is costing us a great deal more money, that should be impressive from our point of view. The real test is how far does all this activity meet what are the basic objectives of the foreign policy of any country, namely, security and prosperity. Measuring it by those cardinal tests, I do not believe that there are many honorable members who will claim that we are getting value or that the foreign policy of Australia is advancing either our security or prosperity. It is true that we have concerned ourselves With many matters of procedure, and perhaps even some matters of substance, before the international councils on which ve have been so actively represented ; but frankly I have very little faith in international organizations. I do not say that we should not do what we can to make them work, and give to them our support in terms of personnel and finance, but I contend that any government, with the experience of the last 20, 30 or 40 years in its mind, which places its reliance upon international organizations for the solution of its security or trade problems is crazy.
My chief criticism of the foreign policy of this Government, and, indeed, the foreign policy of Great Britain at the present time, is that far too much reliance is being placed upon international organizations and our participation in them. Of course, those international organizations have the highest objectives’, and the best of titles, and beautifully worded phrases to signify what they are seeking. In an organizational sense, however, they are half-baked, and have no record of successful achievement to show to the world. For any country to accept that as the basis of its policy is fallacious and dangerous. It is worse to have an international organization on which reliance is placed and which cannot be found worthy of that reliance than to have no such organization at all. That is accentuated if the fact of having such an organization is to weaken the effort which a country would normally make on the domestic front, and in its relation with those on which it must rely most for aid. That, I believe, is what has been happening ‘ in Australia and Great Britain. Let us have these international organizations by all means, but let us not ignore the security factors which lie in our adherence to our known and tested friends ! Let us not throw overboard those trade associations on which we have built so much of our prosperity in the past! I shall cite concrete instances.
Not long ago, we concluded World War II. - the second world war in a period- of 25 years. That conflict threatened this country to a greater degree than any other contest in which we had previously been engaged. Those of us who have lively recollections of that time will remember the nations which were then our friends and the kind of aid we received from them. I do not imagine that there are many honorable members opposite who would feel, if we were thrown into another conflagration in the near future, that our friends would be substantially different from our friends in World War II. In the Pacific area, there was set up an organization for our common defence. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) will- remember it well. Known as the “ABDA Command” it consisted of the representatives of the Governments of the United States of America,. Great Britain, Holland and Australia. What is our real security problem in the Pacific? If we had that same combination at any time within the foreseeable distance, would we in Australia have very much to- fear? If we are able to place our reliance upon a strong America, a strong Britain, a strong Holland and a strong Australia, would we have very much to fear? Can any honorable member suggest a better combination for Australia in the Pacific area? That was the situation a short time ago. I should like to test the foreign policy of this Government by what is happening to those who were our closest and strongest friends at that time. For the obvious reasons qf blood, kinship rand sentiment, and all the others that suggest themselves .readily to honorable .members, I turn first to Great Britain.
When examining . Great Britain to-day, one looks at - tragedy. A few years ago, that country was hailed by the world, as -the saviour of civilization - the -shield between the free peoples and ‘the forces of oppression which threatened them. In that dark period Great Britain gave to, the world leadership. What of Great Britain to-day? When we last debated international affairs, the honorable member for -Reid (Mr. Lang) referred to the two great powers in the world to-day as America and Russia. At that time L chided him, because, either consciously or unconsciously, he had .omitted Great Britain, which, a few years ago, had been, recognized as the country giving leadership to the world. But only yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) spoke on international affairs, and he also, consciously or unconsciously, adopted .the same statement. He referred to the two greatest powers in the world to-day - the United States of America and Soviet Russia. Personally, I do not believe that that is true. I refuse to believe that the resources of Great Britain, associated with the resources of the Dominions, are such that we .can be dismissed lightly as being outside the’ number qf the greatest powers of the world. We .have allowed ourselves to -be pushed into -that position .for the time being, but I hope that it will not -be for long. If we have been forced into that position, why has it happened? I have been told that Great Britain has lost its overseas investments, that it is an impoverished’ country, and a great many other things.. However, I do not regard those statements seriously. History furnishes us with many examples of nations which have lost their wealth or their power regaining their former prestige. In any event, Great Britain should not have lost its pre-war position, and would not have done so, but for the introduction of doctrinaire socialism. Great Britain is being dragged down to-day, just as thiscountry is, by the adoption of that vicious policy, and the socialists seek to obscure the extent of the damage done by the dissemination of a mass of propaganda. Honorable .members opposite may scoff, but they cannot disregard the facts. All sorts of theories have -been adduced to account for -the deterioration of .Great Britain’s position. We. are tired of hearing of the fatigued people of the post-war era, and other hackneyed arguments. The figures in regard to the production of coal, which .is a basic requirement for all British industries, -refute those specious arguments. I have with me a special edition of a pamphlet published by the Commonwealth Office of Education dealing with the problems confronting Great Britain. This publication includes a striking advertisement inserted by the British Government. It reproduces a poster which has apparently been used by the British Government in its efforts to stimulate .greater production of coal. This bears, as a heading, in exaggerated type the words “ We Need “ and states -
We need at least eleven million tons more coal this year. In 1937 we .got 240,000,000 tons; enough for all our needs, and a lot foi export; in 1946 we got 189.000.000 tons; not enough .even -for factories; none for ex.port. Tn 1947 we, need 200,000,000 tons; just enough to get by; but still no exports. A shortage of coal means a shortage of everything. We’re up against it! We .work or want.
A comparison of the production for 1937, the pre-war “ chaos of private enterprise”, with that of 1946, the era of planned economy with nationalization of the coal industry, shows that 51,000j000 tons less coal were won. Rather than go any further into .the harrowing story of Great Britain’s economic position I prefer, at this stage, to repeat some words which I read <the other day- “Fight on, my friends”, said .Sir Andrew Barton, “ 1 am hurt but I am not slain ;
I will lay me down to bleed awhile,
And then I will rise and fight again “.
Any one with a knowledge of England’s history down the centuries would say that those few words reflect the spirit -of Great Britain to-day. Great Britain may well “lie down to bleed awhile’” - and let us hope that it will bleed the poison of doctrinaire socialism out of its veins and arise to regain its place in the world. Great Britain is the first of the countries mentioned in the ABDA Command to which I have referred.
The next country to which I direct attention is the United States of America, for which we entertain the most friendly feelings. Those feelings are attributable, in part, to our common traditions, our common language, our common democratic ideals, and, in part, to the sense of gratitude which we experience for America’s help during the worst years of the war. Self-interest and common sense dictate that the policy to be followed by Australia should be one of the closest and friendliest association with the United States of America. We are glad that that country remains one of the most powerful in the world. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) paid a remarkable tribute to it in the course of his speech some nights ago, and his was the second remarkable tribute to the United States of America, and its system of private enterprise, paid by members of a political party whose traditional policy has been one of outright socialism. The second tribute to which I refer was paid by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). 1 do not propose to quote the press account of his utterance until he returns from abroad, because he has been in the habit of alleging misrepresentation of his remarks by the press. However, there is one portion of the account which I do not think he will contradict, and that is his reported statement that the railway system of the United States of America is the finest and most efficient in the world. According to the report, the Minister said that he hoped to embody the best features of that system in the railway systems of this country. However, I do not rest on the testimony of the Minister for Transport ; I rely on the utterance of the Minister for Defence when he addressed the House last night as principal spokesman for the Government. I had heard the same opinion expressed before, but I was glad to hear it in the precise, statistical manner in which the Minister is accustomed to enlighten us. He said that the United States of America-, which has only 10 -per cent, of the world’s population, was manufacturing 55 per cent, of the world’s goods. We hear a great deal of the inflationary processes operating in the United States of America, and we are sometimes inclined to overlook the tremendous production which that country is achieving, and having regard to those facts, his statement was a remarkable tribute to the part played by private enterprise in America to-day. America is well disposed towards Australia. It was well disposed towards Great Britain. It is not- very well disposed, nor would it be, towards a socialist Great Britain. I do not imagine that it would be very well disposed towards a Communist or socialist Australia. Nor would it be prepared to ally itself with a country which had adopted either system.
Quite apart from the merits or demerits of socialism, from an economic point of view, if we desire to maintain friendship with the United States of America we should be very foolish if we adoptedsuch a doctrinaire philosophy. It may be argued that communism is not a very potent force in Australia. I do not think that many honorable members opposite would adopt that view. When we speak of Indonesia, as so many member!! have in this debate, my mind goes back to a Pan-Pacific conference that was held in 1929, and was headed by a gentleman named Losovsky, who was prominent ar the time of the Canadian royal commission as a spokesman for Russia, to whitewash it of the charges of espionage that had been levelled against it. At that conference Australian union leaders were ordered to act as promoters of revolution in India. Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as in Australia, in addition to throwing overboard the White Australia policy and jettisoning our system of arbitration. We know how they tried to throw overboard our White Australia policy and the success that they have achieved in jettisoning our system of arbitration. We also have some information in regard to their activities in stirring up troubles in the other countries that were referred to.
I take the story a stage further, to 1934. At the Commonwealth general elections that were held in that year, the Communists included in their election policy this item, which was to be one of the first acts of a revolutionary government -
To conclude n fraternal alliance with the Soviet Union and Soviet China, arm all toiler? and create a mighty revolutionary Red Army. which, in alliance with the international proletariat and particularly of England, New Zealand, America and Japan, will destroy all attempts at intervention and all efforts of the capitalist class to restore their power.
They did not have much influence then; but by 1940 they had been able to carry, by 191 votes to88 votes, at the Easter conference of the Australian Labour party in Sydney, a “ Hands-off Russia “ resolution. So that our friends in America may have some indication of their influence to-day, let me quote the latest official statement by our own Minister for External Affairs, in the pamphlet which he has issued to all of us for our information - “ Hands off the Nation’s Defences “. In that pamphlet, he quotes with approval a resolution that was passed on the 14th May, 1947, by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party. That resolution contains this passage -
It is apparent that the propaganda recently issuedby the Communist party in connexion with this undertaking-
He was referring to the guided weapons testing range project - is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interest of a . foreign power.
The right honorable gentleman’s comments on the resolution, and the incidents to which it referred, were these -
A VERY UGLY INCIDENT.
Although the attempt has temporarily fizzled out, it constituted a very ugly incident, and it has undoubtedly opened many eyes to the menace to Australian defence interests involved in a facile acceptance of proposals put forward by members of the Communist party. For, although the Central Committee of that party late in the day openly dissociated the party from the boycott move, the evidence of its Communist origin is too strong to be put aside.
So, if we do not want a Communist or a socialist Australia - and I suggest that with either of those forms of government we would lose a great deal of our security in the Pacific - we must resist these developments.
The last of our friends to whom I made early reference are the Dutch. They were the third party in the ABDA Command. The Dutch, for all practical purposes, are our nearest and most effective white neighbours in the Pacific area. What have we done to strengthen our association with the Dutch, to foster those ties, either of trade or of diplomacy, which would ensure their support for us and ours for them if we were involved in trouble in the ‘Pacific in the future? What we have done in this country is a matter of regrettable history. We have heard so much of one side of the propaganda, that I desire to quote to honorable members an extract from the address that was given to the Security Council by Dr. Van Kleffens, speaking on behalf of the Netherlands Government, when this matter was recently before it. Some honorable members in this chamber to-night may recall Dr. Van Kleffens.I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) can. He impressed all of us when he was in Australia, as did his colleague, Dr. Van Mook. Without saying anything derogatory about Dr. Soekarno or any of his associates, I have a fairly good idea of where my support would go if ever this country were in danger in the future. I put that on one side for the moment. Having heard so many cliches about “ Hands off Indonesia “, it might be as well if we were to listen for a moment to. the words that were temperately expressed before the Security Council recently by a man of very great distinction who has been a very good friend to this country. This is what he said -
The Republican territory shows a strong and striking contrast- and by the Republican territory he meant, of course, all that which is under the nominal control of Soekarno- with the autonomous States of Borneo and Bast Indonesia. It has never ceased to see turbulent, armed clashes between the more or less regular army, armed political groups and armed bands. At present the Netherlands troops have a difficult task of safeguarding the population against the terrorism of stray Republican troops and other armed gangs.It is a sad but striking fact, that the Republican Government appears to be unwilling or unable to systematically counteract this wanton we. of force and this arbitrary violence. As a result of its inadequacy in this as in other respects, the attitude of the subordinate Republican authorities, of the police and of influential citizens against these armedelements is correspondingly weak.
The nature of the devastation wroughtby the Republicans shows that there is system in this madness. It is largely directed against foreign property. The country’s economic future docs not interest these mild element. Devastation arson and murder are on the order of the day. The worst excesses seem to have taken place against the Chinese, but the indigenous population and Eurasians suffer equally .cruelly. It appears -to- be difficult for many people to realize what are the grim facts of the situation, which are so widely at variance with the incessant Republican .propaganda statements. It is a regrettable fact that the cliche of poor Indonesians struggling to obtain their freedom has taken possession of many minds and yet nothing could be more inaccurate.
– The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I shall refer briefly to some of the matters raised during the debate. First, I shall deal with the complaint that the Parliament does not have many opportunities to discuss international affairs, by pointing out that on two occasions during the present session when such an opportunity was presented, honorable members generally were not disposed to deal with the subject at any great length. It is also complained that the paper presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is already out of date. That is true in some measure, because in these lays any paper dealing with international affairs, or economic conditions in the world, will need revision after a month or two. During the next two or three weeks the Government proposes to submit a further statement to the House in an attempt to bring the information about international affairs up to date. There is no desire on the part of the Government to burke discussion of its policy in regard to international affairs generally, but so many things are happening in the world to-day that it is difficult, except in a long statement, to deal with all the aspects of the international situation.
During the debate statements have been made which have implied that the Government is under Communist domination. I understand that the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) claims to have discovered a Communist conspiracy at Mackay in Queensland merely because he understood that a prominent Communist saw me there.
– Did you not see a Communist there?
– While I was sitting in the public lounge of the hotel at which members of the Stevedoring
Commission and I were staying at Mackay the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation spoke to me in the presence of five or six other persons. For about three minutes we discussed the loading of sugar at Port Lucinda, but the vivid imagination of the honorable member for Wide Bay construed that conversation to mean that the Government had made representations tothe .Security Council to intervene in the dispute between the Dutch and the Indonesians. That shows that when a person has developed a phobia of some kind’ his imagination can run wild. During the debate it has been claimed that the Government has adopted a policy of appeasement in international affairs. The greatest concessions . ever made toRussia were made by President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill at secret conferences. If anything of the same nature had been done by a socialist government, or a Labour government, we would never have heard the end of it.
– Quite right, too.
– At secret conferences attended by Mr. Stalin, of Russia, President Roosevelt, of capitalist United States of America, and Mr. Churchill, the conservative Prime Minister of Great Britain, a number of Baltic States, including Lithuania and Latvia, were given to Russia. Part of Rumania, certain railways in Manchuria, the Kurile Islands, Sakhalin, Port Arthur, and Dairen were also put under Russian control. I emphasize that those concessions were made, not by socialist governments, but by President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill, for whom we in this country have the greatest respect because of what they did in the war and who no doubt did what they believed best in the circumstances. They were anxious to get Russia into the war, particularly the war against Japan. I believe that they acted in all sincerity. That is the history of appeasement of Russia, and I repeat that that appeasement was offered by conservative war leaders.
– That policy of appeasement has been continued ever since.
– I do not know that it has, but I do know that the territorial concessions to which I have referred were made by men who could not be called socialist leaders.
I have not heard all the speeches on the motion before the House, but I did hear that made to-night by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) as well as the speeches of the honorable member for Warringah last Friday, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and a portion of the address of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). If ever speeches made in this House were calculated to provoke war, those speeches were. I could say a great deal about the attitude of Russia to world affairs - its reluctance to co-operate with other nations, its unreasonable exercise of the veto, and so on. The Australian Government is opposed to the veto altogether, as well as to the unjustified exercise of it by Russia. That country has displayed an antagonistic spirit towards its allies in the recent war, and I do not pretend to excuse the conduct of M. Vyshinsky or M. Molotov. I have heard Mr. Bevin and Mr. Hector McNeil speak of the difficulties they have encountered at various conferences attended by Russian delegates, and I do not condone what Russia has done. But I want honorable members to realize the facts, because there has been an attack against the Government for taking so active a part in world councils and meetings of the United Nations. I know how the Government would have been condemned by members of the Opposition had it declined to take part in the deliberations of these organizations. I have a vivid recollection of what happened on one occasion when an important meeting was to be held in London and the Minister for External Affairs left Britain before it commenced. There was an. outcry in the press and also by some members of this House that Australia should be represented at the conference. The Government was roundly condemned, notwithstanding that it had arranged, at short notice, to send the then Minister for the Navy, Mr. Makin, who is now Australian Ambassador to the United States of America, to the conference. My own belief is that the Russian representatives at the United Nations have been most unreasonable. Indeed, the speech of Mr.
Vyshinsky last week, as reported in the press, is very difficult to swallow. However, every public man throughout the world has a duty to-day to do what he can to bring about understanding among the nations, including Russia, and to endeavour to ensure the successful working of some kind of an organization to ensure peace. I sometimes entertain a suspicion that the reputation which my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, has made for himself in the councils of the world has provoked quite a deal of jealousy in this country. The fact that Australia has been represented by so able a man has tended to arouse this jealousy, but I do not think that any one in Australia or out of it would be prepared to say that the Minister for External Affairs has not proved himself to be one of the ablest delegates who has attended the meetings of the United Nations. Honorable members opposite may scoff, but the ability of the Minister for External Affairs is recognized by world statesmen. However, human nature being what it is, it is only natural that so outstanding a figure should excite jealousy, and that has nothing whatever to do with disagreement with the policies which he puts forward on behalf of the Government.
I believe that it would be criminal for Australia to stand apart from the councils of the nations. I understand that it has been suggested that the various international organizations that have been set u p perform no useful function, and make no worthwhile contribution to the peace of the world or to its economic welfare. This Government has pledged itself to join with other nations in an endeavour to bring about international understanding - although sometimes, I admit, it seems to be an almost impossible task. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) said to-night that the ideologies of the Americans and the Russians were so far apart that there was no possibility of agreement between those countries. I have always understood that the policy of this country is that every other country should be free to choose its own form of government. To that liberty all nations are entitled, if there is any liberty left in the world. This principle was admitted by the
British Government when it granted dominion status to Pakistan and India. Its action in this regard received the approval, not only of the Labour party in Britain, but also of the Opposition. I have observed a tendency in Australia to attribute to communism all the disorders which afflict the world to-day, both political and economic. However, the opinion of those who know something of the subject is that the present upsurge of nationalism in the East has nothing to do with communism. No one suggests that what has happened in India is the result of Communist activity, and despite what has been said about the situation in Indonesia, no one can deny that there is a strong upsurge of nationalism in that country also. When the trouble first started in Indonesia I expressed the opinion that an arrangement should be worked out between the Dutch and the Indonesian people whereby the Indonesians, while continuing to enjoy the advantage of the administrative ability of the Dutch, should be given an increasing part in the government of their own country. Ultimately, something of that kind must be done. That is why we referred the matter to the Security Council. Ultimately the Dutch and Indonesians will recognize that our action did something towards stopping bloodshed, even though it did not stop the bloodshed altogether. The Australian Government is not taking sides in the dispute, and has never made any attempt to do so. Australia has now joined with Belgium and the United States of America to examine the Indonesian problem in an attempt to bring about an agreement between the parties. My relations with the Dutch Minister in Canberra, particularly the present Minister, have been most friendly, and I have tried to point out our difficulties.
– What are our difficulties ?
– I do not propose to go into that matter now. I have put the matter quite frankly before the Dutch Minister here, and he has put before me quite as strongly the difficulties with which his country is confronted. An attempt has now been made to obtain the services of an impartial authority to judge the merits of the case. In spite of what has been said about some one influencing this Government, I am convinced that our decision to refer the matter to the Security Council has the approval of 80 per cent, of Australians.
Before I conclude, I wish briefly to examine the world position. It is true that the world to-day is in an appalling and disturbing state. We know that the position in Europe is one of utter and complete misery. It has been said, in effect, in this debate, that we should- be isolationist. We objected to the United States of America being isolationist.
– Who suggested that we should be isolationist?
– I heard the honorable member himself say, only a few minutes ago, that he saw no good in international relationships.
– That is a complete distortion of what I said.
– Am I not to take it from the honorable member’s remarks that he regards the United Nations organization and the 20 international organizations he mentioned, as a sheer waste of time?
– I said that they should be secondary to our own proved alliances and our own proved friendships.
– If these international organizations are successful-
– I hope they will be.
– The honorable member for Fawkner should be definite. As I have said in this House on previous occasions, the one thing necessary for the world to-day is complete co-operation, no matter what the difficulties, between the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America. I believe that the future peace of the world depends upon that co-operation.
– All of us agree with that.
– I only wish that that were true everywhere, because some people are inclined to sneer at the Americans as isolationists. In this country, we have had instances of persons giving very cold praise to the people who were giving us the greatest possible assistance. That fact cannot be denied. And that observation applies to certain people in the United Kingdom - and it’ is not the attitude of the socialists in the United Kingdom - who have shown antagonism towards the United States of America.
– That is utter nonsense.
– It is perfectly true. The great mass of the peoples of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth of Nations, including ourselves, realize that the co-operation that existed in war between the British-speaking peoples is something that will never be forgotten. That co-operation will continue. There is a tendency, of course, to say that in the present economic crisis in Great Britain to which the honorable member for Fawkner referred, the Americans are not doing all that they might do to help Great Britain. We know that politics come into all these matters. After having made great loans to other countries, and finding after two years that the position in Europe is even worse than it was when the loans were made, it is not easy for those in office in the United States of America to solve the problem arising in such circumstances. I do not propose to deal with the economic position in the United Kingdom. I have’ dealt with that matter on previous occasions, and I shall have another opportunity to do so in the debate on the budget.
The United States of America, physically, militarily and financially, is probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, nation the world- has ever seen; and I refer to its potentialities as well a.s to its existing capacity. Over and over again I have paid tribute to the great courage and heroism of the British people who, during the war, bore the heat and burden of the day and suffered not only loss of life, but also serious physical damage. The people of the United Kingdom, apart from physical devastation, are still suffering greatly, and in some cases their sufferings are greater than those which they bore during the war. Their position strikes a chord of great sympathy in the hearts of the peoples of the world. Britain’s present difficulties are due to many causes, including loss of investments and the failure to rehabilitate Europe. That is not due entirely to shortage of production, as the honorable member for Fawkner seems to suggest. When we talk of a sterling bloc within the British Empire, I do not believe that any British government could lift up the United Kingdom economically to the standard it would like simply by trading within the British Commonwealth of Nations. I understand that, prior to the last war, only 40 per cent, of Britain’s total production was exported to countries within the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The rehabilitation of Europe is absolutely vital to the economic rehabilitation of Great Britain. That task is very difficult. I do not pass judgment upon those who have the responsibility of restoring Germany proper to a position where it can maintain itself economically. Millions of people believe that the severest punishment should be meted out to the German people, particularly those who lost sons, brothers, fathers and sweethearts in the fight against nazi-ism. Any talk of building up again a strong Germany is anathema to them. I can easily imagine that the French people who remember the FrancoPrussian war and the invasion of France by the Germans in World War I. and World War II. would be violently opposed to building up a strong Germany economically. However, we cannot have a prosperous Europe without a prosperous Germany; and we cannot rehabilitate Great Britain economically so far as its export trade is concerned unless we have a prosperous Europe. That, of course, involves the difficulty of wiping out the feeling of revenge against the German people whilst, at the same time, realizing that Germany must be enabled to maintain itself and make its contribution through it3 industries to the economic systems of a great portion of Europe. Prior to the last war, the economies of countries in the Danubian basin and the Balkan States relied to a great degree upon German production. Until Germany’s economy is again built up we cannot completely rehabilitate Europe. It is unfortunate that the world should find to-day that a nation which has caused so much damage and devastation must be built up if Europe is now to be saved economically. I do not believe that the struggle to re-establish economic equilibrium in Europe can succeed - and this is a- great deal to ask- unless the American people are prepared to make the most magnificent gesture towards Europe that any nation has yet been called upon to make to- another. Much might have been done at an earlier stage to remedy this position, but it is not much use now crying over spilt milk. The contention that something’ more than hard work is needed to bring back economic independence to the peoples of the world is entirely untrue. Hard and conscientious work by the peoples of all countries, including the people of Australia, is absolutely essential not only for economic success but also for the preservation of the morale and self-respect of the peoples of the world.
Whatever may be the difficulties in the sphere of international relations to-day, however impossible it may seem to be to secure harmony among the nations of the world, I do not believe that any man or woman with a love of humanity is not whole-heartedly desirous of averting a repetition of the appalling catastrophies that would result from another world war. No matter how obstinate the nations may be, no matter how antagonistic. Russia may be, every public man has a duty to add his mite in an endeavour to overcome the obstacles and enmities that threaten the peace of the world. Only by the exercise of a spirit of goodwill may another world war be averted. For that reason I regret that what almost constituted war speeches were made by some honorable members during this debate. I try to think of the problem of international relations not so much as one involving a desire on the part of one nation to gain a little territory, hut rather in terms of the lives and safety of the millions of children who to-day are suffering from the effects of devastation arising from a war for which they were in no way responsible. Nothing that the representatives of any nation can do -to bring about better relations “between the nations should be left undone. I know how strong are the feelings of revenge. I can imagine the feelings of the French people and of people who lost their sons and brothers in the world turmoil from which we have just emerged; hut I have faith that the humanitarian feelings of the peoples of all nations will not permit millions of children throughout the w(orld to be massacred and- slaughtered in another world war-. With, modern developments in the use of new weapons, if the world should be plunged into another war the devastation and sacrifice of human life would be infinitely more appalling than anything we have ever known. Whatever criticism may be offered of the policy adopted by the Government, however futile it may seem to be, honorable members may rest assured that the Government is animated by a desire to leave no stone unturned in its efforts to play its part - but a small part it is true - to bring about international goodwill and understanding. We can. make our best contribution to world peace by giving the best advice we possibly can and by not being dogmatic in the presentation of our views. It is for this reason that I deplore the echoes of another war in some of the speeches delivered during this debate. I trust that for the sake of humanity, irrespective of what government may be in office, Australia will not be prevented from playing its part in world organizations which seek to promote the peace of the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. During the course of his speech the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) referred to some statements made by me in this debate. I assure the right honorable gentleman that I would not deliberately be guilty of accusing him wrongfully. If he regards my remarks as unfair I shall be the first to withdraw them.
– I accept that.
– In clarification of what I said, may I point out that the right honorable gentleman met a Communist at Mackay, and within a day or two after returning to Canberra submitted the Indonesian dispute to the United Nations. I then suggested that at about the same time the right honorable gentleman decided to commandeer the banks. I do not want to draw any unfair inferences from that meeting, but at the same time I must be fair to myself. On the front page of the issue of the Brisbane Telegraph of the 24th August appears a statement by the person to whom I referred, to the effect that his discussions with the Prime Minister at Mackay did not refer to the waterside workers’ ban on Dutch goods. The gentleman who met the Prime Minister in Mackay was Mr. J. Healy, secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, who is a well-known Communist.
The following papers were presented : -
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance - 1947 - No. 2 - Post and Telegraph.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1947 -
No. 5 - Church Lands Leases.
No.6 - Police and Police Offences.
House adjourned at 11.8 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated:-
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In New South Wales quite an appreciable part of consumer rationing in country areas is undertaken by the police stations thus avoiding the direct employment of staff in the Sydney office.
A payment at the rate of £27,000 per annum is made to the New South Wales Police Department in re-imbursement of the total time devoted by country police officers to petrol rationing work and a special payment at the rate of £52,000 per annum is made to the Post Office to re-imburse the cost of the time of Post Office staffs spent on issuing petrol ration tickets.
War Widows’ Pensions.
s asked the Minister for
Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Government has given the fullest consideration to every request submitted to it by bona fide organizations of ex-servicemen or their dependants, for improvement in the rate of pensions of war widows and their families, As already announced, the Government approved, this week, new rates for war widows with one or two children. An amount of 7s.6d. weekly, in addition to the present rates of pension, will be paid in the form of a domestic allowance to the two classes of widows mentioned, viz. - those with one child and those with two children.
Coal.: Supplies to Victoria.
n. - Speaking on the adjournment on the 19th September, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked a question concerning coal supplies to Victoria. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
At the end of August, the Joint Coal Board, after conferring with Mr. Kennelly (Victorian Minister of Electrical Supplies) and Mr. Brown (Chairman of the State Coal Committee), agreed to grant Victoria an allocation fromNew South Wales production of35,000 tons of coal per week whilst New South Wales production remained at approximately 245,000 tons weekly and provided that approximately 2,500 tons per week were placed into reserves.
The board has done everything possible to meet this allocation and has resumed rail coal deliveries to Victoria, which were discontinued earlier this year. However, difficulties with shipping, loading and production have not always permitted the board to ship the required quantity.
Recent shipments to Victoria have been as follows: -
During the week ending 27th September the board expects to move 3,500 tons by rail and 40,350 tons by sea, making a total of 43,850 tons for the current week.
n. - On the 19th September, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) asked a question regarding the shipment of goods from the eastern States to Western Australia by overseas vessels. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information : -
Under the Commonwealth Navigation Act overseas vessels are prohibited from carrying cargo between States of the Commonwealth but permits may be issued for such ships to engage in interstate trade at the discretion of the Director of Navigation.
The Overseas Shipping Representatives Association has been informed by the Director of Shipping that the carriage of interstate cargo by overseas ships would be of great assistance during the present shortage of interstate vessels. The overseas shipping companies are not seeking interstate business and many of their vessels will be full, or nearly so, when leaving eastern ports. However, an arrangementhas been made by which the Director of Shipping will supply a list of the most urgent cargoes awaiting shipment, as advised to him by the liaison officers of the various States. Overseas Shipping Representatives’ Association will then give favorable consideration to the transport of parcels which will probably approximate 100 to 200 tons of most urgently needed cargo. Any application to the
Director of Navigation from an overseas line for a permit to trade interstate would be dealt with promptly.
Insofar as Western Australia is concerned the following vessels have been allocated to load 20,500 tons of cargo in the eastern States during the next few weeks: -
River Clarence -6,500 tons from Sydney. 2,000 tons from Melbourne.
River Fitzroy - 7,000 tons from Sydney.
Inchmay - 5,000 tons from Sydney.
Food fob Britain : Postage on Parcels.
– On the 19th September, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked the following question : -
Has the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral seen in the press a statement that a cablegram from South Africa states that the postage on parcels of food sent to Europe is being reduced by two pence a pound. In view of the repented statement that postage rates on such parcels cannot be reduced because of the British Government’s refusal to do so, will the Minister consider making an equivalent reduction of the postage rates on food parcels sent to Britain from the present exorbitant rates which represent from £50 to £70 a ton?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information: -
I have seen the press statement referred to by the honorable member. Even with the reduced rates which now apply to food parcels from South Africa to the United Kingdom, the charges are generally higher than those which operate in respect of similar parcels despatched from Australia. For instance, the corresponding tariffs for food parcels of certain weights are as follows: -
The South African charges are based on a currency which approximates sterling, whereas the Australian rates represent local currency. Therefore, the comparison is more favorable to the Australian tariffs than is indicated by the figures.
It is considered that the existing rates for food parcels from Australia are not excessive, bearing in mind the costs incidental to their handling in the Commonwealth, transportation by sea and handling and distribution in Great Britain. In fact, the tariffs are lower in some respects than those which apply to parcels lodged in Australia for delivery therein.
The matter of introducing a concession rate for food parcels has been discussed with the British authorities, who are not favorable, however, to effecting any reduction in the existing charges, having regard to all the circumstances involved.
For the reasons mentioned, it is regretted that the way is not clear to revise the present charge schedule at this stage.
s asked the Minister repre senting the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information : -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice - 1.. How many prefabricated Commonwealth Bank buildings have been built and opened in each State?
– The following information has been obtained from the Commonwealth Bank : -
y. - On the 24th September, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked the following question, upon notice -
In view of the world position of sterling, what useful purpose is served by retaining the gold price at £10 15s. 3d. per oz. when private traders are alleged to be obtaining £30 per oz. from free and willing buyers in an open market.
I informed the honorable member that inquiries would be made and a reply furnished as soon as possible. I am now in a position to supply the following information : -
s asked the Minister for the
Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows ; -
l asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions ‘are. as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 September 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19470925_reps_18_193/>.